Made It Norway - Random Ramblings

Many people have told me that they enjoy seeing the pictures and reading about all the places I get to travel to, but would also like to get a glimpse into my every day "routine" while traveling (not that it is ever routine). So here are a few random thoughts from my travel day from Tulsa to Oslo.


As it usually works, I have not started packing until about two hours before my flight. I actually did well this time, almost thinking of things a couple of days in advance - that's when I realized that my beloved shorts that I have taken on my trips for the last five (?) years have finally gave in with a hole in the back. So I rushed to order seven different shorts from Zappos, 6pm and American Eagle just to realize that none of them fit. I ended up sending them all back and getting Kuhl's Renegade at a local outfitters the night before my departure.

Kuhl's Renegade shorts - stylish (I hope), light, quick drying, and pretty neutral color

So this is what it looked like two hours before my flight:

Packing time!

Making things interesting was the fact that I needed to pack for pretty much all seasons - the winter weather in the northern Norway (including the northern-most town in the world), the rainy spring weather in Bergen, and the summer weather in the Mediterranean. Of course, I was only taking my backpack with me so I had to choose wisely carefully.

Layover in Chicago and United Lounges

I took a quick flight to Chicago where I had a five hour layover before my connecting flight to Munich. As I was flying in Business Class (entire trip for $316!) I retreated to the United Club near gate B17 (after I was pretty much blown off at another, bigger United Club in Terminal B). No pictures as airline lounges in the US are nothing to write home about. Free internet and clean(er) restrooms are just about all you get besides free drinks and some prepackaged carrots.

They also had Milano cookies and free alcohol - two things I had to brace myself for as I was trying to do a little better with my on-the-road-in-Business-Class diet this time around. Not that I am binge-drinker, but I wanted to stay away from alcohol completely to supposedly reduce the jet lag.

Originally, I was dreading the five hour layover, but it actually worked out very well as I was able to catch up with my email from the last week, setup travel notifications for my credit cards (more on that coming up) and take care of other last minute things.

Flying with Lufthansa

The general wisdom says that one is better off flying a non-US carrier across the pond and I certainly tried to avoid flying United when I was booking my ticket. So I got myself a business class seat on Lufthansa to Munich and then onto Oslo. In retrospect, I kind of wished I flew United to Munich instead...

I have flown in Business Class on various airlines during my round-the-world trip (for $368!)

The general wisdom says that one is better off flying a non-US carrier across the pond and I certainly tried to avoid flying United when I was booking my ticket. So I got myself a business class seat on Lufthansa to Munich and then onto Oslo. In retrospect, I kind of wished I flew United to Munich instead...

I have flown in Business Class on various airlines during my round-the-world trip (for $368!) and I have to say Lufthansa's was one of the worst (if not the worst). Sadly, it remains the case to this day.

Unimpressive Lufthansa Business Class product

Simply put, it is an old product in this game, and by no means it is one that gets better with age. The seats are the hardest of all Business Class seats I have encountered and made me think of exit row seats on the RJs which, for whatever reason, have less padding than normal seats. I wished I would have brought my seat cushion with me - not something I would expect from a premium product.

Oh, and at some point my seatbelt became unlatched from the seat. How about that for a safety feature issue?

... to unfasten your seatbelt, pull on metal tab to release the buckle. Unless you are traveling on Lufhansa, that is...

The entreatment system is a poor one with a very limited choice of movies and very lagging user input. It literally took about 5 seconds for any action to "register". If that was not enough, many selections took way too many actions to accomplish - the Flight Information really ticked me off as I had to select it first, then select from the one choice available (Airshow) and then finally confirm my selection. Why not just display the airshow as soon as I click on Flight Information???

Flight information takes three clicks to show up even though there is only one choice to select from

Oh and there were actually two ads I had to watch before any of the movies would start! I could see something like that flying in Economy, but in Business cabin?

I was also not able to plug in my awesome noise-canceling headset while watching the movie (got through Skyfall at last!) as the seat was equipped with some weird three-point jack that I have never even seen before.

