Paris of the North!

31 Aug 2010 – Tromsø Palma


The Tromsø palma is beautiful but deadly. Standing strong and high, it dominates roadsides, gullies, creek banks and backyards. The plant’s sap is poisonous to the touch. This weed bothered Morten enough for him to chop it down, thanks for letting me snapped a picture of it! .

It was introduced here as a garden plant in the 1860s. The plant became a must-have by all the socialites for their summer homes. However, it wasn’t long before the plant took over the whole neighbourhood. Every year there are attempts to eradicate the Tromsø Palm but it is very robust.  As yet, there are no proven ways to get rid of the plant other than digging up the roots and churning the soil. So Morten, chopping it down might not help!

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it.  If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant – Author Unknown

Tromsø was first settled at the end of the ice age. In the 19th century, it was known as the ‘Paris of the North’ with a pop 63,596. The city is home to the world’s most northerly brewery, botanical garden and planetarium. It is also May‘s birthtown!

OL Aune was the butcher where I used to shop in the 1970s. It is now a trendy cafe and restaurant. Thank you to Ellen BROX for a lovely night in town.

Built in 1861, the Tromsø Cathedral is Norway’s only wooden cathedral located in the middle of the city and so is the Catholic church Vår Frue. The main street is now a walking street and the library is where one should not be throwing stones 🙂

The old city hall/Rådstua with dog on the roof, a gazebo in the courtyard is absolutely charming and reminds me of the old music school & conservatory where I used to teach. Not sure if I like the contrast of the new city hall/Rådhus.

Random pictures: bank, high school and in front where the statues are now-was where the Tromsø Music School & Conservatory used to be but was sadly burnt down in 1979; cultural house, a shop house, another beautiful manhole with Tromsø’s coat of arm-the reindeer; and the view across the bridge with the famous landmark-the Arctic Church in the background.

Amazing underground parking, seems like the whole town is on top of the cars. Sure am glad that there are no earthquakes here… are there???

Tue: welcome to a new member of the HALD family. Erin (L&M’s cousin) gave birth to a baby girl Astrid, 13 Aug. Congratulations to grandparents Ellisiv&Magnus HALD. To Laila&Morten, my sincere gratitude for their heart-warming hospitality.

Babies control and bring up their families as much as they are controlled by them; in fact the family brings up baby by being brought up by him – Erik Erikson

Best of Northern Norway

30 Aug 2010 – Innhavet-Tromsø-Kvaløya

Overnight Thu night at the only hotel at Innhavet on E6 but one would never realize that it is the main highway E6 from Oslo to Kirkenes, even with a room facing the main road!

Fri: waited for the bus with a snake charmer and a few cartoon characters… being in Norway means that the bus arrives on time, 1035hrs.

Ulvsvåg onwards, WOW is the only word for the scenery… pictures here speak for themselves. The car-ferry from Bognes to Skarberget (the only car-ferry on E6) took app 25mins. 40yrs ago, only the drivers are allowed to drive the vehicles on and all passengers had to walk on the ferry. Got off the bus but was told to stay on – asked if we did not have to get off but was told that it another life-time ago with that rule! The scenery have not changed, they are as beautiful as it was 40yrs ago. Did not take pictures then; catching up now, even with the reflections from the bus window!!

Glad to have stopped and had a good night sleep. The views continue to be spectacular. Arrived into Narvik 1345hrs and waited for the bus to Tromsø departing at 1530hrs.

Arrived into Tromsø 1945hrs and was met by Morten HALD (L&M’s uncle) who drove us out to their country house on Kvaløya… now connected by bridge to Tromsø. Had to take the car-ferry in the 1970s. Kvaløya is an island in the Norwegian municipality of Tromsø, it has an area of 737 sqkm/285 sqmi, pop app 10,000 is a popular recreation area with great coastal scenery.

Sat: out walking all day picking berries in the mountains across the road from the house.

Sun: a lovely visit from Cathrine HALD (L&M’s auntie) & family/5 children and Ingvild HALD (L&M’s cousin) & family/3 children.

Spent a wonderful evening catching up with Claire ARMSTRONG & family/2 children. Claire baby-sat L&M in the 1970s and even traveled with us to SIN to help me out. Is it possible that she has children about the same age as when she used to baby-sit my children 🙂

Time goes, you say?  Ah no!
Alas, Time stays, we go – Henry Austin Dobson

57,000km of Shoreline!

