They say traveling to Norway is expensive, but don’t believe it. Check out our Norway travel tips for seniors.
There’s no need to ignore the distant call of train travel through snow-covered mountains or sailing the glacial Norwegian fjords if you have a few tips, the most important being the time of year. Early November 2004 was when I went, expecting eyelash-freezing gales. Instead, it was 52 degrees when I landed in Oslo.
Norway Travel Saving Tip Number 1
For our intra-European flights, we booked directly with the airline serving the area, SAS, which was considerably cheaper than the big travel websites. If you are traveling from the USA, you might get an even better deal when combining your transatlantic flight.
A can’t miss experience in Norway is the train from Oslo to Bergen, which is hailed as ‘the world’s most beautiful train trip.’ Given the price of $117.00 for a seven-hour trip, I thought it should be called ‘the world’s most expensive train trip.’ That was until I navigated their website.
Norway Travel Saving Tip Number 2
The Norway train website is also in English, although not straightforward. Nonetheless, I discovered how to save $82 per ticket by clicking on ‘NSB Komfort (Minipris).’ This special rate is not available every day, but it was available on the day we were traveling. Just remember when booking, dates in Europe are presented as day first, then the month. ‘11.12’ is December 11. Also, the prices given are in Norwegian Kroner (NOK), which you can easily convert to your own monetary currency with the website mentioned at the end of this article. Take a copy of your internet booking to show the conductor on board, as this is your ticket.
Norwegians are utterly charming and naturally helpful people. As we glided out of the Oslo main train station, the conductor announced the dining car would open in fifteen minutes. The reason for this, he explained was, ‘because we have a lot of things to do.’ He further informed us, ‘Then we’ll be along shortly to take a look at your tickets.’ True to his word, fifteen minutes later, he came over the speaker to announce, ‘Hello, the bistro is now open and we wish you all a welcome to our nice hostess, Laso.’
Sitting comfortably in my comfort class seat, sipping complimentary coffee, I noticed a glass case on the wall and did a double-take. Securing the glass case, which contained an ax, a saw, and a wooden mallet, was a twist tie. Unguarded tools of such a nature would be worthy of alarm in some countries, but Norway has virtually no violent crime. How refreshing to think of these as backup tools instead of potential weapons. It was then we discovered a different kind of security concern, one we had not known about.
A Norwegian train traveler sitting across the aisle told us about creatures we should avoid during our stay in Norway. The worst, he said, are the trolls, which are huge, ugly and have three heads. With those hints, we should be able to spot them, we laughed. Legend has it that trolls are easy to outsmart. A little Norwegian boy, all alone in a forest cutting wood, ran into a horrifying giant troll. The troll agreed if the boy could squeeze liquid from a rock, he would spare his life, so the boy reached into his lunch sack, took out a wheel of soft cheese and squeezed until it seeped. On that particular happy occasion, the boy lived to tell his story.
Trolls seem to have a particular fondness for princesses, so we should be safe. What usually happens when a troll abducts a princess is three brothers go to her rescue. Two of them are always handsome and make their parents proud. The third brother has always been a bit of a delinquent. In all reported cases, the delinquent brother always manages to save the princess and we can guess the rest of the story.
Taking advantage of our helpful Norwegian seatmate, we quizzed him about other creatures we could expect to see. Penguins? No. Apparently, penguins only live south of the equator. Who knew that? Moving on to our question about the best place to see puffins, he said he once saw a puffin in Iceland. Well then, reindeer? Sorry, but no. How about polar bears? He says there is a stuffed one in Bergen. Whales? Well….possibly.
Even without polar bears crossing the train tracks, the train trip is magical and our faces remained pressed to the windows the entire time, except when Kathe took a thousand pictures. We said the whole trip: ‘Did you see that out the left/right side?’ To the exact minute, we arrived in Bergen. I think you can count on a precise arrival anytime you go, since the conductor announced, ‘We arrive in Bergen…just on time….as usual.’
Norway Travel Saving Tip Number 3
The train arrives in Bergen at 5:50 PM. The Hertigruten Coastal Express leaves Bergen at 10:30 PM (always confirm your departure). I emailed ahead to see if we could stow our luggage on board for the 4 _ hours in-between. No problem, they said. This was the first of many professional kindnesses we were to experience on the Hurtigruten Coastal Express. So, rather than book a hotel, go directly to the ship, check-in and leave your luggage. This leaves plenty of time to explore Bergen and saves the cost of a hotel.