Norway – June 2015

Day 1 – To Oslo:

So basically, everyone I’ve mentioned our destination to has either responded with, ‘oh, why Norway?’ or ‘you know it’s outrageously expensive!’ I’ve been told to expect to pay about, ‘€500 for a burger’, which seems like it may be a slight exaggeration. Anyway, it’s been a dream to see Norway for some time, going with Orla only sweetens the deal. To Norway!

We get the vague familiarity of travelling through Dublin airport. Vague because at this point it feels like I’ve never travelled out after the 9am mark. Running through the standard operating procedure of Butler’s coffee, quick look in the shops followed by sitting watching people queue to take their assigned seats, before joining them right before the last possible moment when you just get a little bit panicked. It’s hard not to feel a little hard done by, when we’re robbed of a view of Oslo on the descent. The one seat on the plane without a window!

With a flight time of less than two hours you’re touching down in Oslo Rygge before you know it. We manage to get two student tickets for the Flybuss Ekspressen with one student card. Always worth chancing your arm. We’re at Oslo bus terminal within an hour and stepping out onto the city streets we’re instantly lost and heading in the wrong direction. After a quick 180 we’re on the right track, I blame Google Maps, but, it was probably my fault. Our hotel, the Comfort Xpress Central Station should be a 10 minute walk from the bus terminal; we’re there in about 20. It’s an amazingly trendy place. You might think a bit, hip to the groove, but it’s not pretentious and it’s all very thoughtful. Free Wi-Fi and an ethical approach to living. You could get all cynical about it, but, when in Rome. It would be hard to beat the hotel for location, despite being located beside a bizarre, interesting smelling, anything for sale shop pumping Bob Marley tunes and sporting wooden penis’ in the window.

Our introduction to expensive Oslo is a fabulous deli, which I’m jealous of not having near where I live. Focaccia with salami, sun-dried tomatoes and maybe pecorino cheese. Two sandwiches for around €15, yes expensive, but I think we can deal with that. There seems to be a lot of people begging around and we’re approached twice in about ten minutes while we try to eat our lunch. It’s hard to get too annoyed really; I can’t even imagine how rough things would have to get for me to do that. It does strike us as odd, that in a country known for its quality of life, and well, higher than average cost of living that there would be so many homeless people begging on the streets.

We catch a few sights while strolling around getting our bearings, we try to get a look at the Oslo Pride area of a park but can’t get in and it seems not to have started so we push on and grab a coffee in Espresso House, accompanied by a blueberry and white chocolate muffin. It’s good stuff. We sit in wonder at the giant that passes us casually on the street. We were sitting, so maybe it was just a perspective thing, but he definitely must have been 10 foot tall. Would have been a tad rude to whip out the camera for a snap, so you’ll have to take my word for on the estimated height.

We see the Parliament building, Akershus Fortress with its great views of Oslofjord from a height. There are a few nice bars with outside seating which take advantage of the view. At about €11 a Guinness though, I couldn’t even bring myself to test it. On the up-side, it’s nice and quiet around, so there’s no fighting crowds of tourists. For now.

We spot the Opera House from the opposite bank and make a bee-line before realising we can’t walk on water and have to go around the obstacles between us. Walking to the top again gives fantastic views of Oslofjord and Oslo in general. We should have started here as it gives you a great perspective of what’s where in the city. From the Opera House we spot Sukkerbiten, a hipster bar on its own little peninsula looking out into the fjord. The weather is amazing, the beer is delicious and plenty cold, I think I had a Frydenlund. It comes in at 89 NOK (about €10), so you really do have to savour it. Comically, the wine and the Prosecco cost a little less than the beer at 86 NOK, must be a mistake. There’s a barbecue fired up in one corner and a queue for some great smelling hot dogs and burgers. In hindsight we should have stayed here and indulged but, you live and learn I guess.

Later, we walk the entirety of the 15 minutes from the hotel to Grunerlokka, a nice area with some decent bars, cafes and restaurants. The choice is narrowed by our hunger and we aim for Cafe Sara, I get an Iskandar Kebab, Orla asks for the chicken burger, which arrives out as a ‘granivated chicken in a pitta with cheese’, sorry, what the fuck is that? Presumably gratinated. Anyway, not what was ordered. Our waitress comes back, apologies, leaves my kebab and says Orla’s order will be out in five minutes. It takes more than ten, she charges full price for everything and offers no apology when she brings the bill. The food is good though, which makes the service a real shame. Well, we think upon first impressions the food was good but when Orla is up vomiting during the night we start to have second thoughts.


