Thank you to all of you who took the time to answer my many questions. We finally made it.
NOTE: There is a section explaining our bad luck with a flat tire, towing, taxing to get a replacement car from Oslo airport (70 KM away) and all related drama. You can skip that section :)
Accommodation 1: Airbnb in Drammen 2 nights - 1200 NOK
Accommodation 2: Airbnb in Bergen 2 nights - 1400 NOK
We arrived in our Airbnb at 11:00 AM. This was in a town called Drammen which is 40 KM off Oslo. A very beautiful waterfront view. The whole town feels like a modern village. Amazing waterfront. Magnificent view of all the houses on the other side of the river at night.
The Airbnb was a modern 2-bedroom suite. It had a full kitchen, bath, and a washer. A small office room with 2 single beds for the kids and a master bedroom with a queen bed. It also had a TV with some cartoon channels. We had a good first night sleep and was full of energy when we woke up for our first and only full day in Oslo. We woke up and had breakfast as usual.
Regarding the breakfast, we had all the options like Peanut butter, Gam, Cheese, Bread, and most importantly egg. Egg was a great source of energy to get us going for couple hours. My wife was sick. She caught a very bad cold in Stockholm and had terrible coughs. She also had fever so she wanted to get some sleep. I also took her some Acetaminophens to make her feel better. She took 2 pills and slept the whole day. I took the kids and we left for our adventure.
It was a Saturday which we realized it is a Marathon day in Oslo and they are going to close many of the streets by 1 PM. I didn’t want to get stuck so we left around 10 AM and started our stroll by 11:00 AM after parking the car in a street parking. Oslo was almost empty of cars and it was very easy to find parking. I paid for 2 hours and we were off to go. First stopped by The Royal Palace and took some photos. People are not allowed to go inside but we enjoyed the view from outside and took some photos specially with all the racing teams gathering at different spots. We then walked around and went in Oslo University. It was a 5-min visit. We walked around and then headed back to the car. I then drove the kids to Peer Gynt Sculpture Park. This is a nice playground area full of families and couples. Playing and hanging around. There are also some nice sculptures which we took photo with. Do not confuse this with Vigeland Museum Sculpture Park. We then headed to Ekebergparken. This is a very nice park with sculptures laying around the park. You can park as high as the view by the restaurant. This might be the best view of Oslo and the Fjords of the region. We enjoyed the view, took many photos, and hiked for 1.5 km before the kids gave up. We then walked back to the car and left to drive back to Drammen. We also decided to drive back again here at night with my wife.
We got home around 4 PM. My wife was feeling better. We had lunch and headed out around 7 PM. We first went to Vigeland Museum Sculpture Park. This is a big park with huge and amazing Sculptures laying around. Every single sculpture has a meaning. It is very unique. Also by that time, it wasn’t crowded so we could park the car easily and take as many pictures as we wanted. We spent around 1 hour in the park. We then headed out to Bygdoy Peninsula which we were told is an area with huge and unique houses of rich Norwegians. We drove around for 20 minutes but didn’t really see any sign of richness or complex houses. We then drove around Oslo and went to see the Tiger Sculpture. It was nice to see it while driving but parking wasn’t easy on the area so we decided to keep driving to Ekebergparken. The view at night was super amazing. We drove up to the view point and took many photos from the top. It was windy and cold so we didn’t stop for more than 10 minutes before running into the car and heading out the park. Another place I had on the list was Akershus Castle and Fortress but I couldn’t really be impressed with it when we drove by so I didn’t stop plus it was dark and late so we drove back to Drammen.
Here the bad luck happened. 30 KM away from Drammen (10 KM off Oslo), we heard an explosion sound coming out of the car. It was the front passenger tire which decided to blow off. We took a close by exit to a gas station. I went to change the tire but OMG there is no spare tire. I called the 06000 number which I was told is the emergency road assistance number. They said it will cost 420 Euros to send someone and they don’t have a spare tire so I wasn’t sure what they wanted to do. The gentleman suggested I call the car rental road assistance number which I did. The lady on the other end was nice and said she is going to send the report to their contractors. 20 minutes and I didn’t hear back. This was 11:40 PM. I called her back and she said it takes time for the road assistance to give them an ETA if at all. I asked what I can expect. She wasn’t sure but advised maybe 1 to 1:30 hour. When 1:30 hours were over and we were around 1 AM with kids sleeping in the car, I called back. They said I should hear back in couple minutes. By this time, we had so many party buses coming with drunk teenagers doing weird stuff around us in a corner. The wild Norwegian nights I assume. I finally got the very much needed call of the roadside assistance at 1:20 AM. He said he will be there in 10 – 15 minutes. In 15 minutes a tow car showed up. The technician looked at the tire which had a side tear and said he can’t fix it. He also doesn’t have a spare tire so the only option was to tow the car. I already asked the car rental company about my options. They said if the tire can’t be fixed, they tow the car and taxi us on their expenses to the airport. They also advised that I should call Copenhagen office in the morning (Sunday) to arrange a replacement. We finally made it home and off to bed around 2 AM. What a stressful crazy night. Glad we made it home safe and sound.
