Epic Three Kingdoms Road Trip Report!
Username
Do you already have an account?
Forgot your password?
  • Log in or Sign up

    Results 1 to 21 of 21
    1. #1
      Junior Member scooterb's Avatar
      Join Date
      Apr 2018
      Location
      SF Bay Area
      Posts
      91

      Epic Three Kingdoms Road Trip Report!

      So finally found some time to detail some recollections and tips from our epic two week excursion to pick up my new XC90--LARS! I gleaned so much great information and input from this forum and my hope is to pay some of that back for future OSD planners. Thought the best way to do it would be to just go through the various points in our itinerary and give some thoughts/highlights on each. Know that I am in the wine industry and a bit of a foodie at heart so please forgive the culinary bent of the advice!

      Copenhagen:

      Started with an extended three day layover in Copenhagen thanks to the folks at the travel agency. Loved Copenhagen which was a great, very walkable city. Tivoli was just so-so for us. Interesting for an amusement park given its nostalgic feel but if you aren't that into amusement parks (we aren't) or don't have kids (we don't) I don't think it is worth a huge devotion of time. Definitely would do a canal tour and a stroll around Nyhavn.




      LOTS of good eats to be had in Copenhagen. We had an amazing 9 course chef's menu with wine pairings at a place called Admiralgade 26 near the Christianborg Castle. It was a 3 hour meal with amazing service and incredible artful food. It was by no means cheap but well worth the price in our estimation. The same folks run a wine bar around the corner called Van Staden 10 which has a popup Monday night supper event built around one great dish by different local chefs they know. We didn't do this but if you are there on Monday night (when many restaurants are closed) it would be worth checking out for a fun reasonably priced dinner. I can also recommend a restaurant called Pony which is a bit of an off the beaten track gem. Finally for breakfast a GREAT bakery/cafe called Mirabelle which is known as having the best croissants in the city (try the eggs Spencer dish pictured below)!




      Gothenberg:

      Got into Gothenberg and had a great dinner at Norda with a bunch of other OSD folks. We ended up dining next to a couple picking up an XC40 who lived 10 miles from us--small world!

      Our actual delivery experience was great. As suggested here, we asked in advance for Camilla to be our host if possible, the FDC obliged and she was just great! Fun, enthusiastic, and very knowledgeable. We met LARS and took him for a quick spin over to the Volvo Museum only getting lost two or three times along the way--right of passage. Had to get used to the Sensus woman telling me to keep left and turn right almost simultaneously! After a great lunch and the interesting factory tour we were off to Oslo suburbs, the first leg of our journey toward the fjord country.



      Norway Night 1 (Sundoloven Hotel)

      Driving was easy if slow due to Friday get away traffic around Oslo. We were aiming for the Sundoloven Hotel which I think was a great choice for those looking to do what we were doing which was skip Oslo and position ourselves at a crossroads hub for the longer journey over the mountains toward the fjords.

      Norway Day 2 (Sundoloven - Aurland)

      Of the many options to get from East to West to Fjord country we took the advice of others in the forum to take the road less traveled--16 to 7 to 50. Highway 7 and 50 were great. Started in golden autumnal valleys that reminded me of Aspen or Vail in the Fall. Gradually made our way up over the mountain pass which was a bit windy and snow dusted but a very well maintained road through a tundra landscape. We then went through a series of spectacular tunnels as we wended our way down the other side. Finally we emerged from a tunnel at the very top of a Fjord, which was an awesome site. We made good time and got to Flam in time for a late afternoon ride up the Flåmsbana Railway to Myrdal and back. It was by far the most tourist laden thing we did, even in late September, but the views were incredible and it was worth the trip. Stayed the night in Aurland.



      Norway Day 3 (Aurland to Fjaerland)

      I had hoped to do the Aurlandsfjellet scenic road, but only the end section from Aurland to the Stegastein lookout was open. The road up was narrow and required a bit of squeezing by the few others on the road, but the few folks we encountered were driving sensibly and were patient with the passing maneuvers entailed. The view from the lookout high above the Aurland Fjord was incredible and well worth the drive. After descending back down we made our way to Gundavagen for the last 12:00 PM car ferry of the Summer season over to Kaupanger, another tip from this forum. The two and a half hour trip through the narrow fjords was incredible. Once on the other side, we visited a cool Stave church in Kaupanger, and then meandered over to the small, off the beaten track village of Fjaerland, where we stayed in a cool Fjord side inn on their last night of the season (timing is everything!).




      Norway Day 4 (Fjaerland to Voss)

      Fjaerland was a bit sleepy at this time of year, but we woke up to a spectacular view of the Fjord with wisps of curling fog lingering up the mountainsides, under the blue sky above. The water surface was as usual calm and perfectly reflective of the beauty above, truly stunning.


