I love to travel, it is has been and I guess it will always be my favourite hobby. I have toured Norway and used almost all means of travelling. One place I have visited the most is definitely Oslo and I have been there by flight, bus, train and private means, but still bus has always been my best option. I love to travel by bus for a number of reasons which I am about to explain shortly.
Kristiansand to Oslo is about 350 kilometers which translates to 4 and half hours train time and about 5 to 6 hours bus drive with a price range of 250 to 400Noks (Kshs.3000 to 4800) for both train and bus for one grown up person as they call it. For the bus it depends on the company and the way you do your booking. When you do it online, way before travelling, then it is cheaper as compared to paying on the bus at the time of travel. Two times I have travelled with friends on a personal car and because we were four of us, we took turn to entertain the driver and to keep her awake. Once, I was a co-driver with clear instructions “ For the next four to five hours, your task is to keep the driver awake, whatever it takes, tell me all the stories about Kenya”. This one was a tough one, probably not the best!
Taking a flight to Oslo is a bit tasking. Though it only takes about 90 minutes, I have to leave the house early enough, get a taxi to the airport and on landing I have to deal with motion sickness that makes me suffer a terrible headache. Not the best option for me especially during winter. I therefore have train and bus as an option and my first preference is the bus. It is only 10 minutes walk to and from the bus terminal and whatever time I get to Kristiansand, it doesn´t scare me to get home.
The bus experience
It is a heavenly experience altogether. The feel does not compare to what we call executive coach in Kenya apart from the automated doors. When you travel by bus in Norway, you need to take note of some unwritten rules, which you will learn as times goes by.
Time is very important, the bus is NEVER late, you will miss it even by one minute. Two times now, the bus has left Kristiansand with two people, the driver and me. There are no conductors in Norway, booking and paying of the bus is done online or at the driver’s seat. The first time I saw a bus leave with one passenger, was unbelievable. The bus was leaving at 12.30 and at exactly 12.30, the bus left. I felt really nice, you know I had ´hired´ the bus. We picked more passengers along the way, but still I can assure you, we were not more than 12 people for a double-deck bus with a capacity of almost 50 passengers. We talked about it with my Ugandan colleague and I remember we joked about it, that only happens in Norway. In Africa, they will sell you to another bus, or change the route of the bus or delay it and see if they can get more passengers.
Another unwritten rule in Norwegian buses, the next seat is for your bag, your pet which is normally a dog and incase you do not have that, still the next seat is yours, you can decide to stretch your legs if you want. Always respect the fact that Norwegians love their space. On the bus, they will not talk to you, they are always quite, listening to their iPhones, reading their novels, looking outside through the window or talking on phone. It is said, when you go to Rome, do as Romans do. Now I practise the above and I have definitely become an expert. You won´t believe this, but the truth is, even when there are people standing, those seated and occupying two seats,they rarely remove their bags. And those standing, they don´t dare ask for space, because if they were seated, they will do the same I guess. Strange.
So when I have hired my bus to Oslo, I get to occupy four seats and feel very excited. The bus floor of course has a carpet and there are sidebar heaters so I put away my shoes and feel at home. I sit and stretch my legs on the other seat. On the opposite seats, I put my backpack and my hand luggage. There are no pot holes, this simply means the journey is a smooth experience. Only that during winter it gets slippery. The 350km distance has security lights all way. Now you can be assured I am just thinking of when will Kenya have lights from Nairobi to Mombasa? Ha ha, that’s a dream come true. Within this journey, the drivers drive in shifts, so they are very sober. They do not chew miraa to keep awake as most long distance drivers in Kenya do. Here, they take more and more coffee.
“ Public transport in Norway is regulated by the government and is very strict with the driving rules. It clearly stipulates that drivers will not drive for more 36 hours a week and not more than 9 hours a day and within these 9 hours, a driver should take at least one and a half-hour break. They use electronic cards to sign in and it registers the time you started driving and after 4 and a half hours, then you sign out and take a rest. It is an offence highly charged if you do not take the break, ” said my Ghanaian friend who is a bus driver in Norway.
Kristiansand to Oslo is less than 6 hour drive and I never understood why they drove in shifts. In Kenya, with the bad roads, long distance drivers do it up to 9 hours or even more and at time when you take a bus from Mombasa to Nairobi, mid-journey you are thinking, ´Oh my God with such driving, will I really make it to my destination?´
“Another reason they exchange shifts is because the driver from Kristiansand has no house in Oslo, and the one from Oslo has no house in Kristiansand, so by exchanging shifts, they both take break and wait for the other buses and return back to where they started from, meaning they still spend at their homes,” said another friend. Now I see a solution to the scandles about the long distance truck drivers in Kenya. They have been alleged of being in the high risk of contracting and spreading HIV & AIDs simply because of the many nights they spend on the roads and away from their spouses and therefore end up sleeping with prostitutes along the roads.
By the way, public transport am told is a very well-paying job in Norway. It pays between 26,000 to 30,000 Noks (Kshs 312,000 to 360,000) a month before tax. However, driving in Norway is a challenge and you really need to be an expert in this. You might want to read my reasons as to why I won´t consider giving it a try.
Unlike in Kenya, while I love to travel at night and sleep all the way, here I love to travel during the day. I mentioned that this is a smooth drive, so with my computer, I am working just like I would if i was at the office. There is stable Internet connection and I can browse and do my work. Even when there are other passengers on board, be assured they will not distract me, with their headphones, they are either watching movies, playing computer games, listening to music or reading their novels. I have total concentration. There is a flat screen that no one bothers to use, everyone seems to be busy on their computers. The power socket is right under the seats.
Coffee and Tea
Just like in the train, there is water, coffee and tea at my disposal and I can take as much as I want. All I need to do is go to the dispenser and refill my cup. So I take turns in taking coffee and tea. There are clean toilets in the bus, I am never worried of how to get rid of the liquid while on board. You can carry your own snacks to and when you are done, remember to put your trash in the disposable bags available on each seat.
Tired being online, I then decide to watch Norway from the window and all I can see is snow and more snow so I get bored and sleep. Within a minute I am in slumberland dreaming of being in Kenya in such a bus and when I finally get to my destination I am in Mombasa, travelling from Nairobi. Ha ha ha ha!! If wishes were horses even beggars would ride.
“Thank you for travelling with this bus company, we are finally in Oslo. We will be grateful to serve you again, Tussen Takk.” Announces the bus driver and that is when I wake up from my dream and I remind myself that indeed, that was a Norway bus experience!
For my travels within Norway, bus anytime. Enjoy your weekend.