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How everything went wrong – and how to be okay with it (Trondheim, Norway)

When buying Christmas presents for my loved ones, I am always one step ahead of everyone I know. Ridiculous as I am, I start planning and preparing everything months in advance. This year was no exception. A trip to Trondheim, after spending the holidays with my family in Stavanger – now THAT sounded like a wonderful idea!

My partner loves snow and we don’t really get to see it that often as it rarely snows in Paris. So what better gift than a trip to somewhere where we’d be guaranteed snow? From what I’d heard, there’s always a lot of snow in Trondheim during the winter months. Excited about snow in this Norwegian winter wonderland, I googled my way to a website advertising for dog sledding tours in Bymarka forest in Trondheim. And while browsing through Instagram, I saw some beautiful photos of the northern lights seen from Trondheim. I booked a dog sledding tour and I started daydreaming about the Northern lights. I’m Norwegian (from the southwest) and I have never seen them. Ever. This was not just the perfect gift for my partner. This was the perfect gift from me to myself as well!

But as things turned out, Mother nature had other plans and decided to show me the middle finger and rain on my parade. Literally.

As we got off the airport shuttle, Trondheim greeted us with dark clouds and heavy rain. 4 pm and already pitch black outside, my partner stepped right into a puddle and cursed loudly in French. Earlier that week, I had received an e-mail from the dog sledding tour company, informing me that the tour was cancelled due to the weather forecast. Rain every day. Dark clouds, wind, rain. In other words, we would most likely not see the Northern lights either. So much for a perfect gift.

I was devastated. I had lost motivation to visit the city and I felt like I had let my partner down. But we managed to overcome the disappointment – after all, we were visiting a city that neither of us had been to before and both had wanted to visit for a long time. This charming city managed to cheer us up, despite the bad weather and canceled plans. And these were our highlights:

Nidarosdomen (Nidaros Cathedral). This famous cathedral is even more impressive than I had expected it to be. And it’s only a few blocks away from the hotel we stayed at(Comfort Hotel Park)! The cathedral is built over the burial site of Saint Olav, the king of Norway (11th century), who became the patron saint of the country. This medieval cathedral is the worldwide northernmost of its kind. If you’re planning to visit, bare in mind that it’s not permitted to take photos inside of the cathedral.

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Gamle Bybro (Old Town Bridge). While visiting my parents during the holidays, my stepfather mentioned this charming little bridge as a must-see while visiting Trondheim. The view of the river and the wharfs is gorgeous! The bridge crosses the Nidelva river, connecting the main street Kjøpmannsgata to the neighborhood called Bakklandet. The bridge was constructed in 1681 by Luxembourg-born soldier and military engineer Johan Caspar von Cicignon. Back then, the location was of military-strategic significance.

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Bakklandet neighborhood is famous for its charming wooden houses and narrow streets. It is impossible not to fall in love with this neighborhood, which is probably why it’s also one of the major tourist attractions in the city. My partner and I visited Dromedar Kaffebar in Bakklandet and enjoyed some local pastries and delicious coffee drinks while staying warm, away from the pouring rain.

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Speaking of coffee… for some real, high quality coffee, check out Jacobsen & Svart Kaffebrenneri. Owner’s quote from the website; “I chose to put my family name on each coffee bag, because it’s a commitment. A commitment to perform, perfect and be proud of what I do” and “It’s simple, no bullshit and a honest approach to Nordic coffee culture”. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it over and over again: Scandinavians love coffee and coffee shops. It’s a part of our identity.

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Tyholttårnet (Tyholt tower) has more to offer than just being a 124 meter radio tower. It’s also an observation deck, giving you the greatest view of Trondheim. Inside of the tower there’s a revolving restaurant, which makes one complete revolution per hour. If you think it’s a high end gourmet restaurant, you’re wrong. The restaurant, Egon, is a Norwegian restaurant chain offering anything from pizza to quesadillas to steak to well, quite a lot of options for a reasonable price. As unromantic as that may sound, the atmosphere in the restaurant is amazing and you shouldn’t miss out on it once you’re in Trondheim. My partner and I celebrated New Year’s Eve at this restaurant. For the occasion, they had a fixed three-course menu and the atmosphere was festive and indeed very romantic. Which is exactly what I wanted for New Year’s Eve. We watched the fireworks from the tower and kissed 2016 goodbye.

