The train journey between the two Norwegian cities of Oslo and Stavanger guarantees a lot of visual impressions. It is now operated by the transport company GoAhead Nordic. My journey was still by VY/NSB, which means no differences in route, scenery and rolling stock - just a different name.
Oslo Central Station
This journey starts at Oslo Central Station, a big and modern railway facility with a huge amount of everything: shops, cafes, waiting spaces with seats, luggage lockers, free Wi-Fi spots and stairs near its entrances (and, of course, a number of lifts as well).
On the cloudy morning of my departure, I find three different ways of getting inside the station (although, there are even more of them). They located on all sides of the terminal, which is pretty much convenient.
Life starts early here. Despite it is just seven in the morning, early birds of traveling are already here — with their suitcases and backpacks. Some of them are in a hurry, some are just still and waiting. I am in the slow category, looking through the huge windows at the train tracks.
There are 19 tracks in Oslo Central Station. They serve different lines and locations, both regional and long-distance. I decide to play a tiny game with myself and try to guess: on which of the tracks my train will arrive? I choose the number 10 and wait. Some minutes later, my bid turns out to be winning. Hooray! I take this as a good sign.
The exit to the track is rather impressive. It is framed with colored lights, and I feel like a character of a sci-fi TV series when the long travelator takes me to the place of boarding. The pace is slow, the movement is smooth, the LED arcs are geometrically beautiful. I am sure that even Stanley Kubrick would love this!
It would not be surprising to spot a waiting spaceship after such a kind of a futuristic (or should I say retrofuturistic?) tunnel. Instead, I see a train — which is also great, because that’s exactly the best transport to get to Stavanger.
The train itself looks quite futuristic as well. It represents a type of vehicles called Class 73, and we already know each other. [a link to “Copenhagen—Gothenburg—Oslo” blog post] It still has the red-white-and-orange livery of NSB, which is probably not for long: the company rebranding (the new name is Vy) most likely will affect the appearance of their rolling stock.
Passengers get inside, so do I. This time I have a ticket that allows me to travel in a Comfort Class, which is a new thing in my experience, so I am eager to explore it.
Vy Comfort Class
The Vy Comfort Class has a “2+2” rows of seats, with a wide aisle in the center and big wooden partially folding tables between some of the chairs. The chairs themselves are big and comfortable, with soft built-in pillows, textile upholstery and moving elbow boards.
The car has two most wanted things that a 21-century traveler expects to get: a socket near the seat and a fast and free internet connection. I have nothing else to desire, actually. But the train offers more.
The Comfort Class is not much different from the class presented as the 2nd. Both are pretty nice and cozy, and I’d say that there are just two noticeable differences. The first one is that the Comfort Class offers a bit more of a free space which is pleasant but not critical in terms of enjoyment. The second distinction is my favorite — it is a separate, rather big and well-equipped coffee spot.
This place contains a lot of little pleasures: coffee and tea of various sorts (you can get cappuccino here, how about that?), sugar and milk. There are also a couple of round tables with a neat design feature — anti-falling and shake-fighting cup holders. I thank the people who invented this and happy to know that my paper cup with a biodegradable cap is safe. On top of that, if I were able to read in Norwegian, I could take a free copy of a fresh newspaper.
Overall, a passenger can find a lot of ways to get occupied with something. You can enjoy the view (which is great, and we will come to this later) or get captured by the cultural news, take a nap (I use the option for an hour) or fight the sleepy state with a number of hot refreshing beverages.
Even if all these options are not enough for you, you can visit a train cafe. It is totally crowded, full of cookies and pastry, and alcohol-free.
It’s hard to find a free place at the cafe, and I assume that its popularity has something to do not only with tasty cakes, but also with a relaxed atmosphere and wide windows. Speaking of the latter, it’s time to talk about what is outside the train — in my opinion, it is the best thing about this ride.
Between Oslo and Stavanger
The distance between Oslo and Stavanger is about 500 kilometers. Every day there are a few trains, departing from the capital of Norway, the number of rides depends on the day of the week. The time of the journey slightly varies, in my case, for example, it lasts for 7 hours and 40 minutes.
The scenery is spectacular. Some stations look almost unreal: just a sign with a toponym in the middle of the forest (as seen from my place in the car number one). Nothing more, just a pure nature and a plate with a name of a place. Even when there are some tiny colored wooden houses, gorgeous mountains look at the passengers from behind.
Now and then I feel an impulse to leave everything and walk into the woods. I also wonder how does it feel to live in such places, where a human feels more like a guest of this planet. Good for me, my metropolitan soul is not brave enough, and the weather helps me to stay in comfort. For the most part of the trip, it’s raining, at times heavily.
The weather conditions are not to everyone’s taste, however, water traces on the glass are not a great disturbance. I still can appreciate the scenic view, and it even has a special exciting beauty in the rain. At some moments, which are fairly rare, the train leaves rainfall areas. Then, soon enough, it enters another ones.
A thing to notice: in Kristiansand the train changes direction — so, in any case, every passenger spend a half of the voyage with their back turned to the forward part of a wagon. Anyway, whatever your seat is, you will always be able to feast your eyes with something magnificent.
We pass small rivers, huge boulders, old trees, various bridges, curvy roads, tiny villages, moss, roots, grass, diagonals and slopes… There are also a lot of tunnels on our way, it gets noticeably colder every time the train rides through them.
Living for many years in a big city, I usually do not see much of wild nature sights. Now I get so much of this in a short period than feel predictably overwhelmed. But then my mind gets saved from the beauty oversupply by the train arrival.
After dozens of tunnels, more than twenty stations, three cups of coffee and two ticket checkings, I reach my destination point. The train stops in Stavanger, a city known as the Oil Capital of Norway.
This place is welcoming and pleasant. It is good for walking and bicycle riding — of course, if you are not afraid of complicated landscapes. The rain is over. I look around while leisurely guiding my steps to the hotel and I like what I see.
Now, meet the final hero of this story. It is Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, a hotel of the chain that usually, as my experience tells me so far, offers a good service. The room where I am about to stay is spacious and properly stuffed with everything I need. I even found a sewing kit here — which is just what one of my pockets needs. Well, I start my small clothes-repairing work and leave you with my best wishes. Thank you for reading!
A few more words
I would like to recommend this route for each and every fan of Nordic nature. Even if you don’t have any business in Stavanger, give this little journey a try, there is definitely something to watch!