June 10: This week in Trondheim

Back to regular life in Trondheim, now that the holidays and visits are done. Kids are going to school until June 21, Ted and I are going to work most days, although things are slowing down now that Ted is done teaching. We are going to make the most of our last month here, enjoying the every day activities and making time for special experiences.

I found a cheap ping pong set, so we’ve had a Sunday morning ping pong ritual for the last 2 weeks. The outdoor table is fun and challenging–a slight breeze gives the ball some extra movement! There is also a ping pong table at the kids’ school, so Anders has played with friends there too. He’s getting to darn good. In addition to playing a traditional game, we now play “Skinner,” where we see how many volleys we can get in a row, then try to break that record (from Principal Skinner from the Simpsons, trying to convince Bart that licking envelopes can be a fun game). Ted and I are the champs, with 87 volleys. On Monday, Ted and I went downtown to return the library key and retrieve our apartment key. A few pictures from our walk downtown. 

We ate lunch at a Thai place. It was so good–but so spicy for Ted! They have 3 levels: mild, sterk (strong/spicy) and Thai sterk (Thai-level spicy). We both ordered sterk, but Ted’s was maybe double-sterk. He was having a kind of spiritual experience, you can see it in his eyes. But he managed to finish his Pad Thai and ate the rest of my green curry, so he had a satisfying experience.

Then we went to Work Work, a co-working space. Although I don’t really understand the working aspect, because in addition to coffee, tea, and chips, they have 10 beers on tap, a full range of board games, video games, pin ball, shuffle board…so it’s good for a break from work work. We did work a bit, then played Pandemic Contagion.

The new burrito place in Trondheim is getting into the border-wall advertising game.

This weekend, Nora played in another small tournament with her soccer team. They are getting their medals, she is at the end putting it around her neck in the picture.

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June 2: It’s summer, for the moment

The weather has been so amazing this week, ~70F/20C and sunny, not usual May/early June weather, but everyone is happy for it! Downtown was hopping today!

Nora and I toured Stiftsgården, the royal palace in Trondheim. No pictures allowed though, and it seems that the interior is the closest guarded Norwegian secret because I can’t find any online. We will have to buy their book for 25kr to take pics of the pics if you are going to get a glimpse. Or you can see it yourself. It is lovely, they have tried to restore or preserve it as much as possible from when it was built in the late 1700s.

A little gelato stop at a downtown stop, but we all agree that Franscesca’s is so much better. No contest!

On the walk from the bus back to our apartment, I asked Ted for the key and he pulled out of his pocket…the key to the men’s 3rd floor bathroom at the library. He used the bathroom key, then accidentally dropped our house key back into the basket when he was finished. They both have small plastic tags, not the big keychains that prevent a mix-up like that. Oh no. And no getting it back today, turns out that the library closes at 4PM, and we discovered the mixup at 3:58PM. They would not answer their phone. So our little spiderman (and the fact that no one locked the sliding door) saved the day!

The plan is to swap the keys back on Monday. We assume that they want their key back as much as we want ours!

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May 26: Trollstigen Fairy Tale

May 26, Part 4: From Geiranger, we turned around and retraced our steps back to Trollstigen and our wishes came true: no fog, blue skies, not crowded. The view is breathtaking and unsettling. Even walking on solid ground, some of us felt a little vertigo just looking out at the expansive space before us. Massive and ancient landscapes, puts our place on Earth into perspective. We are but a blip in time and space.

Looking down at the 11 hairpin turns that climb up to the top. We drove up this was in the morning, tonight we drove back down. 

Notice the viewing platform in the lower right–many of our pictures are from there. The front is glass and many of the sides that face the valley are also glass, so you get the feeling of having very little between you and the great big space. Many people have built cairns everywhere here. This is a particularly daring one. Balance. 

Rainbow falls!

Going back up from the viewing platforms. Grateful for stairs with rails.

Here you can see some of the paths with a rail and people midway up the mountain against the backdrop of the snow. The paths, viewing platforms, and visitors center are new since Ted and I last visited 13 years ago. The concrete, steel, and glass visitors center and viewing platforms are in harmony with the landscape while allowing more space to explore. It was the grand finale to an epic day. Grateful to share it with these good people.

One picture of part of our drive, much of it was through these lush farm areas. Spring has sprung, and summer is upon us. Most of us ended up buying an extra sweatshirt on our way up the mountain because we didn’t pack warm enough clothes for the elevation and ferries! Useful souvenirs.

