Tag Archives | road trip

The Perfect Norway Road Trip

So often we hear that the best way to see Norway is by taking a cruise. We could not disagree more! The best way to see Norway is by taking a road trip! Norway’s stunning natural beauty, friendly people, and captivating history make it a great place for traveling couples. The fjords of Norway are unlike any place we have ever visited and we can’t wait to share with you a few of our tips and tricks for making your road trip successful.

Oslo Airports

Most international flights bring you to Norway via one of three “Oslo” airports. None of the airports are near the city.   The (OSL) Oslo Airport Gardermoen it Is located 47 km north-east of Oslo. The Rygge Airport (RYG) is located at 66 kilometers south-east of Oslo and finally the Torp Airport TRF is located 110 km south-west of Oslo. Do not fret about which airport you arrive at as there is easy access to rental cars at each. There are actually many pros to staying your first night outside of Oslo proper. We elected to stay in the small hamlet of Fredrikstad and had a great experience.

Picking the Right Rental

We’ve written a recent post will help you select the right rental car. Please keep in mind that there are a lot of mountains, climbs, and weather in Norway. Don’t go cheap on the rental car. We used and highly recommend our friends at Auto Europe for rentals in Norway and the rest of Europe.

Oslo

The bustling capital of Norway is truly beautiful. Perched on the edge of the sea. Cruise ships park right in the center of downtown. Norwegians have long been a seafaring people. Sailboats, motorboats and rafts line the harbors and almost outnumber the cars. Your road trip we’ll start with a couple days in Oslo. Holding off on renting your car until the time you’re ready to leave Oslo is also an option. The public transportation is actually very good. As we will address later Norway is very expensive. Oslo is extremely expensive. We stayed at the Radisson Blu on points. It is a beautiful hotel. If you have hotel points Oslo is the place to use them as hotel chains are rare as you head north.

Key things to see in Oslo:

Nobel Peace Prize Museum: we put this one first because it was by far our favorite. Few museums leave you wanting more museum. The Nobel Peace Prize Museum is one of those select few. It is a two-story museum located along the harbor. There is a nominal fee for entry, and then you proceed upstairs to view different exhibits about the winners of the award. It is extremely moving.

The Scream!

The Scream!

 

National Museum of Art: the second must-see in Oslo is the National Museum of Art. It houses the best-known artists from Norway. King of the Norwegian artists is of course much. You must find the scream. The crowds tend to block the view, but be patient and the opportunity to snap a good picture we’ll certainly come. Munch is an interesting character. You really should do some reading on him prior to your visit. An entire museum dedicated to him is in construction as we speak.

Oslo Opera House

Oslo Opera House

The Oslo Opera House One of the most stunning pieces of architecture in the world is the Oslo Opera House. Its shape and placement reflect the shape of an iceberg. The inside is even more stunning than the outside. We highly recommend taking the full tour of the Opera House. They take you backstage, which is it technological paradise. You also visit the ballerina dressing rooms, musicians preparation areas, and a number of other workshops for production of the sets. Really cool! The tours are led by pensioners who have retired from their work with the opera house. They know the place inside and out. Our guide had great stories about some of the performances and performers. One of the best souvenirs we purchased was a used shoe. In the gift shop of the opera house you can purchase used ballet shoes used in actual performances.

Inside of the Oslo Opera House. Each pattern on every chair is unique.

Inside of the Oslo Opera House. Each pattern on every chair is unique.

 

The Crying Baby

The Crying Baby

Vigeland-Land– The famed Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland has a complete museum and even an entire park dedicated to displaying his work. One of his famous pieces is the crying baby. People come from the four corners of the earth to see this baby throwing a tantrum. The park is stunning. It is a great place to take a picnic or there are small cafés located throughout the park are great places to grab some ice cream or a cake. When word of warning about visiting the museum. It is definitely rated PG 13. There are a number of works that depict human sexuality in less than a discrete manner.  The park is fine but the museum may not be appropriate for families.

Want more pictures of Norway?  Just give us a follow on instagram.

Oslo Food Scene

The best food on our trip was found in Oslo. You can get just about any type of cuisine in the city. Our favorite spot is an Indian place called Mister India (http://www.mister-india.no/). Located on one of the side streets in downtown, the food is incredible. There are red & green Curry that is to die for. You maybe wondering why we elected to go to an Indian ethnic place. We figured we’d get plenty of Norwegian traditional food on the road trip up north. This definitely proved to be the case. It’s okay to check out couple ethnic restaurants in Oslo and still call yourself an authentic explorer.

There are number of really good Fish houses along the harbor.

