Saturday, July 17, 2010

Trondheim, Norway

Map picture

A Warm Day In Trondheim, Norway

Even though the ship has no internet or phone service right now because of our location so far North, I thought I would go ahead and write about our adventures and send them along when we once again come within range of the satellites. Amazingly, my iPad and iPhone both have great signals if I go to the top of the ship. We are 40 miles off the Norwegian coast, and still are receiving good signal strength. I am amazed and certain that this cannot last forever.

Yesterday the ship made port in the Norwegian city of Trondheim. Trondheim lies about a third of the way up the coast and at one time was the ancient capital of Norway. Today it is a modern city with a population of around 180,000. It boasts five universities, and during winter has over 35,000 students in residence. It also has several noted museums, five separate opera houses and enough ambience to charm any casual visitor. It is connected to the rest of the country by an excellent rail, bus and ferry system. The city even has a trolley system that the local residents love.

Without any question, the highlight attraction of the city is the Nidaros Cathedral. DSC_1670 This magnificent structure dates from the 11th Century, with the earliest construction having started around 1070. The Cathedral is described as “the most important, most historic and most impressive ecclesiastical building in Scandinavia.” It is the burial place of the medieval Norwegian kings, and is also the site of the coronation of Haakon VII in 1905, an event that marked the beginning of modern Norway.

Our tour left the ship around 1pm, and first included a drive around the city and up into some of the surrounding hills. The busses stopped and let us off at an old fortress call Kristiansten Fortress. DSC_1582 It was build in the middle ages, but more importantly from the top of this high hill there are wonderful vistas of the city and harbor below. DSC_1589 From here we had to walk for almost two hours, starting with a very steep trek down the hillside, on our way to Nidaros Cathedral. It was a wonderful, sunny day. In fact there was not a single blade of grass that did not have someone sitting on it. The entire city was out to enjoy the unprecedented weather. Parks were full, sidewalk cafes overflowing and a general air of excitement permeated the city. The temperature reached 75 degrees, thus becoming the warmest day of the year. For half of the year the city lives in complete darkness and is buried in snow, so hence the excitement over a nice sunny warm day.

On our walk we got to see local neighborhoods up close. We visited the waterfront, when wooden buildings that are over 800 years old are still standing. DSC_1623 Finally we arrived at the Cathedral, and I must admit that it is quite a sight. We were given around a 30 minute guided tour of the structure, and then had time for a coffee outside before returning to our ship: all in all, a wonderful day in Trondheim.

Today, July 17th is a day at sea. Early this morning we crossed the Arctic Circle at around 66 degrees of North Latitude. The Arctic Circle is the latitude which marks the point north of which on the summer solstice in June, there will be 24 hours of sun, and while on the winter solstice in December there will be 24 hours in which the sun never rises. There is a corresponding line of latitude in the southern hemisphere and it is called the Antarctic Circle. On our journey to Antarctica several years ago we crossed the Antarctic Circle and went as far south as 65 degrees of South Latitude. The Arctic and Antarctic lines of latitude are determined by the tilt of the Earths axis, and are not the same North from South, and they change over time.

So, today we have travelled farther North on the surface of the earth than we ever have, and have now gone further North then we did South on our trip to Antarctica.

We will remain at sea all day today, and at noon tomorrow we will make port in the small city of Honningsvag, Norway. This city of some 3,500 inhabitants lies at the very northern tip of Norway and serves as the gateway to the North Cape Region of the Arctic.

It should be interesting!


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