Day 2 – Oslo:

Day two starts with me feeding a banana to a giant tiger, sure why not. Up first is the Munch Museum. We see ‘The Scream’ (Skrik) obviously which is a little underwhelming really, there’s multiple versions apparently so maybe this one isn’t the masterpiece but it was interesting to see up close. I’m more impressed by the visiting Van Gogh collection. ‘Starry Night Over the Rhone’ is magnificent. There are so many self-portraits of both Munch and Van Gogh which is funny. Maybe they thought they needed a lot of practice on the human brain box and for want of another subject painted seemingly endless versions of their own profile. Then again, maybe they were just outrageously obsessed with themselves. I’m yet to see a painting, however, which affects me the same way as music.

The locals seem to glide effortlessly between Norwegian and English, it’s sort of scary how uni-lingual I am. It’s so difficult though, they all seem to speak English and I’m lazy…..what’s a guy to do? If they wanted me to speak Norwegian, they wouldn’t have so many accepted dialects. Anyway, it’s mid-morning and time for a kanelbolle, a sweet cinnamon pastry with almonds and nib sugar. Pretty tasty and washed down with a giant coffee due to the standard confusing sizes all coffee chains seem to have these days.

After a quick rest and some research we head for The Norwegian National Gallery to see the real Scream! Munch better. There’s even a room with paper, pencils, easels and other art stuff where you can sketch a sculpture or make a shopping list I guess. Our sketching is amazing, obviously, but art works up an appetite and enough is enough. Lekter’n on the banks of the fjord, if fjords have banks. Decent food, and a great location for just sitting and watching the ships go by. The seagulls dive bomb the tables now and again and an extra vigilance is required.

We just about grab an ice-cream and check out the Oslo Pride festival, with their ‘I Love Homoslo’ banner, before the heavens open and we end up running back to the hotel.


Day 3 – Oslo:

Thursday morning, a fine day for a trek to Tim Wendelboe’s coffee shop in Grunerlokka. It’s an experience. The coffee being roasted and ground right there in the shop. I’ve never seen that before. The coffee is interesting, definitely an acquired taste, I liked it but it would take some getting used to. The process it beautiful though. You could sit and watch the professionalism of it all for hours. Well, an hour tops, maybe. There’s nothing to eat, so when you go for breakfast you’ll be left hungry but there is plenty around the Grunerlokka area, just a shame about the cold, hard sandwiches in Kaffebrenneriet.

In continuation of our trek we start out for Vigelandsparken. Sometime later we arrive at the beautiful park with its interesting and sometimes baffling sculptures. We even managed to pick up a bag of cherries for an incredibly low price en route. We’re actually a bit sceptical when the guy tells us the cost in a tiny grocer shop, somewhere in Oslo, as if he’s trying to scam us…. Vigelandsparken is worth a visit. If not for the sculptures, for the charming gardens and awkward tourists taking selfies with waterfalls.

We get fairly lost somewhere between the Vigelandsparken and Bygdoy, but stumble upon Japo Sushi on our way. Reasonably priced, freshly made sushi and a funny name. You couldn’t go too far wrong. Of course, I’m a sushi connoisseur, with vast experience of about a month now and exactly two other sushi places with which to compare.

Finally arriving at the peninsula of Bygdoy, we don’t bother with the Norwegian Folk Museum. It just didn’t appeal to either Orla or me and when we got there nothing changed that fact. The Viking Ship Museum was a different matter however. Despite the fact that it’s expensive enough, and you can sort of see the main event without paying in, it really is an interesting place to visit. The ships, head posts and various artefacts from Oseberg are incredibly well preserved having rested in blue clay soil since 834 AD. Sort of must see I suppose when in a Scandinavian country. They love Vikings.

We’d spotted the W.B. Samson cafe yesterday, but it was after 6 in the evening, so…..way too late for coffee. But it was on our mind so, having walked about 15 Km today we wandered in on our way home, or back to the hotel, not to Dublin. Cappuccino and weinerbrod (a pastry with a custard centre and no sausages as I thought), nice enough to note for future reference. It takes a while to get our coffee. Service is, well, relaxed in Oslo.

