Norway

Category

Aimless wandering

It has been strangely hard to get over jetlag. It’s barely 8pm before I can hardly keep my eyes open and I have a feeling this is going to be messed up even further the moment I get into the Polar night in Svalbard. On the positive side, that means I’m up with lots of time to spare – I can eat breakfast, go out and still be in time to enjoy the slow sunrise at Holmenkollen (what looks to be a very affluent residential area as well as a ski recreation area) on Line 1 of the T-bane. There were already those who were training for competitions at that...

Paupering in Oslo

Seven years ago, I visited Oslo and stayed in someone’s apartment, essentially getting the entire place to myself when the owner coincidentally went on vacation during those exact dates I was here. As I got to Tøyen where he stayed, I wondered if I was actually observing the underbelly of Oslo’s poorer population. Things change dramatically a few train stops away, and all these years later, I’m not too sure if what I’m seeing of Oslo is too different – at least superficially. Now that I’m at a budget place near the National Theatret, I get to see what the tourists see and do what they do, and unwittingly find...

Air Traffic Nightmare

It’s goodbye to Bergen, but not before an uphill climb to see the undulating city from some gradient. I did get to the Bergen Airport early only to find out that the flight to Oslo has been delayed (from 3.45pm to 4.30pm) – I nodded in resignation – until I realised I had a connecting flight from Oslo to Vienna at 5.30pm. Massive panic of course ensued, with me questioning any flight crew in sight – until I learnt that the Oslo-Vienna Flight had a high possibility of a delay as well. I managed to grab hold of a flight attendant in Bergan and learned that almost every flight today had...

The Mixed Dorm

The journey from Balestrand to Bergen heralded a change in scenery. The boat took a route through the gradually flattening landscape that opened out into the sea with many islets sheltering the Bergen coast. It was amusing to see some brave souls (well, me included) clamber up to the stern of the boat, only to back down in defeat when the wind got too strong and too cold in the upper regions of the Fjord. The boat terminal slices the Bergen Wharf into half, and for many visitors from other regions of Norway, the first sight they get is not only the hilly regions that the city is built on,...

Balestrand

Somewhere in the sitting room, the keys of an old, traditional piano move to the sound of an equally traditional tune, though halting, and unpractised, the English country home feel of Midtnes Pension is complete. I wished I had decided to stay 2 nights here instead of the Flam Valley. By some coincidence, there happens to be an exhibition of vintage cars, attracting ignorant visitors and visitors who pretend to know a lot. There’s little I remember apart from staying still for long periods of time while wandering around. The faces of travellers whom I’ve briefly spoken to flit by like the reel of a film, and after a while, they...

Fjordland

Norway is expensive, much to my dismay. Food and drink cost thrice to four times as much as I am used to. Yet I had the most extraordinary encounter in Café Asylet on my last night in Oslo. The original intention to try at least a meagre portion of Norwegian food had finally won out, and thus determinedly made my way to Asylet that wasn’t far from the Oslo lodging. I ended up asking someone busy wrapping knives and forks in serviettes for his translation of the menu, inwardly cringing at the prices, and ordered something decent and least expensive, which also happened to be the Café’s special. Turned out that...

Oslo: Old and Powerfully Simple

If there’s anything to say about classic Scandinavian design, Oslo Airport Gardemoen probably embodies it (well, at least it ranks second to Copenhagen’s one). Pine floors, navy, white and yellow, sleek, clean lines. Norway already feels more rugged than picture-perfect Sweden (that seems so typically Scandinavian) but it’s the most beautiful I’ve ever seen (judging only from the countryside – rolling hills and all – from the airport), next to New Zealand. It took a terribly long time to get to the place where I stayed, which is in someone’s apartment in an immigrant (mixed with the university students’ housing) area (which Westerners are generally fascinated with). It turned out that I had...

Norway Nutshell-less

The Trek: Stockholm to Oslo to Flåm to Balestrand to Bergen. Lest I forget, the trademark Norway in a Nutshell tour is simply a series of train/bus/boat connections that cut down the hassle of buying point-to-point tickets. Works the same for the Royal Fjord Tour, and this route only diverges after Flam, going onto the Sognefjord, onto Balestrand before heading towards Bergen by expressboat. No matter. The route goes roughly like this: 1. Oslo-Myrdal (Tickets, especially the Minipris ones can be bought online at NSB) The minipris tickets do make it worth the point-to-point rides. Grab these fast, because they run out quickly. 2. Myrdal-Flaam Railway (Flaamsbana) Merely approx. 20...