Updated: Jul 19, 2022
Ready for this one? It's a (fun?) story! Getting to Norway was a bit harder than planned (but worth it!) - find out why in this blogging tale.
Part 1 - Flight(s) Cancelled
We packed, we planned, we prayed, we got our rears in gear to leave! We got the kids ready, made sure kids were fed, double-checked all the luggage was in place, checked that passports were in hand, and then did the hour drive to the airport.
As we pull up to the airport drop-off we get a text that our first flight to Newark has been cancelled due to weather. With hopes to somehow catch another flight or gain additional clarity, we went into the airport anyway. That may have been a mistake.
After two hours, what seemed like 100 different conversations, calls, and counter check-ins we were not able to get another flight to Newark in time to catch the connection to Bergen. AND, it turns out, flights to Bergen don't happen all the time, so a nice (and patient) airline representative finally rebooked our entire itinerary for 3 DAYS LATER! Yikes.
We were exhausted, disappointed, and frustrated with the circumstances. However, one of the best parts of a trip like this is FLEXIBILITY. We were able to take a breath, try to reset and "roll with the punches", so to speak. We wanted to intentionally exemplify positive attitudes for the kids.
Hotel overnight with kids that allowed them to swim and say thank you for their patience during that long haul. It wasn't our parental favorite, but the kids loved it.
A bit more time to test out items we packed - even though we were home we recognized a few last-minute items that would be helpful for the trip.
Extra time to snuggle our 9-month old niece who was around (which we did!).
A few more days of our normal food consumption (we miss you comfort food!)
The delay was a challenge and overall very tiring.
We had to do additional communication with reservations for the rental car, lodging, etc. -some of which cost us a fair amount of extra $$ - thankfully, no extra charges for the change in flights.
"Gearing up" and building adrenaline again was harder than we thought. We experienced a false start and while we are fortunate to continue on, it did take a lot out of the family and initial morale. Have you ever had that happen? Share your story in the comments!
BUT, we were practicing gratitude and were thankful that by the following Monday morning, we were gearing up for attempted departure #2.
Part 2 - Flight(s) Delayed... Gates Changed... and Flight Delayed Again
Welcome to part 2! You made it this far... as did we. There's more ahead...
Let's get in the air before they change their minds again!
Overall, our check-in, security, and bag check went relatively well. The trouble came as we waited for our flight. Then, right before boarding the flight ended up being delayed TWICE. We finally got on the plane... and then we got a notice that the airport shut down arrivals and it might be another hour before departure (on the runway)...
See "you've got to be kidding faces" below - - - -
Fortunately, we had the BEST pilot. He stayed on the runway in communication with the airport and when the airport amended their decision, he quickly said, "Let's get in the air before they change their minds again!" and proceeded to fly us safely and quickly to our first destination. Finally!
The next few hours in Newark are basic, but a couple things stood out.
Getting food was difficult. The scan systems to order didn't work. The staff at various restaurants seemed worn and frustrated (both with each other and customers) - some even just "closed" randomly while we were there.
SIDE NOTE - we feel for the employees. It is probably tiring with so many people in and out, tons of language barriers, and an overall state of mild chaos. Plus, who knows what kind of support they have following the pandemic. Whether you are a customer or worker, a smile, some grace, and a fair bit of patience and kindness can go a really long way to lift someone else up (and keep you calm).
Our gate changed 3 times. Relocating was interesting, but fine.
Newark airport was packed. It is obviously one of the East Coast's main hubs, and while we have been in others, we were a bit surprised with the intense and crowded vibe here.
We met some incredible people while waiting. One woman was headed to Norway with us and shared some of her story about being born in Norway and raising a family in the U.S. We also met an amazing couple headed to Portugal (you know who you are!) and we found a lot of common ground during our discussion about raising kids, perspective on the world, and the risks and rewards we have all taken to travel in some unique ways at this point in our lives.
Flight to Bergen was delayed. At least twice. Eventually we stopped counting.
Part 3 - Final Flight, Arrival & First Impressions
The feeling of relief to finally be on the flight to Bergen was amazing. It had been an incredibly long day with highs and lows and to finally be heading out was encouraging.
...we knew one thing right away. Norway is a beautiful country.
Do we have highlights from our flight? You bet.
Given the delay, an overnight flight with the kids was trickier than anticipated. We hoped it would be good for sleeping, but it turns out, with dinner service interruptions, unique timing, and overtired kids (at that point), that plan backfired. The four of us barely slept.
After challenging food experiences all day, the dinner on the flight was surprisingly the best we'd had all day! Win.
There were seats open next to us = extra space to spread out and sleep (well, lounge, since we didn't really sleep). Another win!
The personnel on the flight were cheerful, helpful and kind - that was amazing! Win 3.
The flight was great. Overall, we were really pleased and even though our sleep cycles were completely off, we landed feeling like it was a good experience.
To all our friends and family who are far more experienced with traveling (and traveling with kids) - we see you. Well done. Insights welcome! We’ll share our tips soon on what we’re learning for family travel.
The airport in Bergen is exceptionally clean and simple which made customs, luggage, and car rental pick-up a breeze. Thank you Bergen! Our biggest issue was finding SIM cards for our phones and while that took some effort, it was a good learning experience.
Once we gathered our things and got on the road we knew one thing right away... Norway is an incredibly beautiful country. Even our drive to the AirBnB was a sight to see with enormous bridges, fjords, and evergreens everywhere.
Welcome to Norway!
We made it.