- Photo Tours
- Live Voyage Reports
- AmaLyra- Christmas Markets
- Honolulu, Hawaii Trip Report
- Hurtigruten Midnatsol – North Cape
- Norwegian Epic – Eastern Caribbean
- Queen Mary 2 – Transatlantic
- Schooner Zodiac – Wine Cruise
- Silver Explorer – British Isles
- Silver Spirit – Athens to Barcelona
- Silver Spirit- Eastbound Transatlantic
- Silver Wind – South Africa
- Tauck Swiss Jewel – Blue Danube
- Viking Freya – Danube Christmas
- Viking Longships Christening 2012
- Viking Longships Christening 2013
- Wind Spirit – Stockholm to Oslo
- Zuiderdam – Alaska Inside Passage
- Airport Guides
- About FTDC
- The Avid Cruiser
An Afternoon in Oslo, Norway
My remarkable Norwegian cruise-tour aboard Hurtigruten’s Midnatsol drew to a close on Wednesday as I awoke in the Kirkenes Snow Hotel after a very cool (literally and figuratively) night’s sleep. As I stepped outside, with only the sounds of snow crunching under my boots and huskie’s barking in the distance, I found it tough to believe that in just three hours’ time, I would be at Kirkenes-Hoybuktmoen Airport waiting for my flight to Oslo.
At 9am, the majority of us were transferred from the Snow Hotel back to the Rica Arctic Hotel, where we collected our luggage and waited for the second part of our transfer, a motorcoach that would take us from the hotel to the airport.
The transfer arrived at 10am and for those of us – including myself – who were booked on Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) flight 4473 to Oslo, our 11:30 am departure time loomed close at hand. However, this is a very small airport, and SK4473 happens to be the only flight out to Oslo.
Upon arrival at 10:15am at Kirkenes-Hoybuktmoen, I went in and used the self-service checkin machines to print my boarding pass and luggage tag. At the bag-drop counter, SAS agents were also kind enough to check me in and print boarding passes for my Oslo-Frankfurt and Frankfurt-Vancouver flights, which I really appreciated as they were still more than a day away.
There are no jet bridges at the airport, so we were treated to the unique experience of boarding a Boeing 737-700 via air stairs in the midst of a small snowstorm.
Because there is only one daily flight to Oslo from Kirkenes, most North American guests will have to overnight somewhere along the way, and for me the obvious place to stop was for a night in Norway’s capital city of Oslo.
SAS got me into Oslo-Gardermoen Airport just before 1:30pm. They didn’t lose my luggage, and our on-time departure and arrival were fantastic. But this is the second time I’ve flown SAS (the first being in 2011), and the second time I’ve been disappointed. While our 737-700 was brand-new, the seats look and feel like they’ve been repurposed from an old MD-82, as they still have ashtrays and “old-school” audio controls for an audio system that isn’t installed.
Unlike most European airlines, only coffee and tea are provided free of charge. Soft drinks, water, and alcohol will run you from 25 NOK and up, with beer and a sandwich costing nearly 100 NOK, or about $15. The snappy, unfriendly service is provided free of charge.
Now, maybe I’ve just got SAS on two bad days, but I somehow doubt that. With no competition on the Kirkenes-Oslo run, maybe they just don’t need to try all that hard. There’s nothing offensive about the airline, but nothing special about them, either. They’ll get you to where you’re going, safely, but that’s about all.
On a more positive note, I love Oslo Gardermoen airport, and on my journey I stayed at the Radisson BLU Oslo Airport located just meters from the airport entrance. Check-in was fast, friendly and efficient, and even though I had arrived at 2pm, my room was already ready for me.
With a 6:30am flight to Frankfurt the next day, staying out near the airport was the right thing to do. But I was still able to go exploring in Oslo on Wednesday afternoon thanks to the efficient Flytoget highs-speed train service that whisks passengers from Gardermoen Airport to Oslo Sentralstasjon in about 20 minutes. At 170 NOK ($30) each direction it’s not cheap, but it is more economical than a taxi.
Then, I simply wandered.
I made my way up Karl Johnsons Gate, Oslo’s main shopping district, from the station to the grand Royal Palace, and from there over to the Akershus Castle overlooking Oslo’s ice-laden harbour, where numerous Baltic ferries were cautiously making their way in and out.
It was a fantastic contrast to the extreme north of the country. When people in places like Kirkenes or Honningsvag talk about a disconnect between the North and the South, a visit to Oslo – with its abundant amenities, museums, shops, and even Burger King’s – makes the starkness of some of Northern Norway’s smallest towns all that much more apparent.
In the end, my stay in Oslo was a brief but perfect end to my journey through the beautiful country of Norway with Hurtigruten; a country that I long to return to, and which I still have not even scratched the surface of.
People have told me I’ll have to go back to Norway in the summer to compare the two, but frankly, the Norwegian winter has a hold on me. It is like the Norwegian people – tough, resilient, warm, inviting, and very mysterious.
It is a journey that has to be experienced to believed.
Our Live Voyage Report about Hurtigruten’s Midnatsol has sadly come to a close. Stay tuned for our full Voyage Recap coming on Monday here on From the Deck Chair!
Sign up for the Avid Cruiser newsletter
- May 2013
- April 2013
- March 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- January 2011
- December 2010
- November 2010
- October 2010
- September 2010
- August 2010
- July 2010
- June 2010
- May 2010
- April 2010
- March 2010
- February 2010
- November 2009
- October 2009
- September 2009