Hi there, and welcome to Part II
of my Norway trip! Comments and questions are always appreciated!
Bus from Oslo S to Honefoss
Train between Honefoss and Bergen
When I left off, I was in Comfort Hotel Xpress after a long day of flying and walking... The hotel featured a decent sized bathroom with a lot of square/rectangular amenities (sink, toilet, etc). After a shower and a bit of planning came a well deserved sleep—the half-window half-door didn't close properly--it wasn't that warm, but not cold either, and there were nice enough covers. We woke up around 8:45, early but not too early—after all, what's a vacation without at least some sleep?
After getting ready, we headed down, grabbed a cup of the free tea offered by the hotel in the lobby and checked out, which was a very quick process. Soon, we were on our way towards Oslo's central train station to catch our bus to Honefoss.
Wait, train station to catch the bus? Yes, you read that right and I didn't make a mistake either. Railroad works in the Oslo area means the train to Bergen became a bus to Honefoss, and only then a train. About 30-40 minutes before the departure we arrived at platform 19 where I saw my worst nightmare—a huge, huge, queue, for a lot of departing trains. 11:07 was approaching, and, while there was some forward progress, there was not enough. Suddenly they made a call in Norwegian (if there was English, I couldn't hear it, that's for sure) for Bergen. I had to ask someone to make sure they were calling for us. You know, the typical Northern European organization was there—but only until this call. After that it was a free for all towards the buses... We put our bags underneath the bus, but once we got on... No more seats. I had to talk to a guy and explain the situation. He talked to the driver, and assured me we can leave the bags on this bus since he'd wait for the Bergen train to arrive in Honefoss, so the few minutes disparity between the buses wouldn't matter. Fair enough; I made a note of the bus cell phone number and its license plates and headed to another bus—this one's full too. Reminded me of Italy, which is not exactly a flattering comparison when talking about organization. Finally, we got on a blue bus which took us, in a non-hurried matter to Honefoss. Nice enough countrysides and hills, but I couldn't enjoy the first 15 minutes of the trip—I expected a bit more of a streamlined process here. Anyway, it's Norway so I had no fear our bags would go missing, just that I wouldn't be able to find the bus at Honefoss. Alas, we did, after about an hour's worth of bus ride, collected the bags from the driver, and got on the train—a few minutes late, it left towards Bergen.
Typical Norwegian weather during this journey, sometimes cloudy, sometimes raining, towards a city with 250 rainy days a year, supposedly.
Well, to describe experiences, words are important. To describe a landscape... Silence is golden.
On the Honefoss-Bergen ride:
My favorite picture (there are more interesting sights on the journey, though):
Care for a bike?
Yes, the month was July, why do you ask?
Skies getting clearer as we neared Bergen:
Then it started raining:
Ah, Norwegian scenery:
Flamsbana in the background:
The 6+ hour ride went by fairly quickly—even though the purported wi-fi was either hard or impossible to connect to, depending on who you ask and on where you are, probably. Anyway, it's not just scenic—it's beautiful... And the pictures don't do it justice—it's nearly impossible to take excellent pictures through train windows, but these were our best attempts, I suppose. But, please, do take this journey, you won't regret it.
As far as pricing goes, 3 months ahead of time the price was 199 NOK (~27 EUR) whereas 2 months before it had reached 399 NOK (~55 EUR)... So it pays to grab a ticket early! NSB offered a decent ride, pretty comfortable, albeit not high-speed (which, in this case, is excellent) with a bit of a problem boarding in Oslo—was this busier than usual? It was a Monday so I'll assume it was busier. Anyway, it could've worked smoother, keeping in mind we were in Norway, but the small trouble was entirely worth it. No regrets for not getting on a SAS 736 or Wideroe Dash to BGO
Superb journey over, and we were now in a superb city.
Bergen—what can I say. Definitely one of the most bloody expensive places I've been with regards to accommodation (then again, it's not New York either, so no risk of serial stabbers in subway stations somewhere close to your quasi-Harlem hostel with a private bathroom at similar prices). Definitely one of the nicest looking cities I've been to, and one of my favorite few places in the world so far. Sure it's touristy, and I suppose that detracts from it a little bit, but only Romania could keep people away from this gem, considering how bad Romanians are at promoting tourism.