26 Aug 2010 – Bye-bye Trondheim

Appreciations to Anne & Roar for their hospitality in spite of busy schedules and good to meet up with the family. Their number 3rd grandson is due in Oct.

Thu: on the train bright & early 0740hrs heading north. This is the 2nd time I am passing thru’ Hell on the train, the 1st time was 1968! Hell is the 1st station north of Trondheim but with no stop. The 1st stop is Varnes where the airport for Trondheim is located, app 30mins ride. After that the train stops at Stjørdal, Levanger, Verdal, Steinkjer, Snåsa and Grong in Trøndelag county. Mainly farmlands, rolling hills and light industry thru’ this part.

By 1200n the train tracked away from Trøndelag county, heading to Nordland county. This is where the views and landscapes are really breath-taking. The 1st stop, Majavatn followed by Trofoss, Mosjøen, Drevatn, Bjerka, Mo I Rana, passing the Polar Circle, Røkland, Rognan and finally after 9hrs I got off at Fauske connecting to a bus heading for Narvik. The railway line stops at Bodø and viewing the pictures of Nordland county, one can understand how difficult and costly it will be to build railway tracks. Also considering that the Helgeland Coast from Trondheim to Bodø is 57,000km of shoreline!

The polar circle/Arctic Circle is located at a latitude of 66° 33′ 44″ N. In Norway it is located on Saltfjellet/Salt Mountains, one of the national parks.

Not wanting to miss out any of the scenery and drive in the dark, decided to sleep the night at Innhavet with a spectacular sunset at app 2130hrs. Still have app 6-7 hrs of bus before arriving to Tromsø. After 9hrs on a train and 2hrs on the bus, still feeling the movements or is it a matter of age 🙂

I venerate old age; and I love not the man who can look without emotion upon the sunset of life, when the dusk of evening begins to gather over the watery eye, and the shadows of twilight grow broader and deeper upon the understanding – HenryW Longfellow


25 Aug 2010 – Down Town

Trondheim was named Kaupangen/market place or trading place by Viking King Olav Tryggvason in 997. It came to be called Nidaros later, used as the seat of the king and was capital of Norway until 1217. Now it is a city and municipality in South Trøndelag, a center of education, technical and medical research. As of 2009 the Trondhiem Region, a statistical metropolitan area has a pop of 260,364 in an area of 587 sq km/226.6 sq mi. SIN, a pop of nearly 5mill is in an area of 274.2 sq mi… that explains why I am hardly there 🙂

A statue of Olav Tryggvason, the founder of Trondheim is located in the city’s central plaza  mounted on top of an obelisk. The statue base is also a sun-dial but it is calibrated to UTC+1 so that the reading is inaccurate by one hour in the summer. It is in this area that one can find the most beautiful man-hole!

Random buildings on the main street, Munkegate: view from a tower at Nidaros Cathedral (downloaded from Wikipedia), interior of Trondheim Torg (a new mall), Court House/Tinghus, lawyer office, goldsmith, tourist info, City Hall/Rådhus

Stiftsgården is the royal residence, originally constructed in 1774 by Cecilie Christine Schøller. At 140 rooms constituting 4,000 sqm/43,055.64 sq ft /43000 sq ft, it is possibly the largest wooden building in Northern Europe, and has been used by royals and their guests since 1800.

Norway’s national sanctuary built over the grave of St Olav, Nidaros Cathedral and the Archbishop’s Palace are located side by side in the middle of the city centre. The cathedral built from 1070 on, is the most important Gothic monument in Norway and was an important Christian pilgrimage site during the Middle Ages. It is now the northernmost medieval cathedral in the world. During the Middle Ages and again after independence/1814, it was restored. This is the coronation church of the Norwegian kings. Trondheim’s ancient charm certainly adds personality to one of my favourite Norwegian towns to visit!

Trondheim boasts the world’s only bicycle lift, Trampe and the northernmost tramway line in the world: Gråkalbanen, the last remaining bit of the Trondheim Tramway is an 8.8 km/5.5 mi route. Mostly single-track outside the inner most parts of the city, except the stretch between Breidablikk and Nordre Hoem, one stop away from Anne & Roar’s station. Takes app 15mins to get into town from Hoemehøgda. Anne STENSETH sr lives app 20mins drive from Anne & Roar, an impressive 93yrs lady who after 30yrs still remembers me and the names of my children!

