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Oslo arrival and departure disasters

I recently visited Norway. My arrival into Oslo and my departure from Oslo were not good experiences (to put it mildly).

Oslo Arrival

In late May I arrived in Oslo by plane. Getting from the airport to my accommodations in the city was an expensive disaster.

Part 1 - Airport to City: I tried to follow the advice of Rick Steves to take the regular train instead of the Flytoget airport train because the regular train Is about half the price. Somehow I ended up on the wrong train but didn’t realize it until there was an announcement for last stop and the train was not in Oslo. I went in to the station and had a look at the map and screens. I was definitely not in Oslo and I had to wait an hour for the next train back to the airport and into Oslo.

My advice – ignore Rick Steves advice and take the Flytoget train to get from Oslo airport to the city. Yes, it’s expensive but it has it’s own platform so you won’t get lost. The train runs regularly and it’s a fast trip.

Part 2 – To accommodations: After arrival at Oslo S, the main train station, I had to figure out how to get to my accommodations by transit, either metro or tram. I could not figure out where to buy a ticket for the metro or tram. I also could not figure out where to get the tram. I ended up taking a taxi which was really expensive (I’m not sure if I was ripped off or if they really are arm-and-a-leg expensve).
Once at my accommodations I was able to get help with the transit. There’s an app called Ruter that you download to you phone and purchase tickets with. This is the only way to buy a ticket for transit. As for the tram stops, I spent a couple days in Oslo and I still could not figure out how the tram system works. At the main stations there are multiple tram stops and each tram has its own stop. Google Maps is good for getting you to the station but not the actual stop.

Posted by
68 posts

Oslo Departure

This was an even bigger disaster, although not my fault.

I was travelling to Copenhagen by rail using my rail pass. There are 3 trains a day that do not require reservations and they all require a change in Gothenburg (Goteborg). Trains are run by Vy. I took the first one which left about 6 AM (I was up at 4:30 AM to get the train). It’s about 3.5 hours to Gothenburg and about half an hour before arrival the train came to a halt out in the countryside with an announcement that it couldn’t proceed any further and I think it was due to a track issue. After some time there was an announcement that we were returning to the last station and they were trying to arrange buses. We waited and waited and then there was an announcement they were heading back towards Oslo because they couldn’t arrange buses. Since Vy is Norwegian I think the train goes to Gothenburg and then turns around and goes back so they probably wanted to maintain the return schedule. When we got to the first stop in Norway there was an announcement that we could either get off and wait for a bus but there was no estimated arrival time or we could return to Oslo. I decided to stay on return to Oslo because I figured there would be more option from Oslo, including flying if necessary. So we arrived back in Oslo 7.5 hours after leaving. I went to Vy customer service to ask if it was possible to get to Copenhagen that day. The last train via Gothenburg was about to leave and they said I should take that. When I asked if it was actually going to be able to make it they couldn’t give me an answer. After what had just happened I was really reluctant to take the train because I didn’t know if I would get stuck again. I also looked at trains requiring reservations but didn’t see anything available on the Eurail app. So then I looked at flights and I was to book an evening flight to Copenhagen. After that it was off to the airport. Although I could have used my rail pass and taken a regular train for “free”, I took the Flytoget train because after what happened previously because I didn’t want to have any problems getting to the airport and missing my flight. After arrival at the airport I had to repack all my stuff for flying. The flight took about an hour although it was delayed leaving. I got the train from Kastrup airport into Copenhagen okay (and the tickets are cheap which is nice). So I finally arrived in Copenhagen 10 PM. I took me 16 hours including 7.5 hours stuck on a train. I wasted a day on my rail pass though and spent a couple hundred dollars for the flight and related expenses. I’ve filed a complaint with Vy and contacted Eurail about a refund. I’m very upset, angry, and frustrated with what happened. It was a hoorible day and probably the worst day I’ve ever had travelling.

Posted by
6658 posts

I'm sorry to hear about your problems, but I do have a few comments that might help others planning a trip to Oslo.

Somehow I ended up on the wrong train but didn’t realize it until
there was an announcement for last stop and the train was not in Oslo.
I went in to the station and had a look at the map and screens. I was
definitely not in Oslo and I had to wait an hour for the next train
back to the airport and into Oslo.

