Durban to Oslo

Nine months planning and another month travelling and then, it is all over.

Every moment from the start of planning down to arriving home was special in its own way. We have to say thank you to all our friends, family and blog readers and sharers for their ideas, help with train and bus timetables and loaning of suitable clothing for this icy adventure. We had lots of fun and some not so good experiences but we enjoyed it all and, as promised, I am writing up and sharing all of these.

On 28 February 2015 we made the decision to travel to Northern Norway to see the Aurora Borealis. The best time to witness this incredible natural phenomenon, apparently, is at the time of the Winter Solstice, 23 December. This meant that it would be VERY cold but since it is such a rare happening and was definitely on our “bucket list” we agreed to manage the cold, bite the bullet, and go ahead with this trip.

It was quite amazing to see people’s reactions when they heard where we were going for our next trip. We had agreed that, when Trevor finally retired in 2009, we would do an international trip every 2 years with at least 1 national one in the alternate year. Having mentioned previously, I have very itchy feet and a heart and mind requiring feeding on a very regular basis, so I was able to convince Trevor that travel was extremely important for me.

Enough waffle and on with what we experienced. I have, and will be, giving quite a bit of detail on how we did things as my site is not only one to tell of what we did but also what we learnt which could be of value to other Senior Citizens doing some travel.

To be in Tromsø as close to 23 December as possible, I made contact with the Nordic Visitor Travel Agency and asked for a booking on the Aurora Safari Tour which started in Oslo on 21 December 2016. This was an 8-day tour going from Oslo via Bergen, Ålesund and Trondheim by rail, coach, boat and plane. We learnt later that because we were travelling over Christmas we would spend an extra night on the boat docked in Ålesund. Fortunately, we learnt of this before making any other bookings and so did not have to cancel and rebook etc.

In addition, we decided to go a day early giving us an extra day in Oslo. Now that we had settled on dates and the first part of our trip, we took the big step of purchasing air tickets. Fortunately, because we booked so far in advance we were able to pay a very competitive price for the tickets. We were booked to fly from Durban on Emirates Airlines, with a stopover in Dubai, and then on to Oslo. Our return flight would be from Madrid but more of that later. It was so wonderful to fly direct from Durban and not have to stop in Johannesburg, collect luggage and check-in there again.

Come 19 December, we must have looked quite a pair. It was the middle of summer in South Africa and the temperature in Durban was around 30degC whilst it was an average -3degC in Oslo! We were dressed for a scorching summer’s day but carrying ski jackets. As usual we managed to keep our luggage light even though we had to pack for the ice and snow in the north and the warmer climes in southern Europe where we would be finishing our holiday. Trevor’s case weighed just 11kgs and mine was 13.3kgs. We were glad of this as there was lots of carrying by ourselves as that is the way it is in Europe; everyone for him/herself.

We landed in Oslo right on time and took the express train into town where our hotel was situated right opposite the station as had been promised by Bjarni of Nordic Visitor. The staff at the Thon Opera Hotel were very professional, polite and pleasant. Our room was situated on the 5th floor with lovely views across the city. Having been on a plane for most of the past 24 hours we went to bed early so that we would be wide-awake and ready to enjoy the city the next day.

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About Me

I was born into the early part of the Baby Boomer generation, the 3rd of what came to be a family of 6 daughters. Although both our parents, who are now deceased, had been raised in rural Natal (now KwaZulu-Natal) and the 2 eldest daughters were born in a country town, the other 4 of us were all born at home in Durban. Read More

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