Discipline is remembering what you want – David Campbell


24 Aug 2010 – Day after the Wedding


Sun: a pleasant farewell breakfast in the main farm-house ending the magic where trolls turned back to stones 🙂


Bjørn EGGEN HERMANSEN, May’s friend drove us to meet his parents whose cabin is on the way to Nerskogen. Appreciations to Berit&John’s hospitality for a nice afternoon and thank you for taking care of May.


Anne&Roar’s new cabin (brown) at Nerskogen, app 1hr 30mins drive from Trondheim and app 1hr drive from Storlidale. This is my first visit and to me it is surely more a house than a cabin!  Also a very relaxing hideout for the father of the bride… 🙂 🙂


The term cabin usually means the bare necessities but their new place has all the luxuries from running hot & cold water, sauna, warm-cabled floors, dish washer, TV etc, you name it and it is there!


The neighbour’s cabin (red) also had grass on the roof but flowers added more colour on their roof and the grass seems greener across the fence 🙂 🙂 🙂

The grass is always greener over the septic tank – Emma Bombeck

Wedding at Trollheimen

23 Aug 2010 – Trollheimen/Home of the Troll

Sat: Guri & Hans Olav’s wedding started with a rainbow. What a romantic and beautiful day for this wonderful couple and such an honour to be there with family & friends of the bride & groom. The wedding started at 1200n with a church service, touching speeches, delicious food (trout, smoked-roast lamb and berries all specially made from the farm), good wines etc & dancing at the barn until 0400hrs! Best wishes and good luck to their future.

During the Christian era, pagan shrines and grave-mounds were replaced by churches and chapels. Lønset Church where the service was held is one of the five rural churches built at that time. Heather and alpine meadows provide grazing for sheep in the summer in this region. 1,161 km² of the mountains has been held since time immemorial as a almenning/collective by farmers in the area, giving them the right to hunt, fish, and rent cabins.

The climate is harsh here, even by Norwegian standards (we were blessed with sunshine today). Among other things, snakes have never made it this area, a place for me… not 🙂 Main industries today are agriculture, tourism and some light manufacturing. It has the largest sheep population in Norway, with 45,000 heads of sheep put out to graze in the mountains every year. It is one of Norway’s best ski-resorts and is surrounded by national parks.

Cocktails & dinner in the barn

Kodah moments with May, Marianne, Roar, Anne & Amund.

A memorable wedding day ending with dessert/the wedding cake + at least 10 other kinds of cakes, drinks, dance and dreamland for me 🙂

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person – Mignon McLaughlin

Drive to Storlidale

22 Aug 2010 – On the Road to a Wedding

Fri: E6 brings back memories when we used to drive from Dublin to Tromsø during our summer holidays along Norway & Europe largest deepest lake Mjøsa/100km north of Oslo, 117km long and 15km wide at its widest.

Road works on part of E6 due to widening of the road from Oslo to highway 3 was reason to a longer drive than expected. Headed towards Folldal with breath-taking views of Snøhette/Snow Hat. Welcoming coffee & cake break at Berit & Thorstein’s cabin/friends of Ingrid & HansK at Lønset en route to Storlidale/Storli Valley.

On the narrow road to Bortistu, the road-sign M is for pulling aside when there is traffic on the opposite direction. Thank goodness there was hardly any traffic in the opposite direction! The actual drive is about 6hrs but with stops and visit we arrived after 8hrs. Bortistu, where the wedding celebrations are held used to be a farm belonging to the Storli family. The barn/red building is renovated in 1938 to be a function room for up to 100 people. The surrounding buildings have 26 rooms with 70 beds for guests. The black/white picture was taken in 1880. The first weather record for the farm is dated 1579. Indeed a charming farm with a personality!

Arrived about 1830hrs and was greeted by the bride Guri, my god-daughter’s parents. Anne & Roar STENSETH go a long way back from our days in Tromsø. 3-days farm-wedding celebration is a good way to catch up and meet new people.

After food & drinks… let the games begin!

