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Published: July 14th 2019
Blog 12 - July 8, 9 and 10
Ferries, Trains, Cars, Bikes and Planes
This will be the final blog of the trip. Our final days are wrapped into one not because they are less important but because they are the final chapter. Our last days were just as marvelous as the the others… They were the perfect ending to a perfect story.
Part 1 - The Ferry
Our ferry to Bergen was a bit different this time. It was a smaller boat and it was not an express. It was still a fast boat but instead of almost a straight shot to Bergen we made many stops along the way before hitting open sea. At one stop there was even an oceanside pub. This gets note because the only other pub we had seen while on the trip so far was in Sund on Lofoten. Then it was open sea and we were off. We got to sit on the upper deck this round too!
Before we knew it we were heading down to get our bikes and preparing to disembark. Upon landing we got
the salt hosed off our bikes and then headed to the bike shop to return them. All went without incident and soon we were heading with full bags to find a restaurant to fill our bellies and kill some time because we had several hours before we had to catch the train.
Part 2 - The Train
Of course on the way to lunch it started to drizzle and while eating the drizzle became rain. We made it to the train station with only a little confusion and uncertainty but with plenty of time to spare. We headed to the ticket office because we were quite confused about where to go once we were there. We also needed to find out about getting off earlier that Oslo. Our host, Kjetil, was going to pick us up at a station or two early. The ticket agent was quite the comedian. After we figured everything out we asked about getting off earlier than our purchased stop and if it would be a problem. He told us no problem you will just get arrested! So now you know if you get off a train early in Norway you will be arrested 😘😜!
Glad to be out of the rain we settled in to wait for our train (A 7 hour ride I think it ended up only being 5) at platform 3. The train ride was lovely. Lois had set us up with business class so we had plenty of room to be comfy. There was no WiFi but that was fine as one should be enjoying the scenery or napping on this train. We went through some amazing countryside. There were woods and wandering rivers with hills the would lead to mountains. It reminded me a bit of the Smokey mountains. There we snow covered mountain peaks on the distance and we even got close to an area with some snow. There were small d towns and newer modern small cities and recreational areas along our trek. We had dinner on the train and even the pre-prepared pizza was rather yummy.
Thank goodness Lois heard the call for our stop or we would have missed it. It was earlier that we expected and we really hadn’t been paying attention. As we hurriedly gathered our thinks I sent a quick text to Kjetil. He was there waiting!
Part 3 - Warm Showers (the car and bike section)
Kjetil looked much like his picture on the Warm Showers site and of course he had a bike T-shirt on from CYCLOLOGY. We loaded our bags in his energy efficient Volt and we off to his home where we to stay the next two nights.
For those of you unfamiliar with Warm Showers. It is a network, so to speak of cyclists, my dear friend Anne, whom I will be visiting in a week for a weeklong cycling trip on Vancouver Island, turned me onto. It’s a home sharing program set up for cyclists around the world. You sign up and agreed to provide just a shower or a bit of food or a bed or more to cyclists touring through your area. The idea is a reciprocal agreement of sorts where you provide the level of accommodations you are comfortable with and in return you have a network to tap into when you you need it. This was my first use of the program and we really struck gold with the person who was to be our host and his lovely wife Nina. Although Nina cycles Kjetil is really the cycling enthusiast. They have a lovely home in the suburbs of Oslo. With two sweet dogs, plenty of space, and some lovely bikes in the garage!
Kjetil was a wonderful man and we had a great conversation while driving to their home. He asked about our plans, as he would frequently throughout our stay, and he got the same answer he got throughout our stay… We would always reply - we don’t know with a chuckle. He warned us his wife Nina wasn’t feeling well and that she might be in bed when we arrived. We were pleasantly surprised to find her up and ended up sitting in the living room enjoying beer and fresh strawberries and raspberries with lime yogurt, you should try it it’s quite delicious, and chatting much later than we anticipated.
Before going to bed we decided that I would go on a bike ride with Kjetil the next day and the other ladies would go downtown sightseeing. Nina offered to take them to the train station to get the train into town… However as she seemed to do she went out of her way 😃and took them all the way to the folk museum. We had made no plans to cycle Olso knowing that we really only had a day. So I was super excited because I was going to get to cycle! As a thank you we planned to take them to dinner after our day excursions at a restaurant of their choice. Then it was off to bed because we had a busy day the next day.
The next morning Kjetil and I headed to the grocery store on bikes to get food for breakfast. I rode their cargo commuter Ebike which was a long unwieldy thing with a big basket between me and the tiny front wheel. I didn’t do so well navigating it but decided that if it fit my life style in Vegas I would simply have to have one for trips to the store and other type commutes...maybe bike rides for OTR. I got to check out all of the wonderful bikes he had in his garage and it was decided, after some discussion about his bikes, that I would ride Nina’s Tern folding bike that day. The Tern Verge P10 to be exact. https://medium.com/off-the-verge/i-threw-away-my-bike-for-a-brompton-and-loved-it-so-why-am-i-ditching-that-bike-now-too-dc501057755c. (He also had a Brompton and this article echoes much of what Kjetil told me about the two.) I am giving away part of the story, but this is my next bike! Thank you Nina and Kjetil for providing me with this experience.
Back at the house a delightful breakfast was made by Kjetil and we all sat at the table together to eat and visit. The conversation was as always so lovely. We found out that Nina was a lecturer with a PhD in public health. We had much to converse about!
