Well it's hard to believe but here we are in Oslo! I'm tempted, for my first post of this trip, to write one big love letter to Norwegian Airline...but that would be just weird! As many of you know, I was a nervous wreck about this super cheap Norwegian flight I had booked. At first it seemed too good to be true - Oakland to Oslo NONSTOP for a little $400 (and that included an extra fee for a checked bag and 2 meals)! As soon as I booked the flight I discovered hundreds of horrible reviews of this airline, interspersed with just an occasional good review...everything ranging from horrible old airplanes, rude cabin crews, delays of up to 36 hours, no water on the airplane, bad inflight entertainment, and on and on. What we experienced was so far away from all that negative stuff...we were blown away by our experience!
Check-in at Oakland was smooth and easy...we had allowed plenty of time so we never felt rushed. Clearly we were all a bit surprised when, half an hour before boarding there was a fire alarm in the airport and were told to all evacuate! I freaked out a bit because I knew that there was no way we would all get back through security to leave on time. But when I realized that Lenore and I were the only ones who stood up and even thought of evacuating, we sat back down and hoped to get onboard long before the airport went up in flames! I guess it was a false alarm...I never saw the OFD rush in!
We flew on the new Dreamliner which is "da bomb"!! While we had not paid up for "premium" and had seats in "economy" the seats were super comfy and as roomy as any I've had in the past. These seats had great lumbar support...way more comfy than any other airline. They were nice leather seats...not dirty fabric like we have had on United. The windows on a Dreamliner are much bigger and they have this cool "sunglasses" feature where the glass can be darkened (instead of pulling up a shade. This also enables the cabin crew to darken (or lighten) the cabin to simulate the day cycle which is supposed to help with jet lag. Also to help with jet lag, the cabin pressure is higher or lower (I can't remember which!) and they shoot more oxygen in than usual. (The verdict is still out on whether any of this made a difference...but it all sounds pretty good!). Our meals were indeed ("hot and tasty" as promised...even gluten free for Gary and lactose free for Lenore!). The ceilings were super high in the airplane so it felt really spacious and had very cool ambient lighting. We would all give Norwegian a huge thumbs up...and we have all vowed to fly only Dreamliners when possible! Oh yes, the one kind of peculiar thing about our flight...before boarding in Oakland we had seen several Asian flight crews walking through the airport. They all had very snappy red and blue uniforms with jaunty little hats. I assumed they were part of Thai Air. We were so surprised when we boarded our plane and wer met by this same flight crew - our entire crew was from Bangkok...not a Norwegian in the bunch! Anyway, I urge all of you...if you are ever flying to a place where Norwegian flies...give them a shot!
We landed, walked to the train station which is located AT the airport (how convenient is that!?) and took the super smooth and quiet (more about that later) train just three stops...then a few block walk and we were at our hotel. We were starting to feel the exhaustion creep in, but we fought on! We walked 2 quick blocks to the harbor. We walked through the Akershus Fortress which dates back to 1300, but also houses the Resistance Museum and the Military Museum both of which we may visit later. We were fading fast and knew that an early dinner and early bedtime was just what we needed! We battled our way across the cobblestones to the other side of the harbor and had a nice dinner at a fish restaurant called Os Louise. Apparently the pre-requisite for being a waiter at this restaurant was to be good looking and have a "man bun"! Food was very good, as was the people watching (I've come to realize that Norwegians are all tall and slender and very quiet!)
Ok, now about the quiet...when we got off the airplane in Oslo, we were struck by how quiet this very busy airport was...it was beautiful, modern, clean, lovely light colored hardwood floor and VERY QUIET! People were talking, but in soft voices. There was no music piped in, very few announcements over the PA. There was lots of activity and lots of people, but it was all just so tranquil and quiet...it was LOVELY! On the train, we somehow ended up in the "quiet car" (which could have spelled trouble for Lenore and me, but we channelled our inner Norwegian, and spoke in soft voices and managed not to get removed from the train car...unlike the woman who was sitting behind us talking on her phone who was escorted to another car!
I was a good girl and did NOT jump off the train! (Gary and I have apparently decided to dress alike on this vacation...stripes today, plaid tomorrow...yikes!)
View of the harbor...and that thing that looks like a big grey dinosaur is a ski jump!!! Oslo is a small and walkable city...nice and compact!
Cobblestones everywhere (& I still love my boots!)
Sheepskin seat covers at our dinner restaurant on our first night. (What do you think of that, Jay!?). I know it looks light out! We were super tired and had dinner at 5pm! Than back to the hotel for an early bed time...only to be awakened by a phone call at 3am from someone asking if we still wanted to talk about refinancing our home - I'm afraid I was pretty rude to the caller, before I hung up on him!
More to follow...