We walked for a fair bit more in the evening trying to find somewhere to eat, where it didn’t cost €35 for an oven baked fillet of salmon and it wasn’t a fucking TGI’s. We ended up in a place called Egon; the food wasn’t actually too bad. It’s a restaurant chain and at €60 for two mains (pasta and a burger) and two drinks it’s not exactly great value. Oslo is the first city I’ve been to where you pay more for less. I’ve had far better quality meals for about half the price in Dublin, and Dublin is not cheap. It’s mad, the food isn’t a better standard, the beer is not even close but you pay hefty prices for it…….and it’s not like you’re paying for service. We’ve had one, what I would call just simply attentive waitress pretty much since we’ve been here. I really like Oslo, but Oslo does not like tourists!

Day 4 – To Tromso

What a world, I checked out of the Comfort Xpress from my phone, pretty handy. Checking in on our flight from the train station terminal doesn’t go so swimmingly….I manage to select two different seats and am instantly locked out of the system, boarding passes printed. Whoops. The nice man at the SAS desk sorts us out no problem though.

At Oslo Gardermoen, Orla gets selected for the ‘random feeling up by the security bloke’, despite the fact that there’s a female security guard right there besides him. Probably a little inappropriate! The airport is a little hit and miss, no announcements or flight calls we’re told. But they can make constant public announcements about leaving your bag unattended. So much so that the staff here must dream of unattended baggage. Nobody checked anything from lounge to flight, we were basically left to our own devices when boarding the right flight! Gas. You could end up anywhere! So much for security.

We arrive in Tromso a few hours later and it’s, well a little chillier than Oslo. I’m not feeling it too much but Orla changes into base-layer, jumper, fleece and jacket pretty soon after arrival. The really friendly and helpful girl in Olhallen points us in the direction of Bla Rock Cafe for a burger or a salad. I go for the Birdman (tandoori chicken burger) with raw, chopped and fried potatoes along with a decent salad. Fine bit of food indeed, the second best burger in Tromso we’re told…..though we forget to ask what the best is! Anyway, fed we make our way to the Polaria Aquarium. Just fun, the feeding and training of the seals was entertaining, though it probably or morally shouldn’t be, and now I can say I saw some 280 Kg bearded seals. The most northerly aquarium in the world.

Tromso is all very compact and Olhallen is on our route back so we pop in for a drink. Sitting with the locals, drinking the Polar Beer. Not bad at all. You can understand why the natives started a Facebook campaign to bring it back. The Ludwig Mack Brewery, the most northerly brewery in the world. A lot of things are the most northerly in the world here. Olhallen has probably the friendliest person we’ve met so far behind the bar, she remembers us from earlier and asks us did we enjoy our lunch. We get a map, and a lot more recommendations for food and entertainment.

We wander around for a while and grab a €5 hot-dog in Rorbua, probably the cheapest thing we’ll eat in Norway! Accompanied by a €10 glass of beer….haha. I’m trying not to focus on the cost of things here, and I’m hopeful that I’ll leave Norway believing it was completely worth the giant hole in my pocket. The scenery is astonishing and it’s difficult to get a photo, with my compact camera or phone which shows how beautiful the surrounds of Tromso (not necessarily the city) really are, so it all probably is worth it.

We’re trying to find out what time the cable car up Mount Storsteinen is open to, and when the best time to go up might be from the guy at reception in the Scandic Grand Tromso, our hotel. He shrugs his shoulders and says, ‘depends what you want to see’. I feel like I’ve stumbled into a scene from Little Britain with how much he doesn’t seem to give a shit. Orla then asks, again, what time it closes at. He says, ’01:30am’. To which Orla responds, ‘is it nice to be up there around midnight’, to which this gent replies, ‘I can’t control the weather’. Wow. It takes all sorts I guess.

Daylight at midnight in Tromso. Endless days. Quite a bizarre feeling. Cold weather and snow-capped mountains in June. Pubs that close at 18:30 and those that stay open all night, or day….. Nothing is simply normal this far inside the Arctic Circle.



Day 5 – Tromso:

Fed by the Scandic Grand Tromso, a very very good spread. The first buffet breakfast I’ve seen with peanut butter right there besides the bread. Didn’t even have to ask for it. I’m easily pleased. We head toward the Botanical Gardens which is a slight disappointment for the distance walked. The most northerly…..well, you get the idea. It was good fun walking there and we did get to check out the planetarium which is probably aimed more at the Northern Lights market but sure we wander in anyway. On the return, we stop at Kaffebonna in the square to get a great coffee. The place is packed and you can understand why, some great looking baked goods. Eating some smultringer with our cappuccino. We can’t quite figure out what spice we’re tasting in the little donuts, turns out it’s brandy!