I don't know which train you ended up on, but it sounds like you took a northbound train and maybe ended up in Lillehammer or Hamar? No offense, but how did you manage to do that? There are signs on the platform that show the destination and departure time of the next trains. My advice is still to just take the local train, a few minutes slower but a lot cheaper.

After arrival at Oslo S, the main train station, I had to figure out
how to get to my accommodations by transit, either metro or tram. I
could not figure out where to buy a ticket for the metro or tram. I
also could not figure out where to get the tram.

When you walk out of Oslo S to the railway square, Jernbanetorget, the trams are right in front of you. Tickets can be bought in many ways. The Ruter app is as mentioned not a bad option, but there are also several options to buy tickets from a person. Ruter has an information centre on the square, marked by a rather ugly (in my opinion) brutalist tower, but the tower means it's easy to find. They can sell you tickets and help you get to your destination. On buses you can also buy tickets from the driver.

I ended up taking a taxi which was really expensive (I’m not sure if I
was ripped off or if they really are arm-and-a-leg expensve).

Taxis are expensive in Oslo. I don't know how much you paid or where you stayed, but paying 300-400 kr for a taxi ride in Oslo is not uncommon.

As for the tram stops, I spent a couple days in Oslo and I still could
not figure out how the tram system works.

What was it you couldn't figure out? There are six trams lines running different routes in the city. You can find a map here: https://ruter.no/globalassets/rutetabeller/trikk/trikk-linjekart-09082021-korr.pdf

Also, did you at any point try and ask someone if you were unsure? Norwegians are in general friendly and in general speak decent english.

This was an even bigger disaster, although not my fault.

While not your fault in the beginning, you could have made it a lot easier by not deciding to go back to Oslo.

It’s about 3.5 hours to Gothenburg and about half an hour before
arrival the train came to a halt out in the countryside […] After some
time there was an announcement that we were returning to the last
station and they were trying to arrange buses. […] I decided to stay
on return to Oslo because I figured there would be more option from
Oslo, including flying if necessary.

About 30 minutes from Gothenburg sounds like the last station you mentioned was Trollhättan. That means you were about halfway to Copenhagen when you decided to return to Oslo. There are plenty of options to get from Trollhättan to Gothenburg, even when the main rail line is closed.

Posted by
3999 posts

It was another forum member (maybe Frank) who advises - when disaster strikes, throw money at it. In your case maybe someone would have shared a cab. Of course, when we are in those situations and a quick decision is necessary, it never seems we make the best one.
Sorry you had an awful day, but you survived and figured out what to do and how to get to your destination. In the end, it all worked out and you have a story to share - maybe in time even a funny one.

Posted by
15682 posts

Another suggestions is to not use the Eurail site for train information. It doesn't show all trains available. Better to use the local train operator of http://www.bahn.com/en

While it wasn't me, I agree that in time of problems, open the wallet. When problems occur, and I had my share, it's time to turn to Google and seek help.

Before I arrive in a new city, I figure out how to get from where I arrive (airport, train station, etc) to my hotel. I know how to get my ticket, where to get the means of transport and approximately the distance.

Never be afraid to ask for help. Especially from people who work where you are having the problem.
I once had a train cancel two minutes before departure. I found a rail employee on the platform and asked how to get to my destination. He told me.

All this will come with experience.

Posted by
1808 posts

Sorry about your day, we have all experienced similar situations. I wish you would have asked here about the Oslo-Airport train before you left. I would have advised it. It is one of the easiest and quickest to use. Spending $20 to me is not an issue for airport transport. There is places to save money, but I always weigh the importance and risk. Sometimes RS goes a little overboard on saving a buck. My theory when I travel is I expect to spend 10% additional on my budget for unforeseen expenses. Hope the rest of your trip was good.

Posted by
6658 posts

It was another forum member (maybe Frank) who advises - when disaster
strikes, throw money at it. In your case maybe someone would have
shared a cab.

That is in general not a bad idea. A taxi from Trollhättan to central Gothenburg cost 1595 kr (fixed price), which is not unreasonable if you're sharing it.

