This is journal entry 4, our third day in Norway in which we enjoyed a trip on the Southern Railway with Eurail from Oslo to Stavanger where we explored an Iron Age Farm and the Three Swords Monument.
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Destination Norway Day 4 Journal Entry: Oslo to Stavanger
I won’t even go into the drama that’s involved with losing your Eurail pass. Okay yes I will, but just a little. We had a 7:25 train to catch from Oslo’s Central Station to Stavanger. Bags in tow, we hustled to the NSB office to activate our tickets…Our tickets, where were they?
This is silly, I swear they were just right here!”
I exclaimed as the harsh reality of having lost our Eurail passes began to set in. In retrospect, they must have stuck to another piece of paper that was thrown away. Immediately I began to problem solve. I had precisely two hours before the next train left to sort this mess. I spent the first of those two hours trying to contact Eurail. I spent five minutes of the second hour dropping 1008 NOK on new tickets. Don’t lose your tickets.
Travel Tip: When you are using a Eurail pass they are like cash. Completely non replaceable. There are no Eurail offices in the Oslo Central Station. Their “help desk” is the NSB office. There is no phone number to call them. If you lose your ticket you are S.O.L., ‘up the creek’, screwed. However, if you’re a travel blogger being sponsored by Eurail, email your PR contact ASAP and they will send you a new one in 2-3 days.
The NSB Southern Railway
The NSB Southern Railway is an older rail. It’s not a fast train and takes eight hours to get to Stavanger of which more than half of is through beautiful picturesque mountains. I was optimistic about getting some writing done on the train. We had comfortable table seats. Perfect for The Little to color and for me to pop open my laptop. Or so I thought…
Travel Tip: The Southern Railway has an outlet. Yes I said “an”. It’s located in the Family Car (which shockingly smells of doodie diapers and food and is buzzing with screaming baby humans). The outlet is located on the right just next to a jump seat (big enough for a child). You can charge your laptop and phone here, but it’s not a place to hang out by any means.
Needless to say, we spent most of our time taking pictures and playing games. Oh and of course, The Little took a solid nap. It was enough to keep us busy until lunchtime. Which posed yet another obstacle. This NSB train didn’t take cards without chips…at all. So, we went hungry. By the time we got to our destination we were famished!
Travel Tip: Be sure to bring cash on all trains. Even if you have a chip in your card, it may require a pin (which for some reason may not even work). Cash is always a yes. Also, when traveling with kids, be sure to bring something they can do for a long time.
Arriving to Stavanger
Stepping out of the train station to a new place is refreshing. Stavanger is a little-big town, with everything super close to the train and bus stations. It’s very cozy and home-like which we thought was nice. We made our way to the Radisson Blu Royal where we had a lovely business class suite. We quickly dropped off our things, freshened up, and just like that we were on our way to have a bite and take a ride to an Iron Age Farm and the Swords Monument.
The Iron Age Farm (Jernaldergården)
I was excited to explore the Iron Age Farm at Ullandhaug which is home to three wooden buildings with roofs made of peat and bark. I’ve always been fascinated by the Iron Age, as so many of the stories we have grown to love were originally shared in oral traditions during this time. Getting a glimpse of the way they lived is an opportunity I never turn down.
Upon approaching the Iron Age Farm you can see the exterior walls covered with stones to keep out the cold. It’s like taking a giant step back through time. There’s something about the earth covered roofs atop a bright green hill that makes it almost ‘other-worldly’.
Quick history nibble of the Iron Age Farm – The buildings burned down around 500 AD for some unknown reason – possibly due to a war. Iron Age peoples at Jæren used the rounded rocks that are strewn about the area with logs and sod to build longhouses for animals. The animals lived on one end, the owners on the other.
The farm was excavated from 1967- 68. The farm today is reconstructed version built on original foundations. The hearths are all original and still used today which really makes the experience more authentic.
The Three Swords Monument (Viking Battle)
The Story behind the Three Swords Monument is pretty cool. This monument was unveiled by King Olav in 1983 and commemorates the Battle of Hafrsfjord in 872, after which Viking King Harald Fair Hair united the three districts of Norway into one kingdom. (More on this later from Avaldsnes, home of the Viking Kings). The crowns on the swords represent the different districts which took part in the battle.
Twilight was waning as the deep, bright, blue sky began fading into darkness. We had only a few minutes to make it to the Three Swords Monument. It’s only a couple minutes drive from the Iron Age Farm, so this was pretty easy. You can’t miss them as you pull up around the bend. The Three Swords (Sverd i Fjell) stand on the edge of Hafrsfjord, 6km from the city center. The Little and I were completely amazed at the size of these things! I had no idea they were so big!
Travel Tip: During the daylight or at sunset you can have a 1km stroll along the coastline. It’s a popular place for kids to ride bikes as well. In the warmer months, locals hang out here and enjoy the small beach.
Tips and Final Thoughts
While we had a bit of a hangup in the morning, by the end of the day we knew no different. We’re in Norway! We got to ride a train with amazing scenery, explore and Iron Age Farm and visit a very important Viking monument. I’d say, tickets lost or not, we were in the lead.
My best advice for this trip is to take small snacks with you on the train, make sure your gadgets are fully charged and make sure you have your tickets!