Strolling through the market outside the cafe there’s a Sami man selling seal skin boots and other Arctic wear. He acknowledges our interest by thrusting a knife tipped with some reindeer meet in our direction, nothing unusual there. We oblige and try reindeer for the first time. Very strong flavour, it looks dried or cured. This doesn’t satisfy us for long so we check out De 4 Rosser for dinner. The menu is entirely in Bokmal so the waitress interprets it for us with difficulty. But, despite the confusion we get some delicious fish burgers, which are fish cakes made with chickpeas and interestingly spiced, served with bread. It’s all very reasonably priced and I finally get to try the Mack Weissbier. I prefer Erdinger.

It’s only about 2.5 Km to the Fjellheisen Cable Car, which brings you up Mount Storsteinen at 421m and offers some stunning, unmissable views. This is an absolutely incredible place. Standing like you’re in the middle of something spectacular, at midnight, with the sun reflecting off the fjord. Such epic views of Tromsoya, and the mountains around it. We’re told you can see the Lyngen Alps in the distance. The mountains framing Tromso look surreal, as if they’re painted on the horizon.




Day 6 – Tromso:

We walk the coastal length of Tromsoya, staring at its majestic surroundings. You feel like you’re in a basin, high up in the mountains, surrounded on all sides. Stopping at Sondag Kafe, which only opens from today through to the end of August, summer of sorts this far north.

The cafe just looks like a boat house, a cosy upstairs seating area. Friendly host and I get to use a Norwegian toilet. The smell is potent. Right next to a small sort of fishing museum, where you can learn about dried cod. We stumbled upon the route that led us here and it’s a highlight of Tromso. That’s what it’s all about.

In absolute contrast to the chap of the other night, the girl at reception in our hotel is helpful and reassuring about making our flight by getting the bus at 05:22, she is confident we’ll make our 06:30 flight. She even notes we’ll miss breakfast and offers to make us up a breakfast bag to bring with us! Unbelievable! She explains that not much is open on a Sunday in Tromso and sort of lists off a few options we’ll have for food. We decide on Knoll og Tott, when Orla just walks in, leaving me standing trying to work out by the sign outside if they’re open or not. I get a delicious and pretty loaded sandwich. Chicken, bacon bits, curry mayo, lettuce, tomato and onion. Far greater than the sum of its parts. All on a freshly baked whole wheat baguette. It would appear, at first glance, there would be no possibility of finishing. Mere moments later I’m swallowing the last piece. The place closes five minutes after we finish our giant sandwiches, an hour before their own sign outside states they close. Delighted we stumbled in though.

The last few hours in Tromso tick away in a typically Sunday fashion. Lazy, slow and relatively uneventful. Not much open, but we manage to get our hands on some outstanding ice-cream in Da Pinocchio, literally our hands. I need a shower after.

300 Km inside the Arctic Circle and seemingly endless days, 7am Friday morning to sunset the following Monday in Bergen of daylight for us. Tromso is different, that’s for sure. The town slogan is comically cautious, with simply, ‘I like Tromso’. Sort of an ‘ah, sure we’ll see how we get’ on attitude!


Day 7 – To Bergen:

Probably fairly low down on the list of things I’d like to happen is receiving a text from Norwegian Air informing us our flight to Oslo is delayed by one hour and twenty minutes at 9pm the night before. Sorry, according to Norwegian, it’s not a delay; it’s a ‘new time’. The delay cuts heavily into our transit time, making it very tight for our connection to Bergen. I phone their customer care to inform them of our dilemma. I’m told they cannot have the bags automatically checked all the way through to Bergen from Tromso. I’ll have to get off the flight in Oslo, run out, pick up my bag, check it back in at departures. Then go through security, and make it to the gate for the flight to Bergen. All in forty minutes. The guy tells me it’s ‘technically possible’ and offers no other help or advice. Basically, Norwegian Air are unwilling to help or do anything except book us onto a flight to Bergen from Oslo, about 10 hours after our original flight time. Great. Thanks pal. We formulate a plan and manage to pack everything into two carry-on bags. Here’s hoping this works!

We get a lovely packed breakfast to go from the nice man at the Grand. Including, but no limited to, some bread, cheese, ham and a little tube of ham and cheese paste, my favourite breakfast item! Along with a small tub which features a picture of a child on it, smiling. This turns out to be pâté. Absolutely the last thing I would have thought, given the cheeky image of the infant on the front who is most definitely up to something!

The view of the mountains as we leave Tromso is, to be ridiculously cliché, breath-taking. It’s really hard to describe how beautiful a place it is. The city itself is, well, underwhelming but you can’t argue with the stunning mountains and fjords which neighbour the city.

