The Organic Traveller
Saturday, 18 September 2021

Travelling Europe by Train: Munich to Trondheim

The idea was simple: Instead of flying – why not travelling climate-friendly? Most certainly this would take some time, but travelling Oslo–BerlinParis took time for the famous painters, writers and artists more than a hundred years ago, too.

Upfront research showed that it would have been possible to reach Trondheim within a little more than two nights and a day during the summer 2021, but we were restricted to travel in the first half of September by the date of a family festivity, limited days off from work and the end of the Bavarian school holidays. With only 10 minutes connecting time in Hamburg and, in case of a miss, the next possible connection one week later due to change of timetables on the Swedish part, we gave up on the plan of the fastest possible route. Instead two additional nights, one in Hamburg, and one in Copenhagen, would not only give us a little leisure to re-visit these cities, it would also increase the amount of money to spend: If you decide to travel Europe by train and do not have all the time of a university break a reasonably priced Interrail ticket simply won't suffice.

Finally the travel itinerary came up to

Altogether four nights and about three and a half days involving six train companies – most of them not co-operating. Had we had the time and money for a return trip it would even have been possible to take bicycles on the tour (at least to the Norwegian border).

MunichHamburg: The Alpen-Sylt-Express

Amidst the covid-19 pandemic a new privately held German train company took the courage to re-establish over-night travel by train on the North-South line through Germany, one part of the train departing from Salzburg, another from Konstanz by the lake Bodensee to be united on their way to the island of Sylt via (among others) Munich and Hamburg. The train is operated two times per week and tickets can be booked online only. The company informed by e-mail that the departure of the train wouldn't be visibly announced at the train station, but sent time, platform and car location for all stations on the route.

With this information at hand I didn't get nervous when the display at platform 6 in Munich Ostbahnhof announced that all trains would depart from platform 11 or 12 (presumably due to the strike of the Deutsche Bahn train drivers in the summer of 2021). Some fellow passengers found out that this also applied to the Alpen-Sylt-Express, and the entire crowd moved over.

What didn't show up in time was the train by the time of arrival and not even by the time of departure, and as announced, there simply was no information. A helpful staff member of the Austrian train company ÖBB reassured us that the train would arrive here, and finally it appeared on the platform display and, by about half an hour delayed, arrived.

couchette of the Alpen-Sylt-Express from Munich to Hamburg

From now on everything went smooth (at least until we reached the Norwegian border). Due to the pandemic no strangers were booked into the former Deutsche Bahn couchette compartment which came at a price of 300 EUR for the two of us. The interior as well as the common wash and toilet facilities were clean, though a little worn. The almost doubly priced (or, in luxury class even more expensive) sleeper (with private room) is of French origin, and there's a very competitively priced seat car (starting at around 70 EUR).

On the train it would have been possible to order a pair of organic soft pretzls, organic tomato soup and organic porridge for dinner and breakfast, though no organic drinks.

Clean sheets were provided for all six sleeping places, and despite being a German train the proper way of sleeping was the Southern way wrapped into the sheet and covered with a blanket. Needless to add that in the couchette car you are expected to make your bed yourself. Complimentary drinking water to brush your teeth was not provided.

Hamburg–Copenhagen by DSB/DB

Danske Statsbanen (DSB) and Deutsche Bahn (DB) co-operatively run the city connection between Hamburg and Copenhagen via the Storebelt bridge, so buying tickets more or less spontaneously and without providing personal data, at a German or Danish train station usually shouldn't be an issue. The direct IC train runs four times a day to and fro and keeps waiting at the platform in Hamburg central station between arrival and departure. Unfortunately you aren't allowed on board more than fifteen minutes before departure – the train will be closed while the staff is having their break.

There are more connections where you have to change trains, but with almost all of them the journey takes around five hours.

The direct Intercity train is comfortable and – just as the night trains – has capacity for bicycles. Ticket prices vary, depending on whether you have a Bahncard discount card, as well as on how long in advance and where you buy it.

Copenhagen–Malmö by regional train

Effectively an urban train line over the Öresund bridge tickets for the Öresundtåg regional train can be bought from the ticket machines at København H – anonymously as long as you see away from the card payment which is the most comfortable payment method if your stay in Denmark isn't long enough to use Danish cash.

Since we travelled during the covid-19 pandemic passports had to be provided in the train which stopped but was closed during the border control.

