The last day – Oslo

The last day of our trip starts little before 5 o’clock in the morning when bustling sounds of Gardemoen airport reaches our “cosy bedroom” in the corner of airport hall. Some of us preferred sleeping on ground, some on chairs, but all of us seemed to sleep quite well. During this trip I experienced my first sleeping in airport ever and have to say, to my surprise, it is possible to sleep in airport.
Early breakfast with sandwiches and little of coffee made using remains of hot water we got for free yesterday in Starbucks. They were very kind and filled our thermos for free even three times.

Our train to the Central station of Oslo departs at 7:03. Agnese says she has heard that train tickets can be used in other transport means, too. Lady who checks tickets in train confirms it is true and very kindly puts a time stamp on our tickets 08:00 thereby giving us time till 9 o’clock for using the same tickets and saving a good amount of money for us. In the station we put all our big bags and 3 suitcases in the luggage room. There are different sizes of luggage boxes and the biggest one (70NOK/24h) was big enough for luggage of six people.

After that we start our Oslo sightseeing plan. We go to metro or so called Oslo T-bane and take a train till the Majorstuen station. From there to the first point in our schedule – Frogner park is only some ten minutes by foot away. Park is mostly known by the famous Vigeland sculpture installation created by Gustav Vigeland in the first half of the last century. We’re having a nice slow walk along the east-west axis of park followed by men, women and children sculptures all together looking to me like a laud to human beings. Officially the overall theme of the park is Man’s journey from the cradle to the grave.

Oslo Royal palace

Oslo Royal palace

Metro seems to be the most convenient transport for us today, so we go back to the same metro station and take a train to the very center of Oslo – till Nationaltheateret station. We walk around the center streets enjoying buildings of Old University, Palace and modern and old ships in Oslofjord. As me and Everita already had been in Oslo we decide to walk directly to the Central station while others stay to see Akershus Fortress and uses a chance to walk on the roof of Oslo Opera House.

After our short Oslo sightseeing it is time to go to the Rygge airport to start the last part of this trip. It’s 49 minutes in train and 10-15 minutes in bus and we’re already there. Enough time for lunch, trying to finish with our food left-overs, repacking of our suitcases to fit their weight in Rynair’s 15 kg, a little inconvenience for me and Agnese on safety check (put the cheese in the checked-in baggage we are later said) and in a while our plane’s taken-off. Flight is quite calm and pretty short and in an hour and half we land in Riga airport. Most of us have some greeters come to take us home, so after short farewells we part.

And that’s the end of the story?
Absolutely not. So many beautiful memories and new impressions can’t be kept inside. Just in a couple of days there will be a story about our trip told in the monthly meeting of Latvian Astronomical Society and probably some article in the popular science periodical “Zvaigžņotā debess” .
As for me personally I have to say this jorney was full of new experiences – from human attitude to nature and to each other to some activities I did first time in my life (snow mobiles, dog sledges). And that so unusual feeling when you wake up in the morning and the first thing your eyes see through the window are white mountain peaks in the whiteness that surrounds everything.

Day 2 – The arrival day

Those 7 of us who came to Oslo last night spent it in the Gardemoen airport which is claimed to be one of the top 10 European airports for sleeping. There were several options ranging from the floor to nice-looking cushioned stools in one of the cafes. However, the cafe area appeared rather busy and it would take long time to wait till everyone has left. So we went for some shorter space along 3 seats in a row of chairs on the 2nd floor for 3 of us, and a quiet corner on floor for the other 4. I opted for the chairs and spent a very peaceful and not at all uncomfortable night,

On the other side of security control it turned out that Longyerbyen flights are on the international schedule rather than the domestic. I believe that might be because Svalbard is not part of Schengen zone while Norway itself is.
We met Anders at the gate. Some (unsuccessful) attempts to fix the map on the homepage and I had to leave the internet behind. That’s not too bad as we were supposed to have wifi when airborne! We are flying Norwegian airlines after all, and they have free wifi on board. Except that the wifi experience this time was not the best. It took a long time to open google, and it was impossible to open gmail. Some Norwegian newspaper webpages worked better, however. So no success with the map again.

We landed a couple of hours later in a snowy place next to a body of water, Longyearbyen. The mountains are not comparable to Alps, but so close to the sea they are still impressive. To get a better first impression 5 of us had decided to walk from the airport to the guesthouse. The others would go by bus (75 NOK) and take all the suitcases and large backpacks with them. The walk to the town centre is 4.5km, and to our guesthouse it’s 7km in total, so not impossible at all. Technically there’s a risk of polar bears between the airport and the boundary of the city (first 3km), but the risk of being hit by a car is in fact greater, so we didn’t worry about that much.

Polar bear sign

Polar bear sign

Jeans were perhaps not the best piece of clothing to wear for the walk as we had a head-wind and we were longing for some skiing-trousers which had gone along with the suitcases by the bus. On the positive side, we saw some reindeer and enjoyed the walk in other ways. We were not the first ones to reach the “Polar bears around” road sign, so our sticker was only about the 10th on that road-sign pole. But we have now marked our presence :)

We are living in 2 guesthouses which are located next to each other. Ours was said to have one public pc with internet connection. That sounded as a great potential for wifi to me, so I had taken a router with me to try to set it up. In the real life there had been some improvements and there were wifi routers in our building. Unfortunately having a router and having a wifi are two different things, as it wasn’t working. After some educational exploring we attached the power cable from my router to theirs and got the wifi signal. Later on when talking to the receptionist, we found out that this access point has been the previous wifi they have had and now they have a new system to connect to if we want internet. With one bar signal strength out of five in our building on good times that was not really usable, however, and the fact that they are supposedly working on improvements didn’t help either. So we were happy to use their old one without them noticing.

The guesthouses are nice. Both of them are very clean and warm. There’s a kitchen with all the pots, pans, plates and cutlery, a fridge, an oven and a stove and even a dishwasher. Thus we have a very good setup to prepare our own food which we have brought with us from Riga. However, just before the dinner there’s some fun going on outside – a snowmobile jumping show was a part of a restaurant opening celebration and our kitchen windows were perfectly positioned to see it. We went outside for a closer look and got a welcome drink on the house in the new restaurant.

This had been a long day, so after some cozy chatting around dinner table we went to sleep to be ready for a hiking trip on the following day.