Accommodation: at first I could find no good value anywhere in the city. Some cheap hotels rated poorly, but at least with a private bathroom. Ah, but that's not the place to stay in Bergen, a city with so many nice little houses, and with so many cosy little guesthouses! The price isn't lower (not by much, anyway), but the accommodation has a genuine feel. I found 1700 NOK (2 people, 2 nights) a decent price for Bergen, for a double apartment (2 people, I mean) in a 1700s house, with private bathroom, and not luxury by any means, but with a “cuteness overload”--a really nice place, indeed, albeit the locks are hard to work with.
I booked my private accommodation here: http://booking.visitbergen.com/
Even a few days before my arrival in Bergen I found a good price—but only one, mind you, so booking in advance is recommended. Of course, I had a back-up in one of the not very well rated hotels, but I really didn't want to stay at one of those.
Anyway, much ado about nothing, so far. Weather in “the most rainy city in the world”? 21C and sunny. Well, well, well, how lucky can you get? Very lucky indeed.
Here are some pictures from this wonderful town:
Where I stayed:
Mt. Fløyen and the Fløibanen:
Fish market hosted here:
10pm... Or was it 11?
No guard-rail on a 10 meter high wall. Not in America, for sure:
From the top of Mt. Fløyen:
A look at the funicular station:
Can't resist: little houses again:
I can't recommend to do something in particular in Bergen except simply walk around, take in the views, go up to the top of Mt. Fløyen and hike down, and just go for a stroll, see the Fisketorget. Don't spend your time indoors looking at paintings, as you can do that anywhere else in the world.
Finding food in Bergen: It's not that hard. Every Norway guidebook says to eat kebabs and other Arabic/Turkish foods to keep budget down. Or Narvesen 7/11 or Deli de Luca. Then, Asian food is often somewhat affordable.
I personally enjoyed the Hot Wok Bergen, which offered a chicken and corn soup plus beef with mushrooms and onions at 120 NOK (take away). This isn't a special, it's regular price. I suppose it's a bit more than you'd pay elsewhere for this meal—but it's good, decent portions too. Recommended.
Another restaurant I want to was a Thai place on øvregaten, where I got a Beef (Massaman) Curry at 140 NOK. This was good, but nothing special. It's not great value, but it's certainly filling enough. It's close to touristy areas (a couple of blocks west of the funicular), so the prices are a bit inflated, but certainly good enough—I've yet to encounter bad food in Norway. There are a few Asian places on this street, so I wouldn't be worried about finding a place to eat around here. You can probably get better deals further away from tourist attractions, though.
Other than that, there is a Deli de Luca close to the main pedestrian area, and they serve good calzones and paninis among other things, at somewhere around 50 or 60 NOK IIRC. Not a bad value for Norway if you don't mind a bit of junk food.
At the top:
Bergen is indeed a nice destination, one that IMO you should definitely go see at least once in your life. I suppose you should take an umbrella... although I don't use them, even in case of rain
Mt. Fløyen, Bryggen, Bergenhus fortress, Fish Market, older neighborhoods... All worth a look if you can afford it. You can see most of the sights written down in online guides like wikitravel so I'll leave it at that for now. But, if you have questions about Bergen, feel free to ask me. If I can help, I will try to do so.
Right. After a bit more of relaxation, it was time to proceed further north. What I forgot to mention is that we'd done OLCI for our flight to Trondheim TRD
and I had selected the last row on the 735, which was a 2-seater. Yes, that's mainly why I chose it—and it wasn't a bad choice all in all, aside from prompting a comment as to why I like to sit in the back
SK4154 has a departure time of 09:05 which means a pretty early wake-up call to catch a Flybussen coach to the airport (which is reasonably far away from town—I believe the coach takes about 25 minutes).We proceeded to the nearest airport bus stop and got on. For 70 NOK (student rate), we were admitted on and sat down. Free wi-fi on these buses, nice touch. Well, about half an hour later we were ready to get our boarding passes and baggage tags from the SAS SSCI machine—perfect. Like a pro, I did this quickly, and stuck the baggage tag on my bag, and headed towards the baggage drop-off desk. Oh, I have to do this too? Cool. Really cool. Scanned the barcode and off the bag went after “inspection”. Not sure how exactly they inspected it... Any ideas? There was something there, but it didn't look like an X-ray machine, that's for sure. M did the same, and it was picture time.