      I had hoped to do move counter clockwise along 5 to 13 toward Balestrand via the full Gaularfjellet scenic road, but I was feeling a bit under the weather and opted to go clockwise instead along the quicker route to Balestrand. Feeling a bit better as the day progressed I opted to do the end part of Gaularfjellet up the serpentine road to Utsikten lookout, which was just spectacular. Golden valley below, huge waterfalls, snow fields just above us, and an amazing rainbow which hung there forever above it all. Wish I had done the full road as planned but glad to have gotten this taste.




      Another short ferry ride back to the south bank of Sognefjord at Vangsnes and on to 13 up the valley and into the mountains towards Voss. This road, while not an "official turistveger" was still quite pretty with a lot of varied scenery. Stayed at a great mountain lodge called Store Ringheim Hotel. Highly recommended.


      Norway Day 5 (Bergen)

      Weather was iffy in the morning so we opted for the direct route (16) to Bergen. We stayed at the Bergen Bors Hotel which was very cool, though a bit tricky to get to in the car amidst the slew of one ways and pedestrian only streets. Parking was a couple of short blocks away. Still we were given a great room that gave us an awesome weather vane framed view of the city from 5 huge windows. Breakfast was great as well. Its worth the slight hassle with the car to stay there. We were blessed with some rare sunshine in Bergen and enjoyed the trip up the tram to the city lookout.






      Norway Day 6 (Bergen and Overnight Ferry to Denmark)

      We lucked out with a delayed ferry arrival and that gave us several extra hours in Bergen, but this alas was the day we left beautiful Norway and began our trip back towards Gothenberg. Ferry ride was nice though a decent cabin doesn't come cheap. I was a bit worried about how the seas would be as I can get seasick in rough weather, but things were smooth, and it was a great way to travel while sleeping and cut out a MAJOR chunk of the return drive back. We arrived at Hirtshalls on the Eastern tip of Denmark in the AM and meandered up to Skagen to see the point where the Baltic and Atlantic meet. Made our way to the 2:00PM ferry from the Fredrikshaven for the two hour ride to Gothenberg. I wish the schedules synced up better between these two ferries (only 40KM apart) but overall I can recommend this routing as a way to get to Bergen or back while cutting down your driving a bit and maximizing your time. Only downside was upon arrival in Gothenberg with the nightmare of navigating the 2 miles from the ferry to the Clarion due to construction between the two. I knew about it in advance, and tried to be prepared to deal with it, but it was still a mess.


      Quick tips on Gothenberg: Viktor Cafe is a great coffee/lunch spot near Art Museum, also great place for a reasonable chef's course dinner was this very hip champagne bar: Champagnebaren Forssén & Öberg


      Stockholm (Gothenberg-Stockholm)

      We left Lars with the friendly folks at the FDC who were anxious to hear all about Norway. We clocked 810 miles traveled by the time we bid adieu to our denim blue friend. Volvo whisked us away to our first class train to Stockholm. Loved the train but I would caution to take care when booking seats, as some window seats offer partially obstructed views that really cut down on what you can see. Unfortunately we got one of those, so it detracted from what would have been a very scenic train ride. Not sure if there is a way to identify those seats in advance or not but wish we had as it sucked. Especially irritating when those business men around us who had normal window seats were oblivious to the views fixating instead on their laptops and papers. Oh Well...

      Stockholm

      Gotta say as much as we loved Copenhagen and thought that would be the coolest city we would see, Stockholm was equally cool. LOVED the Vasa museum which is entirely built around an original 1600 era ship that was raised from the ocean floor and would highly recommend that to visitors.



      The old town was great as well and it was just great to meander around the central core. The last night of our trip we splurged at what might have been the best meal of my life. We dined at the communal table at the Michelin starred restaurant Gastrologik. 20 courses with wine pairings served over four hours at the chef hosted communal table with an internationally diverse group all reveling in a night of sheer culinary bliss. They do the communal table every night, and English is usually the common language. It was NOT cheap but it was a true experience that we will remember for years to come.





      Flight home from Stockholm to San Francisco via Copenhagen was smooth sailing.

      Overall it was an epic experience which I would gladly do again. Put a lot of effort into the planning and was mostly happy with my choices. Only downside with the road trip was the being on the move each day and not really having a great deal of time to soak in each location, that kind of comes with the territory though, and we didn't want to have to choose between Copenhagen and Stockholm--glad we saw them both! Hoping some of you will find this useful for planning your own trip, and happy to answer any questions. Thanks again to all those who helped in my planning along the way, very much appreciated.



      Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
      Last edited by scooterb; 10-31-2018 at 11:14 AM.
      2019 T-6 AWD Polestar, Denim Blue/Maroon Brown (OSD Sept 2018)

    2. Remove Advertisements

      Advertisements
       

    3. #2
      Junior Member Markdotnet's Avatar
      Join Date
      May 2018
      Location
      Wisconsin
      Posts
      179
      Wow! Awesome! Isn't OSD just the best?!

    4. #3
      Member GregK's Avatar
      Join Date
      Jul 2011
      Location
      Chesterfield, Missouri
      Posts
      3,625
      Quote Originally Posted by Markdotnet View Post
      Wow! Awesome! Isn't OSD just the best?!
      +1......many thanks for sharing your adventure! Sure beats buying a new Volvo off the lot!!!
      2012 S60 T5 (OSD 4/2012) Ember Black/Offblack l Premium,Multimedia,Climate,Dynamic l BLIS/PCC/ABL/F&R Park Assist/Sport Pedals/Chrome Endpipes

      2016 XC90 T6 (OSD 5/2016) Crystal White Pearl/Amber/Black l Momentum Plus,Vision,Convenience l 20" Alloy wheels/Wood steering wheel/Child booster seat/Black headliner/PA II

    5. Remove Advertisements
      SwedeSpeed.com
      Advertisements
       

    6. #4
      Junior Member luckydog2006's Avatar
      Join Date
      Aug 2018
      Location
      Ottawa, Canada
      Posts
      16
      +1 - awesome and really nice of you for sharing. Amazing pictures, and the food looks great! Did you bring the kids?
      2019 XC90 T6 Inscription AWD, Denim Blue, Premium Plus Package, B&W, 4-C Air, Charcoal Headliner, 21" 8-Spoke Silver Diamond Cut Alloy Wheel + Polestar + 3M Pro + Ceramic Pro
      2010 Honda Civic
      1998 Honda Civic SI
      1969 Dodge Charger R/T

    7. #5
      Junior Member eksy's Avatar
      Join Date
      Dec 2016
      Posts
      222
      Wow! What a great write up and awesome photos! Thanks!

    8. #6
      Junior Member satrya's Avatar
      Join Date
      Jan 2018
      Location
      Fremont, north california
      Posts
      948
      Nice pictures; thanks for sharing
      Denim Blue 2018 xc90 T6 Momentum+

    9. #7
      Thanks scooterb! Just what I was waiting for. Glad you had a great time and thanks for the info.

    10. #8
      Junior Member jtriebe's Avatar
      Join Date
      May 2016
      Location
      Tucson, AZ
      Posts
      267
      Thanks for sharing. OSD is fantastic.
      OSD ordered 2017 XC90 Inscription Luminous Sand with Blonde Leather and Charcoal carpet, 234 wheels, Convenience, Climate with HUD, Vision, B&W Sound, Polestar and air suspension

    11. #9
      Quote Originally Posted by scooterb View Post
      We clocked 810 miles traveled by the time we bid adieu to our denim blue friend. Volvo whisked us away to our first class train to Stockholm. Loved the train but I would caution to take care when booking seats, as some window seats offer partially obstructed views that really cut down on what you can see. Unfortunately we got one of those, so it detracted from what would have been a very scenic train ride. Not sure if there is a way to identify those seats in advance or not but wish we had as it sucked. Especially irritating when those business men around us who had normal window seats were oblivious to the views fixating instead on their laptops and papers.
      Thanks. Great photos, great info. Yes, you can find the SJ rail seat map, and select seats- mandatory seat selection, like US airlines, on the X2000 trains. The two of us had a 4-top to ourselves in July. I recommend First Class. We booked non-refundable far in advance. G'burg-Stockholm cost $62 total for two. Includes lounge privileges. We had a mid-morning departure. After the XC90 from the FDC dropped us, SJ's G-burg lounge was serving buffet breakfast. Not that we needed another.

