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Norway

Travel Tips - Bergen

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Wait in Lounge

Wait in Lounge

Ok then… how about the nuts and bolts of my weekend in Bergen in July.

I flew with Widerøe from Aberdeen. It cost £163 (€183) return, with hand luggage only at that price. For a 2 night trip in summer that was fine, but with winter layers it might have been a struggle. They use Dash 8 turboprop planes on the service, so the lockers are small, and so is the size of bag they allow.

The whole “Widerøe experience” was excellent, and really good value for money. The airline has few international routes, but operates many domestic services, particularly in the north of the country. It was founded in 1934 and operates 45 aircraft - so it is an established and substantial airline. It just is not a well known name outside Scandinavia.

I got off-airport parking for £21 (€24) from Aberdeen Airport Park & Depart. That was for early Friday until late on Sunday. Their shuttle bus service was great, and waiting time was a minute or two. Their site is just on the far side of the airport and is less than 5 minutes away.

I stayed the night before my outward flight in the Jury's Inn at Aberdeen Airport - £68 (€77) without breakfast. It too was a happy experience in all respects. I had a salad in the bar/restaurant in the evening and although it was good quality it was very overpriced. On the other hand, you have plenty of other options nearby for food.

Jury's Inn

Jury's Inn

In Bergen I stayed at the Magic Hotel in Solheimsviken. It is located 2km from the city centre, but only 5 minutes walk from the Bergen Light Rail stop at Danmarks plass. As a result, the city centre is an easy walk away or a short tram ride. One advantage it gave me is that the tram line serves the airport, so transit was cheap and easy.

Magic Entrance

Magic Entrance

The hotel was (almost) all positive. The cost was kr881.50 (£82.55/€88.15) per night, including a buffet breakfast. I had a single room, and whilst it was definitely small, the hotel has plenty of communal areas for relaxation if cabin fever sets in.

Magic Corridor

Magic Corridor

I ate dinner in the restaurant both evenings. The first time it was just convenience. The second time it was because the first dinner was so good. It was expensive by UK standards, of course.

You will find a discount mini market next door to the hotel, and it offers a cheaper alternative for food.

I used the tram a lot. For most of the day it runs every 10 minutes. I bought 24 hour tickets for kr95.00 (€9.50/£8.90) each, giving unlimited usage. I used the Skyss app on my phone, so it was easy - no messing with machines at the tram stops - and paperless.

Skyss App

Skyss App

The tickets cover all public transport within the Bergen zone except the NSB trains, but it includes the ferry service to Askøy.

Skyss Catamaran

Skyss Catamaran

You can also buy single tickets for kr37.00 (£3.46/€3.70). If you want to avoid grappling with the automatic ticket machines when you’ve just arrived at the airport, the deli next to the information desk at arrivals sells them over the counter. They have to be validated using a terminal on the tram.

Writing this reminded me how smoothly all the travel arrangements worked out. If you know anyone who is looking for a travel planner, please get in touch.

Posted by IainT 13:10 Archived in Norway Tagged bergen ferries transport flights norway aberdeen airlines Comments (0)

Cool Bergen

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Kleppestø

Kleppestø

Bergen was still hot and sticky on my second day in the city - my only full day. It was 29⁰c at 11am when I started to feel it, and checked. It went over 30⁰c again at lunchtime.

This was all predicted by the weather forecast, so I had a plan. I was out of the hotel about 08:30 and got the tram into the city centre to catch the 09:15 ferry to Kleppestø on Askøy. Askøy is a large island just across the fjord from Bergen. The 20 minute trip was included on my 24 hour transport ticket. It’s a commuter ferry.

Fjord & Mainland View

Fjord & Mainland View

As I thought, it was a good way to see the city from another aspect and interesting to see how similar Kleppestø is the the place I stayed “in” Oslo, across the harbour by ferry from the city centre.

I had hoped the island might be a bit cooler, but…

Express

Express

The heat meant I didn’t explore the town much, or the island, so it was just a short visit but worth it and “free”.

Once back in the city I wandered through the southern part of the city centre, past Den Nationale Scene (National Theatre) and Johanneskirken.

Den Nationale Scene

Den Nationale Scene

In the evening I spent some time just sitting on the quay opposite Bryggen, people watching and enjoying the evening warmth.

Vestre Torggaten

Vestre Torggaten

It is a great city for relaxation.

Posted by IainT 00:10 Archived in Norway Tagged bergen ferries norway islandlife kleppestø askøy Comments (0)

I'm Back!

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Bryggen

Bryggen

I enjoyed Oslo so much in July 2017 I decided to come back to Norway this year, but this time to Bergen. Being on the country’s west coast, it’s a short (75 minutes) flight from Scotland.

On Approach

On Approach

I’m very impressed. It’s a beautiful city.

Harbour

Harbour

The airport is brand new, and a delight to use. A few minutes after getting into the terminal I was on a tram (they call it “light rail”) to the city centre. They run every 10 minutes during the day and a single trip cost NOK 39 (£3.50 or €3.90). You can buy a 24 hour pass for NOK 95 (£8.55 or €9.50). It took about 30 minutes to get to my hotel.

July is a strange month here. Most locals take their summer holiday in July, but it is a peak tourism month for visitors too.

Friday Afternoon

Friday Afternoon

With the city being to far north, I wasn’t sure what to expect as far as the weather is concerned. I suspect it is like Scotland - anything can happen, and all in the same day. As it turned out, the temperature hit 32⁰ on the day I arrived (27th July).