Another suggestions is to not use the Eurail site for train
information. It doesn't show all trains available. Better to use the
local train operator of http://www.bahn.com/en

Good advice, but the local operator in this case is www.sj.se

Posted by
3 posts

I have just returned from Oslo myself. I understand that you were frustrated, but don't blame the airport or transit system. Perhaps after a few more trips you will see that all of this was really just your inexperience. I found everyone so incredibly helpful in Norway. It is perhaps the easiest place to travel in Europe because virtually everyone you come into contact with speaks fluent English! Don't be afraid to ask questions if something is confusing you. So many people went out of their way to be helpful to me on my trip. I found Scandinavians kind, generous and very willing to help a tourist.

I could write a LONG rant about the absolutely ABYSMAL treatment I received when I arrived at the Newark airport! I was totally embarrassed to think about the first impression the Scandinavians arriving on the same flight had of the USA. Here I had been communicating with Norwegians speaking perfect English and I could NOT understand the staff in Newark. They were totally uncaring, unhelpful and blatantly rude.

Posted by
928 posts

Here I had been communicating with Norwegians speaking perfect English and I could NOT understand the staff in Newark

Same thing happens at DFW, my main airport, and I often wonder what people from other countries make of it. It is as if nobody who works in the DFW airport in a security / TSA capacity is a native English speaker. I struggle to understand them.

I always imagine someone has made their first trip to the US, they have learned English, and "boom" they encounter an almost 3rd world experience at our airports...it annoys me, too, I can only imagine the negative impression left on visitors from afar...

Posted by
228 posts

Evan, I understand how frustrating navigating various international city's transit systems can be. I am working on our Scandinavia trip as I write this which also includes Tallin and Helsinki, then Stockholm, Copenhagen, Oslo and Bergen. The only reservation I haven't made yet is our train from Stockholm to Copenhagen, everything else is day or overnight ferries. And I am researching the transit systems in each city, getting the proper apps for each one, setting up accounts in each one, etc. I have used transit systems in Budapest, Vienna (got lost once there ), Salzburg (just to get there on train), Munich, French Riviera, Avignon (to get there), and Paris. There was always a little learning curve for each one but we were able to figure it out or get help with minor snafu's. I will say that as a 70 year old, the getting around usually makes me the most apprehensive until I am there using it. Since the last time we traveled in 2019, it seems like every city will have an app for transit or transit and attractions. I don't think we had that option for every single place last time unless I was just not as familiar then. But I think this is going to make it so much easier. I am trying to figure out if I can buy passes on the various apps for both me and my husband and just show both on my phone or if he has to do his own. And also, if we show the pass to a scanning machine when we get on a tram, bus, subway, OR if we will be asked to show it to a person. Maybe Badger can answer these types of questions. But seeing your post was confirmation that it is always good to do your homework. I learned some amazing tips that were very important to know from this forum before our trip to France, specifically related to Paris. Thanks.

Posted by
68 posts

don't know which train you ended up on, but it sounds like you took a
northbound train and maybe ended up in Lillehammer or Hamar? No
offense, but how did you manage to do that? There are signs on the
platform that show the destination and departure time of the next
trains

I ended up in Eidsvoll. The departures screen listed the final destination as Eidsvoll and underneath Oslo S and one other station so I thought that meant it was going to Oslo S and the other station on the way to Eidsvoll but maybe those were the stations it came from (?)

Taxis are expensive in Oslo. I don't know how much you paid or where
you stayed, but paying 300-400 kr for a taxi ride in Oslo is not uncommon

Approx. 1300 NOK for a distance of about 6 km (which is why I think I was ripped off)

About 30 minutes from Gothenburg sounds like the last station you
mentioned was Trollhättan. That means you were about halfway to
Copenhagen when you decided to return to Oslo. There are plenty of
options to get from Trollhättan to Gothenburg, even when the main rail
line is closed.

We were at Ed. Part of my frustration is that we were close to Gothenburg so I don't know why Vy couldn't come up with some sort of alternative. I'm not familiar with the area so I wouldn't know about alternative options.

when disaster strikes, throw money at it. In your case maybe someone
would have shared a cab.

After that expensive cab ride in Oslo I didn't want to do that because I thought it could cost more than a flight.

Posted by
855 posts

Evan, I am sorry that you encountered these travel problems arriving and departing Oslo. The good news is that you solved the problems both times. There may have been more elegant solutions, but this will all make for good stories. You got where you wanted to go, and that’s the most important thing.

We had a train cancelled in Poland. The announcement was made in Polish and then everyone started leaving the station. We didn’t have a clue what was going on. Fortunately, a fellow passenger told us what do to — we were able to take a bus to our destination.