Snälltåget to Storlien at Malmo C station

Malmö–Åre/Storlien on the Snälltåget night train

As far as I know night trains between Stockholm and the Swedish-Norwegian border at Storlien have been running for ages, and quite recently the privately held Snälltåget has extended its network to Berlin (via Copenhagen and Hamburg).

During the summer we could have travelled MunichBerlin with Deutsche Bahn, with four hours the fastest train connection within Germany, and taken the Snälltåget from there, but as the Swedish company changed to their autumn timetable this connection did not work out.

The ticket for two in a private couchette came at 4000 SEK (about 400 EUR) and had to be booked on-line. Due to covid-19 restrictions the remaining four beds weren't filled up, but we were given all six complementary packs of drinking water. The choice at the restaurant car dubbed "Krogen" was limited due to the pandemic, and did not include any single organic item. Washing facilities in the couchette car are limited to the common toilet. The beds are a little wider than on the Alpen-Sylt-Express which might have been the reason for that my sleep was deeper and less disturbed during that night. On this train we were given duvet covers.

The train is provided at Malmö C in good time before departure, so we were able to board almost an hour before.

By the way: The train company's name, Snälltåget, is a play on words. The Swedish word "snäll" means "nice" and is a false friend with the German word "schnell" meaning "fast". Before IC and ICE trains took over the city connections in Germany, the then faster trains were referred to as "Schnellzüge", "fast trains".

Åre/Storlien–Trondheim: The last miles

What should have been a 1.5 hours train ride with the Meråkerbanen regional train from the Snälltåget's final destination Storlien to Trondheim, turned out to be a show stopper for climate-friendly travel as well as a tedious money sink.

When planning the journey in June 2021, the timetables of Meråkerbanen were still on-line, although we expected a rail replacement bus service due to the ongoing electrification work on the route (just like on our last train journey from Stockholm to Storlien in 2017). What we did not expect was that there was no public transport service at all! Locals told us that the connection has not been operated for the entire covid-19 pandemic, mainly because the Norwegian and the Swedish side wouldn't agree on the test and vaccine control procedure at the border.

So we had to hire a cab from one of the taxi companies in Åre: Taxi Åre did not have any cars left, but Topptaxi was willing to drive us from the train station of Åre over the border to the nearest Norwegian village, Meråker, at the hefty price tag of 2100 SEK. Due to an initial misunderstanding on behalf of the taxi operator we ended up paying only 1700 SEK for the 1.5 hours ride which would have been the price from Åre to the border. Given the fact that Storlien–Meråker would have been much shorter, this was probably a fair deal for both parties.

Since it was raining (the expected weather) we asked the taxi driver to drop us in front of the Coop Xtra hypermarket in Meråker where we could wait inside the "cafe" corner for the bus to Trondheim. A little more than an hour later we were heading over to the bus stop at Meraker school from where the bus no. 670 would take us to Trondheim. (Mind you that this 1.75 hours public bus service does not run on weekends.)

2021-09-18 16:00:00 [The_Conscious_Traveller, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Salzburg, Munich, Konstanz, Hamburg, Berlin, Copenhagen, Malmo, Stockholm, Storlien, Aare, Trondheim, eco, nighttrains, trains] Link

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This work by trish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For commercial use contact the author: E-mail · Mastodon · Vero · Ello.

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Organic Trondheim

A university city and a cultural hotspot in Norway it does not come as a surprise that Trondheim offers sufficient opportunities to almost effordlessly adhere to a 100% organic and eco-conscious lifestyle. This hasn't been always like this, but during the past few years more and more shops and eateries offering organic items have opened, and the availability of organic products in general has increased dramatically.

Godt Brød

Eating out

For a sandwich for breakfast or lunch head for the cafe in the backroom of the organic Godt Brød bakery near Nordre gate, one of the pioneers of organic food in Norway. Choose the filling of your sandwich or savory bread roll (all ingredients except the Italian-style salami cut are organic), have a decent coffee drink (the milk is organic), tea, a sweet organic bread roll ("bolle"), and/or an organic juice (e.g. from the nearby Rotvoll juicery in Ranheim which has its own organic grocery on their premises). About half of the cold drinks are not organic, so check for the "økologisk" keyword. During the warm season, treat yourself with a pre-packaged organic ice-cream from Reins Kloster. Everything is offered to take away, too. What you probably would not expect: The dough for the sweet bread rolls is dairy-free, the bakery uses porridge made from oat and water and rapeseed oil instead of milk, so vegans welcome.