Norwegian Air seem to be comically incapable. There’s an announcement on the flight to Oslo that anyone who is making a connection and who does not speak a Scandinavia language should contact an air host. So we do, she arrives and has well, no information whatsoever. We’re told that we should be okay for our connection. She goes through an elaborate scenario of how we get to the gate for the flight to Bergen. Then offers an alternative of going up a stairs, and then down one again. That’s it. Why even offer the first route as an option? To confuse us?!? Anyway, six text messages later from Norwegian Air about time changes and gate changes and we’re on our second delayed flight of the day, en route to Bergen.

It’s been a long morning but we managed to make it to Bergen in relatively good shape! Weak with hunger we stumble into Solbrod, open since 1884, I’m not sure why I remembered that. They’re mad for their shrimp and egg sandwiches in Norway it would appear. I also partake in my reindeer snack which I picked up in Tromso. It’s not great. Bergen is packed with tourists, but beautiful all the same. We’re staying in the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel in Bryggen and all we’d like right now is to lay down for an hour before we hit Bergen with renewed zeal.

It’s nice to sit on the wharf, enjoying a skellingsbolle (sweet roll, resembling a Danish pastry but without a glaze and with cinnamon) watching the crowds of tourists die down. Either they’re heading back to cruise ships destined for other ports or they’re allergic to the evening. Either way, it’s nice to have some breathing room when we head to the Fish market for, and both Orla and I are in full agreement here, the best salmon and prawns we’ve ever had. We also partake in some smoked whale meat, not bad at all, before moving onto UNA Microbrewery. I opt for the UNA Blond, which is a delectable beer. Worth staying and paying for a second, maybe even a third. There’s a really nice relaxed atmosphere, looks like locals and us. No obvious tourist invasion here, just two infiltrators.



Day 8 – Bergen:

We take an early morning hike up to Floyen, which is a particularly steep, tough walk. The reward is some amazing views of Bergen and the waterways, as well as avoiding some ridiculous queues for the Floibanen Funiculal up, which we do take back down. The walk up starts amongst some houses and small street before ascending into woodland and a rocky path up. A truly worthwhile activity, it was undoubtedly the right idea to skip the cable car in at least one direction. Back at sea level, we head into Bergenhus Fortress. Sceptical at first it reveals itself as a surprisingly entertaining place. We make our way through The Rosenkrantz Tower. Enjoying the lackadaisical approach to security. Visitors are allowed to wear some of the, well artefacts. Helmets, chain-mail, swords and bows. Well worth the 35 NOK entry fee for students. And a free coffee when you’re done in the café. Amazing value. We splurge and have a slice of some incredible apple, cinnamon and vanilla cake. Lovely stuff. On the way out, an English man passes us and absolutely cracks his head on the arch of the door. He leaves visible skin and hair on the stone. He keeps going though, with a probably concussion.

Back at the fish market, myself and Orla share a portion of paella for a quick snack before we grab the boat from the fish market to the Aquarium. Expensive but brilliant. Weird and wonderful fish. Sharks fighting and a 300 kg crocodile. The fact that I’m one quarter of this beast’s weight and he’s designed by nature to kill is a bit scary when you’re less than a foot away and he turns, opens his jaws and is only stopped by what appears to be glass as thick as your basic window! Amazing creatures. There’s a huge variety of fish, sporting vibrant and almost surreal colourings. Reptiles and even three marmosets. I’m pretty sure we spent about 20 minutes staring at the tiny monkeys, as we’re gently ushered out through the exit gates by the two staff members trying to get home.

We finish our time in Bergen with one final walk through Bryggen for the brain to commit as much to memory as possible.





Day 9 – Back to Oslo:

Getting the train from Bergen to Voss on the first leg of our pan-Norway adventure. Adventure may be a stretch as we arrive and see the crowds….. Mobs of people, cramming their way into the Myrdal bound train! People are inconsiderate animals sometimes. The journey commences with about 10 minutes of darkness, almost as if to act as a palette cleanser for the eyes. Norway obviously feels the same about Arne and the next stop, for the first while you see mostly the inside of tunnels, not receiving much of an opportunity to see the beautiful scenery never mind photograph it. You start to wonder has this tour been over-sold, but 30 minutes and about 28.5 minutes of tunnels later you start to see what Norway has to offer. The hour or so journey seems to flash by and before no time at all we’re shuffled onto the bus to Gudvangen. At least they’ve cleaned the windows to give you a decent view.

