Jun 142011

So having donated a couple of internal organs to the economy of Oslo, it was time to start the slow and gradual trek northward towards our ultimate destination of Svalbard.

The trip back to OSL was very efficient thanks to the SAS Flybussen. I don’t know all the details, but this bus service operated in all the airports we flew into on this trip, and was a timely and affordable (all things being relative) option all over Norway. I’d highly recommend it, and based on the number of locals on the busses it’s the way to go.

Go to OSL, off to the Star Gold check-in which was quick, friendly, and efficient, and then off to security which was equally so. So far, this is a great economy experience!

Until…we got through security and learned two things about SAS domestic Norwegian flights: (1) there is no lounge…ever and (2) there is only economy on these flights…ever.

Now, #2 is actually a good thing if you have an economy ticket and are Star Alliance Gold. The first few rows of the plane seem to be reserved for *G and status passengers…but the strange thing is they actually sell business fares on these routes? 1-800-WTF? Other than 50% bonus EQM I’m not sure what you get, but for us this was great. We killed a little time playing iPad games and drinking $5 diet cokes, and then it was off to the plane.

Flight: SK338 Oslo (OSL) to Trondheim (TRD)
Time: ETD 10:05 ETA 11:00 – on time
Seats: 16A, 16C, 16D, and 16F
Plane: LN-RPL 737-800 delivered in 2000

We had booked the exit row on this flight, and with four of us we took a chance the middle seats would remain open for the 45 minute flight…and they did! Honestly, there’s almost zero to say about this flight. Coffee was free (and taken advantage of) and before we knew it we were landing in Trondheim.

Once again, bags were out quickly, and we were on the SAS Flybussen to the Rica Nidelven Hotel. For those who have never visited Norway, it seems to have a complete lack of the major international hotel chains. One hhonors property in Oslo, but otherwise, nothing at all. This would be our first try at a Rica hotel, and overall for no status we were quite impressed.

Checked in, and out to explore. The main purpose of stopping in Trondheim was to find the Matt’s great-grandparents farmstead, which required a ferry across the Fjord. Was great to see a smaller town, where we were served pizza at the only joint in town by a couple of asian immigrants….for $30 a personal pizza of course!

Other than that, Trondheim was a fun medium-sized town. Enough to see, but not so much you felt you were rushing from place to place on a quick trip. The cathedral was pretty cool, the shopping felt like something out of the 1980s, but perhaps the coolest thing we saw was the Munkholmen Island. This is an island a couple km off off Trondheim which has at various times served as a monastery, Nazi base, and a few other things.

We spent two nights at the Rica Nidelven, home of the “Best Hotel Breakfast in Norway Several Years Running.” Remember my previous post that breakfast seems to be a Human Right at hotels in Norway? By this point, you should be excited about this statement.

The breakfast buffet seemed to be included for all guests, and was a massive spread consisting of well over 100 dishes and stations. Several fresh breads for the slicing, at least 10 different types of fresh fish (salmon, herring, mackerel, etc etc etc) cheeses, fruits, eggs to order, etc etc etc. It just went on and on. You could literally stock up here and not need to eat for a day.

The Rica Nidelven probably ranked as the best included hotel breakfast I’ve ever seen anywhere in the world. Although the actual rooms were pretty average, I can’t give this hotel high enough marks for the friendliness of staff (who went on the internet to print out ferry schedules for us) to the great breakfast. Two thumbs up.

Next Up: Part IV. Trondheim (TRD) to Tromso (TOS) via Bodo (BOO) in SAS Economy and the Rica Ishavshotel

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