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 both have enjoyed our beautifully presented meal at the Scotsman. We have about 2 hours left before the performance at the Concert hall. So we head down Karl Johans Gate towards the Royal Palace. We are going to the National Gallery to see if another version of the Scream is on display.
We have walked a lot today and I have chosen the wrong footwear as I am sure 2 of my toes have detached themselves and floating freely in my boots. There really is no time to change so I make a mental note never to bring these boots on holidays again. Upon arriving, at the gallery it is much to our financial gratitude that Thursday is FREE day and we are waved in. It is hard to tell how large this gallery and we really don't have time to see everything or so I think. I decide to inquire with one of the guards were the Scream is located. She gives me the eyeball roll as to say " ugh there is so much more to see then the Scream" and I know that, and I know we should enjoy it all 'but...but...but'. We find the Scream and it is amazing. The expression pretty much sums up how I am feeling about my feet at that moment! There are a lot of fabulous Munch paintings to enjoy in the Dance of Life collection and others.
This Gallery has many very important pieces by some very important artists and I have a sense of panic that we won't spend the time needed for such a incredible gallery. I then tell myself this is not a "bucket list trip" I have no intentions of saying "been there done that." I can come back here bring Sean and the girls, or come back again with Sharon. Why panic? see what you can see and then plan another trip and see some more. Just enjoy it! Phew! Panic over!
After seeing the works of Degas, Cezanne, Monet Picasso and many others I am most taken with the works by the neo romanic painter Harald Sohlberg. Sharon was captured by the painting Winter Night in the Mountains. I fell in love with Streets in Roros . I wish we had more time here but I fill my shopping bag at the gift shop, stop and gaze and the amazing French Salon coffee shop and we are off to the Opera house.
The part were I am the great organizer can back fire sometimes. I really wanted to see a performance in the amazing Opera house but sometimes over confidence or lack of knowledge can mess things up a little. We arrive at the Opera house with our tickets with time to spare and run into our tourist friends from the subway. I inquire if they are taking in tonight's performance with the Oslo philharmonic and they said no but they thought it was Madame Butterfly tonight....... Sharon and I go and check out the amazing exterior of the building and I recall a article that since Norway was not part of the EU they don't have to worry about the health and safety rules that the member of the EU do, so when it comes to building codes they are much freer. You can note this and appreciate the fact that the architect had less constraints on his/her creativity when designing this building. Since I have the inability to stay vertical on slippery surfaces I have chosen not to climb to the top and slide down!
But this Madame Butterfly thing is nagging in the back of my head. Sure enough when we check at the ticket office we have the wrong venue and 20 minutes to find the correct venue Taxi Taxi !!
We make it with a few minutes to spare. Since my wish was to just see and enjoy a performance in the Opera house I was not to fussy about what it was. And since the Harry Potter evening of music started at 6 and was on the only day we had available that seem to work for me. I didn't really take into account that this evening was really meant for Harry Potter fans that are looking forward to the up coming release of Fantastic Beasts and were to find them. Yes we are spending the evening with lots of young Norwegian Harry Potter fans all dressed in costume for the occasion. Poor Sharon I don't think she was expecting this. The performance was very good but we did forgo the photo op with Hagrid.
Since the performance was for the young of age it is done in a hour and really that is just perfect. Because now we have time for another amazing meal at Smalhans.