Need Input on Scandinavian Trip 2024

Old Oct 23rd, 2023, 01:31 PM
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Do not rent a car in one country and drop it off in another country! Large drop off fees.
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Old Oct 24th, 2023, 09:05 AM
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Okay, thanks. I was thinking that I would rent the car in Copenhagen and use it in Denmark, Norway and Stockholm and then return it where I got it in Copenhagen. Would that work? Tnx.
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Old Oct 25th, 2023, 07:02 AM
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I took my Mom to Norway and Sweden in 2019 when she was 82, she can still whip around pretty well but does get tired. We took the train from Oslo to Stockholm. So much easier than getting to/from the airport in both cities, less expensive, and not much longer. The train was comfortable. We stayed at a Thon not far from the Oslo station and at the Diplomat in Stockholm which was an easy bus ride from Central Station.

The Copenhagen Card is a no-brainer since it includes all transit and attractions. Definitely worth the money. For Stockholm and Oslo you need to do a bit of math to figure out if the cards are worth it for what you want to do. We got the transit pass in Stockholm when I was with my mom--at a Pressbryan with no issues. When I went the year prior with my family of 4 we got the Stockholm Card plus the transit card. We broke even on the attractions card which made it worth it since you do skip a bunch of lines having it.
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Old Oct 25th, 2023, 10:03 AM
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lolfn, your first-hand experience has been very helpful, especially since you traveled with your elderly parent (and yes, we now qualify). Thank you.

As you know from my post, I agree that the Copenhagen card is a no-brainer. Unlike other countries, the Copenhagen card actually covers the cost of transport to and from the airport, so in many ways, anything after that is gravy.

I'd say we are leaning towards rail from Oslo to Stockholm.

The Oslo Card is still up in the air for us. I'm inclined to get the Stockholm Transit Card right now, but I'm still iffy on the Oslo Card. Heck, I'm still iffy on the Bergen Card, which if I do it right, would give us airport transport in a particularly expensive region. Luckily, these decisions can wait for a bit.

Again, thank you.

AZ
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Old Oct 28th, 2023, 01:01 PM
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What happened to the Baltic cruises that used to hit Stockholm / Helsinki / Tallinn / Riga / Gdansk / Copenhagen? I've been looking for one in 2024 and all I can find is luxury cruises for over $6k pp.
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Old Feb 5th, 2024, 04:34 AM
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OP Planning Update Further input welcome.

I've still been steadily chipping away at our June 2024 Scandinavia trip, but when I looked back at my Sept 23 planning post, I've not made many more decisions. Here is the current state of affairs:

Tuesday--Arrive Copenhagen via PHL for three nights around noon.
  • Booked into NH Copenhagen.
  • WILL GET Copenhagen Card because in addition to various admissions and free transport, it covers airport transportation.