Lillehammer Olympics

Lillehammer

Once you have conquered all of Oslo it’s time to head north. Our first stop is at city whose name is very familiar to sports fans. Willie Hammer was the home of the Olympics in 1994. There are a number of museum displays that celebrate the Winter Olympics. There is a huge hockey stadium that has a bobsled you can check out. Lillehammer also has a World War II museum that is very interesting.

End of Part One of the Norway Road Trip! Stay tuned for the second half!

We worked worked with our friends at @autoeurope to present this post.

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How to Be an Expert in Road Trip Prep

The Fighting Couple is going on a road trip. A really, really, long one: 1,457 km or 900 miles to be exact.   We are headed to the Nordic country of Norway. (Here is a link to our route: (Our Norway Trip Map)

You can imagine there are going to be some serious fights on this trip. Luci and I in close quarters for an extended period of time is a recipe for disaster.

The right travel partner makes all the difference! As our friends Karolina and Patryk say:

“The golden rule of a perfect road trip is to find a good person to travel with! With a good companion you can solve all the problems and make unforgettable memories!”

Public Transit vs. A Car

Once you have found the perfect travel partner.  The next step is the car. We are huge fans of public transit. We wouldn’t see big cities any other way. Cities like Paris, London, Boston, Bangkok, and Singapore offer great ways to get around. But….when you want to get out and see the country, there is no better way, than by car. Taking on a large country like Norway? Having a car is a must.

The Perfect Road Trip!

The Perfect Road Trip!

Pick the Right One

The first thing you need to do is pick the right rental car. Thinking of driving your own car? Sometimes it is more economical to put the miles on someone else’s vehicle. We book our trips six to eight months in advance. Last year, when we began the planning process, we knew that we needed the right car. Here’s our best advice: Spend the extra money and get a bigger car. There’s nothing worse than being cramped in a tiny car getting blown all over the road. Nothing strikes more fear into the heart of a petrol head than the word “compact”. Spend the money.

If you are renting a car in winter, check out our post on winter driving and rental cars.

couple driving

Breaking Up

One of the key things we have on this trip is setting aside two real “drive” days. The rest of the time we drive an hour or two in the morning and the same in the evening. We try to do most of the driving before and after everything opens or closes.   With the help of Google maps, you can get a preview of what the roads look like.

Find a Way

As we have shared in the past, GPS single handedly saved our relationship. Putting miles on your car because you are lost is not an option. Even with great tools, trust us, Wi-Fi and cellular can at times be sketchy. Nothing beats an old-fashioned Garmin GPS with current maps. Rent one from the rental company or candidly, buy one really cheap on eBay. Be familiar with your route and have a rough idea of the direction and cities that you are headed to. Also pay attention as you drive; this will help give you markers in case you do get lost! Think of it as memory breadcrumbs.

Eat

When we take long road trips, we like to hit a large grocery store and load up on snacks and beverages. You never know when a short drive turns into a massive mess.  Nothing is worse than when Luci gets “hangry” and all of the sudden the fighting begins. We don’t want that for you. Candidly, we don’t want the competition. There can only be one Fighting Couple.

couple in car kissing

Questions

Not all the side effects of driving are bad. We have found that it is actually a great time to discuss issues in our relationship. You definitely have a captive audience. A word of warning: Avoid the really heavy stuff. If one of you gets mad, there is nowhere to go. Another conversation starter is the “Book of Questions.” There are a number of different ones out there. We enjoy asking each other these random questions and hearing the sometimes-bizarre answers.

Stop

Buy yourself a good guide to the area that you are exploring. Make some stops along the way. Get out and walk around. Stretch the legs and clear the mind. Getting the blood flowing during a long road trip is critical. We have found many interesting spots that were not on our agenda, when Mike has the courage to deviate from the excel spreadsheet.

We hope that you find a few of these ideas helpful. We can’t wait to share with you our epic road trip. We do need to let you know that our friends at Auto Europe are helping us plan our trip. We have been using them for years. They offer a wide variety of autos at fair prices. Best of all, our experience with their customer service is stellar.

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The Perfect Maine Roadtrip

This is a guest post from our friends Chris and Laura of Trailsunblazed.com.

 

Laura and Chris’ Maine Roadtrip

The fact that we now have a blog dedicated to our trips and adventures is evidence that traveling has become a big part of our lives together. Every couple has their thing. Jay-Z and Beyonce have music, Hill and Bill have politics, Tom Brady and Gisele have human perfection. For us it’s traveling and getting outside and taking advantage of the great outdoors. So let’s take it back to where it all began: Maine. Before we even knew each other, we had spent our entire lives traveling with our families to South America, Africa, Europe, and every corner of the US. Since we’re from Massachusetts, a road trip to our northern neighbor may seem like the least exotic destination imaginable, but this is one of the most memorable trips for us since it was the first time we hit the road together.