Posted by
599 posts

Evan, I feel for you! Sometimes travel logistics just feel too challenging. The first time I travelled to Oslo without my Norwegian dad, and before cell phones and online everything, we paid a fortune for our taxi from the train stop at National Theatre to our hotel…..which in spite of looking at our paper map we couldn’t find and walk the short distance to. Delays and changes happen everywhere, but when they happen in Norway, they cost us a bit more by comparison elsewhere:)

Posted by
466 posts

Here's something I do before I travel to a new city: I Google and or type into YouTube "how to ride public transit in [city name]".

I always find multiple helpful videos/articles showing what ticket machines look like, explaining ticket options, explaining the various options (bus, train, tram), how to buy a ticket, how to board/exit, etc. I don't like to arrive jet lagged and brain dead and have to wander around looking for a ticket machine. There are also often separate videos explaining how to get from a city's airport to the city center. Before I depart I always put the airport where I'm arriving and my destination address into Google Maps so that I know my options - how fast, how easy, how expensive, etc.

I've gotten on trains/subways going in the wrong direction (or, the trains is going in the right direction, but I'm not) many times, so I try to study up on the transit system before I go somewhere to minimize those types of time and money wasting mistakes.

Posted by
3336 posts

This is a good topic for a forum. Evan - I feel for you. If this was your first visit to Norway, that was indeed an unpleasant introduction.

I know that RS and his minions are all about using public transportation from the airport to wherever your lodging may be. I, on the other hand, am always disoriented, exhausted and stressed out upon landing in Europe. and will gladly part with some of my hard-earned money for someone to take me to my first hotel.

In Portland, Chicago, NYC, Seattle, and San Francisco, I prefer using public transportation from the airport to my well-located hotel. But in Europe after an overnight flight, not so much.

Posted by
497 posts

I’m with Prophet here. Unless it’s someplace I’ve traveled to before where I know the drill, I too will taxi on landing from a long (SoCal to Europe is a big long haul) flight because I’m a blithering idiot at that point. I’ll save on other things on the trip.

Posted by
6658 posts

Maybe Badger can answer these types of questions.

Who knows? But those questions are probably better suited for their own thread.

I ended up in Eidsvoll. The departures screen listed the final
destination as Eidsvoll and underneath Oslo S and one other station so
I thought that meant it was going to Oslo S and the other station on
the way to Eidsvoll but maybe those were the stations it came from (?)

Strange. The screens on the platform that showed the current train, or the screens that list all departures? But at least you got to see a bit of Eidsvoll! There are worse places you could have ended up in!

Approx. 1300 NOK for a distance of about 6 km (which is why I think I
was ripped off)

Norway is expensive, but not that expensive. So you were ripped off unfortunately.

We were at Ed. Part of my frustration is that we were close to
Gothenburg so I don't know why Vy couldn't come up with some sort of
alternative. I'm not familiar with the area so I wouldn't know about
alternative options.

Then I can sort of understand it, Ed is more or less in the middle of nowhere. So getting a couple of coaches there on short notice is easier said than done. There are a couple of alternative options. You could have taken a bus from Ed to Mellerud and changed to a train to Gothenburg there (depending on where the stop on the rail line was). Or taken the train back to Norway and Halden, where there are regular buses to Strömstad in Sweden where there are frequent trains to Gothenburg. And the trains from Strömstad use a different rail line to the trains from Oslo so they should have been running as normal. But that requires a bit of local knowledge, and they should have told you about those options on the train. But again, don't be afraid to ask your fellow passengers!

Posted by
10351 posts

Travel as cheaply as you can, but when a problem shows up throw money at it. That was Ed from Pensacola who wrote it first, and I repeat it every time a real problem, not a hiccup, shows up.

In this case, if Evan had had to stay an extra night in Oslo or pay for a taxi to his destination, that's throwing money at it. In other words, you pay what's necessary to extract yourself from the situation, don't count the pennies or feel that it's wasted money because it's not, but then celebrate with cheap food, beer and lodging.

It's what we had to do to get back to the US as the world was shutting down in March 2020. Threw money at two one-way business tickets and never looked back.
I hope Ed's words help others to move forward when faced with a roadblock.

Posted by
68 posts

Eurail is going to give me a refund as compensation although the amount is a pittance