Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Eurotrip 2022 - Days 15-16 (8/6-7/2022) - Back to Oslo then home

Saturday was a long travel day, with a three-part journey to get to Oslo around 10:30p. The first leg was a ferry (or express boat) from Balestrand to Flåm. This was actually a continuation of the ferry that we had taken to get to Balestrand from Bergen two days prior. The boat was scheduled to depart from Balestrand at 11:50a, but it didn't arrive until about 20 minutes after that. The ride to Flåm was once again quite scenic (and again Fran spent the trip topside while I mostly hung out on the lower deck), and we somehow made up some time to arrive right around the scheduled 1:40p time.

Ferry from Balestrand to Flam

We had 3 hours to kill in Flåm before our hour-long ride on the Flåmsbana (Flåm Railway), a slow and scenic train ride on old tracks that were built about 100 years ago. Fran and I (to a lesser extent, but mostly in concurrence) weren't all that impressed with Flåm, and were glad that our itinerary spent significantly more time in Balestrand instead. We didn't want to tow our luggage for 3 hours, so we paid the approximately $10 each to stow them at the luggage depot for a couple of hours. We then found a spot to eat the hotel sandwiches that Fran had packed, and a couple of pastries we bought from seemingly the only bakery around. Next we went for a walkabout, including ascending a nearby hill to get a better view of the area.


We picked up our luggage and made our way to the train platform with plenty of time to spare, being among the first to board. Once again, I wasn't terribly impressed with the Flåmsbana. There was some benefit to going slowly such that we could absorb the surrounding sights more, but (with one exception) it wasn't much more scenic than the regular train ride in that part of the country. The exception to that was the stop at Kjosfossen waterfall, where passengers were able to get out for a few minutes to take pictures; but that experience was tarnished by the abject tourist pandering where they played some Norwegian folk music and had some dancers representing the forest spirit - I'm still puzzled why that is a thing.

Kjosfossen waterfall stop on the Flåmsbana

We were a few minutes late arriving at Myrdal, which cut into our already short 7 minutes transfer time to the Vy train to Oslo. Nevertheless we made the transfer and settled in for the almost 5 hour ride to Oslo. For "dinner" we grabbed a couple of barely tolerable (frozen) pizzas from the cafe car on the train. After arriving in Oslo we made the 15-ish minute walk to the Hotel Bristol, the same hotel that we had spent our first night there.


On Sunday we had a 7:50p flight to NYC (JFK), so we had a day to kill in Oslo. We were fortunate that the hotel allowed us to do a late checkout at 5p, so we were able to keep all our stuff in our room until then. After breakfast and a relatively lazy morning we headed out to check out a couple of the museums on the Bygdøy peninsula. We walked down to the harbor and then took the museum ferry across. We first went to the Norsk Folkemuseum (Norwegian Museum of Cultural History). Fortuitously, our entry time just about coincided with an English guided tour, which I would definitely recommend. The tour focuses on the medieval buildings and architecture, and we also had some time beforehand to check out one of the main exhibit halls. Because of that tour I would rate that museum over our original destination, the apparently better reviewed Fram Museum. The Fram Museum turned out to be pretty solid as well; though there's a ton of information on the walls there, the best part is walking on and through the preserved boat. In between the museums we spent a bit of time hanging out at the shoreline park in front of the Fram Museum.

Guided tour at the Norsk Folkemuseum

After the museums we took the ferry back to the city center, made a quick stop for ice cream, then walked to the vegan cafe that we had enjoyed our first day in town (Nordvegan) for a very late lunch. We finished eating after 4p, giving us time to finish packing up at the hotel and head for the airport; we took the Flytoget express train back there. And that was about it for the trip. I guess the last thing to mention is that Norse Atlantic (the low-cost airline we took home) was more of a budget airline than I expected for a 7.5 hour cross-Atlantic flight. You have to pay for every little thing there - even water and blankets; we were prepared and didn't pay for anything extra besides the checked bags that we had already prepaid for. Other than that the flight was fine; flying on a 787 Dreamliner can't really get all that bad.


Full pictures for the trip here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/44Vf8gccA5UfLjTo7


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