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May 26: Geirangerfjord

May 26, Part 3: We reached the entrance to Geirangerfjord! Along with dozens of other tourists and many cruise-ship tour buses! A spectacular viewpoint of this quintessential fjord, with tall mountains that plunge down into deep blue waters, greens of the trees, summer sun, and almost 90 degree turn bringing cruise ships into the little town of Geiranger.

The panoramic exaggerates the bend in the fjord, but it captures the narrow channel and view points that wrap around the bend. 

Looking toward the town of Geiranger, with the huge cruise ships for perspective.

Looking back toward the sea, with the waterfall in the distance.

On the far side of the road, a waterfall fell from above. The water was channeled under the road and came out under the viewing platform. Anders used a very high shutter speed to catch a moment in the life of the water droplets.

There is a viewing platform that is artistically similar to the other viewing platforms and bridges at other stops along this route. They also have this see-though artistic viewfinder to identify features on the landscape.

We plunged in among the tourists for an ice cream and coffee break. Then turned around to re-trace our steps back to Trollstigen, hoping for clear skies in the evening, and eventually back to our hytta.

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May 26: Afternoon road to Geiranger

May 26, Part 2: After we reached the top of Trollstigen, the road comes down gently, surrounded by the snow covered peaks gushing with waterfalls and greenery surrounding the river running through the valley. We stopped to marvel a bit at the scenery.

Moving on, we came to Gudbrandsjuvet, where there is a small town and a cool footbridge that leads to a cafe…that wasn’t open. Good thing we packed lunch! We took our picnic down to the edge of the river. Then we all waded in the icy cold mountain river running by. The water is so clear it almost looks like we are not standing in the water. A fantastic picnic stop.

Finally, we took a ferry from Linge to Eisdal, a short 15 minutes or so but a good chance to see the scenery. Finally, we went through small farms and towns to the entrance to the Geirangerfjord–next post!

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May 26: Trollstigen morning fog

May 26, Part 1: Saturday morning was foggy, but we set off on our day trip with high spirits. We drove from our cabin on the ~100 km road from Trollstigen to Geiranger, back again in the evening.

The first part of the road twists through eleven hairpin turns up to Stigrøra, 858 meters above sea level. We stopped at the bridge across the Stigfossen waterfall, still below the fog. The road is carved into the mountain and supported by stone walls, opening in 1936 after 8 years of construction.

The Kløvstien is a footpath that climbs the route, with so many of these Lord-of-The-Rings open stone staircases. Ted had the courage to go down a bit and back up, I was content to look. I’d love to climb it, but not sure I could overcome the fear of heights. Maybe if there were a rail!

Then we entered the fog and saw little except the road in front of us. We took the walk through the exquisite architectural viewing platforms and ponds, but could see nothing below. Pictures of that later from the evening trip back.

Eduardo was our expert up the mountain, Jeremy, Anders and I were the kids in the back, and poor Nora was in the way back seat. We were very good kids and only asked “are we there yet?” once. It was great to go before the heaviest tourist season. There were other people from all over the world there (ok, lots of Germans and a few other Americans, plus others), and we saw plenty of tour buses throughout the day, but it could have been a lot busier on those hairpin turns. We have good timing.

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May 25-26: Little Annebu Hytta

Our little Annebu hytta. Before the gorgeous pictures of the Trollstigen and Geiranger scenery, let’s take a moment to appreciate our little weekend farm cabin setting. If we never come back, it might be because we bought a goat and took over the cabin forever. It has wireless. We might keep Jeremy and Eduardo too.

Everyone got right to work after our long car ride, grilling up some food and cutting wood for a fire. The shed was well stocked with tools. Pictures try to show all views from the cabin, surrounded by snowy mountains, green valleys, trees, cows, and a river.

Nora told us camp stories around the fire…horror stories. A whole lot of murder. Just murder. Good thing it didn’t really get dark. The grown ups were up after midnight around the fire, when it was just kind of twilight.

Speaking of murder…the kids didn’t want to sleep in the same room with the dead animal heads. This is the only one that could be moved. Everyone who entered alive remained alive. Ted made friends to keep everyone happy. They are both so handsome.

  Saturday morning knitting with a view of the valley, waiting for the fog to blow off.

Pannekaker! We were planning on waffles because we saw a waffle maker in the kitchen, but it turned out to be a sandwich maker. We tried, but it doesn’t work for waffles. The pancakes tasted *almost* as good.