Friday--Fly to Bergen to spend three nights. Should arrive around 4 pm.
  • Have both a hotel reservation (don't really like anything there, even the one I have) and an Airbnb on hold.
    Have to release one and I'm still weighing the advantages of getting to do laundry in a super clean Airbnb with the low cost and convenience of our hotel's ready-made breakfast. That breakfast feature alone saves $$$$ but note, hotel does not do laundry on weekends and I don't know if hotel room has space to dry everything we'd wash out in the shower/sink. Given the fact that Bergen is so rainy, "draping" ability might be a deciding factor.
    Another plus for the Airbnb--it is equidistant from the train station and the last tram stop of Byparken, so convenient location alone might make the decision for me.
  • Still considering Bergen Card, even though its value is greatly lowered during summer months, mainly because...
  • We are leaning towards NOT doing DIY or regular Norway-in-a Nutshell (!!!!) and will spend more time in museums.
    Presented all NiN options to my husband, and he said, "I don't want to spend my limited time being shuttled from cattle car to cattle car." I looked at private guides, you name it. None of that appeals to him. His view: "If we like what we see in that area, we'll come back and do it. In the meantime, I want to roam around at will."
    And darn it, even though I've always wanted to see fjords, I'm leaning his way. The more I read about Bergen, the more I'm into delving into all the history of the city.
  • Bergen food and beer there have become appealing to me, too (made two reservations already).
  • If we are not spending a day crushed into the NiN itinerary, then we could do a " fjord light" thing (example: a Mostraumen Fjord Cruise that would take up four hours max). And I'd have time for some further excursions, such as one out to Edvard Grieg's house. The "Peer Gynt Suite" was a constant in my childhood.
Monday--Train or flight from Bergen to Olso for three nights.
Thought for sure we would have taken the train, but my husband feels he's going to be locked in for 7+ hours with people who are NOT his closet friends. Am delaying decision again.
  • Have a hotel reservation near the Oslo train station.
  • Still considering Oslo Pass. Given hotel location, am still not sure if we'll need it.
Thursday--Noon train (probably) or flight (might do it) to Stockholm for four nights. Husband wants to fly but I think I'm going to exercise my "Trip Commander override" on this puppy.
  • Still have a lovely hotel reservation in Sodermalm near public transport but not convenient to airport and have an Airbnb (laundry!) near the train station that is convenient to airport. However, in the thread discussion above, poster Fyris gave me a great commuter train option from our Sodermalm hotel that would nullify any transport advantage.
  • Still probably will get Stockholm Transport Card (yes, I know it does not include Arlanda Express) but traveler318 had good luck just registering their credit card for a senior discount and doing pay-as-you-go, so I feel I will delay that decision. The link for cc registration is https://sl.se/en/in-english/tap-your...journey-ticket.
  • Have not researched Stockholm touring options that much yet. I've scheduled that homework for March.
Tuesday--Must be at Stockholm Arlanda before 8 am to return to US via JFK (oh joy).
  • If staying at the hotel, wondering whether to take the commuter train (see above) to Arlanda, getting a direct taxi to Stockholm Central and then using Arlanda Express or wondering if should take taxi all the way to Arlanda.
  • This will be a March or April decision.
Let me know if anything jumps out at you. Thanks!!!!
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Old Feb 5th, 2024, 05:35 AM
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Originally Posted by AlessandraZoe
  • If we are not spending a day crushed into the NiN itinerary, then we could do a " fjord light" thing (example: a Mostraumen Fjord Cruise that would take up four hours max). And I'd have time for some further excursions, such as one out to Edvard Grieg's house. The "Peer Gynt Suite" was a constant in my childhood.
Monday--Train or flight from Bergen to Olso for three nights.
Thought for sure we would have taken the train, but my husband feels he's going to be locked in for 7+ hours with people who are NOT his closet friends. Am delaying decision again.
If you're not doing a version of the NiN, I would really suggest the train from Bergen to Oslo. Yes it's a bit slower than flying, but will give you great views of fjords and mountains. And after all, the scenery is one of the big reasons people travel to Norway and it would be a pity if you missed the views.

Originally Posted by AlessandraZoe
Thursday--Noon train (probably) or flight (might do it) to Stockholm for four nights. Husband wants to fly but I think I'm going to exercise my "Trip Commander override" on this puppy.
Sorry to be blunt, but tell your husband to stop being so American and accept that there are other ways to travel and not only flying and driving. And that those other options often can be far superior to flying or driving. There is no time advantage in flying from Oslo to Stockholm, and in addition the train is a lot cheaper and much more comfortable. There are normally five trains per weekday, three high speed trains and two intercities. Avoid the inter city trains is my suggestion as they are a bit slower. But the high speed trains are very nice to travel on. So unless you or your husband really loves airport security checks and small plane seats, there is no advantage in flying in my opinion.

Originally Posted by AlessandraZoe
  • Still have a lovely hotel reservation in Sodermalm near public transport but not convenient to airport and have an Airbnb (laundry!) near the train station that is convenient to airport. However, in the thread discussion above, poster Fyris gave me a great commuter train option from our Sodermalm hotel that would nullify any transport advantage.
You don't mention which hotel as far as I can see. But if you are close to Stockholm Södra (South) station or a metro station, it's not that inconvenient. And from the western part of the island (Hornstull) you can also catch a direct bus to the airport.

Originally Posted by AlessandraZoe
  • Still probably will get Stockholm Transport Card (yes, I know it does not include Arlanda Express) but traveler318 had good luck just registering their credit card for a senior discount and doing pay-as-you-go, so I feel I will delay that decision. The link for cc registration is https://sl.se/en/in-english/tap-your...journey-ticket.
Tuesday--Must be at Stockholm Arlanda before 8 am to return to US via JFK (oh joy).
  • If staying at the hotel, wondering whether to take the commuter train (see above) to Arlanda, getting a direct taxi to Stockholm Central and then using Arlanda Express or wondering if should take taxi all the way to Arlanda.
  • This will be a March or April decision.
Those are things you don't need to decide now, the price will be same.
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Old Feb 5th, 2024, 09:13 AM
  #28  
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Whoa, Fryis. I incorporated some of your prior input into my planning already--and gave you credit to boot! Please look through this thread to see our former back and forth because you have made a judgment call that is far from accurate.

