Over the next couple of days I’m taking on a journey to the most Northern part of Europe, thanks to Fly Away Travel & Cruises For You. They are an award winning travel agency, located in Ballina, County Mayo.
I will be traveling with Pamela who is the managing director of Fly Away Travel and my job is to capture all Norway has to offer. We hope to visit the Northern Cape, take an adrenaline pumping ride on snowmobiles and go on an adventure with Huskies to visit the Snow Hotel in Kirkenes, a town in the far northeastern part of Norway. We have to visit many towns and villages along the coast to make all of this possible and we will be traveling via Hurtigruten’s MS Richard With.
Why are we doing it ?
Pamela and the team at Fly Away Travel didn’t win a “Fresh Thinking Award” for no reason. They are always ahead of the curve which is why they are the leading travel agency in Mayo. Pamela wants to undergo this adventure so that she can give her customers the best advice. On her adventure she will learn all the do’s and don’ts and pass this first hand experience on to her customers, ensuring they get the most from their holiday and the best value for money. The next 6 day Arctic Adventure sets sail on the 23rd of February 2018. Before selling it to her customers, Pamela wanted to experience this trip of a life time for herself, to ensure that it was just that…….. A TRIP OF A LIFETIME.
The @flyaway_travel_ire team are so excited as they have been shortlisted to win the #Ttgtop50 “Top #TravelAgent” Rep of #Ireland category at a glitzy #awards ceremony being held in the @resortsworldbirmingham on 25th April. #watchthisspace #ttgawards #Ttgmedia #traveltradegazette 🍾🎉🕴💺 #travel #toptravelagent #holidays #flyawaytravel #cruisesforyou #Emirates #RoyalCaribbean #worldresorts
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Lets get on the road !!!
Today we have to fly from Dublin to Oslo, then catch a connecting flight to Tromso. I’m always nervous when catching connecting flights. I’m afraid that i’ll miss the next plane, maybe I’ll get lost in the airport and sometimes I’m unsure if I need to check my back in again at the connecting airport. Today I learned something new. Pamela told me always buy a “Through Ticket”. Up until today I had never heard of a through ticket so the next time your on an adventure like this talk to your travel agent about a through ticket, it takes a lot of stress out of your journey.
We arrrived in Dublin airport 2 hours before check in, I checked in my bag and the lady at the Scandinavian Airlines desk informed me that I did not need to pick up my bag in Oslo, it would be sent straight to Tromso. This was a great relief, it ment that I only had to worry about getting myself to the next plane. How hard can that be? It turns out, not very difficult at all. We had our tickets with the flight number and when we arrived at Oslo airport we were greated by people in yellow coats holding up big arrows with “TRANSFERS” written on them. We went through a security checkpoint and then it was on to our gate. The changeover was quick and painless and we were in the air again on our way to Tromso in just over an hour. The first flight was roughly 2hours 20 minutes and the flight from Oslo to Tromso was roughly 1 hour 40 minutes.
It was my first time flying with Scandanavian Airlines. The staff were very helpful and friendly at all times. We were offered free tea and coffee on board with the option to buy food and snacks. An air hostess then went through the cabin giving out small toys to the kids which I thought was really nice and a lovely surprise for the kids too. One thing that really stood out for me on the SAS planes was how clean they were, each plane was immaculate.
We arrived in Tromso Airport at around 6pm and went to collect our bags. We were waiting sometime for our bags and everyone had seemed to pick up theirs, then my bag came through and the luggage belt was switched off. Pamela’s bag didn’t arrive in Tromso.
We went to the customer service where we were greeted by another very friendly lady. She checked the system to try and trace Pamela’s bag but she said she couldn’t find it on the system. She said it takes a few hours to show up on her system sometimes. So at this point we had no idea if the bag was in Dublin, Oslo or possibly fallen off the belt at Tromso Airport. The lady in customer service gave Pamela an overnight bag which consisted of some toiletries and a t-shirt and said she would call us as soon as she located the bag.
We had two issues with this, the first issue was that we were boarding a cruise ship the next day to go on an expedition across the north coast of Norway, so we needed the bag before we set sail. The second issue, the bag was full of essential specialist equipment like thermal clothes, hiking boots, jackets, gloves etc. Not to mention the basic essentials like clean underwear and toiletries. If the bag didn’t arrive first thing, Pamela needed to buy all new essentials before the ship set sail at 6pm the next day.This could cost upwards of €500.00.
SAS said that if the bag didn’t arrive just to keep the receipts and they would reimburse Pamela for whatever she needed. Thats all well and good if you have allowed for that in your budget but this equipment is so expensive. Its not everyone who could afford to go out and buy new gear the next day. Pamela informed me that she had been buying bits and pieces over a number of months for this trip.
We got a taxi and went to the hotel. The taxi to the hotel cost 213 NOK which is roughly €24.00. To be honest I thought that was quite expensive as it seemed to be about a 10 minute drive. Accommodation in Tromso can be quite expensive and you can pay up to €300 for a basic room in one of the well known hotels. Pamela done a bit of research online and found a very well reviewed hotel called The Amalie Hotel. The Amalie Hotel has a Certificate of Excellence on Trip Advisor and is rated 4.5 out of 5. Two single rooms in the Amalie Hotel cost €240.00
After a long day of traveling I look forward to two things, a shower with good pressure and a nice pillow. Thankfully the Amalie Hotel had both. I was staying in a single room and it was cosy. A lot smaller than the single rooms you would be used to in Ireland. The room had one single bed, a chair, a small round table and a desk. It also had all the essentials like an iron and ironing board, kettle and a small fridge. The shower didnt look like much but I was deceived, it had great pressure and I was a happy man.
We decided to take a walk into Tromso and get a bite to eat. The receptionist recommended a place called Kaia Bar & Restaurant located at the marina in Tromso. It was a 2 minute walk from our hotel. We both ordered the “Fish & Chips” as it was the special for the day. I wouldn’t be a big fish eater but I thought I cant come to this part of the world and not at least try it. It was a deep fried battered piece of haddock and it was delicious and the chips were skinny fries, similar to Mc Donald’s.
If your a big drinker then you’ll need to bring lots of money with you because a very small bottle of cider will cost you 95NOK which is just over €10.00 and when I say small, it was 240ml. Compared to your longneck bottle in Ireland which is 330ml, thats very expensive in my opinion.
The food was delicious, the service was brilliant and the location was fantastic although it was very hard to relax when we didn’t know if Pamela’s bag would arrive or not. I’m sure it was worse for her.
When we got back to the hotel Pamela had a text from SAS telling her that they located her bag and that it would be at the hotel first thing in the morning. This was brilliant news. It ment Pamela could relax a little more and not worry about having to buy new things before we set sail.
Tomorrow we will await Pamela’s luggage and explore what Tromso has to offer. After leaving Mayo at 7am, I hit the pillow at around midnight and I was out like a light.
Book your trip to Norway today with Fly Away Travel by calling 003539677771 or email firstname.lastname@example.org