Godt Brød Solsiden

The company has expanded vastly in the past few years, with shop openings in Oslo (which by now also hosts the headquarter), Stavanger, Bergen and a few other places and last but not least at its birthplace: If you cannot find a spare seat in the cafe where it all began simply walk a few more steps to Dronningensgate. A short stroll over the bridge there's a third branch by the waterfront, inside the Solsiden shopping mall with even longer opening hours. They have a spacious sitting area outdoor, although its use is limited due to the ever changing weather in Trondheim. The covid-19 pandemics also triggered the opening of a delivery service, and also good to know: you can still pay anonymously using cash.

Heartier food like organic egg and bacon for breakfast or lamb burgers for lunch or dinner, together with organic softdrinks can be had at Ramp Pub and Spiseri at Svartlamon. Vegetarian options are available. Service at this shabby-homely place may be a little slow, and not all of the ingredients are organic. Formerly entirely furnished with formica tables and chairs the interior has improved since, but gentrification hasn't replaced the proletarian chic yet. The kitchen closes at 9 pm.

Selma

For pizza and beer head for Selma, one of the many pubs in the former ship repair workshops at Solsiden. Unfortunately none of the drinks (apart from a fresh cassis-flavoured nordic sour) is organic, and most of the food isn't organic either, but they use organic flour for the best pizza dough in town and have some organic ingredients among the toppings. Their store cupboard being a part of the interior you can see that they, among others, use both, organic and conventional tomatoes, organic vinegar and syrup. Some of the fresh herbs are organic, although the basil wasn't at my visit. The best pizzas here aren't the classical Italian ones but their own creations which go extremely well with beer. They happily omit the meat toppings if you ask so but expect to pay the full price anyway. Make sure to place your orders at the bar (and pay at once), taking with you the drinks. The food will be served.

Real organic food, vegan and vegetarian, is served at Cafe Stammen in Kongens gate. Unfortunately their opening hours are rather limited, so I haven't been able to pay a visit yet. Let me know about your experience if you happen to eat there before me. p

Unfortunately an organic pioneer in the city, vegetarian eatery seems to have closed their original shop not far away. However, the second Persilleriet self-service lunch restaurant on the premises of St. Olavs hospital is still there, although closed on weekends. Persilleriet has been offering predominantly organic wraps and sandwiches since 2005, both to eat at the spot and to take away.

For a cosy, almost entirely organic and Sunday-open cafe take a stroll through the Bakklandet neighbourhood with its small and beautiful wooden houses on the Eastern shore of the Nidelva river. Kafe Soil on the premises of former "Annas Kafe" serves yummy organic cakes, cinnamon rolls, lemonades, juices, smoothies, tea and more. The coffee is often organic, too, and there's usually a vegan soup or stew for the hungry on the entirely vegetarian, generally vegan-friendly menu. When the cafe was opened it shared its venue with a micro brewery. The latter has moved since but as a result you still can come here for a beer (although the organic beer is imported from Germany). Also worth a note: The soap in the bathroom is organic, which takes an extra effort in Norway where certified natural body care isn't sold by conventional supermarket chains yet. Kafe Soil occasionally plays host to intimate concerts, vegan community arrangements, clothes exchange gatherings and other grass-roots sustainability arrangements.

Zana

Food and daily necessities

The city's first address for zero-waste shopping is a crammed organic dry food shop, Zana: Bring along your own bottles and boxes to refill organic detergents, grains, pasta, herbs and spices, sweets, dried fruit and more. In addition there are shelves crammed with pre-packaged preserved organic food (including vegan alternatives), household chemistry and body care products.

The shop started many years ago under the name Etikken, with a focus on fairly traded organic products, and due to its nice interior design had the air of a signature store. Despite its stylish appearance it was a not-for-profit company partially run by volonteers. Today the shop is run by one of the founders under his name and is still a reliable source of organically certified make-up, skin and hair care, organic wipes, tampons and menstruation cups.

Helios

For fresh food head for the city's organic pioneer, the Helios convenience store in Prinsens gate. At the end of 2016 the shop closed down but was taken over by new owners immediately and is now as reliable as before. You will find all daily necessities -- food, toiletry, detergents etc. -- in organic quality, including frozen pizza, ice-cream, unhomogenised fresh milk and Norwegian caramelized brown cheese. The frozen "lefser", Norwegian "pancakes" topped with butter, cinnamon and sugar and folded together, are not organic but nevertheless worth trying -- simply defrost and enjoy.

