As Contador and Schleck were getting ready to battle for the yellow jersey on the Tour’s final time trial, I had an even bigger task ahead of me – how to pack for a one night boat trip including sunbathing, deep-sea fishing, cycling, sightseeing, trekking, a celebration dinner and a stay in a very nice hotel.
This itinerary might sound daunting, but we actually started out with five hours solid sun-bathing, borne out of sheer relief that it was at all possible. The day before we had arrived to a Trondheim airport so rain-soaked that the lady in the seat in front had put on a rain cape whilst still on the plane. Not the weather for either cycling or sailing.
On the day of our little fjordcruise, however, the sun filled the open expanse of the fjord with light and glittering sea. Our transport was Hilda II, my parents’ little fishing boat, stroke floating hotel, and the venue of a an ongoing tug of war, whose battle lines are drawn across the cabin entrance. The inside, a meticulously clean and tidy dictatorship ruled by my mum’s iron fist vs the outside, a relaxed fishing and sunbathing space ostensibly belonging to my dad, but where even the seagulls are made feel my mum’s influence.
As the sun was out and the sea ‘oily’, the rather picturesque term for calm, black water, we chugged along the shore in leisurely fashion in no hurry at all. We started in Levanger, towards the inner end, heading for Brekstad, on the inside tip of the peninsula enclosing the wide, open basins of the fjord.
The Trondheimsfjord lacks the drama of the Western fjords, but it is both prettier and gentler, or at least when the weather gods are in a good mood. That might not be so much of an issue further in, but Brekstad looked like the recipient of an unexpected and sizeable lottery win when we arrived. The landscape is flat and treeless, thus facing all the mood swings of the Atlantic weather, so the inhabitants had wasted no time in getting out shorts and bikinis when faced with a sunny, windless day.
But on to the cycling. Hilda II is equipped for everything from fishgutting to champagne toasts, so we shouldn’t have been surprised at the appearance of two fold-up bikes in the hold. Putting them together was a different issue, but someone has to take the photos, after all, so I left it to the boys.
Having eventually solved that puzzle, Simon and I jumped on the funky, little 24-gear bikes and headed off along the coast. As the peninsula narrowed we had views to the sea on both sides, the evening sun bathing the fields in the characteristic golden light of the fjord
The flat landscape also makes the area perfect for cyclists of all abilities, with long , traffic-free coastal roads stretching all the 130-odd km to the end of the fjord. Our trip was shorter, as we were only 8km from the tip, but we were met by a great deal of lycra along the way, some with bulging panniers, others whizzing past our little contraptions – all but one, who had all the gear, but still lost out to our rather modest speed. Just goes to prove that equipment and ability are in no way related.
The anchor dram was waiting for us when we returned to the boat. This tradition is observed in boats of all descriptions, and dictates that a small toast must be made at the safe return of any journey. Not sure how much danger we had ever been in on the placid fjord, but any excuse for a glass of Aquavit seemed good enough at this point.
As Hilda II is not the most spacious, Simon and I took our bags on the short walk to Hovde Gård for the night, which was also to be the venue for my dad’s birthday dinner.
Norwegian hotels are generally practically inclined, eschewing style for functionality, but Hovde Gård proved the exception. Once a housekeeping school, the old building has been lovingly restored and is now an elegant hotel with a real sense of history and atmosphere. The main building has kept the lay-out of the school, with rooms named after the original inhabitants and shared showers and bathrooms, and though a more modern set-up is available in the annex, we never regretted opting for the main house.
The restaurant proved to be a match for the hotel, serving delicious seafood dishes in what used to be the barn. Thus we could celebrate my dad’s birthday in true style, feasting on monkfish in seafood sauce and home-made caramel pudding. Nothing left to do but to let the sea air and the duck feather duvet lull us to sleep. Bliss.