Posted by Ric Garrido

“Norwegians are always in a rush and have too much money” is how a Canadian born man explained to me why nearly all the flyers traveling to Oslo Central Station were buying the Flytoget express train tickets for 170 NOK ($29.75 USD) rather than NSB local train tickets for 90 NOK ($15.75 USD).

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Kiosk for NSB local train ticket 90 NOK on left and Flytoget Express train tickets on right 170 NOK.

The local train left one minute later than the express train and arrived at the Oslo central train station eight minutes later than the express train. Nearly all the train ticket buyers at the airport automated kiosks paid an extra 80 NOK ($14 USD) to get to Oslo ten minutes sooner.

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Oslo was the first of four layovers of under 24 hours on the return flights from Berlin to San Francisco using 30,000 miles in American Airlines award tickets that take me to Oslo, Helsinki, London and Chicago for overnight stays. I left Berlin Monday afternoon and I will get home to Monterey, California on Friday afternoon.

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OSL Gardermoen Airport to Oslo Central Train Station on the local train has one stop and takes 25 minutes. NSB Norwegian State Railway local trains leave about every twenty minutes. The Airport Express train (Flytoget) takes 19 minutes at a cost of $14 more for the ticket. Express trains leave every ten minutes.

Food Rationing for Budget Rationing in Oslo

Oslo has the title for world’s most expensive city in a UBS survey September 2012.

With less than 24 hours and no Norwegian currency in my pockets, I hit the streets of Oslo with a 50 cent chocolate bar from Berlin in my backpack and went to see how the restaurants were pricing food and who was eating where.

Credit and debit cards are accepted all over so charging food to my card was always an option.

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Oslo city view from 30th floor of Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel, Oslo.

The first restaurant I came across was The Mexican Lounge at a place called 3 Brodrs.

Being a Californian I know some great burrito joints for a terrific stomach stuffer for under $6.00.

So what are Norwegians paying for their burritos?

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Vegetable burrito = 168 NOK ($29.37).

Beef fajita = 252 NOK ($44.06).

No Norwegian kroner in my pockets was not the impediment. The price of food was my limiting factor. A night without a meal would not due me any harm.

In fact, my plan was to charge a little food to my credit card when I came across a supermarket. Just a snack to get me through the night was all I needed.

Indian restaurants are one of my favorite places to eat.

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The lunch menu was still displayed at 9pm at night although the sign states lunch menu available from 12-3pm. Fish curry with rice and plain naan bread for 149 NOK ($26.49).

I found myself by the sea and walking carefully on the ice covered sidewalks.

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Nobel Peace Center, Oslo.

January 1993 was the last time I was in Scandinavia for the formation of Education International, the global association of teachers unions, at a conference in Stockholm, Sweden. While the Nobel Peace Prize and dinner are held in Oslo, the other Nobel prizes are awarded in Stockholm. In 1993 I attended a dinner at the Stockholm City Hall identical to the Nobel dinners. That was a long dinner with many courses and more silverware and glasses I have ever seen on a table setting.

The National Theater area of Oslo had several restaurants filled with people dining.

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Chinese food is another favorite of mine. There were plenty of eaters in the Chinese restaurant.

Tiger Scampi for 218 NOK ($38.11) looked like a bargain price compared to the 110 NOK ($19.23) at McDonald’s for a double Big Mac. I have a feeling it is actually just a regular Big Mac with two hamburger patties and not actually a double Big Mac with four patties.

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National Theater, Oslo.

Then I came across some familiar restaurant brands.

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Hard Rock Café, Oslo.

Checked out the beer menu to find 0.5 L beer averaging 75 NOK ($13). Thinking back fondly to free beer a few hours earlier at the British Airways lounge at Tegel Airport Berlin compliments of American Airlines AAdvantage Platinum status.

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Original Budweiser brewed in Czech Republic was my last meal at Tegel Airport BA lounge six hours earlier.

Right by Hard Rock Café was TGI Fridays, a Carlson company restaurant chain.

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T.G.I. Friday’s Drink Menu showed almost all drinks at 112 NOK ($19.58) or 124 NOK ($21.68).

Fancy getting drunk?

