Friday, 30 September 2016

Experience: No(r)way!? Part 3 - Stena Saga and other fun places

 This is the 3rd part of a trip report. Part 1  Part 2

Following the amazing experience, it was right to take a few days off and chill and enjoy life in Fredrikstad (as well as grow a new jawbone to replace the one I lost in Flåm), though those few days did include a quick trip to nearby Sarpsborg with a visit to Inspiria Science Center and Badeland waterpark.

In my spare time I like to hang out in space
 As we sailed towards Oslo on the Color Magic a few days earlier, I told Sverre that of the ferries sailing from Oslo, Stena Saga is definitely next on my list. And once again, I had no idea that we were already booked for the sailing on the 29th of April.
Since departure wasn't until 19:30, we could wake up fairly late, slowly get ready, take a train to Oslo and do some sightseeing there, even though the weather wasn't the best.

Pearl Seaways seen from the roof of the Oslo Opera House
A map of the Oslo Harbour Promenade. On that day, we walked between points 12 and 6.
Pearl Seaways departing, vacating the quay for Stena Saga.
in Akershus fortress
Oslo City Hall seen from Akershus fortress
Stena Saga coming in
As the Stena Saga sailed in, we walked towards the terminal and soon enough it was time to board.
It should be noted that the following Stena Saga photos are Sverre's; my phone screen broke beyond repair and gradually went black over the Flåm day, and my camera habits are not really comparable to those of the stereotypical Asian tourist.

Our Comfort Plus cabin 6202
 The first evening we mostly looked around, had a few drinks here and there and anxiously waited for the departure, which ended up being 45 minutes late for an unknown reason. A bit later we had a nice dinner at Metropolitan à la Carte and after the dinner we continued to C-View showbar to enjoy some drinks, dance and have fun, until we finally decided to call it a night at around 1 o'clock.

Riva Bar, where we sat and wondered why the ship is late
Metropolitan à la Carte
C-View showbar
 The following morning we had our alarm early, because we wanted to quickly go ashore in Frederikshavn, mostly because it would've been my first time to actually set foot in Denmark. However, since the weather was rainy, we were both very sleepy and the time ashore would've been short anyway, we decided to skip it and just slept on until it was time for our buffet lunch.

On the right is the ship's large and distinctive front window

After the lunch it was time to claim our spa reservation. The spa on the Stena Saga stood out quite a lot, being very large and enjoyable, with a lot of various  pools and showers and wonderful interior, making it my favourite part on the ship as well as one of my favourite ship spas.

Heavens, a still pool!
Season-shower; upon pressing one of the 4 buttons (one for each season), you get a brief shower, with the temperature, lights, water jets and even scents making a nice whole to match the chosen season.
A lovely lounge with a view ahead of the ship
A wonderful spa experience is always even nicer when the weather outside is not the best - provided that the place has windows, of course. The ship passing ahead is Bohus of Color Line.
On the left is the cold water tub, which is always very enjoyable after a hot sauna. Only my feet didn't seem to approve, as they started protesting as soon as the water temperature reached them. Pity, and not the first time my feet alone prevent me from fully enjoying an ice cold swim.
 Outdoor jacuzzi, which was also a very nice discovery and is not common at all on cruiseferries up on this latitude.
 After enjoying the spa for several hours, we looked around the ship a bit more, played around in the arcade and finally, when it was almost time to disembark, my attention was caught by a last minute perfume sale. Or well, not initially, but when I happened to pass by, I of course had to smell the three perfumes they had to offer. And as it always is, when the right kind of perfume smell hits my nose, there's only two ways forward - either I buy it or I walk away with great sadness and end up buying it later, if it's beyond the budget. This time it was the former, and the small bottle was probably one of my biggest perfume bargains. And the funny thing is, I later realized why the perfume caught my nose. A few years earlier in Stockholm I had a similar situation with a fancy scented candle and had to broken-heartedly leave it. I remembered the brand and scent though, and ordered it online soon afterwards. That scented candle which I still have (too good to burn!) has an almost identical smell to the perfume I scored on the Stena Saga.

Olfactory twins
All in all, I must say that the Stena Saga ranks among my better ferry experiences. Although she was built in 1980, she has been modernized very nicely and is very well maintained.

Mandatory funnel
Mandatory deck plan
Mandatory staircase - the Red staircase
... and the Green staircase.
Tax free store
If you're planning to go on board to find a nice pair of slippers, I have bad news for you. As you may see on the label, there is absolutely NO slippers, no, not at all.
Cabin corridor displaying one of my favourite colour combinations
And to end the Stena Saga part of this post, the first view you see when you step on board in Oslo, minus the crowds.
After disembarking we headed to a hotel in Oslo to get a good rest before the following day, which we planned to spend in Tusenfryd amusement park. To me, amusement parks are always best off-season, either in spring or early autumn, especially on days when the weather is not all so unmistakably perfect, because there's not too many people and in some occasions I've enjoyed full amusement park days with wonderful weather and not a single queue anywhere. This time there were some lines here and there, and the day was just enough for us to do one full round around the park.

Loopen, the first rollercoaster built in this park back in 1988
Tømmerstupet, the local log ride
Supersplash - the name says it all.
Thundercoaster, built exactly 50 years later than the equally wooden Vuoristorata in Linnanmäki.
Speedmonster as seen upon entering the park
Right in the beginning of the ride, the Speedmonster accelerates from 0 to 90 km/h in 2 seconds and at some point during those 2 seconds, takes the on-ride photos. The Speedmonster is my personal favourite in Tusenfryd; unlike what our faces show, it wasn't even remotely scary, just a lot of fun.
The scary ride award from me goes to SpinSpider. First of all, the ride seemed to have issues during the first half of the day, prompting us to leave the queue after about 30 minutes of not a single ride. We did finally get to ride it later; it didn't make any full revolutions, but it sure came very close, which was enough to make me hold on to the restraints for dear life. And when the restraints then moved a few cm outwards (which they normally do), I really reached the conclusion that I'm too young to die. Would I ride it again? Yeah, sure, why not!
The happy kid who found a carousel with his name on it!
And here's a merry picture of me riding Sverre.

 Following the day in Tusenfryd, it was time to return to Fredrikstad and I packed up to fly back home the following day, ending my first ever trip to Norway and some of the most memorable and fun times I've had so far this year. And last but not least, a huge thanks to Sverre for being the best guide I could ever ask for!

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