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The Long Flight North

I cannot think of a more perfect gateway city to kick off an Arctic voyage than the city of Oslo, Norway. The city itself is vibrant, easy to navigate and brimming with activities and attractions to suit all interests - from art museums to the opera house, historical sites and Olympic course sites, even Viking and navigational history. Fittingly for our voyage, Oslo is also steeped in polar history as well, being the home of many famous Norwegian polar pioneers of the Heroic Age of Exploration, including Roald Amundsen and Fridtjof Nansen. Our cruise included charter flights from Oslo to Longyearbyen before embarkation, as well as an overnight at the Oslo Gardermoen Radisson Blu, giving us a free day to explore Oslo before we headed above the Arctic Circle. I have been lucky to have the opportunity to explore Oslo a number of times and each time I return, I discover something new. This time around, my friend and I were excited to dive deeper into the footsteps and the stories of famous explorers before embarking on our own voyage to the far North!

But first, flying from Missoula to Norway is no easy commute. Two days before the "start" of our itinerary aboard the Ultramarine, I packed up my warm layers, waterproof pants and comfy clothes for the ship and hopped on plane #1 of many. First stop, Minneapolis, then an overnight flight to Amsterdam and finally one last connecting leg in the morning to Oslo. In Minneapolis, I had my obligatory Rapid PCR testing done, so that I could present my negative results to Quark Expeditions within the window of time specified. I highly recommend planning your longest flight as your red eye, allowing for at least a few hours of sleep on the plane before you connect on to a regional flight in Europe to your final destination. This is not always possible, but when it is, it can be a life saver for long travel days and is exactly what I did. Flight number 2 was my red eye from Minneapolis to Amsterdam, a great opportunity to catch up on a couple new movies and take a lengthy nap. My final leg was Amsterdam to Oslo, where I met my friend Lauren, flying in from Paris, to join me for this adventure.

Oslo- Gardermoen Airport has made it incredibly easy for travelers to transfer straight into Downtown Olso from the airport, relatively inexpensively. While a Taxi or an Uber will run you probably close to $200USD and has a drive time of 45 mins, Travelers can opt to take the FlytoGet Express train directly from the airport terminal to Central Station in downtown Oslo. The comparative cost of $45USD is a huge expense saved, and the train takes about 20 minutes from departure to arrival at Central Station, spitting you out right across from Oslo Sound and the Opera House. 

Lauren and I had arranged an additional hotel night in downtown Olso to take advantage of our time in the city before the itinerary aboard the Ultramarine started. After meeting up with each other in the arrivals terminal, we grabbed our luggage, purchased our FlytoGet tickets right at the Automatic Teller in the terminal and made our way to downtown via express rail for a solid night's sleep before our day of planned exploration. Our hotel was a convenient 5 minute walk from the Central Station and located amongst restaurants, plazas and museums, setting us up well to begin our adventure in the morning. 

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