TRAVEL TO AND ABOUT ÅNDALSNES
General Considerations:As usual for ASIC, a car for local transport during the conference would be useful and helpful, although sharing cars for daily outings is possible, so that not everyone needs a car. Although there is regular bus service (and a rail line) serving Åndalsnes, having the freedom to go to sites of one's own choosing at times of one's own choosing is a great advantage. There are many outstanding sites worth a drive from Åndalsnes, and many daily activities require some form of transport, to and from.
Because a car for local use would be desirable, many attendees may rent cars elsewhere, and drive to and from Åndalsnes. Others might prefer to arrive by train or bus, allowing more carefree viewing of the (spectacular) scenery.
Rental Agencies: Hertz has been selected as the conference preferred provider. They have agencies in all the Norway sites from which our attendees are likely to want to rent vehicles, including Oslo, Bergen, Ålesund, Molde, and Åndalsnes. Hertz is offering a 10% discount off their 'Affordable Travel' rates. To obtain this discount, you must print out a copy of the discount coupon and present it physically when you pick up your car at the Hertz counter. Click on the link here to obtain this coupon. If you have trouble downloading this coupon, email a request to firstname.lastname@example.org and she will send you a printable coupon by return email.
NOTE WELL: At Hertz and other Norwegian auto rental agencies, there is a tendency to pile on hidden, extra charges, so one must be sure to establish the exact price, everything included, at the time of making a reservation. It would be best to obtain an all inclusive rate with unlimited mileage, and all other extras included. Possible extras that might well be charged if you do not insure they are included are: 1) mileage charges; 2) various insurance charges (damage, collision, theft, etc); 3) Norwegian VAT (government tax, 25% in 2005); 4) charges for gas if a tank is not returned full; 4) a fee for picking up a car at the airport rather than in town; 5) an out-of-opening hours fee for picking up a car at hours not within some specified time/day; 6) possible others.
Automobile Rental Sites: Attendees living in Europe out of Scandinavia (including the UK), or attendees vacationing before and after the conference in non-Scandinavian parts of Europe, can take car ferries to and from various ports in Scandinavia. Most attendees will fly or otherwise arrive in Norway and rent automobiles at Norwegian sites. The most likely sites for rental (city or airport) include: 1) Oslo (one takes the scenic highways E6, E136 that follow the rail line through the Romsdal valley directly to Åndalsnes); 2) Bergen (a spectacular drive through fjordland on E39 involving ferry crossings, bridges, etc; some may prefer to take passenger ships through the fjords north to Molde or nearby, and rent there instead); 3) Ålesund (has an airport, and there is a direct highway without a fjord crossing to Åndalsnes); 4) Molde (has an airport, and is closest to Åndalsnes; involves a ferry crossing, but the waiting times for the ferry are quite short); Åndalsnes (one must arrive by train or bus in this case).
Travel by Auto to Åndalsnes:
- From Bergen: Take E39 north, through fjordland, crossing fjords and mountains by ferries, bridges, causeways, roads, and tunnels; eventually connect with E136 near Åndalsnes. Without sidetrips (most will want to take sidetrips to enjoy the spectacular fjordland scenery), the driving distance is 440 km and the estimated driving time (excluding waiting, loading, and transport times for ferries) is 7.25 hours.
- From Oslo: Take E6 and then E136 to Åndalsnes. This scenic drive follows the rail line, and near Åndalsnes passes the spectacular Trollveggen cliffs/mountains. The distance is 448 km, and the driving time should be 6.5 hrs.
- From Ålesund: Take E39 and then E136. A beautiful fjord/mountain drive of 121 km, taking about 1.8 hrs.
- From Molde: Take (mainly) route 64. The distance is 55 km, and the driving time is 1.2 hrs, excluding the ferry crossing at Afarnes that leaves every 30-40 minutes.
For detailed directions, for these routes and others, and other information, I recommend the Michelin driving direction website: http://www.viamichelin.com/viamichelin/gbr/dyn/controller/Driving_directions And also the general Michelin travel site: http://www.viamichelin.com/viamichelin/gbr/tpl/hme/MaHomePage.htm
International Flights: Most international flights arrive in Oslo or Bergen. Travelers can continue to Åndalsnes by auto, rail, bus (or from Bergen by boat to sites near but not at Åndalsnes), or by additional internal flights.
Internal Flights: There are several airports in fjordland near Åndalsnes. A few are north of Åndalsnes, but most travelers will fly to Ålesund (west and a little south, 121 km distant) and Molde (west and a little north, 55 km distant), and continue by auto or bus to Åndalsnes.
There is regular rail service direct from Oslo to Åndalsnes. The travel time is about 5 - 6 hrs, and the current schedules show departures from Oslo at about 8, 10:30, 3, and 4, and departures from Åndalsnes at about 8, 9:30, 3, and 5:30.
NOTE WELL: There are many packages available for purchase abroad that will give reduced rates for train travel, and or/reduced rates for combined travel with train and car/boat/bus, in various combinations. More information about some of these may be added to this site later.
A useful website is: http://www.nsb.no/internet/en/index.jhtml
Although Norway's scenic railway journeys are among the country's main highlights, Norway's bus routes are far more extensive than its rail network, and also spectacularly scenic.
There are quite a few bus companies operating in Norway although Nor-Way Bussekspress (website www.nbe.no) is by far the most dominant player. Nor-Way Bussekspress operates throughout the country extending well into the Artic Circle providing connections with intersecting bus routes and other forms of transport including trains and ferries.
Other bus companies include JVB (website www.jvb.no) which operate an East-West express service between Bergen and Lillehammer and Narvik based Ofotens Bilruter (website www.ofotens-bilruter.no) with its route network in Lappland.
There are various special fare plans that allow unlimited mileage/travel for specified periods, and combined travel with rail/boat/auto. Some are available only for purchase abroad (out of Norway). We will try to provide more information about these on this website at a later time.
The scenic and touring opportunities in Norway offer many attendees a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that should not be missed, opportunities that can be pursued before and or after ASIC 2006. We will try to provide more information about some of these on this website later. We mention now two outstanding possibilities.
Fjordland Tour via Oslo/Bergen/Oslo: One can take this tour in either direction. Starting in Oslo, take the train to Bergen, not forgetting to take the side trip on the spur rail line down to the fjord at Flam. (See the website: http://www.visitflam.com/). One then takes a boat tour through the various fjords, including the Sognefjord and its near associated fjords, transitting to ferries/steamers that eventually reach Ålesund, Molde, or other sites in Romsdalfjord, where buses can be taken to Åndalsnes (or autos can be rented though these will likely have to be returned to the rental site, making a round trip incomvenient). Finally, the train can be taken through Romsdalen back to Oslo. Many opportunities for stopping, and for sidetrips, exist on this itinerary.
Arctic Circle Trip: A trip to the Arctic Circle and the midnight sun is on many travelers' must-do list. There are various steamers that go up the western coast and return, combining these trips with various opportunities for touring above the arctic circle. We hope to provide more information about these trips on this website later, but one site to visit now is: http://www.arctic-circle.no/arctic_circle.htm