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Grand Hotel Oslo

President Obama stayed at the Grand Hotel for his Nobel Peace Prize visit and dinner in 2009.

Norway’s Parliament building is across the street from Grand Hotel.

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Parliament of Norway building, Stortingsbygningen.

After walking around Oslo for a couple of hours I never did come across a supermarket. I decided to head back to the Radisson Blu Plaza hotel.

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I could always order a beer and Chicken Caesar Salad 165 NOK ($28.85) or a hamburger 165 NOK from Galway Pub in the lobby of the hotel. Galway Pub was packed.

In my room I came across the snack bag of nuts from the Air Berlin flight to Oslo.

I settled back in my room with water, nuts and a couple more bites of chocolate.

Breakfast, complimentary as part of Business Class hotel upgrade, was only eight hours away.

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Radisson Blu Plaza Oslo, first round of breakfast.

Ironically I discovered the supermarket at the train station entrance adjacent to the Radisson Blu Plaza Oslo. The supermarket was only 100 meters from my hotel. All I needed to have done was ask for a market at the reception desk of the hotel.

But I enjoyed night walking in Oslo.

I can eat all I want when I get home to California.

11 Responses

  1. Wow! Thats expensive and imagine a family going there for a holiday.

    I heard many norweigans goes to Sweden to buy all their food and alcohol because its much cheapier.

  2. I go on family vacations to Norway once or twice a year. Food/drink/formal paid entertainment is never cheap there but my hotel costs there are very low and my transport costs manageable.

    A lot of Norwegians do go shopping in Sweden to save a good chunk of money, and a lot of Swedes go to Norway for work to make a good chunk of money.

    Comment by GuWonder on March 13th, 2013 at 4:24 am
  3. It’s Norway for a reason. Stop and smell the flowers! Enjoy the scene.

    Comment by eagertraveler on March 13th, 2013 at 8:59 am
  4. On Business Class hotel upgrade at Radisson Blu: I think I read somewhere you are Gold, right? How easy/difficult to get that upgrade and when did you know you were upgraded?

  5. @David – An upgrade for a Gold member would likely not be the norm. I did not know that I was upgraded until I arrived.

    I was at the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group Radisson Hotels conference in Chicago two weeks ago. I talked with executive management about my trip to Europe for ITB Berlin and I was offered assistance with my hotels.

    I paid for the hotel rooms with cash or points redemption at the going rates, but I am sure my contacts with executive staff played a big role in the upgrades for this trip.

    I do not think Gold members would normally be upgraded to Business Class.

    @eagertraveler – I enjoyed aspects of Oslo and I have at least two more posts to write about the experience. By chance I was at the Royal Palace snapping a photo when the changing of the guard happened right in front of me. That was totally unexpected. I have a video that I will post. I want to call it “Boy Soldiers” because the soldiers looked like young high school kids to me.

    I realized that I need to write initial impressions of Oslo, Helsinki and London quickly before the impressions fade.

    I have enough material for 10 to 15 posts about my experiences and impressions of these cities. Much of what I saw and photographed really does not have clear meaning to me yet. I have to research these places and figure out what I was seeing and experiencing.

    The price of food was just one aspect of Oslo.

    I am in Oslo, Helsinki and London for under 24 hours. Obviously I have limited exposure.

    There was a lot of ice in Oslo. More in Helsinki. Oslo was -15 F. degrees last night. I don’t think I saw any flowers.

  6. We’ll be in Bergen for a few days in April. Our Clarion hotel comes with breakfast and ‘lite’ dinner. Seems like that benefit alone might be worth more than the cost of the room (which is on points!)

    I wish you had visited the market to give us an idea of grocery prices.

  7. @hobo13 – I did survey prices at the market in Oslo. I snapped about ten photos of grocery store shelves. I will do a post comparing food prices in the supermarket of Oslo and Helsinki, probably sometime in the next week.

  8. Look forward to it

  9. @David: As a Gold member, I am regularly upgraded both at the Radisson Blu Plaza and the Scandinavia hotels in Oslo. In fact, out of the 7-8 stays I had in the past year, I cannot remember one without an upgrade to a business class room. No further upgrades, though. In my experience, the only thing that varies is whether they tell you at check-in or you find out when you get to the room.

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