Originally Posted by Fryis
If you're not doing a version of the NiN, I would really suggest the train from Bergen to Oslo. Yes it's a bit slower than flying, but will give you great views of fjords and mountains. And after all, the scenery is one of the big reasons people travel to Norway and it would be a pity if you missed the views.
  • Yep, agreed. And doing the train Bergen to Oslo was always part of my original planning for that very reason. Just look at the very first post that opened this thread.
  • But what you don't know the background of what I did to my poor husband this past summer in Ireland. I stuck him on The Ferry Trip from Hell, and I have been planning apologetically, so I have to give him some decision space. As soon as I told him 7+ hours for this train recently, he just sighed. He has some new health issues that long rides don't make better, and I don't want him to become discouraged.
  • I'll give him my power-point presentation with every pro and con, and he'll probably end up agreeing to the train. Probably. But I will leave that decision up to him because he is the one in pain.

Originally Posted by Fryis
Sorry to be blunt,but tell your husband to stop being so American and accept that there are other ways to travel and not only flying and driving.

Fryis, you just made some assumptions that are not true, and it's rather insulting. I take that back, it's not RATHER insulting. It's VERY insulting. READ ON...
  • Not only do WE NEVER DRIVE IN EUROPE, but I've written really long trip reports here on Fodors Forums that include in the title "Without a Car". For decades we've toured Europe only by using public transportation and our bicycles, defying the "expert" opinions. For eons, we've relied on buses, trains, and metros whenever possible in the US. We are city people at heart who continue to drive their 2005 car with only 120,000 miles on it. And those miles only came from having to transport our two children and their stuff to and from universities and new jobs in far flung parts of the USA, plus having to move our worldly goods five states away.
  • Believe me, by this time I know the Oslo-Stockholm train schedule (and the exact trains and seating plans) by heart. I want the 11:46 am SJ High-speed train, SJ 3000, Train 638. HOWEVER, there's a chance that train won't run. The SJ schedule is always subject to planned track work, and thus I can only see the confirmed times through June 3rd. I check the SJ website daily to look for updates.
  • I just told my husband last night over dinner that if that train is confirmed, it would make no sense to use fly because of costs getting to Oslo Airport and from Arlanda. And I reminded him that flying would mean shifting luggage to get to the airport, shifting our goods out there, and getting transport from Arlanda. It's not just the wasted money; it's the wasted energy. The old rule: every time there is a shift in transportation, we, who are now elderly, have to shift luggage too.
Originally posted by Fryis
You don't mention which hotel as far as I can see. But if you are close to Stockholm Södra (South) station or a metro station, it's not that inconvenient. And from the western part of the island (Hornstull) you can also catch a direct bus to the airport.

Fryis, you and I already had this discussion. As soon as you gave me the commuter train route much earlier in this thread, I checked it out and I incorporated it into my planning. And I just gave you credit for the tip!


I value advice, but I don't value assumptions about me or about all Americans. Or Brits. Or French. Or anyone.

AZ
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Old Feb 5th, 2024, 09:19 PM
  #29  
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Just a few comments. Philadelphia is one of my least favorite airports. Hope your connection is reasonably short. Do an Airbnb in Stockholm if only for laundry. There are very few laundromats in the city and you might have to use a dry cleaner which is very expensive. Also beware of taxis in Stockholm as they do not seem to be very regulated and you can be taken for a short trip for an enormous sum. Use Uber. In Bergen can recommend the Radisson Bleu. Good location and nice breakfast for $13. Rooms quite decent for a very reasonable price. Do take the train from Bergen to Oslo as it's much less hassle, cheaper and you can see some of the countryside. It's not as good as driving but there is some good scenery. Your itinerary is all about cities which is fine if that is what you prefer but there really is some beautiful and dramatic countryside in Scandinavia.
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Old Feb 6th, 2024, 09:47 AM
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MJS, thanks for chiming in.

Re Philadelphia...I burst out laughing when I read your comment. Join the crowd! I never forgave USAirways, now American, for moving their hub from easy-peasy and pleasant PIT to PHL where the passenger transport cars were allowed to run over pedestrians. Not really a hyperbole.

I've heard it's greatly improved, but when we did have to use PHL, everyone was treated on international re-entry as though they were immigrating through Ellis Island. Lots of senseless employees yelling abusive language at people with no clear directions. I resolved in around year 2014 or 2015 we'd never do re-entry again through there.
Please note: I do like Philly and have great Philly friends. Great food scene.

So with those re-entry and just-trying-to-walk-to-my-gate memories, why PHL? Well, unlike our last few international trips, our closest airport doesn't have a direct flight to/from Copenhagen and Stockholm and we have to do the dreaded connecting flights through someplace. The PHL timing, although not ideal, is the best for us with our AA points. My points from American Airlines and Delta for our return gave us Business Class for a price LESS than a cheapie Economy Class fare.

You gotta agree: Lie-flat seats easily outweigh PHL PTSD. At least we won't go through it on the way back.

