The voyage to Norway: An idea, a plane, a train, a ferry and whole lot of snow!

This past trip to Norway was born from one simple desire: To catch a glimpse of the cosmic spectacle that is the Aurora Borealis, otherwise known as the Northern Lights. For both Raquel and I, the trip would be the realisation of those little travel dreams come, so much so that back in March I plotted a weekend trip to see the Northern Lights, wherever it would be best seen. My research pointed to Norway and the city of Tromso in the north of the country, however I quickly realised that a weekend trip would be unfeasible and gave up on the idea, though the seeds were planted…

Despite shelving the trip in March, the idea lingered in my head and when later this year Raquel and I were trying to figure out what to do for New Years, Norway and the Northern Lights popped up again. I spoke to Raquel and after looking at our options, we decided Norway it would be and I, the travel planner, would be tasked with putting a trip to Norway. I also knew a weekend would not be enough, so considering that I had the time off anyway and so did Raquel (Christmas and New Years shutdown), we decided to make it a bit of a longer trip and allocated nine days for it.

I scoured the internet for Northern Lights package deals, but everything was either way over our budget or somewhat overpriced. Though, that was expected and considering Raquel and I’s aversion to packaged tours I decided that Lonely Planet and the Internet were going to be my best bet to plan a decent but cheap holiday (considering Norway is ridiculously expensive holiday destination).

I knew that Tromso would be the place to see the Northern Lights so made the city a milestone of the trip. Ryanair only got us as far as Oslo, so we needed to find creative ways of getting to Tromso. Lonely Planet Norway then presented me with the brilliant idea of the Hurtigruten coastal ferry which stops at Tromso on its way to the Northern tip of the country. It was definitely not the cheapest option, but it definitely was an interesting way to see several cities without additional travel expenses.

Alas, another problem, the ferry only started from Bergen… Now I needed to get from Oslo to Bergen. This time internet gave me a quick answer: Train. With some further research, I discovered that the journey to Bergen from Oslo also turned out to be one of the scenic train rides in the world. Fantastic! And what made it even better? It was cheaper than flying!

From nothing, the following itinerary emerged:

Day 1: Flight London to Oslo

Day 2: Train Oslo to Bergen

Day 3: Ferry Bergen to Tromso

Day 4: Ferry Bergen to Tromso

Day 5: Ferry Bergen to Tromso

Day 6: Ferry Bergen to Tromso

Day 7: Flight Tromso to Oslo

Day 8: Oslo

Day 9: Flight Oslo to London

Our dream of seeing the Northern Lights was on paper. We bought our tickets and hoped atmospheric conditions would play their part and end 2011 or start 2012 with the best possible way.

The subsequent posts on this trip will be divided by stages, namely the train ride to Bergen and Bergen; The Ferry ride to Tromso and the cities we stopped at; Tromso and Northern Lights; and finally Oslo.

Considering the posts won’t contain too many photos, I will add a link to the blog’s Facebook page where I’ll add photos from each section of the trip in order to give you an idea of the postcard images we constantly found ourselves in. Enjoy!

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