Alice in Vikingland: Adventures of a Foreign Student
Of Modern Times and Medieval Magic
My mom stared at me through the laptop screen, her eyes wide with surprise, and her face ashen. She whispered to me, “How could you do it? How could you eat such a majestic creature?”
To tell the truth, dear readers, I felt no guilt and only immense delight about my foray into eating a wonderful luxurious reindeer stew in the cosy and charming Baklandet neighborhood in Trondheim.
Train Ride to Wonderland
First of all, going to Trondheim was an arduous process. I found out that a plane ticket from Oslo to Trondheim is more expensive than a ticket to Copenhagen. Cue, your Alice deciding to book night-train tickets to Trondheim. While the seats themselves were not uncomfortable, my spine took a hit sitting straight for eight hours. Also, I got too tired to roam around after reaching Trondheim. Now I could have taken the sleeping cabin tickets. However, those cost as much as plane tickets, and I was preserving my money for “touristic” purposes.
The City Centre
After a good two hours of sleep and a quick look through the window, I decided on a bohemian long dress to match the sunny day. Wrong Decision. Not even ten minutes later, the weather had taken a sharp turn, and it was both super windy and was sleeting so hard that I could barely see anything through my glasses. Trudging through the snow-covered roads, I found myself right in the city centre. Unlike Karl Johan in Oslo, the roads in the centre are wider and built to sustain vehicles. The city has less than one third of the population of Oslo.
The 36 000 students are at the heart of the city’s landscape, and in the pre-pandemic era, festivals were the norm. Right now as the city rolls back to normalcy, the students are coming back to the city. The amplitude of affordable food in Trondheim was an absolute treat. I had my first lunch at Superhero Burgers, a local fast food joint. The burgers were bursting with flavour. My Barbecue Burger was great, but my Chili Truffle Chips was the star. The chips were crispy, the chili spicy and the truffles added just the perfect amount of luxurious creaminess.
Another quick weather check let me know it would be clear for the next two hours. I decided to go to Korsvika for a quick breath of fresh air. While the district boasts of a scenic hiking trail “Ladestian”, I just wanted my feet on a beach. The walk to the beach took me through the neighbourhood of Svartlamoen. Street arts redolent of Banksy’s style dominated the walls. The Graffiti was more pop art rather than scribbles.
A 12-tonne sculpture, reminiscent of a monocular telescope sits at the start of the trail. Children made full use of the open structure and played catch around it. One of the things I love about Norway is that almost all street installations are interactive. The general public knows how to have fun while also keeping the sculptures clean.
Korsvika has both sandy and rocky beaches. In this off-season the birds chirping, and the waves crashing onto the shore are the only sound one can hear. Cliffs surround the beach, and adventurous Norwegians were ice climbing on one side and diving in the cold water on the other. I decided to just sit on the beach and enjoy seeing the sunset over the increasingly turbulent sea. Our two hours were up, dark clouds were accumulating in the sky and seemed like witches conspiring about drowning me. A race against time ensued as I ran to get undercover.
Drenched for the second time, I went back home and changed into dry clothes. Sabura sushi’s student discount on their buffet menu meant I indulged in gluttony and gorged on satays and sushi for the next two hours. Later I found out that this discount is also available in other cities.
- Golden rule: the weather will always win.
The Other Hogwarts
Wrapped in puffer jackets and sturdy raincoats, I was ready to take over Trondheim the next day. First, I decided to drop by NTNU to see the “Harry Potter” building. Aptly named for the grand regency castle-like exterior and the dark wide halls and sprawling stairways, the building has a super creative name - “The Main Building”. Jokes aside, I couldn't help but be dorky and take multiple photos of this beauty. The castle, err, university building stands on a hilltop, and from the grounds around one can catch glimpse of the city and the fjord too. In the aftermath of this visit, the modern buildings of UiO hurt my inner child each time I am reminded of the majesty that NTNU students get to enjoy.
The Gothic Dream and A Medieval Street
Next was a church with a 1000-year-old history. Nidaros Cathedral is the final destination of a 640 km pilgrimage route. The church, which had survived multiple fires, is now an iconic building of Trondheim. The stained glasses were beautifully delicate, and the lights inside were kept muted to let them take centrefold.
The intricate wood carving inside was as detailed as the stone sculptures that adorned the exterior walls of the cathedral. The church grounds also include the archbishop’s palace. Here, I saw the King’s Crown and other royal jewellery as well as coronation objects. While the collection here is much smaller than in other European counterparts, the gems added another layer to this fairy tale church.
A little path took us to the Bakklandet. This district is much like a smaller version of the famed Nyhven streets of Copenhagen, which were also inspired by the water traffic corridors of Venice. The bright coloured wooden houses sit on the sides of canals on narrow cobblestone streets. And it was here that I got to scar my mother’s sentiments after enjoying a heavenly bowl of stew in the Baklandet Skydsstation. This cosy little bistro serves generous portions of Norwegian cuisine that one should not miss if in Trondheim. Down the street there are arrays of pubs, galleries and novelty stores to keep one occupied afterwards.
The last stop on my itinerary was the Egon restaurant situated at the very top of Tyholttårnet, a radio tower. Standing at 126 metres, this is the tallest building in Trondheim. The restaurant was revolving, and I was able to get a bird’s eye view of the entire city. I went in the evening to catch the vistas of the city both during the day and nighttime. The food is alright, and the restaurant has a budget-friendly buffet pizza offer. However, it is the panoramic view that makes this visit exceptional.
The next morning, I took the train back to Oslo. This time I got to enjoy the view of snow-capped mountains and rural villages shining in the sunlight. The train journey with the spectacular changing landscape was the perfect ending to a fun weekend.