Gudvangen is very pretty but you’re fairly quickly herded onto the boat, which is definitely not a tour bout and is most certainly over crowded. I’d say possibly dangerously so. Plastic garden furniture the preferred method of sitting! On a moving boat. Fair enough. It’s amazing how people settle into the stereotypical tourist role, acting like arseholes at any given opportunity. Fjord Tours come off looking lazy and unprofessional a lot on the tour. The scenery is stunning though, which is one thing they don’t actually have control of. We get over the negatives relatively quickly and settle into the stunning landscapes slowly drifting past. The fjords are incredible. We pass through Nærøyfjord & Aurlandsfjord before arriving at Flam after about 2 hours of some of the most stunning views I’ve ever witnessed.

We’re hold up in Flam for two hours. Apart from the scenery there doesn’t appear to be much else to do but sit and eat. At the Bakkastova Kafe we’re treated to some traditional Norwegian cuisine of veal patty with potato salad, lettuce & tomato. As well as some smoked salmon and a funny, almost sweet tasting bread. It hits the spot though, just not the bread. Having paid only 190 NOK for our 280 NOK meal, it dawns on me just as the waitress passes. Orla cuts me off with ‘don’t let it dawn too loudly.’

It’s a nice day and Flam is surrounded by beautiful mountains, waterfalls and my back is to the fjord. Jimi Hendrix and Dire Straits on the speakers at the Toget Cafe, it would be worth staying overnight and relaxing over a few beers, but, if it was raining I’d be cursing that time line.

The Flamsbanen is, again, spectacular. The incline is impressive and the elevation gives some great views of the valleys and mountains. You even get to jump off at a waterfall where they treat you to some weird show involving a siren and her song to entice you into the mountain. Doesn’t really work with like 500 people standing on the platform, sort of loses its mystery a bit. It’s about an hour to Myrdal which is set in snow, even on July 1st. We start to wonder does the snow leave these hills for any length of time at all. It’s nice and warm outside at 6pm so, assume it does.

On the Bergen – Oslo line we pass Finse, the highest train station in Europe at 1,222 metres, and more importantly Hoth, the ice-planet from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. We travel over, or past, or around the Hardangerjøkulen glacier. We’re not actually sure which from the announcement, but it was somewhere in our vicinity. The final stint from Myrdal to Oslo is very relaxing by comparison to the sort of sardine approach of earlier. A nice, comfortable train to just sit in and watch Norway go by for four and a half hours. Time to think, and realise things about yourself. Settle your mind, to process important decisions like, where to next. We catch the sun setting over the mountains from the train. A beautiful end to our time here.

The train loses 25 minutes somewhere between Bergen and Oslo, we arrive at Oslo S at 22:50, and our hotel 20 minutes later for a solid four hours of sleep before we get up for our flight back to Dublin. Exactly what you need at the end of an entire days travel but sure it was worth it for the experience.








Day 10 – Home to Dublin:

You can only laugh when the same guy checks you into your hotel and out of your hotel on a single shift. He looked at us with curiosity. But it was worth it for the comfy bed for a few hours. Oslo is a bit funny at 03:30 in the morning. Some stumbling and possibly damaged characters wandering the streets, looking with disdain at the tourists.

Rygge is not great as airports go, but you make do with what you have. Coffee at 5am, I guess you wouldn’t really be looking for much else. Only two flights out, one at 7 and the other at ten past. Both planes sitting on the tarmac and yet our flight manages to be delayed by 20 minutes. Sun splitting the stones. Not an efficient bunch here at Rygge, or Oslo Lufhaven for that matter. Or Tromso either. Come to think of it, we haven’t been wowed by any level of efficiency really.

Norway was an interesting contrast. We encountered a worryingly large number of people who simply didn’t give us the impression they wanted anything to do with us. Which is odd, because about 90% of those were directly involved in the hospitality industry. So, those charged with welcoming visitors. We did meet some fantastically welcoming, friendly and generous people, but unfortunately we regularly were forced to deal with ignorant, unhelpful and arrogant individuals who really did leave a bitter taste. The country is stunning though, which was no surprise as, well, that’s what it’s known for. The landscapes we saw, while popular with tourists in the most part, still held an untouched feel. You really do get a sense of being hours from anywhere at times. It’s expensive, some of the people are not particularly welcoming and companies take the piss sometimes when it comes to customer service, but I suppose where on Earth would you not find that? Anyway, I loved almost every minute of the trip, not quite every minute but the company was good enough to power through the ones that were testing.