As I gear up and prepare to start my next adventure later today, I’ve assembled a few tips and tricks for those of you who may be considering making a similar trip. I’ll be spending the next 18 days traveling through Norway, Denmark and Germany, with a brief overnight stop in Dublin.
As i’ll be taking the trip between June 25th and July 13th daylight is not an issue (the equinox was on the 21st). Temperature, however, will be. I’ll be leaving 110+ degree temperatures for the 50s and 60s which are the status quo this time of the year in central Norway.
I’ve recorded and included my latest packing video above. My key considerations have been layers, technology, and dealing with the high probability that I’ll end up drenched a few times. The video is self explanatory, but if you have any questions on specifics, please don’t hesitate to ask! I’ll be shooting photos/video on my Canon G11 and my Vixia HF200. Both of which I’ve been really happy with.
When I initially purchased my ticket, I had tentatively planned to visit Central Europe. As a result I picked an airport schedule that allowed me to fly into Dublin, Ireland (RyanAir’s main hub/cheapest airport in Europe, Madrid being the 2nd), and fly out of Nuremberg, Germany. As I watched for airfare specials, it quickly became apparent that there’s some sort of pricing tiff going on between RyanAir and Central European airports, which drove me to choose a 5 Euro ticket (total cost, 25 Euro w/ 1 checked bag/taxes/fees) from Dublin to Oslo, Norway. Combined with the recent economic woes which have crippled the Euro/Euro area countries, it seemed like there probably wouldn’t be a better or cheaper time to visit Scandinavia, which is notorious for its high prices.
By the time I worked in my 1 day layover in Dublin, timezone changes, and travel time I have about 15 days of actual travel time. Which, while longer than some trips, really only gives me 5 days per country. This forced me to scrap my initial plans of doing Sweden, in addition to Norway, Denmark and Germany as it just didn’t make sense from a travel time cost. Unfortunately, I only realized that I wouldn’t be able to do Sweden AFTER purchasing a 4 country, 8 day Eurail pass. In retrospect, a 3 country, 8 day pass would have been a far better choice. That said, the price difference was fairly negligible (some $70) compared to what the cost would have been for 8 individual train trips, which removed some of the sting from the mistake. The final price for the pass was $390 which wile a decent expense, is far cheaper than the $80-$170 price on most medium-long leg train tickets in Scandinavia and Germany. In addition to the base $390 fee, there will be several smaller reservation fees to reserve my actual seat, but these fees should be small.
I’ve booked two other major legs ahead of time. These are a ferry trip from Stavanger to Bergen in Norway and a budget flight from Bergen to Copenhagen, Denmark. While I prefer to travel on a more flexible schedule, research indicated that Stavanger and Bergen are only connected by Rail through a round about route which loops back through Oslo adding 6+ hours on to any tentative trip. A ferry ride provides the opportunity to travel through the Fjords by boat, while traveling straight north along the coast directly to Bergen. Additionally, by booking online through Flaggruten, a Norwegian ferry company, I was able to knock the price from 750 NOK, to 250 NOK or $38.50 USD. A hard price/special to beat.
The second challenge was getting from Bergen to Copenhagen, without having to re-trace ground through Oslo and Sweden. What would have been a 10-15 hour train ride ends up being a mere 1 hour direct flight. By experimenting with different budget airports, airlines and destinations, I was able to find a flight for 693 NOK which is about $107 USD. This cut hours and hours of travel time out of my schedule, was reasonable, and allowed me to spend an extra day exploring the cities I wanted to spend time in. I found the ticket through Wideroe, which seems to be the best priced discount Scandinavia airline (they also have an amazing all you can fly pass – similar to a Eurail pass). Unlike a number of their competitors Wideroe offers a youth (under 25) ticket, which knocked the price down substantially. By choosing a flexible departure time, and booking a youth ticket I was able to save $50-100+ off the price of the next cheapest competitor.
The rest of my travel and transport will be done via my Eurail pass or local day tour groups.
For now, I’ve gotta run. My flight and a new part of the world awaits!