Breakfast? We each had a sandwich at the airport, before security—well, mine was a salami panini at 70 NOK and M had a shrimp sandwich at 80 NOK. Not great food, but good enough for us this morning. For an airport in Norway, not horrible prices, I suppose. Well, we paid for it so obviously we thought it was OK
Bring out your baaags:
Baggage belt for arriving flights:
Oh, hey, you look dashing:
Some more destinations:
Security was a breeze, the agents nice, no ID
check, no shoes-off, no nude-o-scope... Can someone please show the TSA
how it can be done?
As you can see (maybe), there is a separate waiting area for our flight, which we entered when allowed to---this afforded a good view of LN
-BUC, just arrived from SVG
. Not even 10 minutes later, boarding was called (by opening a doorway to the jetway) and we proceeded to the aircraft. Nothing special upon entry, just a hello. Same when proceeding down the aisle. Finally, we reached row 21, and I allowed M to take the window seat. Yes, no problem, but some useful advice from me: “take thrice as many pics as you think is too many”.
Anyway, fare for this flights, alongside the BOO
flight, 1110 NOK (150 EUR). That's 50 EUR per segment, not too bad. This was using SAS' youth tickets—very, very useful stuff indeed.
First flight with SAS
Well hello there, Mr. LN
Well, you know, the usual plane geek activities—taking too many pictures of everything and only then selecting the best for the TR
Boarding is complete pretty soon and we're ready to head to TRD
. Flying time announced as 45-50 minutes depending on the arrival runway in TRD
. Take-off from BGO
would be on runway 35, arrival in TRD
on runway 09.
Safety presentation in Norwegian (well, “a Scandinavian language”, as they said), with a short review in English. Demonstration during Norwegian only. No problem, can't be that much different!
735, you got right, SAS... This time:
Taxiing and In-flight:
Service started about 10 minutes after take-off. We were offered tea or coffee—both got tea, quite watery but what can you expect? Started in the back and front at the same time, I think, but I'm not positive about that—certainly we were the first in the back to get a drink. Nice and warm.
Sexist SAS? Your call:
Legroom, not bad:
Soon, we approached TRD
out of the west, meaning a runway 09 landing—no surprise there, quick flight today, arriving early... really early for such a short flight. Good on SAS, the most on-time airline in Europe, I guess. Not that they emphasize that... At all
terminal looks pretty nice—they're working on something still, that's for sure. Anyway, a quick toilet break later, and our bags are already out—good to know—in fact, the guy at the SAS service desk grabs M's bag from the belt—the belt had stopped and everyone grabbed their bags—and takes it to his desk. After a quick recovery mission from her and after I removed mine from the belt, we were ready to go to Trondheim. A quick decision (and a bad one, all things considered) was to take the train. Would've been quicker and more comfortable to take the flybussen, I suppose.We had to wait 40 minutes or so for the train... and it was full of teenage girls going to some shitty concert in the central square. Luckily, it would end by 8 pm so the girls could be asleep by their bedtimes at 9 pm. Anyway, not the best day to visit Trondheim! I really was in Hell! No, really, I was. Two minutes after departure, the train passed through Hell station.
Airport Train Station, looking towards Hell—no flames, though:
About 35 minutes later, welcome to Trondheim! After exiting the train station we headed left, walked 100 meters and got to our hotel, P-Hotels Brattora. It was half-past 11, so we couldn't check-in yet, just store our bags. Fair enough, let's go for a walk! First stop: the cathedral. We took the long way there, thanks to the nice weather—along the river down to the south, until Kongens gate, heading west, until the main square, then towards the cathedral. Hey, what is this, climb the tower for 35 NOK? Sure! Oh, a guided tour? No, thanks. I climbed a tower a few times higher, in Tallinn, without a guide... Not a big fan of having a large number of people on that type of stairs—as you might see if I write about it, I dislike mass tourism and tour guides, travelling by bus from Sevilla to Trondheim and other similar stuff. Ouch! Really, you want to race to the toilet as if there's 100 million dollars in there every time you stop, for 12 days straight? Nice holiday! I'd rather not.
