Jun 152011

We spent a couple of days in Trondheim, and soon it was time to continue the trek north. One note on Trondheim I haven’t posted yet, and that relates to the sun. Sunset in Trondheim was officially around 11-something with sunrise around 4am, however, it really didn’t get dark before 12 or so, and was already pretty light around 230 or 3am. All darkness would disappear after the next segment, however!

Flight SAS 4556
Trondheim (TRD) to Bodø (BOO)
Boeing 737-400
Registration LN-BRI, manufactured 1990
Seats 12A, 12C, 12D, 12F

One of the things that I was excited about (and I only figured out after booking this flight) is that it was one-stop through an airport with a really cool code. Who wouldn’t want to fly to BOO! I’m also working on FUN and DAM… 😀 Plus BOO would enable me to add one more to my total number of airports visited in a lifetime.

So, once again we were in the exit row, hoping the middles would stay free. 12E did, however, 12B ended up occupied from TRD-BOO and then empty for the second segment. This is probably a good time to talk about SAS mobile check-in. All of the tickets for this trip had been purchased on the SAS website, and I had given them my mobile number. At flight time minus 22 hours I got a text, containing a link to a mobile checkin site – which worked like a charm. It enabled me to secure exits or bulkheads on every segment…got to love that! Finally a mobile check-in that works!

So the first segment departed before 9am, which on SAS means you’re entitled to a free “breakfast.” I find it ironic that the airline that charges $5 for a diet coke gives away a free breakfast before 9am….and I stand by my claim that in Norway breakfast must be some kind of human right. Breakfast today was a boxed sandwich with way too much butter and a thin slice of ham on it, so I opted to skip in favour of extra coffee…which was also free. Still $5 if you want a Diet Coke, however.

On this segment the load was easily 95% for the hour or so flight up to Bodø, but honestly there’s nothing exciting to report. Landed in Bodø about 10 minutes ahead of schedule, where about 60% of the plane got of….and only around 15 people got on. It was going to be a very light load for the 50 minute continuation up to Tromsø! Another unusual thing about this flight – it was the first time in many years I’d been on a true “through” flight were you didn’t have to get off the plane. It felt strange. Soon, the 15 people were boarded, and we were off again 15 minutes ahead of schedule.

Flight SAS 4556
Bodø (BOO) to Tromsø (TOS)
Boeing 737-400
Registration LN-BRI, manufactured 1990
Seats 12A, 12C, 12D, 12F

This segment was empty – maybe 40% of seats were taken which was kind of nice. I finally gave in to the sirens, and shelled out NOK 25 for a Diet Coke on this segment – which is about the most notable thing that happened. Plane went up, plane went down, plane landed 20 minutes ahead of schedule, and life was grand.

Once again, we took advantage of the SAS Flybussen to the hotel, which in the end turned out to be a huge mistake. We had no idea (and nobody told us) that the next day when we planned to return was a national holiday in Norway, and 75% of the busses would be canceled. They were only running every two hours or so, instead of every 30 minutes or so. This resulted in us having to throw away our return portions and take a cab. Boo. (Boo as in disappointed, not BOO as in the airport code 😀 ) Note to self: some countries still celebrate Ascension Day as a national holiday. (I’m also now dealing with “Youth Day” as a National holiday when trying to ticket another trip…but that’s for another trip report)

So, got to the hotel, the Rica Ishavshotel. Honestly, if you read the last installment on the Rica Nidelven in Trondheim, you get the idea. Was a perfectly adequate, clean, and comfortable hotel, but certainly not the lap of luxury. Once again, breakfast was absolutely amazing with a huge spread. Perhaps the most notable thing about this hotel seemed to be the number of conferences going on. When we arrived probably 30 groups were checking out (in fairness, it was exactly noon) and when we tried to check out, probably 30 more were trying to check in!

Tromsø was quite entertaining for the one day we had on the way north, and we really maximised it. A couple of museums, the “World’s Northernmost Brewery and Pub,” the “World’s Northernmost Botanical Garden” and the Tromsø Cathedral. All quite interesting.

The Botanical Garden. This was just the start of the midnight sun period, so the flowers weren’t fully in bloom yet, but still very impressive:

Along those lines – the sun never set here, and it never even got a tiny bit dark. When we finally hit the bed at midnight the sun was still way above the horizon, and it was bright as mid-day outside. However…in my opinion…the hotel was terribly inadequate. Typical hotel shades which you can never get closed all the way, allowing the room to be mostly dark at best. Very happy I’d saved my eyeshades from the flight!

From the Tromsø Museum, “Walrus Fetus” anyone?

Next, we were on to the Polar Museum, which was the story of the exploration of the north, and had a focus on Spitsbergen where we were off to, including this warning poster:

The next stop was the Ishavskatedralen, or Polar Cathedral. A shot from inside:

Next morning we enjoyed the great hotel breakfast, before learning about the holiday fiasco and grabbing a cab to the airport, which turned out to be a nearly 250 NOK ($50) mistake. Oh well, we didn’t know about the holiday, and there’s not much you can do at that point!

Check-in at TOS was an interesting affair. The SAS counter agent refused to help us despite the fact were were Star Gold, and told us we could only check-in using the automated machines. She refused to have anything to do with us. However, once the machine spit out our bagtags and boarding passes, she was more than happy to demonstrate for us how we should sticker them to the bags. Seriously?! This makes United look full-service! 😀

Next stop trying to figure out the VAT refund (which two weeks later the tracking agency has no record of my application – I’m not hopeful) followed by passport control. Although LYR is in Norway, the lack of enforceable border controls means it is outside the Schengen area, so we had to complete immigration formalities which dumped us into the gate area. There’s only one international gate pen here at TOS.

Next Up: Part V. Tromsø (TOS) to Longyearbyen (LYR) in SAS Economy

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