Travel In Norway
I found my travels around Norway to be relatively easy as they have a good network of roads which I used when I had access to a car and on the odd occasion I would take the bus. Norwegians drive on the right side of the road like most of Europe. The only real times I used the bus was the Flybussen from Gardemoen airport each time I visited the country and also travelling to my Norwegian job at Tusenfryd.
When I decided to move to Norway I bought a Transit van in the UK, then drove to Newcastle, got a ferry over to Kristiansand, (I don’t think this goes there any more) then drove along the South of Norway to Oslo and finally down to Langhus where my ex-girlfriends parents lived. I had never driven on the right side of the road before and at my first roundabout I almost went the wrong way around and the constant screaming of my ex-girlfriend made for an interesting drive! (I’m not a bad driver, honest)
Also, I had never driven a left hand drive car before and when I got the opportunity to do this I ended up banging my left gear changing hand into the driver door over and over again. Otherwise, you cant really go wrong driving on the left as the roads are designed to keep you on that side and you get used to it.
Some of the motorways in Norway, especially going into Oslo in the morning, can get a bit crowded but they are expanding the motorways to include extra lanes, especially as the population of the country increases. This is a huge and never ending project, due to the size of the country.
I never really had a problem with travelling in Norway, only skidded off the road a couple of times in my work car (the boss didn’t notice) and with the bus and trains, can’t say that I couldn’t get to where I wanted to go even in the depth of Winter. The cost of travel is not that expensive, for trains, petrol, buses etc, especially if you live there and earn the Norwegian wage, but even as a tourist the costs are comparible to that of the UK.
Trains In Norway
The Norwegian train system is good, however I found that information was hard to come by at smaller stations and I had to rely on train times from a booklet. In the UK there are tv screens or information boards which keep you updated as to when the next train is due and what its destination is, but this is only really available in the larger city stations in Norway. There were the odd smaller stations which had information boards, but these rarely worked especially in Winter.
Train carriages are usually split into cash, or prepaid coupon cards (not sure if they do those any more). I used to buy a “kuponkort” which you stamp yourself in a machine before you set off, stamping the correct amount of slots for the destination. This was easier than carrying around cash or having to chat to the ticket inspector in the pay carriages.
The good thing about the trains in Norway is that they usually have kiosks at the stations which sell pølser. I used the trains and underground or “T-Bane Metro” in Oslo the most during my time in Norway as it was the only real way to get from where I lived to the city, unless you owned a car.
On a recent trip to Norway, I travelled in some of their more modern train carriages, which are a lot more comfortable, although, could do with the scrolling information screens that you get in English trains. Still, was a better experience.
The weather in Norway of course affects everything, especially the winter. As I have said before, when Winter hits the Norwegians are generally not prepared for the first snowfall and end up skidding off roads on the ice and there are lots of accidents.
There is now a custom of Norwegians to carry their snow tyres which have metal studs, in the boot of the car. They then change the tyres in middle of roads and on motorways when the snow hits, rather than the more sensible way of just doing it a week or so before the forecast.
Roads surfaces are constantly moving and cracking due to climate and are always under repair, however once to fill a crack in Kolbotn, they just dumped a load of tarmac in the hole and just got the cars to drive over to flatten the hump (very unprofessional I thought).
Trains could be delayed or only part services can be running in Winter due to the weather and this coupled with the information boards not working, I had to guess sometimes as what train I got on and hope it took me to Oslo. The best form of transport is definitely the car as then you can experience the nature as you drive along. On my trip to Trondheim I travelled via an internal flight, but I wish I had driven up there and seen the sights instead.
I have been asked about how you can import a car from another country and use it in Norway, but I’m afraid I didn’t do this myself, so don’t know. My van ended up being bought by some Irish guys, then a week or two later we saw a small news article in a newspaper that an English white van had been filled with tarmac and dumped in the woods, so that’s where my old van ended up!
See The Country
I would recommend travelling around Norway, even if it is just trips to certain locations now and then, as you have to see the nature for yourself. Many tourist and postcard pictures of Norway can not do the country justice and will not give you the same feeling of standing at the foot of a mountain range, fjord, river, forest etc, so whilst over there, jump on a train and go somewhere for the day.
I plan on doing the same when I can next go back to Norway, to drive for a “hytte tur”, or cabin trip with friends and breath that fresh air… and lots lots more.