Wednesday, 15 August 2012

staying in Frank's lavvo

We know we've arrived in a city because there are bicycle lanes.  But this is Trondheim and in Norway bike paths aren't always what you want them to be.  Sometimes they just disappear.  Or they end at high kerb.  Or they take you off in a direction you don't want.  Or they're covered in gravel and sand.  And we're English - we don't know what cycle lanes are.  So we ignore them as we ride around and explore the city, using the roads because they are flat and well-maintained and sign-posted.   And we're not alone - there are locals doing the same.   Frank tells us later there's a war going on - between the cyclists and the drivers.  Apparently the cyclists lobbied for bike paths, so the city council has invested in a huge network of signed pathways only for the cyclists to turn their noses up and continue to use the roads.  As we ride across the city we are unknowingly winding up some of these car drivers.  In our defence we did go and ask the tourist office the best route to Frank's house and they directed us to cycle along what turns out to be a motorway.  They pointedly do not give us a map of the cycle paths - we have to find one ourselves in the library the next day.  

We're couch-surfing with Frank in Trondheim and he's a great host.  He has already explained in advance that, because his house is rather crowded, we will be sleeping in his lavvo.  It strikes me that this puts a new angle on couch-surfing 'sorry, I don't have a couch, but you can sleep in the lavatory' - but he seems like a nice fella.   And he is, in spades.  What's more, the lavvo turns out to be a tipi.   Fabulous.

another civilised meal with Frank and Brage
We are fed and watered well at Frank's.  Gayle is sent off to pick blueberries one afternoon and we're treated to blueberry pancakes.  His house is on the edge of the city, and it seems like a model of suburban living - set up on a wooded hill, view of the fjord, lovely garden full of fruit trees and bushes. Abba the dog (she's Swedish) pads around quietly, sniffs about for the hedgehogs in the borders.  We leave our bikes in the front drive and never lock them.  Frank's garage, resembling Aladdin's cave, is often left open.  It seems that there is no crime in this country.

When we're thinking about heading off to bed, Frank is heading out to work - cleaning supermarkets with his teenaged son, Brage, to earn a little money.  He's re-training to be a nurse and also has some income from a tenant on the ground floor of the house - a common practice in this growing university city where accomodation costs are high.   We catch a little of the Olympics on the telly - the big event is the women's handball: Norway versus Sweden.  We are only Frank's second guests.  His first, a fella called Ota whom we happened to have met in Tromso, left his library language cds with Frank so we offer to return them to the library - not realising there's a huge overdue fine to pay.*
hmm......this isn't on our map
In the end we are sad to leave - but as Frank has already worried that we might be enjoying his hospitality too much it would be rude to stay any longer.  We are better behaved when we leave the city - using the cycle paths to head southwards. 

*only kidding Ota

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