Lastly the service was professional but very cold and not very courteous. Heck, at the end of the flight, the flight attendants were walking around with people's coats asking whose they were - I have never seen that even on a US airline.

Food was mediocre at best - I guess that's what you get when serving a menu designed by a New York chef on flights from Chicago ;) Getting ahead of myself, I would say I had a much much better meal on the flight from Munich to Oslo.

But enough of the rants. The flight itself was pretty uneventful. We were about 20 minutes late getting out of Chicago, I was able to get about three hours of sleep (awoken by some good turbulence near Iceland) and kept doing a good job laying off the "good stuff" with only a little bit of port after dinner and choosing fresh fruit over cheeses and cheesecake dessert.

Lufthansa Business Class Lounge in Munich

With only about three hours of sleep (and four hours the night before), I was pretty jaded when I got to Munich. Luckily, Lufthansa Business Class lounge is a night and day comparison to the United Club, including complimentary showers! Sounds silly, but a shower after a long flight really helps freshen me up so I wasted no time getting in there.

Shower at Lufthansa lounge in Munich

The rest of the time flew by pretty quick as I had more catching up to do. I tried to get on an earlier flight to Oslo, but because it was operated by SAS and not Lufthansa, I didn't have much luck with that.

While at the lounge, I really had to resist the urge to get some coffee and instead drank quite a bit of water to keep testing the jet lag beating strategy.

Munich - Oslo

My last leg of the trip was a "quick" two hour hop to Oslo, also on Lufthansa. Unfortunately, there is no longer such a thing as Business Class or First Class travel inside Europe, even on premium carriers. All you get is one of the seats in the front rows and nobody sitting in the middle seat. The legroom is the same as in the rest of the plane thou so I had to struggle a bit to fit in there.

The service was much better thou with a friendly flight attendant and a great light meal.

Tandoori poultry roulade on chick pea puree, Octopus salad and tomato salsa, beef goulash in onion gravy and vanilla cream pastry. Not Bad

Once again I stayed away from alcohol and coffee and instead got a little nap time in here and there. As I am writing this the next day, I really do feel like the strategy of avoiding all alcohol and coffee while drinking lots of water did make a difference. With only four hours of sleep for the third night in a row and six hours ahead of "schedule", I do not feel jet lagged. A bit tired - yes. But not the usual drop down and pass out feeling. :)

Oslo Airport and High Speed Tourist Trap Train

The airport terminal looked small and neat with just a handful of SAS and Norwegian planes parked next to it as we taxied in. Inside though, it was very spacious and it took me quite a bit to walk over to baggage claim and then breeze through customs. After getting some cash from the ATM (always, ALWAYS cheaper than exchanging it), I was on my way to catch the train to the city, which is actually quite a bit away from the airport.

Oslo airport - plenty of open space to scream at

Looking up my options beforehand, I saw that there is a high speed train that takes 20 minutes and costs 170 NOK / $30 one way. And I thought the ride to Sydney airport was expensive at $15!

The alternative is to take a bus, which is not much cheaper at 125 NOK / $20 when booked in advance. So my game plan was to take the train on the way in and catch the bus back to the airport the next day as I was in a hurry to meet up with Stine and Solveig - two girls I met at a hostel in Cameron Highlands and ending up traveling with to Penang, Phuket and Ko Phi Phi with.

As I walked over to the ticket counter, I saw that there is also a local train I could take for just 90 NOK / $16. It takes the entire three minutes longer than the high-speed train as it makes one stop in Lillestrom on the way to Oslo. I wonder why it was not mentioned anywhere as a cheaper option to get to/from the airport?

It ended up running late about 20 minutes, but soon enough I was on the way, saving myself $14 and regretting already having purchased the bus ticket for the ride back to the airport.

First taste of Norwegian country side on the way to Oslo

As I got to Oslo Sentrum, Solveig and Stine were already waiting for me.

With Sulveig and Stine

And off we were to Chris Guillebeau's End of the World party.