Day 9: Travel day back to the US of A #scandinavia

Sadly, I couldn’t sleep because I am really looking forward to coming home. Looking at my alarm clock, I realize I need to be getting ready in 30 minutes to catch the flypassarna bus from central station to Arlanda airport. That’s a 40 minute adventure. Hopefully all goes well and smooth from here. I don’t think I can take anymore ups and downs (this entire trip has been a roller coaster: changed/delayed flights, missed opera, more delayed flights, running to make a connection, lost baggage, etc). So, looking forward to starting the journey home!


Overall thoughts:
– Travel to Oslo and Stockholm during the Christmas season can be difficult bc a lot of the museums, shops, and restaurants will be closed. They take their Christmas and New Years very seriously and are often celebrating the holidays with family.  I felt that businesses were open a bit more in Copenhagen, Denmark — so maybe do the Christmas holidays here (it’s a fantastic city!).
– Now knowing this, I would travel to Oslo and Stockholm in the summer…not the winter.
– I would keep Oslo at a 2 day stay (max). Decrease Kirkenes to a full day stay or day and a half.  Seeing the northern lights is apparently hit or miss.  Increase Stockholm stay to at least 3 days (this city was incredible!).
– if you’re a foodie, you will love Stockholm!!


Day 5: Kirkenes, Norway

Kirkenes, Norway = Enjoying a bit of the Arctic Circle

Woke up this morning and was glad to have survived the ice hotel experience.  Went to the shower and enjoyed a nice Norwegian sauna with a followup snow angel challenge (almost like being part of the polar bear club!).  It was invigorating!!  Headed out on the property to do some snowshoeing and sledding.  Came back around 11:30a and caught the bus into the city and checked into the next hotel.


 KI14 Dog-sledge trip in Norwegian-Russian borderland incl. dinner (5,5 hours)

Duration: 17:00 – 22:30

This is what I hope to see:

Here’s what I actually did:

These dogs were amazing! Loved every bit of it!! Highly recommended!

Day 4: Oslo, Norway to Kirkenes, Norway

8:20a – OSL  →  11:40a KKN
There were some delays so didn’t actually land until 1:45p. Was going to take the Flypass bus (180 nok)to the city (but their credit card machine wasn’t working and I never have cash!)… So took a cab for 340 nok direct to the snow hotel. Your big luggage gets stored in a closet and you just need to bring a small overnight bag with you. They supply everything, snow shoes, balaclava, winter suit, wool socks, -30 sleeping bag, and sheet.

Checkin 1700 (includes 3 course dinner).  There was no problem getting to the hotel early and just hanging out there: snowshoeing, skiing, sledding, dog sledding, snowmobiling, etc.  Some activities had to be pre-booked, so check out their website: Kirkenes Snow Hotel.

Snow Hotel
Dinner starts at 5:30p with an introduction to the hotel as well as a little bit of history.  Gabba is an old Norwegian tribe word for white reindeer (supposed to be good luck if seen!).  Our initial introduction to the hotel was in the Gabba room.  This room/hut was made from a wooden frame skeleton and then covered with animal hides for warmth.  This made for easy portability.

We headed to the ice bar after our reindeer sausages.  The crowberry is a fruit local to the area — it tasted like a mix of blueberries/boysenberr/etc.  Sweet, but not tart.

For dinner, we had a nice selection of local cheeses (all hard) and non-pasteurized.  It was delicious!  The main course was arctic char and followed up with dessert –> ice cream with local berry sauce/jam, caramel sauce, and Norwegian brown cheese.  By the time the dinner service was over, it was 22:00.

Headed to room #11 and picked up the sleeping bag, sheet, balaclava, and wool socks from the bathroom (warm area!).  Logistics of getting into the bag and staying warm was discussed at the introductory briefing.  Once inside the bag with everything zipped up, I was quite warm.  Sometime through the night, I woke up a bit claustrophobic (I am not typically claustrophobic — I enjoy tent camping and am quite comfortable in a sleeping bag).  I initially struggled with the side zipper of the sleeping bag…ripped my gloves off to get some air…. and poked my head out of the bag for some air.  Not sure why that happened!!  I had been asleep for several hours before this occurred.  Maybe it was because I was fully immersed in the -30 degree cocoon bag?  But I felt better (yet colder) once I got my head out of the bag.  Then I headed back to sleep… quite comfy, but slightly cold.

Day 1: Brief Scandinavian Tour #Oslo #norway #kirkenes #stockholm #sweden #travel #delays

Today (Friday, Dec 26), I’m postcall and heading out to Oslo, Norway!  Holiday days off are hard to come by in my field.  Usually, I try to schedule a Christmas/NYE holiday getaway to someplace cold where there’s a great Christmas spirit (Sorry San Diego, sometimes you’re just too warm and perfect all the time!).  I definitely want to catch the northern lights on this getaway.  First up, a ridiculously long flight that will get me into Oslo, Norway at 9:45a 7:00pm Saturday.  I believe they’re 9 hours ahead of west coast time with only 6 hours of daylight!

9:00A West coast time → 9:45A 7:00p OSL

1st roadblock of the trip: My flight from SAN to LAX was delayed an hour due to weather.  That’s a real stinker because that delay was enough to make me miss my second leg from LAX to EWR… and EWR to OSL.  Now, I go to Chicago…then Frankfurt (why the 8 hour layover?? why???)…then Oslo… but about 10 hours later and missing the opera I booked.  With all my travels, this is the first speed bump I have encountered.  I have to say it’s frustrating…however, by the numbers, I was long overdue for this type of mayhem.  Rolling with the punches…(but no one said I had to be happy about it!)…especially since I’m a tired (postcall), hungry, hormonal gal nonetheless. I could use some good karma today.

11:00a UA1563 SAN –> Chicago O’hare 17:10

18:00p UA907 Chicago –> Frankfurt 9:35a

17:15p UA9144 Frankfurt –> Oslo 19:15p

This map nicely displays the layout of my trip.  First I fly to Oslo, Norway for a couple of days.  Then, it’s off to Kirkenes, Norway (the Arctic Circle and a great place to see the norther lights).  I didn’t realize how close Kirkenes is to Russia!  The last leg is to Stockholm, Sweden for a couple of days.