Nordnes

Nordnes

I was able to walk around the city centre for a couple of hours in the afternoon, and again in the evening. It is a good city for walking and people watching.

Posted by IainT 23:25 Archived in Norway Tagged bergen flights norway airlines Comments (0)

Hygge

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Hygge

Hygge

I’ve blogged about Airbnb before, but my experience in Oslo (or Nesodden, to be more accurate) gave me more cause for reflection.

My Airbnb experience in Oslo was fabulous. The property is what Brits would call a “granny flat”. It’s 100% self contained (with its own entrances) but attached to the owner’s house. Inside, you’d describe it as a split level studio. It’s an open plan kitchen/living room/bedroom space, with the sleeping area being up a few steps from the rest.

Airbnb

Airbnb

It is 100% pine - floors, walls and ceilings - so it smells like a sauna. Wonderful! It has a little balcony leading onto the owner’s back garden.

Terrace

Terrace

My lasting impression is of a quiet, calm, relaxing and comfortable place to stay. I slept well. The only thing which comes close to resembling an interruption is the owner’s cat wanting to check you out. You choose...

It’s a 5 minute walk to a good corner shop and takeaway pizza shop. I used both. They are excellent (Oslo prices, but so is everything else!) There’s an Asian restaurant in the same building, but I didn’t try it.

Oksval (in Nesodden) is 30 minutes from the centre of Oslo by bus (5 minutes) and ferry (20 minutes).

Location

Location

The sail is great.

Oslo Harbour

Oslo Harbour

The cost was included in my Oslo Pass. The ferries run every 30 minutes for most of the day. The buses connect with the ferries. You can get coffee and something to eat at the Nesoddtangen ferry terminal, or on the ferry itself. It’s all fun and easy.

Nesoddtangen Ferry Terminal

Nesoddtangen Ferry Terminal

At the city end of the ferry trip you have tram and bus services right there, and the T-Bane (Nationaltheatret station) an easy walk away.

Aker brygge

Aker brygge

Nationaltheatret station also has mainline train services to/from the airport or you can take the tram to the central station (5 minutes).

The property suited me perfectly. It gave me easy access to the city centre for sightseeing and food. It gave me peace and quiet when I wanted it in the morning and evening.

Oksval is like a seaside village crossed with a suburb. Summer houses mixed with year round properties. It has a little beach, and yes, I did go swimming. And yes, I did find a deer in the garden one evening.

Intruder

Intruder

The owner was friendly and helpful, but I only saw him on arrival and departure.

Now, crunch time. The cost. £153 (€167) for 3 nights, which includes a cleaning fee of £13 and Airbnb’s fee of £17. £51 per night. In a place where a takeaway pizza costs £12, that’s fabulous value for money (even for those who aren’t Scottish).

In comparison terms, that is much better value for money than where I stayed on Colonsay and Islay this year (although both were excellent). Colonsay was a self catering apartment (much like Oslo) and Islay was a normal B&B.

It would be hard to compare anything with my accommodation on Eigg - it was unique.

Eigg

Eigg

Oslo was massively better than my Belfast experience in an Ibis hotel - wakened at 3am by a disturbance in the corridor right outside my room which turned out to be the manager trying to eject a drunk. 4 hours sleep that night...

Oslo was my 9th Airbnb experience in 4 years, in places as diverse as Rīga and Amsterdam.

Rīga Airbnb

Rīga Airbnb

They’ve all been different and all have been positive. It won't be my last.

Footnote: The Danish word hygge is derived from a 16th century Norwegian word - hugga. The German word Gemütlichkeit is a close translation. None of them translate well into English. English speaking folks often think the meaning is close to “cosy” and implies sitting in front of an open fire in winter. In fact, it can just as easily mean sitting on a deserted beach in mid summer whilst appreciating the fresh air and solitude.

Posted by IainT 12:46 Archived in Norway Tagged oslo norway belfast islay eigg colonsay nesodden Comments (0)

Oslo - Day 2

overcast 20 °C

I started Day 2 with a walk along Karl Johans gate - it’s the city’s main street, and leads to the Slottet (Royal Palace) at the western end. I reached the Slottet as the guard was changing - good timing.

Slottet

Slottet

Next on the itinerary was Holmenkollen - the ski centre high above the city in the suburbs. Metro line 1 takes you right to it. T-bane is what the Norwegians call the metro, so look for the “T” signs. I’d wanted to go up to the top of the ski jump, but the queue was 50 minutes long. I settled for the ski museum, the spectator area and the snack bar.

Holmenkollen Ski Jump

Holmenkollen Ski Jump

My last stop on Day 2 was the Nobels Fredssenter (Nobel Peace Centre). It’s a powerful place. I liked it, but some tears welled up too - and some anger.

FARC Guerillas

FARC Guerillas

As with my blog post about Day 1, everything I’ve mentioned was prepaid in the price of my Oslo Pass (including the ferries and T-bane). It’s available from various places - check out the Visit Oslo website for the current list and prices. I got mine at the Ruter service point at the airport because I wanted to use it on the ferry over to Nesodden where I was staying. (Ruter is the Oslo public transport organisation).

Nobels Fredssenter

Nobels Fredssenter

Posted by IainT 11:57 Archived in Norway Tagged oslo sport norway Comments (0)

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