At Trondhjem torv a farmers' market, Bondens marked is being held every second week on Saturday. Local small scale farmers sell their produce, but it takes a little effort to find the organic ones.

When it comes to conventional supermarkets, the Meny hypermarket Solsiden kept stocking quite an impressive range of organically certified food seen with Norwegian eyes. In 2021 it seems however that there has not been any noteworthy increase for the past years. In Coop supermarkets watch out for the Änglamark own brand (see also here), in Rema shops for Kolonihagen, but most supermarkets do not stock more than a very basic selection, with the notable exception of Coop Mega shops like the one in the Sirkus shopping mall at the Strindheim bus hub where I found such exotic products as organic aubergines, cream, not homogenised milk and lime.

To avoid green-washed products and misleading marketing while cherry-picking through supermarkets check for the "økologisk" keyword and organic labelling (mainly Debio, KRAV and the European organic label, but you will also find Soil Association and USDA certificates). Dairy products by Røros meieriet, meat products by Grødstad Gris (though no longer certified organic as this decreased their ability to sell their products), ice-cream and beer from Reins Kloster, "Helios" and "Manna" products as well as "Go green" grains and pulses are all safe. Some of them can also be found in Sunkost or Life healthfood shops.

Miss Organic

Bodycare

A few steps from Godt Brødt the Miss Organic perfumery offers the city's biggest selection of natural and organically certified body care and cosmetic products in a styled shopping environment.

Where to stay

The hotels of the Choice chain advertise with organic breakfast items and are certified with the Debio label in bronce which is awarded to food places offering at minimum 15 percent organic items. In the case of the otherwise boring conference hotel Augustin at the corner of Kongens and Prinsens Gate this allowed for an organic breakfast consisting of apple juice, crispy oat-cerials with a tasty type of sourmilk ("tjukkmjølk") or low-fat milk from Røros meieriet, alternatively soy milk, crispbread with honey, peanut butter, brie and a blue-mould cheese as well as hard-boiled eggs a few years ago. On a stay at Comfort Hotel Park at the corner of Prinsens gate and Bispegata the 15 percent mixture consisted of all organic coffee and fat-free cow milk (but conventional oat and soy milk), organic Earl Grey tea, dark rye bread and one type of crisp bread, a good selection of organic cerials, raisins, apples, orange marmelade, peanut butter, honey, and boiled eggs. The Park hotel bar's fridge next to the entrance offered organic lemonade and cola (of the "Oskar Sylte" brand) as well as canned organic iced coffee mixes, but all this might have changed in the past few years.

The city's hotel institution Britannia in Dronningens Gate, once a certified eco lighthouse reopened after years of renovation. Before that they offered a small selection of organic veges and bread at the breakfast buffet, but I cannot confirm whether this is still the case -- the price tag for a night at the hotel has increased dramatically since their reopening.

Haven at Trondheim Airport

Just a few steps west, crossing Nordre and Jomfrugate you will find Hotel City Living Schøller a budget option which was recommended to me by Alicia from Portland, Oregon after reading this blog. She described her room as having "zero perfume -- none on the sheets nor in the cleansers. The room felt fresh and healthy, if quite simple." The hotel provides guests with a 15 percent discount at nearby Godt Brød bakery cum cafe for breakfast, and offers a kitchen for guest use.

At the airport

Airports generally aren't the place for a conscious lifestyle, but if you cannot avoid to fly from Trondheim Airport Værnes you may at least have an rganic coffee past security at Haven next to gate 35. However, in September 2021 the place was closed due to the covid-19 pandemic.

Closed due to the covid-19 pandemic

Permanently closed or unknown

The following places are closed, with references remaining on the web, ceased to offer organic items or re-opened without any notice on whether they still offer organic items:

2021-09-16 20:00:00 [Trondheim, organic, fair, vegetarian, vegan, zero_waste, bakeries, cafe, grocery, market, supermarkets, takeaway, coffee, ice-cream, snacks, lunch, dinner, hotel, accommodation, pizza, fashion, airports] Link

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This work by trish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For commercial use contact the author: E-mail · Mastodon · Vero · Ello.