Return to Oslo

This week I took a short trip back to Oslo for what is arguably one of the most important Norwegian events of the year: the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony. Unfortunately I like to work through my blog chronologically, so you’ll have to wait a post or two before I talk about that. Sorry!

So, starting from beginning, I took the train down to Oslo from Trondheim and it was yet again another lovely experience. There was however one key difference between this time and the last time: the amount of sunshine I was exposed to. Because of the decreasing amount of daylight and the fact that I was moving North (where we have less daylight) to South (where they have more daylight) I effectively had a longer day with a very long sunrise and sunset. Unlike my last trip, I was able to witness the start and the close of the day all from the train. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed chasing the sun and basking in the extra two hours or so of daylight. Oh, and it helped that the scenery still remains breathtaking.

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Lud, one of the Roving Scholars, and his wife Susan were my hosts in Oslo and they helped me pick out a few new spots to explore in the city. Once I got settled in, Susan and I went to one of Oslo’s bigger Christmas markets, or julemarked, on Karl Johans Gate (Oslo’s main street). While I abstained from buying things, it was wonderful to walk around and soak in the sights and smells. There was of course knitwear (hats, gloves, scarfs, sweaters, etc.) for sale but there were also animal pelts, tourist trinkets, and food. I adore food and was excited to see the caramelized nuts, baked goods, chocolate, reindeer, cheese, and even moose burgers on display. While I was tempted to try the moose burgers I ended up deciding against it due to the excellent meal that Susan had already fed me.

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Lofoten Islands: Svolvær, Bodø

Thursday was essentially the last day of our trip. Alix and I had opted not to retrace our steps back to Moskenes and instead decided that we should drive overland back to Bodø. Little did we realize how long that would take. Eventually, with the help of our GPS system we decided that the best way to head back to Bodø was to drive to Lodingen, catch the ferry to Bognes, and drive the rest of the way to Bodø. In short, an eight hour journey.

Although we had a long drive planned for the day, we decided to spend part of the morning looking around Svolvær. Compared to many of the other towns we had stopped by, Svolvær was huge. Not only did it have a grocery store, it also had several well known companies established there. Because the weather was wet and dreary we only spent a small amount of time walking around, but we did enjoy stopping by the store of a local photographer and ended up leaving with our arms fuller and our wallets emptier.

IMG_1091  IMG_1095  IMG_1098Once we had safely bundled up our purchases we hit the road. While the drive itself was long it never failed to offer us some beautiful views. Alix and I were also incredibly lucky–we spotted a sea eagle! Lucky for us it flew right over the bridge we were crossing so we could hardly fail to miss it. We were much less successful in our attempts to spot a moose, but were pretty content with having seen the sea eagle.

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IMG_5627  IMG_5644  IMG_5673While our journey was long, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It did take eight hours, but one hour involved waiting for the ferry and the ferry ride itself was another hour. So, in total we had six hours of driving and two hours involving the ferry.

After we arrived in Bodø, Alix and I had dinner, returned the rental car, and admired some local graffiti before heading to the train station. We had decided to take a sleeper train back to Trondheim and were excited to see what it looked like. It was in fact cramped, neither of our standard airport carryons could fit underneath the bunk bed, but we managed to do just fine. I will also say that although I buckled in a harness around the top bunk, it wasn’t really necessary. NSB train rides aren’t always the smoothest (walking down the aisles while the train is in motion is usually similar to walking along any sort of path highly intoxicated) but the ride wasn’t so bumpy that I was actually in danger of falling out of the bed.

IMG_1114  IMG_1116  IMG_1118The train ride proved to be a fairly uneventful one, and we pulled into Trondheim’s central station at 7:47 am on Friday.

While getting to and from the Lofotens was a bit of a trek, I will say that it was definitely a worthwhile trip and one that I would highly recommend.

 

Lofoten Islands: Bodø, Moskenes, Nusfjord

If there is one place that I felt I absolutely had to visit while in Norway, it was the Lofoten Islands. The Islands are located in the Arctic Circle towards the top of Norway and are supposed to offer some of the most beautiful sights in the country. About a month ago, Alix and I decided that we should plan a trip there, and we have finally begun our journey.

Getting there has taken some planning, and on our first day we traveled by train, ferry, and car. The first leg of our journey involved taking one of the national trains (NSB) up to Bodø. The train ride itself was quite a haul and took ten hours. Originally we debated whether or not we should just take a sleeper train, but in the end we decided that it’d be nice to go during the day and see the scenery. So, having woken up at 6 am on Monday morning, I bundled up my things and headed down to Trondheim’s central station to catch our 7:38 am train.

While the train ride was really long, I would say that it was definitely worth doing. The landscape was incredible and constantly changing; I never really got bored of looking out the window. The train ride also helped me realize how desolate and sparsely populated the country can be. In fact, at one point the train had to stop to let reindeer cross the tracks. NSB trains also tend to be quite comfortable and even provide slow wifi. So, in between napping and looking out the window, Alix and I were able to keep entertained during our journey.

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Yes, Norway is stunning. The funny thing is that this isn’t even a train route well known for its beauty.

After we arrived in Bodø, Alix and I managed to snag some dinner before picking up our rental car at 7. After that, we had about five hours left to kill since our ferry didn’t leave for the Islands until 12:15 am. We ended up walking a few laps around town before settling down at a cozy café called Paviljong.

At around 11:00 pm we moseyed our way down to the ferry terminal. I had bought our tickets over the phone and was a bit anxious since we lacked both the physical tickets and any email confirmation from the ticket company. Surprisingly enough, the ferry operators essentially waved us aboard, and as far as I can tell they never bothered to double check our story.

The ferry itself was quite nice. Everything was neat, clean and cosy. In fact, the most disappointing thing involved a sign with the words “Pet Store.” My sleep deprived brain assumed that we could go to an actual pet store onboard the ferry and play with puppies for sale, but Alix pointed out that it was more likely a holding area for animals (I have since confirmed with Norwegian speakers that “Pet Storage” would have been a more accurate translation). Having been disappointed by this, I resigned myself to a puppy-less night and followed Alix up to one of the passenger decks before falling asleep almost immediately in one of the chairs.

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But our journey did not end there. At the ungodly hour of 3:30 am, Alix and I peeled ourselves off of our ferry seats and returned to the car. We finally arrived at the Lofoten Islands in the town of Moskenes. Unfortunately, Moskenes was not our final destination. So with the help of Google Maps and a few sugary snacks we prepared to drive for an hour to our final destination, Nusfjord. We finally made it to our rental cottage at around 4:30 am, and thanks to our very gracious hosts were able to go to our cottage and fall asleep in our well heated rooms. In short, not a bad adventure for Columbus Day.