We are up bright and early to head to the train. We leave the keys of our perfect Air B&B in the mail box and head down the steep path for the final time. It is quiet as we stroll along, there is a not a soul around this morning. We arrive at the station and quickly and look up at the departure board. OSLO CANCELLED.
Oh boy! What the hell are we going to do? We don’t have a plan B. I see a station employee unlock a office and I follow her and inquire in my calm voice. “Our train is cancelled what are the options”? Her response is a grumpy” Go get the bus” ME “And just were is the bus station?”. Her “Over there”. The other couple in the station also inquires were to go and she tells them to” follow them”. Geez ! We are lucky that there are no distractions around this morning and I can follow instructions, we find the bus depot. There are still no people around? The train to Bergen was full a couple of days ago when we arrived. Is no one going back? Did I not get the memo?. .I am thinking there would be buses to transport us to Oslo. Well this is considered a “legal strike” and therefore no alternative transportation is supplied. As we discuss our situation with the other couple our options are, wait for a bus that is going in the direction of Oslo. A rental car, the thought of which scares the hell out of me. I saw those mountains as lovely as they are I sure as hell don’t want to drive a stick shift rental car over them in winter. Option 3 go to the airport and get a flight back to Oslo. So we decide to wait 2 hours for a bus going in the right directions then if that does not work head to the airport. Our flight back to Canada leaves in about 30 hours and as much as I really would like to hang out in Norway for another week we really should be on that flight!
A bus comes to the stop that I have been standing in front of for about a hour. Since we don’t have pre-purchased tickets on this bus it will be first come first served . Phew! The driver sells us a ticket to Oslo and were past that hurdle. ( I can hear the Rocky theme in my head). As we settle in for the ride a few things become apparent. We are not prepared at all for this 10 to 11 hour ride to Oslo. We had plans on having breakfast at the train station and picking up water and a few staples for the ride. Since I was guarding the front of the line I didn’t use the facilities and there is no toilet on this bus…… But on the up side we are heading to Oslo. In the seat next to us is a American man from New York. He is a fashion designer and boutique owner that is here sourcing supplies for his spring line. He tells us he got a email about the cancellation and the travel agent that he went to suggested to take the bus not a flight, she also mentioned that this route had LOTS of stops.
As the bus makes its way in to the mountains it becomes apparent that there will be a lot of stops. The necessary bathroom stops are factored in, much to my relief. The one thing I was not expecting is the scenery. This route is amazing way better then the train, sure we go into a lot of towns and villages but I love it. We never would have seen any of this on the train. The bus is up close and personal with waterfalls and switchback roads.
The young man in the front of us joins in to our conversation, he is local and is like our personal travel guide. Talk about turning lemons into lemonade. I recognize some of the towns from my research in to what to do while we are here. I had looked in to a hike to Trolltunga, it turned out not to be a option because of the time of year and the 10 hours in and 10 hours out. But this is the area were you would drive to . My husband would like to do a Norwegian extreme triathlon called the Norseman. Well we are taking a ferry across the Eidfjord, the fjord he would swim in.
This really is a bonus seeing the architecture of the homes, it is phenomenal. You can tell how “House Proud” Norwegians are, their homes are immaculate the detail and colours are fabulous.
We arrive back in Oslo about 12 hours after leaving Bergen, we are tired and our bottoms are sore from all the sitting. The one thing that we have time to do is go to our favourite restaurant Smalhans. We are pretty much locals there now and our usual staff recognizes us and brings us another fabulous meal. Sharon asked if we could add a soup as well. The mushroom soup that is brought to our table is the pinnacle of good food. It is a champagne and chanterelle mushroom soup with a pickled raw quail egg and droplets of basil oil. This soup is the best of the best. I have never in my 54 years tasted anything so wonderful, if no one was looking I would have licked the bowl.Now it is time to pack and head back to Canada. Our flight tomorrow will cover 4 countries and take over 17 hours. I am not going to tell you about it because it was awful and Sharon and I don’t get to sit together! Right now I think I hear Sweden calling!
We are off to Norway! There are a few hiccups along the way, but it is never a good story without hiccups. I am travelling Icelandair for the 4th time in 3 years. I have to keep reminding myself that cheap flights do come at a cost.
So when Sharon texts me to say there had been yet another change in our flights I am not surprised. Her flight from Vancouver would not be stopping in Edmonton, we would go to Iceland on separate planes. So far we were still on the same flight to Oslo, fingers crossed.
We did finally find each other at the boarding gate in Iceland and all was good. It is hardly a girls road trip if the girls never meet up. We had one more flight to Oslo from Iceland and yet again we would not be seated together. I however sat with a lovely Icelandic gentleman, like most Scandinavian people he spoke many languages and inquired which languages I spoke. UGH! I hate having to admit that I just speak English. British English or American he inquires? Canadian. We chatted about many things and I mentioned that we were taking the train to Bergen in a few days. He wondered if I had heard about the rail strike. Noooooo I had not. Oh yes it is rotating everyday different trains you just never know which one, he informs me. Great! Well, I hope we don't have to walk from the airport into town. When we arrive in Norway our train is running and with great efficiency we are whisked off to Oslo. ( Note to self: find out about rail strike). My first impression of Oslo is the temperature is perfect. Yes it is late October and it is +10c but to me that is perfect. It is also very quiet. Oslo is a small city (pop 618,683) and you sense that right away. It is not noisy or smelly is just seems calm. There is a plan in Oslo to ban cars in the city center by 2019, you can tell they are moving towards this as the air is much cleaner in this city then any other I have ever been to.I have walking directions to our flat but we both decide that a taxi would be the best choice.
Neither of us really wants to walk the wrong way dragging our luggage. Tipping is not required in Norway according to my sources, but it is a very quick trip and we don't mind tipping. As long as it is not a insult I don't see the harm. We have instructions on were to find the key to our flat. We both have a giggle when we find it, as Norway is obviously very trusting and built on the honour system. I like that
After a quick shower we head out to explore. The first thing on our list is something to eat. I can't quite remember when I last ate so before I chew off my own arm we need a restaurant. Our flat is located in a lovely residential area and there are a few spots to choose from, we decide on Smalhans.
We are not disappointed, the veggie burger is divine and so is the restaurant. We managed to get in on the lunch menu but as we are leaving the dinner menu is being served and we both think we will need to come back here again. After our amazing lunch/dinner we head out to see our neighbourhood and it is lovely.
Everything is so clean and spotless. People are heading home from work on their bikes, walking or on the bus. There are very few cars so the calmness prevails. Our waiter had advised us to head to St. Hanshaugen
park and walk to the top of the hill, so we would be able to see the city. It is lovely and we see tomorrows destination" the waterfront".