My friend Renata and I have met for the first time one year ago. It has been special, one of those meetings which remain in history. Among billions of steps that every year consume the stones of Venice, even ours crossed there, towards the beginning of the autumn.
It was strange and surreal, we barely knew each other, but we were already old friends – in that mysterious way that connects people before they even meet.
Renata arrived treading lightly and with a light backpack on her shoulders, bringing with her the colors of the big North into her bright eyes, blue like Norvegian sea.
‘Come to visit me in Norway’ she said as she was leaving to backpack through Tuscany, after having stayed a week with me in Venice. And I went.
I left for Norway as spring was bursting here in Italy, in the middle of “Hanami”, while the flowers of the cherry tree in the garden were beginning to flutter and turn the green lawn into a white mantle, into an illusion of snowy landscape. Something that in Italy, in winter, is becoming ever more of a rarity to be seen.
I left wearing just a light cotton dress, I had my layover in Amsterdam, where I took out my sweater from the luggage, and I arrived late-night in Trondheim in the middle of a whirlwind of snow, getting off the plane like a ball and my luggage half empty.
I took a bus and I stopped at a station named Buran, the same name as a very famous Venetian island.
At the station stop I definitively emptied my suitcase for a fast change of shoes: ankle boots for hiking boots, as ice sheets covered the streets. And then Renata arrived like a blond sunbeam in the night.
She offered me her wool scarf and we took the way home.
DAY 1 – EXPLORING WATERS AND LADE AREA
When I opened my eyes it took me awhile to realize where I was.
The house is cozy and warm and it smells of coffee, from the bed I see through the wide windows the branches of some trees swaying in the white sky, into the bright light of the morning.
Leaned to the edge of the windowsill, on the inside – as later I discoverd to be a common practice into norwegian houses – there are some small mango trees that grow into some jars and glasses, a rosemary plant named Zaira (it’s written on a label!!!), a basket full of colored pencils, and an interesting supply of organic chocolate bars.
Everything seems to say Renata. And there she is – meditating next to me-, my gipsy-yogi friend. Then she opens peacefully her eyes and smiles at me. That’s going to happen every day of our time together, and only now that I am writing I realize about the nice feeling of waking up with someone who smiles at you.
The kitchen is the heart of this house. Even there, there are wide windows facing on a secondary street, where you can see an interesting comings and goings of weird people. Freaky people, we said.
There is a lady with many fluffy dogs, sporty moms who run with the baby carriage, a guy who looks like he came straight out of Matrix with his long glossy black coat.
They come through here every day, and I’ll learn to recognize them from far away, while they’re walking in this street to go who knows where.
The kitchen is adorable. There is the fancy teapot collection of Janne, the amazing housemate of Renata. Janne has also a pasta machine. I like her straight away, and I liked her before we met in person. When we finally met, I had proof she’s just lovely.
Outside there’s a strong cold wind and I can’t wait to go to explore the area. We are in Lade, a small residential neighborhood that overlooks the sea, just outside the center of Trondheim.
In two minutes of walk we are on the coast and I remain enchanted while my eyes are watering because of the cold. The mountains slightly snow-covered are very close, just at the end of the sea line. Korsvika is the name of the beach and of the small residential area in the Lade neighborhood.
Then, something shocking happens!
I already had assisted to something similar (here you can read more!), when Renata dove into the Adriatic Sea in mid-October, while I looked at her from the shore with my wool coat and scarf, in the same way as you look at crazy people.
And so, the scene is repeated, but into the frozen waters of the Norwegian Sea, at the end of March.
I already posted something about this event on my instagram feed, because I was in between shock and admiration. Then someone commented the post with “Norvegian Vikings” – that made my laugh so much – by striking perfectly the temperament of this people. In the meantime, I got a nasty cold.
DAY 2 – LAZY SUNDAY / TANG OG TARE DAY
I wake up with swollen eyelids, into a white glare of light.
