North to the Arctic – Part One: Bodø and Trondheim

I admit I could have planned this trip better.  My desperate need to cram as much as possible into every school holiday almost ruined this one, as did my inability to control the weather.

Bodø in 24 hours

We arrived in Bodø around noon; just in time to enjoy the last 2 hours of sunlight.  The sun set at 215pm. I force-marched my brood through the chilly streets of downtown Bodø to the harbor.  I’d seen a photo of a wave hitting the quay and hoped to recreate the image.  Our documented excursion was fun and less dramatic… well, until someone scrapped both knees and needed a very long piggyback ride to the hotel.

 

I didn’t want the beginning of our trip to be tainted by my poor planning.  How did I not realize it would be cold, wet, and dark in November?  Bodø was an afterthought.  I already had round trip tickets to Trondheim.  Bodø is a 10-hour train ride North from Trondheim or a one hour flight.  I convinced myself we needed to see Bodø.  I was already going North. Bodø was just a little further.

The weather was just a bit too warm for the Northern Lights to make an appearance.  Boo. I also hadn’t planned enough time in Bodø to visit Saltstraumen.  It is one of the strongest tidal currents in the world and can be an impressive sight.  I hope to return in the Spring and make the 30-minute drive.

img_20161118_104853921I wouldn’t let the cold and dark ruin my first trip to Bodø. I decided to explore alone.  I am a big fan of thrift stores and the Bodø Fretex did not disappoint.  Torvgata and Storgata had beautiful shops. O. Johanson has a variety of quality menswear, including one of my favorite brands, Peak Performance.  The owner rents a portion of his space out to Studio – an interior design shop featuring furniture, clothing, jewelry, and food.  I could move right in.

The morning brought snow.  The kids eagerly walked up the hill along Torvgata to view Bodø Domkirke. It was small, but beautiful.  We didn’t linger and set off to the airport in our wet coats and icy mittens.

The view from my airplane window as we traveled back to Trondheim was spectacular. It made every penny I’d spent on the Bodø leg worth it. The sun was out.  Snow on the ground.  Postcard perfect.

Trondheim in 48 hours

Trondheim was even better than expected.  I selected the Clarion Hotel & Congress Trondheim. It is large and modern – a convention center with friendly, helpful staff, restaurants, and lots of guests, yet we had a quiet room.  I chose it for its proximity to an indoor water park and music museum – one on either side of the hotel.  Regardless of Trondheim’s weather, my kids were guaranteed a great time.

Pirabet has 2 large water slides, 3 hot tubs, a wave pool, lazy river, a kiddie area, and lap pool with a giant inflatable climbing mountain. My kids were in paradise.  We were there for hours.  (NOTE: We purchased our tickets from the Clarion at a discount.  The fitness center at the Pirabet is also available for hotel guests.)

The hotel’s restaurants were booked the entire weekend.  I was disappointed, but the concierge booked us a table at a new BBQ restaurant 400 meters away. Roft is located on the bridge above Trondheim’s train station.   We ate every bite – BBQ chicken sandwich and BBQ pulled pork, sweet potato fries, and ribs.

Our only full day in Trondheim was completely centered around a toy store.  I’ve figured out my kids will walk surprisingly far if there is the promise of a toy store and the possibility of a purchase.  My teenager is only motivated by food.   I quickly came up with a plan to walk in a circle around town – first along the Nidelva River, then to the Nidaros Cathedral, swing by the toy store, and finally to the Rockheim Museum.

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Our walk along the Nidelva River led us to the Gamle Bybro and the Gate of Happiness.  A couple quick pics and we were off on our short pilgrimage to Nidaros Cathedral.  The cathedral was impressive.   Not as large as Notre Dame, but equally inspiring. We drank cocoa from the gift shop café while examining the cathedral’s West Front.  Tickets for the museum, crown jewels exhibit, and cathedral are available at the gift shop.  We opted to tour just the cathedral.  Once inside, we spied carved animal heads and eventually went down to the crypt. The pipe organ is massive.  We enjoyed hearing the beautifully loud “wind” while we were there.

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Off to the toy store next.  It was located inside Trondheim Torg. (The toy store itself is not important.  Remember, it is just my diversionary tactic to keep my kids moving.)  I did manage to get out of the toy store without a purchase.  I was not as lucky in H&M.  In all fairness, I needed a shirt for our return flight as I’d dropped a greasy potato on the shirt I’d been wearing during breakfast. So, a shirt for me, a sweatshirt and pair of pants for the teenager, and, the most necessary item of all, a Santa beanie complete with beard.

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Rockheim is very much like Seattle’s EMP.  Interactive displays, hands-on something, something, and instrument experiences. I was very impressed. While the museum focuses on popular Norwegian music from the 1950s on (hand over your heart for a-ha), it incorporates influential and popular music from Europe, England and the US.  The kids loved it. I only got my kids to leave because they were hungry and the museum café had already closed.

Dinner our last night in Trondheim was tricky.  I had hoped to eat at the Clarion’s rooftop restaurant Astrum.  Booked up, we passed Røft on the bridge and headed to Troll.  It sounded promising on Google, but was also booked. So was Credo and Graffi Grill.  We found a seat and the most delicious meal at Tasting.  We practically licked the plates and bowls – mushroom soup, curried meat, halibut ceviche, duckbreast, sirloin, crème brûlée, and raspberry ice cake.  I wish someone could have carried me back to the hotel.

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Our time in Trondheim was relaxing, fun, and surprisingly full.  It is on my list for a return visit when the weather is warmer and there is more sunlight.  I hear the hikes are spectacular.

Lessons learned: Bodø is more about nature then the city. Next trip, I’ll take the train in or out of Bodø and soak up more of the Artic scenery.  We stayed at the Scandic Bodø.  It was clean and quiet, but no frills.  Breakfast, yet no restaurant.  I’d pay a bit more and stay at the Scandic Havet.  It’s just down the street on the quayside with a view, restaurant, and bar.  Two days in Trondheim is good, but three or four are needed if hiking or going on any excursion. I’d definitely stay at the Clarion again, only I’d book a table at Astrum while booking my room.

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