It was a little over four in the morning when Gabriel woke up, fooled by the rising sun into thinking that it was already feeding time. No amount of reasoning would convince a 6-month old otherwise, so he got his breakfast early. Jules and I, despite what the clock told us, were also too confused by the bright daylight outside to go back to sleep. Eventually, a drowsy Jules, a blasé Gabriel and an enthusiastic Verne went outside to explore Trondheim’s wee hours.
Despite the glorious spring blue sky, it was still agonizingly cold. The residents, apparently impervious to freezing temperatures, happily jogged around the harbour in nothing but t-shirts and shorts. Using our lack of Viking blood as an excuse, we hunkered down beneath heavy coats, turned our backs to the piercing wind, and went looking for some hot chocolate.
Trondheim sits above the 63º parallel, the northernmost we’ve ever been. Cities at this latitude include breezy Reykjavík, in Iceland; chilly Fairbanks, in Alaska; and Anadyr, Russia’s easternmost town. In these places, daytime changes dramatically throughout the year, from more than 20 hours in summer to less than 3 during winter. As we walked around town, holding our hot beverages, we looked for any signs of madness. Surely, going from the unnatural light of The Shining to the gloomy darkness of The Crow is bound to drive everyone crazy?
Apparently not. Everyone we met was not only seemingly sane but also exceedingly nice. As the morning progressed, more and more people filled the streets, as if Trondheim was slowly awakening from a long slumber. Jules headed back to the hotel (we had organized the Norway trip around a couple of meetings she had to attend), but Gabriel and I continued.
Lulled by the gentle rocking of the baby carrier, Gabriel quickly fell asleep. With no one to talk to, I walked around taking pictures, occasionally using Gabriel’s head as a makeshift tripod.
Despite being Norway’s third most populous city, Trondheim has less than 200,000 inhabitants. Much like Oslo, it’s an old port city with a propensity for flames. Throughout its centuries, multiple fires have burnt down the city, hopping from one wooden building to the next. In the 17th century, the situation was so dire that private property rights were thrown to the wind to build large avenues, in hopes that these would stop fires from spreading. The plan seemed to enjoy little success, but those large avenues still shape the city today. The Munkegaten, for instance, neatly splits the old town into half, connecting the port to the Nidaros Cathedral.
On our way back to Oslo we stopped by Røros (pronounced like this), an old mining town from the 17th century. This UNESCO World Heritage Site first came into the limelight by the hands of Johan Falkberget, a Norwegian writer from the turn of the 20th century. Born in Røros, many of Johan’s works revolve around his own experience as a miner. The small wooden houses from those days are still there, huddled close together to withstand the rigours of the northern weather.
However, no amount of huddling was enough to keep the three southerners confortable, so we hurried back to the car. As we drove those last miles to the airport, we stole a last glance of the surrounding serene landscapes. In many ways, Norway reminded us of our winter trip to New Zealand, a cold place that also left us with warm memories.
And so ended Gabriel’s maiden voyage. As I write these lines, I can’t help but wonder where we will take him next. It doesn’t need to be to some faraway place, it only needs to be memorable.
My earliest memories are from events that may seem mundane to an adult, but were incredible adventures for a kid. Going with my parents to the very same fountain next to where I live today, wondering what was behind the waterfall. Jumping around with my sister on a Tartan track, while our mom ran laps. Following my grandmother to the bakery and seeing how bread was made.