Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Norway Way, Way Up North

Writing from Oslo, Norway, the furthest north I have ever been, travel way, way up north begins.

Flying east across the pond can result in mental and physical exhaustion, challenging the body (my body, I do not know about other people's body) to remain healthy and alert. Younger folks probably have no problem, used to late nights beginning long after I happily pull my quilt around me and settle in for the night. Our flight left 7:00 p.m. (in the dark) arriving in Oslo 7:30 a.m. (still dark), total flying time seven hours. Flight information available onscreen offered a camera view in front of the plane and under the plane - the earth beneath. Unfortunately both screens were pitch black, as if turned off, because we flew in darkness the entire flight.

The airline served dinner and breakfast. I found the food unappetizing, tea drinkable and coffee barely so. The hours between meals most people slept, listened to music, and watched movies or TV shows on their monitors. I tried sleeping, actually dozing off for a short time, the tight accommodations not conducive to a long, restful slumber. 

Arriving at the airport, a glitch with the conveyor belt resulted in a long delay retrieving bags. But we, along with numerous other passengers, remained patient, sort of, eventually grabbing bags and dashing off, glad the trip - or at least this part - was over.

I must admit I did not do a lot of reading and preparation before our trip, leaving the details to Road Scholar, our trip planner. However, utilizing the all-knowing Internet, I did research transport options from the Oslo airport to our hotel. A bus kiosk conveniently located near the terminal exit directed us outside to stand 11. Exiting into 32 degrees Nordic weather, a tour-type bus, outfitted with upholstered seats, seat belts, a tray table and plenty of storage space, idled directly in front of stand 11. Forty-five minutes later, heaving a sigh of relief and eager to drop our bags and begin our adventure, we arrived at our hotel. 

I was hungry, tired, and a bit cranky.

We quickly realized almost everyone speaks English. Lucky, because we speak no Norwegian.

Given a tour booklet on Oslo - in Norwegian because the hotel was out of English books - we followed the map and headed out in search of food, real edible food. The temperature hovered around the mid 30s. The bright sun blinded, but sat low in the sky. We walked in the shade, few rays penetrating the skyline to warm our bodies.

We found the Alfred cafe, attached to the Nobel Peace Center. The museum looked interesting, but we were too tired to think about wandering through. Following delicious, steaming cups of coffee and an omelet/goat cheese sandwich, we returned to our hotel, finally relishing a couple of hours of comfortable, peaceful sleep.

Our Road Scholar program begins tomorrow. A favorite pastime is perusing travel brochures. This particular trip caught my eye, and before hub knew what was happening we signed up for a trip to Norway comprising a couple of days in Oslo and a cruise along the Norwegian coast, culminating in crossing the Arctic Circle and - hopefully - viewing the Northern Lights.

But I am getting ahead of myself...