It is snowing a little bit outside, then it rains, the sun comes out and the wind starts blowing strong.
We stay in the kitchen for a while, snuggled into the morning stupor, improvising a brunch with Janne’s parents, who came to visit her. Usually breakfast here is savory and I just get excited for this typical norwegian sunday morning in the family.
Coffee is made like tea: the freshly ground coffee beans are placed into a filtered glass pitcher, the same very often used also in Italy, to make infusions. I really like it, the coffee is light but it has an intense taste.
On the table there’s the homemade fresh bread baked by Janne’s mother, knekkebrød – the Scandinavian crisp bread with seeds for which I’ll find myself obsessed, brunost cheese – the brown goat cheese that tastes like caramel – blueberry jam and more fresh cheeses. There is also a kind of creamy cheese with black pepper in a tube – like tube of toothpaste – that I like so much.
My french vintage clothes, here where everyone seem dressed to go hiking, are a little bit out of place. I knew it, but I never had a good windbreaker jacket for cold winters. However, I found in my closet a kind of quilted jacket that I hate and makes me look like a ball, but I blessed many times to have it with me, climbing the hills overlooking the sea, among the strong gusts of wind.
Renata told me about a seaweed, quite popular in Norway, that we can gather on the beach and eat! I am excited about it, especially when she explains me it changes color once soaked into the boiling water. The name of this alga is Tang og tare and from brownish yellow, once cooked, it becomes green and it’s edible and also very nutrient. Finding and eating this Tang seaweed became the goal of the day.
At home, Renata made a crazy good thai dish with rice noodles, tang, coconut cream and lemon peel sauce. I like to watch her in the kitchen, she seems to be concerned about the success of the recipe, she worries that the food is not good enough… and then she kills me with delicious things.
Very satiated and satisfied by the lunch we begin naming our days. “What do we call today? Tang day?!”.
DAY 3 – LAZY MONDAY / LEMON COOKIES + EXPLORING TRONDHEIM
There’s something unreal in making cookies in a lovely kitchen in Norway that makes me feel like home, using the lemons that come from my own garden in Venice!
I picked a couple of them from the tree, just few moments before leaving for the airport and I brought them into my luggage as a very simple girft for Renata. We made a kind of freaky but delicious cookies, filling the kitchen with an intense “Mediterranean” scent.
The day began that way, very lazily between coffee and cookies, until we went out to go to explore the city center.
First stop is at Renata’s favorite coffee shop, Sellanraa, a cozy place where you can browse through art, design and photography books and magazines, sipping coffee and eating very good cakes. Second stop is to the pharmacy, to buy something for my runny nose.
Third stop is a beautiful shop named Cornelias Hus, where we bought two ceramic bowls, kinda @thefreakyraku style.
Fourth stop is in a Fretex shop, which is a chain of vintage stores, where you can find old treasures, fancy dresses… and wonderful cast iron plates to make waffles, which I had to leave because they were too heavy!
We head to the oldest part of the city, passing through the Gamle Bybro, the bridge that crosses the Nidelva River from the south end of the main street Kjøpmannsgata connecting to the Trondheim neighborhood of Bakklandet.
It looks like a fairytale land with the pastel colored houses bordering the river and built on wooden stilts in a way that makes me think of Venice.
We go to lunch in a lovely and very small place called Persilleriet where unbelievably, though, there is no toilet. So, for that, they send us to the Trøndelag Teater, which is in front of the tiny cafè-restaurant.
We walked a lot and we came back home “devastated” and saying “And it was supposed to be lazy monday!?”.
In the evening we decide to watch “Into the wild”, the film. At the end we are even more devastated by the [SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER] death of poor Alexander Supertramp.
We find comfort into our lemon cookies, turning out this fake lazy monday into “lemon cookies day” and we get ready for tomorrow’s trip to Røros.
[ HERE can read the second part of the post!]