29/07/2006 - Arrive at Trondheim Airport

Prior to departure I wrote:

“Arrive from London by ‘plane, manhandle the bikes to the station (joined to the airport), catch a local train to Steinkjer, and pedal off to find our cabin for the night. The first night’s accomodation has been booked for us by the Steinkjer tourist office; unfortunately they could not book a hut for us in the town, so we are staying at Føllingstua Camping which is 14km from Steinkjer on lake Snasavatnet. Raincoats to be packed in the top of carry-on pannier for early deployment. Ideally some food shopping is done in Steinkjer before everything closes for the night because tomorrow is Sunday. We can ride to the hut along the 763 to avoid using the E6.”

You can check the traffic and weather situation on these webcams for Steinkjer.

Route along the lakeside to Follingstua

Route along the lakeside to Follingstua

Our original flight booking was done through the SAS website and has us arriving in Trondheim from Heathrow via Copenhagen; however, this route uses a ‘plane that is too small for bicycles for the second leg and generated an email alert to me warning me to ring the London SAS airlines office, who helped me to rebook the route via Oslo. Unfortunately they resolutely booked us on the first connecting flight to Trondheim from Oslo with 45 minutes transfer time. I queried this at the time of the booking and again the day before the flight, since we know from previous experience that this is very tight for getting luggage back, clearing customs, and checking in everything again at Oslo. I was assured on both occasions that this was a ‘legal transfer time’ and that we would not have problems with the connection.

So on the big day, we fumed at Heathrow while two SAS check-in clerks kept the passengers for all Norway-bound flights waiting for an hour and a half in the queue at the check-in desk, and completed boarding for our 07:25 departure ten minutes late. No surprises that we missed our connection in Oslo and were kept waiting all day in the airport for a 17:00 departure to Trondheim because all other flights were full.

Things are easier after our ‘plane arrives at Trondheim at 17:45. The arrivals hall is small and manageable and empties out pretty rapidly without formalities since all customs clearance and passport checking is done at Oslo. Outside it is a fine, warm evening, not a cloud in the sky.

The SAS baggage desk lets us use a large red trolley to wheel all our bags and bikes out of the doors, right, and along the covered-in cycle path to the train station, where a lift gives access to the single platform. Tickets are bought on the train. Once upon a time there were two sets of tracks here, but one has been lifted and grassed over, providing a nice place for passengers to sit in the evening sun for the train, which is the last of the evening and is due at 19:45. We are revising our plans on cycling to the campsite, and I ring Steinkjer Maxi Taxi (74 14 44 80) to book a minibus to take us the rest of the way instead.

Waiting for the train at Vaernes

Waiting for the train at Vaernes

The two-unit train arrives punctually. It has space for two bicycles behind the driver’s compartment at each end, but we are lucky that this one also has a “guard’s van” in the middle.

The friendly guard rapidly assesses the situation, getting the driver to back the train up so that the train’s main luggage area is opposite our mound of bags. The guard jumps down to help us manhandle everything on board. He speaks excellent English and is off to London next week to stay near Loftus Road - this is his last trip before his holidays, so we are soon deep in conversation on London Transport, the evils of rail privatisation, and unusual places to visit in London.

While he is tied up with ticket collecting, I’m talking in much more fractured Norwegian to the fifty-five year old passenger in the seat opposite me who lives in Røros and speaks about three words of English. Fortunately there’s a younger bloke behind me who is happy to translate and join in when the language barrier is a problem - he’s off to visit his daughter at Bodø university. We’ve soon got a map out to compare notes on our planned route.

The scenery is just fantastic here viewed through the train window - farming country with ripening wheat, and a vista that takes in the long Trondheim fjord on our left. I can understand now why the decision to put one of Norway’s largest paper mills here is controversial today! The evening air is crystal clear to the horizon, absolutely smog free.

On arrival in Steinkjer we find the Peugeot Boxer maxi-taxi already backing carefully along the platform to pick us up, rear doors open. Everything fits inside without a problem. Svein Modell, the driver, is grateful for the chance to speak English again since he thinks his is getting a little rusty. We chat about fishing, cycling, and life in the area until he drops us off at the campsite and helps us empty the bikes and bags from his van.

The tog (train) ride has cost NKR 449, and the Maxi Taxi ride NKR 328, but we are now ensconsed in a nice hut for four people, with burger and chips being cooked for us, and a bottle of Ringnes beer for Janet and I. The hut is perched on a slope overlooking a stand of linden trees and the vast lake just beyond, and everything is quiet and peaceful again - it is 22:05, it has been a long day since we were up at 03:30 for the trip to Heathrow Airport.