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May 25: Visit to a Brekken ancestor in Lesjaskog

We are taking a weekend roadtrip to Trollstigen and Geiranger, two of the natural wonders of Norway. The road there passes through Lesjaskog, the town where the Brekkens came from in the late 1860s.

We visited the cemetery in Lesjaskog where Ted’s great-great-great-grandfather, Rolf Kristoffer Brekken, is buried. As far as we know, he is the last of the family to die in Norway–all of his children and wife moved to America just after his death in 1860. We might be the only people to visit Rolf in all of these years–13 years ago with Cliff when we first found his grave and the farm they came from, and today. We were sorry that we didn’t think to bring flowers to plant there, but we did pick some dandelions to lay at the headstone.

The etching on the stone is very weathered. It reads:
Haugianeren (read more at the link, thanks to Norwegian friends!)
Rolf K Brekken

 His son, Christoffer (Americanized spelling), came to America with his wife, Marit, also from Lesjaskog. They were born and raised within a 5-minute walk of each other; both of their family homes are now part of the same farm. They married in 1863, so I assume that they came to America shortly after their marriage, probably around 1866 (his brother Torger came in 1866 and his wife in 1867). They had 9 children.

Their son Carl was born in 1875, who begat Kermit Orville (born 1912), who begat Clifford, who begat Ted, who begat Anders and Nora. 

The Lesjaskog church is set in a beautiful setting and the church yard and cemetery is very well cared for. Sprinklers were running when we arrived, gardening tools are hanging where they can be used, many graves have fresh flowers planted.

They also have a large memorial to those who emigrated to America alongside war memorials.

“In memory of those who emigrated to America.”

Seeing the location of the Brekken farm up on a hill, compared to the flat farms down in the valley, it’s likely that the Brekkens had a difficult farming situation. We would like to learn more about why all of the children moved to America. We did learn a little last time we visited; we met the people who are now living on that farm, who also had relatives move to America during the same period and settle in the same county in North Dakota. Communities stuck together.

The emmigrant memorial is beside memorials for veterans from 1814 to 1914, and another for those who died during WWII.

Anders found a few other “Anders Brekken” graves. One other was in his late 20s and died in 1945, likely war-related (spelled Brækken though).

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May 24: Jeremy and Eduardo are here!

Happy days! Our friend Eduardo and Jeremy (Ted’s colleague and his partner) are visiting this week! We started off by meeting them downtown for lunch and a first view of Trondheim.

Then we met the kids as they were getting out of school. Anders was so excited that he wanted them to be there after school, so we also showed them around the school playground and building. Then home for a nap!

They got up just in time for an express-hike up to Estenstadhytta to make it in time for taco buffet! Although we warned them that Norwegian tacos are not what they might be hoping for, this was the best taco buffet ever, enhanced by a quick and often steep hike! When you are hungry, any taco is the best taco.

Then we meandered back through Estenstadmarka, visiting the perfectly glassy lake, found a forest play place, and a water wheel. We tried to hike the jet lag out of them, it seemed to work. We were all exhausted by the time we got home (over 20,000 steps that day!), ready for a night of sleep.


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May 20: Burmaklippen, Estenstad Hytta and Lake

Another hike to Estenstadhytta yesterday with side trips to Burmaklilppen and Estenstad Lake. 6.2 miles/10km round trip from our house, over 16,500 steps. What a gorgeous day, and so many people out enjoying it! It is a kind of paradise, so beautiful.

We had to guess a path to get up to Burmaklippen, and had a lot of uphill climbing!


It’s really not that far down and it’s a solid slab of rock, but yes, we are a little anxious. The downward slope of the rock gives a feeling of … down. But the view! Nora didn’t want to go too far. It’s a “break some limbs” kind of fall, not a “certain death” kind of fall, but better safe than sorry.

Back at Estenstadhytta, the joint is jumping! This is just a tiny sliver of the people!

Next Ted navigated us to Estenstad lake, full of warm-weather revelers.

The water is fine! A man took a swim out to the middle and back again, but the kids preferred to stay close to shore. Nora was determined to fish out a stick that was just out of reach. Ted let her use his shoelace to lash 2 long sticks together, but she still couldn’t quite reach it. We kept telling her to swim out there, but no go. He told her that if his shoelace got loose, she would definitely have to swim out to get it because his shoe wouldn’t stay on for the long walk home. He was generous to offer in the first place. No stick, but no lost shoelace either.

We took a path home through the woods. The little white flowers are in bloom, like twinkling stars all the way back into the dark of the forest.


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