What a lovely city – third largest in Norway and the surrounding area known as the breadbasket of the country since most of the food crops are produced around this area. Not counting coffee of course, though Norway is the second largest consumer of coffee!
We arrived via Kong Harald Hurtigruten ferry boat from Bergen (yeah, these are totally out of order, but just lazy) about 9am, found our Airbnb guest house just a 13 minute walk from the harbour. Got settled in, then headed for the Nidaros Cathedral, The Archbishop’s Palace Museum, The Crown Regalia, and The Armoury. We managed to arrive at such time to watch a filming of an upcoming local show, view the Crown Regalia, then attend the 25 minute English speaking tour of the Cathedral at noon, then enjoy a 25 minute organ recital played on the 1739 Wagner organ at 1pm, climbed the tower at 1:30 tour, then off for the 2pm tour of the Archbishop’s Palace. Worked out very well. We have no inside photos since they are not allowed.
After a short rest, we were ready for the evening adventure. We walked along the very popular harbour which was abuzz with bar hoppers and masses of people enjoying great food in the many restaurants. We continued on, however, to Kristiansten Fortress which was only 1.8 kilometers from our apartment. Many of the area attractions are close in to within walking distance of the harbour.
We certainly could have used at least one more day here in Trondheim. Especially with mid August being shoulder season and some of the attractions open late and/or close early. There were a couple attractions that would require grabbing the bus and going out of town that i would have liked to have included.
We’ve been incredibly fortunate to have clear skies and warm temperatures here. The high yesterday was 62 and today is forecasted 72! Alas, we are headed for the train station about 9a to catch our flight back to Oslo for another short visit.
Kristiansten Fortress – An absolute must visit – we went in the evening and stay until past sunset, but photos taken in the morning from here would yield stunning vistas of the town and harbour. History: It was built after the city fire of Trondheimin 1681 to protect the city against attack from the east. Construction was finished in 1685. It fulfilled its purpose in 1718 when Swedish forces laid siege against Trondheim. The fortress was decommissioned in 1816 by king Charles XIV John.
This morning, our car hire fellow came and collected us to take us to Kirkwall, do the paperwork and off we go. This is a klunky, expensive way for me to have planned this, however, I think in the long run, it will actually be less expensive since the hotels in Kirkwall are twice the cost as where we are staying. Coming in at night and after car rental hours throws a wrench in the works. So, why are we ferrying instead of flying? For comparison: Ferry from Lerwick to Kirwall: £20.20 ($32.95) vs Air: £96,62 ($157.59). Of course, the flight is much shorter in duration, but multiply that by three and the savings add up quickly! Also, that is the cheap airfare and they don’t offer very many seats at that rate – you’d have to be very flexible in travel dates to get those, or just get lucky that they were available on the day you wanted to travel.
Despite a cloudy start to the morning, by 9am, the clouds had rolled away and the most stunning, sunshine broke out – honestly, it was as everything was glistening brilliant green and blue. Orkney is clearly a more agriculturally based economy than Shetland. The grasses here seem beautifully designed to finish cattle and indeed, we have seen far more cattle here than on Shetland. And huge cattle they are! Although these animals are, and I’m guessing here, are in the 1400-2000 lb range and the soil is moist and soggy, they are not wading in mud! The grasses form a fabulous sod, but yet are succulent and rich. I’m going to try and find out what they are using, but i fear they won’t be as useful in our area since we get so much hotter in the summer and colder in the winter. But it is worth exploring.
Before the afternoon is far gone, we drove to Liddle, South Ronaldsay to tour the Tomb of the Eagles. This very informative neolithic tomb (see Dallas pulling himself out of the tomb) and Bronze age stone building were well worth the effort. About a mile in pasture walk to and from the tomb with stunning views along the cliff overlooking the North Sea.
We started Friday morning with comfy temperatures and brilliant sunshine, however, the wind was practically gale force at 37 mph with gusts over 60 mph! If this was happening in north Missouri, we’d expect a storm in short order. However, here it was sunshine, punctuated with short bursts of rain showers. Except for our tour at Broch of Gurness, which the attendant closed right after we entered, all other outdoor venues were closed because of the dangerous wind. We cut through to Dounby to a famous butcher shop, The Dounby Butcher, which we found has been recognised as one of the butchers in all of Great Britain, and, yes, she is a woman! We visited with her dad at the shoppe; he was rightly proud of her! She did explain that the Aberdeen-Angus cattle they butcher are all grassfinished and the one she just did today weighed 320 kilos (704 lbs), in the meat. She also revealed that most of the cattle are kept in the barn during the winter and fed silage since, although there isn’t any snow, it does rain a lot and the fields are too muddy for these heavy cattle. Of course, then the manure must be cleaned out of the barns in the spring, then spread on the fields when ground conditions will allow. Thanking her for her time in answering our questions, we then picked up some meat items and brought a scenic route back to our apartment and spent the day here.
