The paperwork for this trip to Norway was easier to prepare for than our other trips post-Covid. Norway did not require Passenger Locator Forms or proofs of vaccinations. The airline also didn’t require any special documentation and their website recommended wearing of masks.
Hurtigruten would require proof of vaccination when we reached Longyearbyen, for us to take a lateral flow test before boarding and to wear masks in public areas.
Oslo was going to be warm (or even hot) and Svalbard would be cold!
Day 1 Oslo Sunday 19th June 2022
Our expedition via Oslo had an early start as we were picked up at 6:30 am. By 7 am we were in T2 at Heathrow and the airport was already very busy.
In the SAS area we were able to check-in and print luggage labels. Their drop-off for luggage was confusing. We followed the signs and found ourselves in a queue of passengers all trying to sort out new flights after earlier cancellations – a sign of things to come for us with SAS.
Once we had dropped off the cases, the queue for security was already in the middle of the concourse and literally wound its way backwards and forwards in true Disneyland style.
Once we reached the boarding pass check gates, the next queue was for the security desks. The building’s security check areas were all open, so the only reason I can think of why we had queued was simply the sheer number of flights leaving T2 that day. For once I sailed through the checks unlike Linda who was diverted to have a full body scan.
Airside at T2 was as disappointing as ever for the lack of choice of places to eat. No Starbucks for example. The Pret a Manger had a queue out into the concourse so instead we walked back across the mezzanine to Heston‘s “The Perfectionists Café“.
Before being seated we were warned of a potential 30 minute wait for food. However, the service was prompt and very friendly. My breakfast of two poached eggs and bacon was excellent. Linda’s huge bowl of porridge looked good too!
It has been over three years since we last flew out of Heathrow for our trip to the USA and even longer since I travelled for work. I’d forgotten just how grumpy and rude other travellers could be (hopefully I was never one of them!) The guy on the next table never once said please or thank you or even looked up from his newspapers. This was when he accosted our server for water, then more toast and then complained about something else. All credit to the server, he just kept going back for more and more.
Our boarding gate
When our gate was called we headed off to find gate 24. This gate shared a corner of the terminal with three other gates. The other gates were all open and boarding lots of queueing passengers.
At our gate, the economy passengers were called first and we zig zaged our way to the check-in desks and waited. Then the ground staff walked up the queue and steamily randomly picked out passengers with large bags. They were asked them to come forward to have the bags “sized” and weighed. All these bags were then consigned to the baggage hold!
Then the premium passengers were called and they walked past the rest of us queued up and through the gate. As they did we noticed that the comedian Michael McIntyre was one of them.
Our SAS flight
Once on the plane we were sat on opposite sides of the aisle but next to the emergency exits. This meant nothing could be placed below the seats in front and best of all no reclining seats in front of us. Plus we had lots of extra legroom. If you are on SAS Aibus 320s then rows 11 and 12 are the ones to get.
The plane left the gate late and then had a long taxi and an even longer hold before take-off. The Captain did give us the good news that the flight would only be one hour and 40 minutes due a good tail wind. We wore our masks for the whole flight unlike the majority of the other passengers as we were conscious of needing to take a lateral flow test later in the week.
The SAS premium passengers were all fed and watered at the front of the plane and then we had our snacks. I had a Carlsberg and some cashew nuts.
After landing we had a long walk away from the jetway. Looking down below us we could see the shops and restaurants of the airside domestic terminal.
We were directed to follow the line for passport holders not part of the EU or Scandinavian countries. This then began our long wait to be processed. The couple in front of us were leaving that evening for Svalbard to board MS Fram. Their charter flight from Oslo was delayed for at least two hours so now their wait in the airport at Oslo was going to be a very long one.
Once all the other queues had been cleared, all the booths were now available. We were processed by a very cheerful immigration officer and received our first passport stamp. Interestingly we had no questions about length of stay just a pleasant chat.
All these delays meant that our luggage was already on the carousel and once through customs we turned right for the Flytoget train to Oslo Central.
Buying tickets for the Flytoget Express was very easy and all the trains to the centre of Oslo left from the same platform. This was a bargain at about £17 each return, with senior discount being applied automatically by the very nice lady at the desk!
We only had about a 10 minute wait before our train came. The carriage was not very luggage friendly with steps up inside the carriage to get to the seats. Our part of the carriage was empty and we could relax without our masks. The train made just one stop and we were soon at Oslo Central. There was an amazing long tunnel as we approached Oslo Central which by my estimate lasted nearly 7 minutes.
Clarion Hotel, The Hub
Our hotel was visible just across the square and was only a short walk.
After check-in at the hotel we went to our room, dumped our bags, changed out of our heavy clothes and went off to Karl Johan Gate for a walk. Once past the parliament building we had a great view down the hill and up to the Royal Palace. The park at the side of the street was fenced. There were passageways between the fenced off areas to allow access towards the fjord. Inside there looked to be a a sound stage and rows of wooden shops inside the enclosure. This was for Oslo’s celebration of Gay Pride and events were starting as we walked by.
We stopped at McDonalds for a latte and walked further down Karl Johans Gate and realised that Hard Rock Café in Oslo had gone.
Olivia EGER for a meal
Walking back up past the parliament we decided to try Olivia EGER for a combined lunch and dinner.
We were seated inside next to a large olive tree by the window. To start we shared a bowl of olives. I chose a Diablo pizza, Linda chose pasta and we both had Hansa beers and didn’t look at the prices!
Olivia EGER, Oslo
Good lunch option on Karl Johans Gate
Everyone who served us were very attentive and and even refused to take a tip when we left. The food was excellent and just sitting and relaxing was such a relief after all our travelling earlier in the day. The restaurant was very busy and we had expected to queue but we were found a table near a window inside. What friendly helpful servers and we were soon sipping our beers and enjoying a bowl of olives waiting (not long) for our main course. I had a pepperoni pizza which was good and problem was the really really hard outer crust (crisp?) that my knife would hardly cut!