Games lubricate the body and the mind – Benjamin Franklin


18 Aug 2010 – Happy Anniversary to Ingrid & Hans Kristian

Mainly people pic for now until I get to a different part of Norway this weekend. The info & pic for Oslo posting was done in 12 Jul 2008. Good to meet up and shop with Marianne and welcome to the new addition, Edvard. Was in Oslo for their wedding 2 years ago/posting 11 Aug 2008 – Happenings

Was informed that the summer here in Oslo this year (now it is towards end of summer) has not been that fantastic ie weather-vice. Been here nearly a week and so far no complains. Had 2 days of rain but still warm enough to go without a jacket. Sat evening was a beautiful evening an outdoor performance by the Oslo Opera at the Opera House where the stage was a floating platform with a large crowd and fireworks to end the evening. A little taste to start the opera season was very delightful, even with just standing space!

Sun: As I am typing this my eyes spied the neighbour hanging up the hammock, wheeled a small table for his refreshment and relaxing in the sun. Norwegians are known to be sun-worshippers, especially this year! Family & friends of the Ingrid & Hans Kristian gathered to celebrate a beautiful day, probably the last day of summer! Thank you for a wonderful sunday.

Mon: met up with Mette and had a nice chat over coffee and a glass of wine. Our paths crossed in the early 1980s when I was going thru’ a difficult time in my life’s journey! We travelled to Ibiza and it was an eye opener for me to be there then! That was my first and last trip to Ibiza, not my scene but glad to have had experienced a week of it. A beautiful gipsy fortune-teller told me then that there will be three men in my life… hmmm my father, my grandson and maybe another grandson 🙂

Thank you to Ole K & Hanna for dinner yesterday. Nice to get to know their children, Jenny & Martin. Fond memories of Linn & Ole K when we were living in Tromsø over 30yrs ago. Where did all those years go???

The longest journey of any person is the journey inward – Dag Hammarskjold

2010 Paraskevidekatriaphobics

13 Aug 2010 – Friday 13 Jun 2008/Norway

Go to: ARCHIVES on the right hand column, Select months: Jun-Nov 2008 to see pix from Oslo/Norway, a beautiful country where I have lived from 1974-1985. Spent a lovely Tue afternoon with Linn & family, May and their grandmother on Nesøya. It is strange to be back in a country which was also onetime my home and in many ways, still is my home 🙂

Looking forward to a 3-days farm wedding celebrations for god-daughter Guri & Hans Olav’s wedding next weekend.

Muchas Gracias Rita y Jürgen

9 Aug 2010 – Feliz Cumpleaños SIN y Adiós España

What a scenic and panoramic drive for my last day in Calpe: Xalo/Alcalali, wine-producing history goes back to 1472 when the Moors sent a selection of wines to the Valencian court.

Coll de Rates Restaurant***situated at the foot of Col de Rates mountain, this rustic, beamed restaurant serves a delicious home-made apple cake and commands stunning views overlooking the many mountains & hilltops.

Fuentes de Algar: natural park is a natural beauty spot high up in the mountains behind Altea, which is incredibly green and rich in crystal clear water. The region is well-known as a large fruit-growing area and in particular for its groves of nisperos. Some 22 million kilos of nisperos are produced in the Guadalest and Algar valleys every year.

Guadalest: surrounded by the Aitana, Serella & Xorta Mountains the village was a strategic military stronghold with fortifications. dating back to 715AD and the period of Moorish occupation of Spain.  The town grew up around the fortress. Originally the population lived within the protection of the castle walls. The castle can only be entered by one small tunnel cut through the rock at the San Jose gate. The area inside the walls includes the ancient city dungeon, the bell tower, Saint Josep castle, the Orduña House, parish church and the Moorish fortified building called Alcozaiba.

The houses the Moors lived in then were built outside the San Jose gate. This part of the town, ‘el Arrabal’, with its little streets and squares is where the majority of the shops, craft shops, museums and restaurants are today. The river Guadalest flows through the area and has been dammed to form a spectacular a reservoir below the town. Guadalest has been declared a ‘Monument of Historical and Artistic Value’ and is a major tourist attraction in Spain.

La Casa**** with a Swiss trained chef Mike and his SIN wife Serene have been successfully running la Casa for over a decade. During autumn and spring dinner service is held in the dining lounge of this traditional Spanish town house. We were able to enjoy our meal ‘al fresco’ on our private terrace on the second floor of the house. All dishes served at la Casa are home-made, on the ‘a la carte’ menu.

What a wonderful way to celebrate SIN 45th Bday, with 3 fellow SIN in Spain!

Appreciations to Rita & Jürgen for their kind & generous hospitality. If not for them, Costa Blanca, especially Calpe would not have been in my traveling plans. Having experience the Ifach in all angles and positions, what more can anyone want 🙂