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Nedre Elvehavn. Once a mechanical workshop, now a vibrant hot spot full of restaurants and bars. To honor this former industrial site, some of the original buildings and artifacts have been kept, including a dry dock and a crane.

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Fosenkaia Gjestehavn (Fosenkaia Guest Harbor). Strolling along this harbor was lovely, especially since it didn’t rain most of the time while we were there. The harbor seems to be either a current or a former industrial site and is located right behind the central train station. My partner who’s an engineer and fascinated with anything industrial, asked me to take lots of pictures, so I did.

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Vår Frue (Our Lady Church). Located in Midtbyen (town center), this church is also worth a visit – and a place to volunteer if you’re interested! The oldest part of this church dates from the 12th century and was rebuilt after fires during the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries and finally restored in 1739.

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Stiftsgården. This is the royal residence in Trondheim and is possibly the largest wooden building in Northern Europe. It has been used by royalty and their guests since 1800.

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Needless to say, even though things didn’t go according to plan, and even though the weather was rather depressing, we had an amazing time in Trondheim. Mother nature can rain on my parade as much as she likes. I’ll still get back on my feet and find an umbrella somewhere. The Northern lights and dog sledding tour remains on our bucket lists for now.

more photos below

Nidaros Cathedral

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Bakklandet

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Old Town Bridge and Wharfs

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Nedre Elvehavn

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Fosenkaia Guest Harbor

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Our Lady Church

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21 comments on “How everything went wrong – and how to be okay with it (Trondheim, Norway)

  1. I love giving travel as a gift, so I can imagine the disappointment with such bad weather. I love your pictures though, so it really seems you didn’t let it get you down. Maybe you can return another time for dogsledding and northern lights. I hope you can.

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  2. oh no mother nature can be cruel sometimes lol. although your photos still look pretty I especially like the look of the harbour

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  3. It sounds like you had a great time despite the bad weather and cancelled plans! I love Scandinavia and have traveled there several times in the winter, and unfortunately bad weather is just one of the risks you have to take. I love the colorful houses on the water – that whole area looks beautiful and reminds me a bit of Nyhavn in Copenhagen. Trondheim’s on my list! Thanks for sharing this!

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  4. Despite the weather, 8it looks like a fun trip!im sure the sleigh ride would have been Wesome though. At least you have an excuse to go back!

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  5. What wonderful photos. it’s never fun when mother nature says NO to your well planned adventures. Just think there’s always next year….

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  6. Ah! I had no idea Scandinavians were so huge on coffee — I need more Scandinavian friends in my life! I’m so sorry your tour for the Northern Lights didn’t pan out, but I’ve heard people have had to make multiple trips. That makes me so nervous to plan a trip around seeing them! Your trip looked like so much fun, nonetheless! Your photos of the cathedral and the old town bridge look beautiful, despite all that gloomy weather!

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    • Trondheim is beautiful, so that definitely saved the trip. Yeah, I guess you have to spend quite a lot of time in the North deliberately chasing the Northern lights if you wanna see them…

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  7. A holiday abroad as a Christmas present is a great idea! I’m glad that you finally had good moments during the trip despite the weather. When then is a good time to visit Trondheim, do you know?

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    • Actually, to go to Trondheim to see the Northern lights they recommend that you go between late November and February. Mid-December is supposed to be the best time. Also for snow. And it did in fact snow the week before we got there, and this week (the week after our stay). So we were just very unlucky with the timing!

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  8. Kathy - Walkabout Wanderer

    What a shame that you didn’t get to go Husky Sledging nor see the Northern Lights. I went all the way to Lapland and it was too cloudy. I too made the best of the situation. Glad you still managed to enjoy yourself.

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  9. Eh, shit happens–especially when traveling! You still saw a ton of stuff and got some great pictures! Trondheim is such a beautiful little town, even in the rain. 🙂

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  10. valisesetgourmandises

    Oh no, that’s too bad! It’s always hard to predict how the weather’s gonna be like nowadays. Our first trip to Paris was like that, with a few moments of sun, at least.. But during our second visit, which was last summer, Paris greeted us with warmth and sun! On a passé un après-midi magnifique au parc des Buttes Chaumont! 🙂

    You’ll have more luck next time!

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