Restless, I bundled up and went outside for short walks all afternoon and chanced a quick chat with the neighbor boy who had come out to collect hen eggs and feed them. Here’s a quick shot out our door as the evening wore on – that’s our ride in the car park.
Sun is shining and wind has laid quite a lot, so off we go to tick off all the activities we had planned for yesterday. First up was Skara Brae, an excellent venue for getting inside one of the stone homes from the Bronze age. It had been rebuilt, but was designed on an actual footprint of the real thing. Toured other ruins of life in the old days – and, no, i don’t believe they were the ‘good ole’ days.’ Life was exceptionally hard. Then the tour of the local laird’s and archaeologist’s home. Much more plush .
The journey to and around Brough of Birsay was a wonderful way to finish a great day. Walking across the ocean bottom at low tide was just the coolest thing to me, but I’m easily amused. The ruins were of different ages and we walked around them some, but the best part was taking the seaside cliff walk around this small tidal island.
Cooling off next day, with quite a lot of mist. We headed east through Kirkwall to Mull Nature Reserve for a walkabout. Muddy and wet, but nothing to be done for it. After viewing the Gloup, we then hiked around Mull Head and carefully traversed the slippery, steep steps down to the sea, then up again to the Brough of Deerness. Unfortunately, this is the only way in and out, so i had to control my fear of heights once again to get back to the main island.
It was time to find our way to Stromness for our ferry trip to Scrabster on the northern edge of mainland Scotland, with only a quick stop to top off the fuel tank in Kirkwall. Despite the unfortunate loss of nearly an entire day of touring, we visited all the places we had planned for Orkney. A beautiful island and friendly people – a jewel for Scotland.
We leave the car in the long term car park in Stromness – take photos of it, so the company will know that we didn’t leave any dings in it, lock it, toss the keys into the boot, shut it, stashed our luggage in the ferry office and went for a short walkabout of Stromness and enjoyed a nice late lunch/early supper at The Ferry Inn. On the ship by 4 pm, departure scheduled for 4:30 pm and in only 1 1/2 hours we’ll be in Scrabster, then taxi to our hotel in Thurso only a mile away.
A slow but sure travel to Lerwick, Shetland Islands results in our being exhausted upon arrival. The adventure begins with our departure from Edinburgh Waverly Station with a 2 1/2 hour train ride along the lovely east coast of Scotland from Edinburgh to Aberdeen on East West Rail followed by a 3 hour layover before our ship launched. Except for the Aberdeen Maritime Museum a short walk from the docks, there is NOTHING to do in Aberdeen on such short layover.
Back to the docks to board our Northlink Ferry and if I ever travel by overnight ferry again, purchasing a sleeping pod or bunk will surely be a good investment. Trying to save money, I opted for the reclining chair (think of the older width airline seats). Thankfully, the 12 1/2 hour voyage on the North Sea didn’t include being confined to the seat nor was it crowded, but it was terribly cold. Experienced ferry travelers were bundled in their sleeping bags! Those of us who weren’t prepared covered ourselves with whatever clothes we could muster. I had included a wool scarf in my satchel which served as a blanket and Nathan loaned me his shirt. Once he got cold, he nicked Dallas’ long sleeve shirt so that he was left with his short sleeved shirt, but he’s always been able to tolerate the cold quite well. He ended up on a lounge bench with a seat cushion over his head to drown out the snoring. I stayed in my seat and was entertained by stereo snoring by a bloke in front and the one to the side. Other people laid on the floor covered up with seat cushions for warmth. Not a good experience, however, it was FAR less expensive than flying. We arrived at 7:30am in Lerwick.
We picked up our rental car from Bolts Car Hire and headed to a grocery store for supplies before making the 20 minute drive to our guest house, Melstadr in Levenwick. Just a step around the wraparound porch yields this stunning view!
After the boys took long naps, we headed over to St. Ninian’s Isle and thus begins our Shetland Island Experience!