Maine one

First Stop: Acadia National Park

After we sat in endless summer traffic on I-95 and made the requisite Chipotle stop along the way, we finally arrived at our first destination. Acadia is probably #1 on everyone’s list of places to visit in Maine, and for good reason. Although, we only spent two days in Acadia, we took advantage of most of what we hoped to see and do while we were on Mt. Desert Island.

  • Camp at Seawall Campground
  • Climb Mt. Champlain via the Precipice Trail (below)
  • Watch the sunset from Cadillac Mountain (below)
  • See a bunch of seals at seal cove
  • Eat dinner in Bar Harbor and Southwest Harbor

We easily could have spent a full week in Acadia, and lucky for us we live close enough that we probably will in the near future.

maine two

Second Stop: Bold Coast

After leaving the most popular destination in Vacationland, we continued the journey north to a place that most people even in New England have never heard of: Cutler, Maine. Cutler is about as remote a coastal town as you will encounter on the east coast. It is located just across the Bay of Fundy from Nova Scotia and looks out across some New Brunswick’s Grand Manan Island. Our phones actually thought that we were in Canada so we immediately turned them to airplane mode to avoid getting destroyed by Sprint and Verizon. The reason for venturing to this faraway, unknown coastal town was to hike along the Bold Coast in the Cutler Coast Public Reserve Land, which ended up quickly becoming one of our favorite hikes in the US. The trail, meandering along the rugged cliffs overlooking the ocean, is unlike any other hike we have done in New England. Not to mention, since it is so remote, and “unblazed” if you will, we only ran into a couple other hikers throughout the entire day.

One important tidbit worth noting about this trail is that there are only three official campsites along the way. With so few fellow hikers on the trail, we expected that snagging a tent site would be easy…we were mistaken. It didn’t end up being an issue, however, because with so many comfortable-looking rocks on which to pitch our tent, we had myriad options. I try to give credit where credit is due, and camping on the edge of a cliff over the ocean was 1,000% Laura’s idea. Other than the rocky surface and swarming mosquitos that forced us into our tent prematurely, camping on the cliff ended up being a far more memorable option than camping in the woods at a boring campsite. Seals swam below us, we watched the sunset from the tent, we woke up to the sun rising over Canada, and successfully survived the night without getting blown into the sea.

maine three

Third Stop: Mt. Katahdin

From Cutler, we drove inland to Baxter State Park to look for Moose and hike Mt. Katahdin. We spotted two moose down the road from our campground on our first night. It’s difficult to spend any time around Baxter State Park without seeing at least once moose.

maine five moose

The hike up Katahdin is no joke. This is one of the most challenging day hikes in New England and by the time we finished scrambling up boulders to reach the summit, we were exhausted. We were fortunate enough to have climbed on an extremely clear day, so the breathtaking views were a well-earned reward.

The descent down Katahdin is equally spectacular, at least for the first stretch along the Knife Edge (below). Neither of us fell off the edge of the knife; however, Laura did fall and then proceed to roll down the mountain shortly after we made it safely off the ridge. She had some bumps and bruises but managed to save the camera like a champ. By the time we made it back down to the car, we were completely kaput and made a b-line for the only restaurant we could find. Being in the wilderness of Maine, we had limited options and our tired, hungry minds clouded our judgement to the point where we ended up buying at least three pounds of Chinese food which tasted about as good as you might expect Chinese food from northern Maine to taste.

Maine six new harbor

Fourth Stop: New Harbor

After the challenge of Mt. Katahdin, our fourth and final stop was much more relaxing. We drove back down the coast and took a puffin cruise out of New Harbor. Unbeknownst to us at the time, most of the Maine puffins have already migrated out to see by mid-August, and the naturalist onboard announced that it was very unlikely that we would even see a single puffin. Of course they announced this after the boat had already left the harbor. However, in what can only be described as a miracle, we spotted 11 puffins, two bald eagles, and won a free ticket to go on another puffin cruise. A fitting end to an amazing trip.

Maine seven harbor pic

Although Maine is a long shot from being on par with places like Patagonia, Kenya, or Macchu Picchu, this trip will always be one of our favorites.

maine map

 

A huge thanks to Chris and Laura for sharing this amazing post.  We cant wait to follow this path!  Give them at follow at www.trailsunblazed.com

 

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