Flatpack / Day 41 of 64 / 19 June
I left the hostel at 10am today. My final destination in Stockholm, before my train to Oslo, was the IKEA at Kungens Kurva. Although located in the suburbs of Stockholm, it can easily be reached thanks to the free IKEA shuttle bus that runs from 10 Vasagatan (just across the road from Stockholm Central Station, under the overpass). The bus runs from 10 Vasagatan every hour, so I had breakfast and waited for the next bus at 11am. The bus arrived on time and we reached IKEA Kungens Kurva at 11.30am.
Now, what makes this IKEA so special? Well, it’s supposedly the largest IKEA store in the world. The exterior may be a bit underwhelming, considering this is the world’s largest IKEA, but it’s interior definitely lives up to the title. 3 floors of furniture, with each floor going on for what feels like forever. It’s easy to get lost in here looking for the perfect Billy bookcase.
Luckily, I wasn’t really here to buy furniture. I was here for the meatballs, of course. Thanks to IKEA’s amazing quality control, I couldn’t tell the difference between the meatballs in Singapore and the ones I had at IKEA Kungens Kurva. Although I will admit that having these iconic meatballs in Sweden does feel more authentic. Like a pilgrimage of sorts, for those that adore flatpack furniture. I left the holy land of Swedish furniture at around 1.30pm and boarded the return bus to 10 Vasagatan.
I walked back to my hostel, grabbed my bags and boarded the metro to Stockholm Central Station [Stockholms Centralstation]. I was still early for my 4pm train, so I relaxed and did some writing during my wait. At 3.45pm, I boarded my train to Oslo (SJ 671, sj.se, 522 SEK/80 SGD/pax).
I’ve never been in a train delay in Singapore, and in ironic fashion, I found myself waiting out a Swedish train delay. Our train to Oslo was delayed at Karlstad Railway Station for an hour because of a power fault at the station ahead. According to the timetable, we were supposed to leave Karlstad Station at 6.30pm: we eventually left at 7.36pm. Interestingly, most passengers on the train seemed to take the delay in their stride. They were enjoying this delay, taking the time to stretch their tired legs on the platform. It also helped that the staff tried to keep a lighthearted mood on board. They also provided regular situation updates to reassure passengers, and even arranged for taxis for passengers whose final destinations were under an hour’s drive away.
SMRT ain’t got nothing on this.
Train 671 finally pulled into Oslo Central Station [Oslo Sentralstasjon] at 11pm: 1.5 hours later than the timetable’s arrival time of 9.30pm. I was itching to get to the hostel to rest. I took the tram, easily the most convenient form of transport in central Oslo, to my hostel (Anker Hostel, 36 SGD/night).
Beautiful Norwegian countryside. Bathed in light from the midnight sun.
Travelling in Oslo is easy if you purchase a Ruter travelcard. Ruter is the company that manages public transportation in Oslo, so purchasing a travelcard allows you to board buses, trams, metro, and certain ferries. The travelcard needs to be topped up with value, and every time you board a vehicle, simply tap the card to the card reader. Alternatively, you can purchase single journey tickets from Ruter ticketing machines, and most 7-Elevens or Narvesens (a chain of Norwegian convenience stores). Also, be sure to download the “RuterReise” app: it’s the official journey planner for the public transport system in Oslo and it provides excellent route information.