Re your Stockholm hotel advice and other

Laundry
Actually, there's a good chance we'll be OK on that last leg for laundry. I checked out our hotel room bathroom (like many people, I first search bathroom pics for any potential room), and I spotted where I could attach our stretchy clotheslines and hang up our fold-up hangers everywhere. I really like this hotel (yeah, I'm keeping that a secret) and I've "walked" around it with Google Streetview a few times. The neighborhood is so nice. Cute streets and lots of interesting restaurants.
The Airbnb, on the other hand, while lovely and very upscale and while safe and convenient to Stockholm Central, is in a neighborhood that isn't nearly as appealing. Yep, "walked around" that one, too.
I keep a running pro/con list for each. Might end up flipping a coin. And that leads us to...

Taxi to airport Again, thanks for the heads up. I'd say neither taxi or nor UBER would be our first choice even if we stay at the hotel. But our problem is the awfully early flight back. I have a funny feeling that if my packing time runneth over that morning, no matter how much I pre-packed the night before, we might have to use taxi/UBER. I'll certainly follow up on your advice!

re Bergen
I liked the Radisson Bleu too! But the availability of a room with two beds has had to rule a lot of my lodging decisions because my husband has restless-leg syndrome. Yep, I should have shared somewhere along the line, but it explains a lot of my overly tedious planning. It's now crucial at my age--I know I need at least 3 hours of continued sleep to be somewhat sensible the following day. Radisson Bleu did not have that 2-bed availability for our dates.

The hotel I chose for Bergen can guarantee me two beds, but some TripAdvisor reviews say they didn't get what they asked for. I'm a good negotiator when things go wrong (desk clerks tend to like me) but do I even want to have to do that?
Again, on my daily updated pro/con list for Bergen accommodation, I'm liking the 2-bedroom (and 2-bath!) Airbnb more and more. Bergen is wet, wet, wet, so even our outerwear needs room to dry. Our reserved hotel room and bathroom isn't quite big enough to hang all our goods to dry, and most hotels in Bergen don't do laundry on the days we are there. Laundromats are not easily available (I checked). I mapped out everything I thought I'd love to see, and the Airbnb is either close to those points or super close to quick transportation to get to those points. Only positive for our hotel right now is an amazing free breakfast and I think some afternoon offering.

Hmm. I think my decision is closer to being made. Power-point presentation tonight to my husband. Thanks for helping me clarify my thinking, MJS.

re City vs Country
MJS, you know you made me reflect on this topic, and I thank you. Conclusion: I think we've tilted toward cities as a part of aging.

City vs Country will be our dinner conversation tonight.

Don't get me wrong. I love nature. I'm a lifelong birdwatcher and have IDed wildflowers since I could read. I did fishing, and white-water rafting, and rock climbing throughout high school and college. My husband and I (and our kids) became hikers and bikers. We've explored tough trails in the Grand Canyon and Yosemite and the Grand Tetons, and hiked the Swiss Alps. We've cycled 7 or 8 countries in Europe with endless beautiful views. We've gotten the thrill of cycling up and down fantastic passes in New Zealand, in the Canaries, in Mallorca, and Turkey. One fantastic memory is after a long day of snorkeling and cycling, we spread out flat on the beach in Lahaina, Maui in pitch-black darkness to watch Hailey's Comet. We tried surfing lessons in our beloved Costa Rica in our 50s and 60s (not a good look, but it was fun). You get the drift.

In other words, all our shared life has been a glorious physical dive into what Mother Earth can offer. We feel blessed.

But then that physical capability just isn't glorious. Backs and knees and hips and especially fingers and toes put a halt to all. One has to adjust and accept--and still feel blessed.

In many ways, looking at great views without being able to hike or cycle them can be a very painful reminder how much one has had to adjust and accept. I keep looking at the trails near Bergen with a breaking heart--those trails would have been ours, even in pouring rain, even a decade ago. My husband, who was the better athlete of the two of us, must be feeling an emotional loss even more because he is close to a decade older than I. He has less arthritis and can walk further, but even so, the loss of his tremendous physical skill must be taxing. He's the reason I just could not yet book a cruise. I sense that the very word "cruise" to him means "I surrender to death."

We're still quite intellectually alive, thank goodness, and we're still interested in learning from others. Walking around for hours in cities and towns, learning history, playing with metro schedules, interacting with others, asking questions, seeing cute little kids with wonderful parents, joking with young people keeps us vibrant (or so our kids and their friends tell us).

Logically, it makes sense that cities have started to fulfill the only abilities that we've retained. My husband's career (he still works at close to 80) is in finance, and he consistently checks the economic pulse of populations not just in numbers, but also in conversations. He is persistently curious in the facts of how people live, work, and thrive. He has always been fascinated by the statistics on Scandinavian countries, and this trip probably will fulfill that lifelong interest.

Thank you, MJS, for helping me clarify not only my planning but also the reasoning behind some of our new preference. It has been a gift.

With appreciation,
AZ
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