    12. #10
      Junior Member scooterb's Avatar
      Join Date
      Apr 2018
      Location
      SF Bay Area
      Posts
      91
      Quote Originally Posted by Orphanscribe View Post
      Thanks. Great photos, great info. Yes, you can find the SJ rail seat map, and select seats- mandatory seat selection, like US airlines, on the X2000 trains. The two of us had a 4-top to ourselves in July. I recommend First Class. We booked non-refundable far in advance. G'burg-Stockholm cost $62 total for two. Includes lounge privileges. We had a mid-morning departure. After the XC90 from the FDC dropped us, SJ's G-burg lounge was serving buffet breakfast. Not that we needed another.
      To be clear we did have first class RESERVED seats, but somehow I missed that there were some rows where the seats were positioned off set from the windows kind of like some airline window seats you find. So we only really had half a window to look out vs the whole expanse that the other rows had. Not sure if you can identify those on the map easily but in hindsight I would have taken greater care to ensure we were in a better row.
      Last edited by scooterb; 10-29-2018 at 07:02 PM.
      2019 T-6 AWD Polestar, Denim Blue/Maroon Brown (OSD Sept 2018)

    13. #11
      Quote Originally Posted by scooterb View Post
      To be clear we did have first class RESERVED seats, but somehow I missed that there were some rows where the seats were positioned off set from the windows.
      Yes, for benefit of others, the seat map's a little hard to decipher. There's a "quiet section." There are seats where you are warned you may be seated next to a service animal, etc. Once you see the car in person, it's all obvious. But by then you are where you are.

    14. #12
      Member ig_mb's Avatar
      Join Date
      Sep 2003
      Location
      Fremont, CA
      Posts
      2,300
      Quote Originally Posted by Orphanscribe View Post
      ... you can find the SJ rail seat map, and select seats- mandatory seat selection, like US airlines, on the X2000 trains.
      Just a heads up: similar to what happens when airlines change equipment and your carefully chosen window seat ends up being reassigned next to the toilets or as a middle seat in a row of 5, the same can happen on trains (ok, not middle seats -- they are always 2 seats per row per side).

      Last April, we rode the train from Oslo to Bergen. Unfortunately, the train company (NSB) decided to switch wagons at the last minute so our seats were not what we expected. We were 6 and had spent a significant amount of time selecting the seats so we would all have a good view and facing forward (to avoid motion sickness). When we boarded the train, our seats were nowhere to be found: there was a luggage storage area where they were supposed to be! Eventually, an inspector showed up and told us that they had changed the wagon and that instead of being all together as we had planned, we had to sit in various rows where most seats were rear facing. We were not happy but what can you do?
      2018 XC90 T8 AWD Momentum Plus, Denim Blue, convenience, air suspension, B&W, HUD, etc
      2005 S60 2.5T AWD (OSD) Platinum Green, Premium, Convenience, Climate, Bi-Xenon, etc
      Previous:
      2016 XC90 T6 AWD (OSD) Momentum Plus, Magic Blue, vision, convenience, air suspension, B&W, HUD, etc
      2004 XC90 T6 AWD (gone but not forgotten)

    15. #13
      Junior Member Okidiver's Avatar
      Join Date
      Jan 2008
      Location
      Tampa...sometimes
      Posts
      986
      Nice trip report, thanks for sharing.

      Stockholm is a great city and, as those who've been there know, one picture of
      the Vasa (in the
      museum)
      does no justice as to it's size.

      What amazed me was how well kept the buildings in town were--even though they were built HUNDREDS of years ago. An advantage of neutrality...
      Rapid Rick...I roll
      2008 C30 Matt Pearl Gold OSD-customized w/Elevate tune
      2015 V60 Seashell Metallic w/Platinum, BLIS, wood

    16. #14
      Junior Member scooterb's Avatar
      Join Date
      Apr 2018
      Location
      SF Bay Area
      Posts
      91
      I nearly forgot that I had some thoughts on our Clarion Post experience. We spent a total of three nights at the Clarion, two before we picked up the Volvo, and one the night before we dropped off.

      Now I am the first to recognize that I am critiquing a FREE hotel stay, but setting that aside the room we were given the first time around was in the odd glass tower addition to the old building that houses the original hotel. Based on other posts here, I am guessing this is typically where Volvo customers are booked. There was a tech conference going on and to access the elevator to our floor we had to negotiate our way through a happy hour networking event which involved threading a few hundred executives with our suitcases in tow. Awkward start. Our room was a corner room on the 6th floor which had 3 floor to ceiling windows, which would normally be great. BUT, one window looked out directly on to the roof of the shorter old building so we were looking at a lot of scenic air vents, etc. The second window was positioned behind a huge sleeper sofa which jutted out into the room very awkwardly and completely blocked access to the window behind which had its heavy drapes drawn making the room much darker than it needed to be. It was just the oddest room and layout. So only one of the three windows offered any view. Again it was free so we sucked it up and dealt, but when I checked out I inquired about reserving a room in old wing of the hotel, perhaps one of those with the cool circular windows that you see in the roof from the square.