The next morning, I called Copenhagen office around 9:00 AM and explained everything. The lady said she has to call Oslo office to arrange the replacement. They have a department dedicated for this scenario but surprisingly there was no on-call or manager on Sundays so she had to arrange it herself. 30 minutes passed by but nothing. We have a very long scenic drive to Bergen and need to get out of Oslo as soon as possible. I called again around 10:00 AM. The lady explained she can’t get a hold of anyone in Oslo airport office even though they are open. I was getting angry for this poor handling. An office can’t contact another office! Is this really happening in Scandinavia?! Why an agent doesn’t pick up the phone? I tried calling Oslo office myself with no luck. Around 10:45 I finally had someone picking up the phone. I explained the case and asked if he can call Copenhagen office which he said sure. He said he is alone in the office and it is busy hence not picking up the phone! Really?! Anyway, I called Copenhagen office at 11:00 and she said she finally spoke to Oslo airport Europcar office and I can take a taxi and keep the receipt for reimbursement to get a replacement car. We got ready in 15 minutes and called a taxi. This was a 70 KM ride to the airport and cost 2100 NOK. The most expensive taxi ride I have ever paid in my life. This was the same I paid for the 18 hours overnight sleep ferry from Norway to Denmark.
Anyway, we got to the airport around 12:30 PM. Renting the car was easy as the agents knew the story. They didn’t ask me for credit card but only for driver license and passport. Handed me the key to a Hybrid Toyota. A car with so many sensors including one for getting close to the road lines (danger, unless the signal is on), GPS, rear camera, and so on. The fuel consumption was great too. Took the car, loaded the luggage, put the car seats, and headed to our Norwegian adventure after a miserable night. Everyone was super tired by now specially my sick wife and little daughter who caught the fever and cold so quickly and spent the rest of the journey sick and tired.
This was our route from Oslo to Bergen. https://goo.gl/maps/BBUMFadLq9q
I also had plans to do this route from Voss instead of the straight on the previous map https://goo.gl/maps/BkukU2fZciG2 but of course this is cancelled due to all the problems and late departure from Oslo I mentioned. Our first stop was the famous Borgund Stave Church. This is a very nice and old church. Unfortunately, it was closed by the time we got there (5 PM) so we just walked around outside and took some photos. A 5 minutes stop. Next was to go through the famous Lardalstunnelen (Lardal Tunnel). A 25 KM tunnel. The longest tunnel in Scandinavia (Or the world?). After the first couple kilometers there is a place to stop and take photos with all the colours. The signs say don’t stop but I ignored those. We took some photos and back to the car. Next was Aurlandsvangen and Stegastein viewing point. This was the highlight of the region. I took the Zigzag road. It was super scenery but challenging to drive. Drive very slow. Stop as much as you want in safe places, take photos, admire the views in a clear day. We got to the top. Took more photos from the view point before heading back. Instead of returning the same way, I headed straight but the road was closed so we drove back the same Zigzag road. So far, the views were amazing. The nature is out of this world. You see green at one point but mountains with full snow cover at another point. It was something unique. The Fjords are true miracles as well. Norway is all about nature and outdoor and we tried to see and enjoy as much as we can despite being sick and tired. Next stop was Flam. We took a quick drive around the town. It is a very small town with not much to see / do. Took some photos and headed to Voss. I made arrangements to pick up our Airbnb keys from the owner who lives in Voss. We drove to his location and picked up the key. On our way, we saw a nice waterfall called Tvindefossen waterfall. It was a nice 2 minutes photo opportunity. Not the best we have seen so we made it quickly. Nobody was there except a parked van blocking the view to a nice photo. We took what we could as a photo and moved on. Picked up the keys and to our Bergen home. We made it there around 11:00 PM. Again exhausted. The apartment was a bit cold but had heaters on every room (3-bedroom apartment in the 4th floor if a 4-story building without an elevator). We headed directly to bed and slept till next morning.
Note: If you had an extra day or wanted to explore more, I highly recommend the drive to Hardanger Fjord and its bridge. And don’t miss Vّringsfossen which is Norway’s largest waterfall.
I had so many plans for Bergen including hiking but cancelled many as I started feeling sick and tired. We have driven more than 2000 KM by now including mountain driving which will make anyone tired.
We headed out around 4 PM. Yes, chilled and took it easy all day till 4 PM. Bergen is small after all and you can cover it all in 2 hours unless you want to hike. We went to Lille Lungegaardsvannet which is a nice city park with lake and view. We had plans to visit Fantoft Stavkirke. I drove to the area but as I couldn’t see the church in front of me and it looked there might be some hiking involved, I ran away. Next, we drove to Bryggen Hanseatic Wharf which is an old wharf and wooden houses. A cool area to look around and take photos. We initially planned to take Mount Ulriken Cable Car but we saw so many nice views and everyone was so tired that we didn’t feel like getting out of the car to do a cable car. I think we reached our saturation point of views and beauty. We then kept driving around with stops at random spots for photos until around 9 PM. Headed home and chilled there.
If I had time and energy, I really wanted to hike Flّyen. Looking at the photos makes me feel bad I didn’t have time / energy to do it but if you can, go for it.
The next morning, we had breakfast. We prepared our Pizza for our lunch and dinner in the ferry and took it with us. Our ferry departure was at 1:30 PM. We left our place at 12:00 PM to be there before 12:30 PM. The ferry was 9 floors. The units are only in floors 7, 8, and 9. Floor 7 also has restaurants, game area, and a small kid’s playground. Floors 5 and 6 are for cars and I didn’t see info regarding other floors which I assume is for the engine and other running the ship equipment / staff. There was a TV in the room but with no cartoon channels which was disappointing. The window facing the sea was big and nice to have. There was also shower. The room is designed perfectly. It is compact but yet sleeps 4 people comfortably and provide them with the same amenities anyone except from a hotel (plus some changeable amazing views).
We slept very well. The ship was smooth and no rough see. Most of the sailing was close to the shore and we didn’t feel anything. We were afraid of sea sickness but everything went smoothly.
Please let me know if you had any questions.