Kjetil and I headed out for our tour around Oslo and the ladies left with Nina to see the sights in downtown on foot. Kjetil was a wonderful tour guide and took me to so many sites around Oslo and in downtown. Our first stop the Vigeland Sculpture Park, which was first opened to the public in 1940. It contains over 212 bronze and granite sculptures of the human condition, showing the circle of life. The center of the exhibit is the famous monolith, which is made from one piece of stone and shows 121 human forms intertwined as they rise toward the sky. Children are depicted crawling out on top. As it should be! We rode through the sculpture park which was really quite amazing. I got to see more of it at length when Nina took all of us through it the next day before we had to head for the hotel down by the airport. At one point when we were riding along the waterfront we even rode through a restaurant. I don’t think this would happen in the states. He explained to me about the waterfront being reclaimed as it was once the port. Part of the roads once there were now under water! He also explained about the many new buildings and the controversies around some of them. We went by the new opera house and the downtown beaches, enjoyed a beer above the waterfront and later an ice cream near the Viking museum. On the way back we took a different route and went through the complex where he works. It is a large campus with a number of nice buildings. The company also owns a large park which they had obtained years earlier. It had a provision that it could not be developed and was maintained as a park. It all was truly quite an amazing place with many building and the pier where he swims with his coworkers in the morning after his pedal to work. We also went through a school where they learn shipbuilding. There were so many sites to soak in that I could spend quite a while relating what Kjetil shared with me. It was a day well spent and one of the best 40 miles I have ever put in on my bike.
Meanwhile Nina had been having an awful time finding a place for dinner. The whole idea had been to give back a little for the kindness they had shown all of us not to stress her out. Ultimately we decided to stay in and cook together. Our decision to cancel the meal out and all eat in was the best one ever. Nina and I took the dogs for a walk to get groceries for dinner and Kjetil went to collect the others at our meeting spot for dinner.
We all pitched in and helped with dinner. Nina made an exquisite pasta dish and we all helped with the huge delicious salad following her directions. We ate dinner and talked and laughed and then finished with a dessert of berries and ice cream. We kept talking and enjoying each other’s company while cleaning up from dinner and some how we all finally ended up in bed; much later than planned, but happy about another day lived well!
The morning brought another lovely breakfast together. We even ate more of the salad from the night before. Nina was going to take us to the sculpture park before taking us to the train which would get us to our hotel by the airport. She had to be at the barn where her horse was by 2:00 to help unload hay, but she wanted the others to see the park. We readied ourselves after breakfast and said our goodbyes to Kjetil and headed off with Nina. We had a great time going through the park with her. It was a beautiful day and the time was so relaxing and I got to see more of the sculptures and take my time through it. Of course we had to climb on some things and take some silly pictures! Nina also wanted to take us up the mountain to see the amazing ski jump (OMG) and the lodge at the top. It ended up the hay delivery got changed and we all got to enjoy a treat at the top and more wonderful conversation! Again I can’t express how blessed we all felt meeting and spending time with our wonderful hosts!
I do believe we took the scenic route to the train station. Thank goodness Nina was with us. The train system was still down and she helped us negotiate a cab to where the train was running that got us to the airport. We then had to pay for another bus to get to the hotel - no free hotel shuttles here. Lois again scored and had booked us a nice hotel at a great price. We cleaned up and headed to dinner.
We explored a bit but soon retired to our room being tired and knowing we needed to get up by 4 in the morning. Of course the shenanigans weren’t quite over. Lois and I discovered I had an adjustable bed and spent some time playing with it while teasing Isabelle that we were going to find the control for hers and play with it in the middle of the night. Then if was off to sleep.
Breakfast was at the hotel in the morning. They actually had an early spread that opened at 4 and we were back on the bus to the airport by 5!
Part 4 - Planes
For the most part our two plane rides went without incident today. We made it to the Oslo airport without complication, got our bags checked and waited for our 7:40 flight. Our flight was a bit delayed on take off and then we circled a while before landing in London. London’s Gatwick airport can be a bit of a complicated airport to get through when traveling internationally and we had to make a little run for it to make our flight home. Having been delayed leaving and delayed again landing we were just a little close on time but we made it without problems.
We left Oslo at 7:30 Wednesday and it truly felt like we lived the day twice! We had an uneventful very long flight to Seattle. We landed and disembarked and the day began again. Not an improvement on our first Wednesday even though we were glad to be out of the plane and home. We landed on time at 11:50 am, then began a 2 hour march through customs, and then much pacing about as we waited first for Peggy’s luggage. Sadly here luggage never appeared so then began the endless process of filling out papers to recover her luggage. It was after 2:30 when we finally got into Isabelle’s car at the Jet and Fly lot.
This is where the next saga of the travel began. We got cell phone notifications of traffic back ups caused by a major accident on I-5 near the SR 16 overpass. This backed up traffic through Tacoma, and made a 40 minute trip to drop me off at home a more than 2 hour trip. It was near 6:00 pm before the rest of the crew arrived in Port Townsend. Of course upon were greeted by rain showers as we felt right at home!
So here we are at the end of our adventure…or are we? With talk of a trip farther north towards the north pole to see the northern lights and the northern lands of Peggy’s family in 2021 perhaps the adventure has just started.
Takke (Norwegian for thanks) for coming along!
Linda, Lois, Isabelle and Peggy
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