      They were happy to oblige and all I can say is what a difference it made! There wasn't a lot of view mind you as the circular windows aren't huge but the layout, the decor, and the overall comfort of the room was night and day above the weird tower addition. Here are a few pics I took of the second room, just to get a sense. The decor was much lighter and brighter, hard wood floors a dedicated living room and sleeping area, and great bathroom. YMMV and again not the end of the world either way, but if we were to do OSD again we would definitely request a room in the original wing, so thought I would pass along to others for consideration.




      Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
      Last edited by scooterb; 11-03-2018 at 07:18 PM.
      2019 T-6 AWD Polestar, Denim Blue/Maroon Brown (OSD Sept 2018)

    17. #15
      Junior Member satrya's Avatar
      Join Date
      Jan 2018
      Location
      Fremont, north california
      Posts
      948
      Valid point, but one thing I found about hotels in many places in Europe, is that they were retrofitted from buildings that are very old by US standards and wasn't necessarily designed as a hotel in the first place. It appears that the Clarion Post in Gothenburg was built in a former post office building, which started its life in 1925. I've been in hotels where the historic &/ organic growth of the facility results in "unique" rooms (from having stayed in the same hotel several times with about the same price). The concept of uniform room for the same rate may be more North American than European?
      Denim Blue 2018 xc90 T6 Momentum+

    18. #16
      Junior Member Okidiver's Avatar
      Join Date
      Jan 2008
      Location
      Tampa...sometimes
      Posts
      986
      Yeah, that's Europe--wait until you try it Italian-style in Roma!
      Rapid Rick...I roll
      2008 C30 Matt Pearl Gold OSD-customized w/Elevate tune
      2015 V60 Seashell Metallic w/Platinum, BLIS, wood

    19. #17
      Junior Member skibum50's Avatar
      Join Date
      May 2017
      Location
      Northern Kentucky
      Posts
      590
      Quote Originally Posted by scooterb View Post
      the room we were given the first time around was in the odd glass tower addition to the old building that houses the original hotel. Based on other posts here, I am guessing this is typically where Volvo customers are booked.
      Not necessarily. When we had our OSD back in March we were given a room in the older part of the hotel. It was great -- so much more character (as far as I could tell) than the new glass tower part. There was a big convention going on at the time during our stay as well, so that wasn't relevant.
      2018 XC60 Momentum T8 (OSD March 2018)

    20. #18
      Quote Originally Posted by scooterb View Post
      Now I am the first to recognize that I am critiquing a FREE hotel stay, but the room we were given the first time was in the glass tower typically where Volvo customers are booked. Our room was a corner room which had 3 floor to ceiling windows it was free so we sucked it up but [on a following night] I reserve[ed] a room in old wing of the hotel.
      Additional perspective, prompted only as a counterpoint to scooterb 's comments. Precisely because the old wing rooms are fitted into historic spaces, be aware that they vary. Our Tower room, that Volvo had specified, wasn't ready. Staff therefore helpfully moved us to a ready room, on the original building's top floor, as scooterb's pictured room appears to have been. Our room differed from the room in scooterb's pictures. Our old wing room was large, sleekly modern, and immaculate, with a charming sloping garret wall/ceiling and a tiny window. However, accessing the room, from the only elevators that serviced it, required an eighty yard walk through a corridor maze. We got lost twice, once so badly that we had to return to the front desk, with a maid's assistance, via the service elevator. The window was so high that I had to lift my wife up, so she could glimpse the "view." Which view was of Central Station's railroad tracks. The room's large area was so odd-shaped that opening a suitcase required furniture re-arranging. There was no space for Volvo's "welcome gift" to be laid out, so the staff had tucked away the various bits. If I hadn't known from this forum what to expect, we wouldn't have found them.

      It was FREE. It was GREAT. We love old, quirky Euro hotels, and normally seek them out. But, in our case, we came away thinking Volvo's more conventional Tower room would have better met our needs and expectations.

    21. #19
      Junior Member scooterb's Avatar
      Join Date
      Apr 2018
      Location
      SF Bay Area
      Posts
      91
      Welcome home Lars!


      Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
      2019 T-6 AWD Polestar, Denim Blue/Maroon Brown (OSD Sept 2018)

    22. #20
      Never did an OSD but been to Stockholm (Though not to Norway). Is it me or does Norway resemble Old Town? Lots of quaint and beautifully colored buildings!



    23. #21
      Junior Member
      Join Date
      Oct 2018
      Location
      Bay Area, CA
      Posts
      53
      Quote Originally Posted by scooterb View Post
      Welcome home Lars!


      Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
      Beautiful! I thought your pics kinda looked like you’re in the Bay Area, and according to your profile, indeed you are. I’m curious how denim blue would look with the new black license plates layered over the red...


      Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

    24. Remove Advertisements

      Advertisements