Old Lady solo in Scandinavia

I had posted a couple of questions before I left about travelling around Scandinavia alone at the age of 78. I just thought I'd follow up that it was a marvelous trip. I've pretty much tidied up the blog I kept so if you want to look it's at www.briegull.com/Travelling. A few notes: * getting a fully loaded American-style suitcase onto trains is difficult. People helped. Note to self: slim down your packing! * I used airbnb.com for some of my reservations and that was very good. * I took an ipad and an iphone, had the RS Scandinavia guide loaded onto both, one to read ahead, another to keep in my pocket while I walked around. This worked very well except for maps. None of the maps I'd loaded onto my iphone were as good as the plain old paper one they will give you at the front hotel desk. * Cobblestones everywhere. Wear thick-soled shoes!!! * Travelling shoulder-season (May-June, September-October) is to be recommended. * If you're going digital, get an extra charger for your phone/tablet. You'll need it. * Finally, I used a debit card with a PIN everywhere. The Chase one that claims to be built for travellers did not give me a PIN, even when I asked. I had to sign to use it, which most people were willing to let me do, but I couldn't use it in ATMs.
* Whole area is fascinating. Highly to be recommended.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4871 posts

Great tips Clare! It sounds like you enjoyed your trip. Was your Chase card a debit or credit card?

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
3582 posts

It sounds like maybe a prepaid card? Those Chase debit cards I've read about state they aren't to be used with ATMs...but I've read they come with a PIN...

Posted by Clare
Topsham, Maine, United States
17 posts

It is a Sapphire, directly from Chase. Not prepaid. I knew it wouldn't have a chip but I called and asked for a pin and was told it didn't have one, before I left. I didn't think much about it at the time, for some reason. I think I was just given WRONG information. Fortunately I had gotten a debit card, with pin, for a Fidelity account that had only a few thousand in it. That worked well and I was not charged for the transactions. By the way, I checked out the cost of individual train fares compared to the Scanrail pass, and it turned out the pass was cheaper by a good bit.

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
3582 posts

The only Sapphire card I can find is a credit card, but these things change all the time... I don't think I've ever checked rail prices there; I know there's a couple of places where a pass is the The Thing to get. That part of the world is a bit pricey, so I'm not surprised to hear the pass worked better for you. Your not kidding about the cobblestones :-( You find out really quickly if you've brought the wrong shoes. Your report is just another confirmation that we need to get 'up there' on one of out next trips...whenever that may be...I liked your blog, and understand completely about the 'not-so-great photo that means nothing to most people, but means the world to me'! I learned years ago to just snap the photo, knowing it would be awful, but everytime I see them it ALL comes back to me - the sights, sounds, aromas. Instantly. Those are usually my favorite travel photos ;-) (and thanks for the warning that photos open up in a new window; I usually don't have an available window LOL!)

Posted by Clare
Topsham, Maine, United States
17 posts

One thing I forgot to mention: The first time I was to use the Scanrail pass (and hence to have it validated) was on the Oslo-Bergen Norway in a Nutshell day. You have to leave early from Oslo to do that, I think 8:15. The train office did not open until ten. I kept trying to find out what to do from anyone looking official who passed. Finally some nice official took pity on me and said, you can get it validated on the train. I promise! And he was right. Later, when I was leaving Bergen and made the reservation to take the train back to Oslo, the station people were grumbling to each other about the Oslo station office not being open until ten. And on forums, I see this mentioned as well. Be warned: if the National Day (May 17) comes around Pentecost (variable date) there will be a LONG holiday. This year National Day was on a Friday, Pentecost was Sunday so not only was Sunday but also MONDAY a holiday. Bergen was packed with Norwegians on holiday, so much so that I couldn't catch a night train out on Monday, had to spend another pricey night in a Bergen hotel!