Anyway, the Trondheim Cathedral is wonderful, good to admire for people of all faiths or lack thereof.
Old buildings next to the Cathedral:
Big and scary Nidelva:
After spending a bit of time in front of the cathedral, we headed towards the Nidelva and walked along it passing by some nice green park-like areas and a few nice older houses that reminded me of some villages in Romania. Really nice and quiet.
After a bit more walking, hunger was creeping up. We then spotted an Indian restaurant, I believe it was called the Madras Cafe, on Sandgata, which was offering a 99 NOK special (Madras Chicken). I'm not a big expert of Indian food, so I can't say exactly what it was, but it was good. We also had an onion parotha for ~35 NOK, and it was good too. Oh, yeah, one more thing—this was one of 2 places in Norway where you couldn't pay with plastic (it didn't work). The other was the Longyearbyen airport bus (apparently they were supposed to start on June 15 but they didn't—more later). Luckily M had cash with her... All 4 of our debit cards were declined (the only problem I had with my cards in Norway actually). Well, you better say something, that your restaurant has a xenophobic card reader (don't phrase it that way, though, as some people don't have a sense of humor).
After lunch we walked around for a bit, to Ilen Kirke, before heading back and getting our room. No problems, decently large and brand new—the hotel opened in May 2012 I believe. After an hour's worth of rest and relaxation, we headed out towards the castle to the west of town. We walked past some restaurants, then up alongside some older houses, and hiked up to the fortress—not a difficult hike, really, not that hard even for me. There was a lovely view from the top, but even that was marred by the sounds coming from the central square, which really took a toll on the atmosphere...
Trondheim from the fortress:
Afterwards we started descending towards the cathedral in a roundabout way, through some rural-feeling neighborhood—not that much traffic, nice little houses... Even a cat who followed us for a good few hundred meters—when was the last time a cat followed you, without you having any food? After passing by what I assume to be the high school, we crossed the Nidelva and ended by the cathedral, much more quiet at this hour, and with much better lighting for pictures.
Back to the cathedral:
At around 8pm, the “music” stopped and everything got so much better. We strolled around the center until we found the only Deli de Luca in town, on Nordre gate. After a quick snack, and an ice-cream too, we headed back to the hotel, for an early wake-up call, due to the fact the Bodø train would be leaving at 07:38 (and taking most of the day—9 hours 50 minutes).
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this less aeronautical part of the journey.
Next time, in Part III, you'll see: the train ride to Bodø, sights from this city, including the Aviation Museum, as well as the ride to Tromsø on the Widerøe Dash 8.
Comments always appreciated!
Norway, Part I: OTP-FRA-OSL, LH, A320 (by dc9northwest Jul 22 2012 in Trip Reports)
Delta's 757-300, FLL-ATL, 22MAY12 (by dc9northwest Jun 20 2012 in Trip Reports)
ORD-JFK-FCO-OTP, B6/DL/AZ, June 2012 (by dc9northwest Jun 16 2012 in Trip Reports)
Bahamasair's 737-200, UP205, 21MAY12 (by dc9northwest May 24 2012 in Trip Reports)
March 2012, ORD-CDG, Delta, 763 (by dc9northwest Apr 8 2012 in Trip Reports)
March 2012, FCO-JFK-ORD, Delta, 333/CR7 (by dc9northwest Apr 1 2012 in Trip Reports)
March 2012, OTP-FCO, Alitalia, A319 (by dc9northwest Mar 28 2012 in Trip Reports)
MCI-OTP: Three Upgrades And A380 Flight Deck Visit (by dc9northwest Feb 13 2012 in Trip Reports)
The Baltic States In 6 Easy Flights (by dc9northwest Dec 26 2010 in Trip Reports)
Romanian TR: Bucuresti-Suceava Via Timisoara (by dc9northwest Dec 24 2010 in Trip Reports)
Connecting In ATL, Right Before The Snowstorm (by dc9northwest Mar 1 2010 in Trip Reports)
MCI-ATL-AMS-OTP With DL And KL (60+pics And Vids) (by Dc9northwest Jun 14 2007 in Trip Reports)