For Touring Norway, The Train's The Thing

Posted: October 10, 1993

Question: We plan to visit Norway, land of my husband's ancestors. Are railpasses available there? T.H., Woodstown, N.J.

Answer: Visitors to Norway - including those headed for the Winter Olympics at Lillehammer in February - should consider railpasses if they plan to be moving around the country to any extent. Several kinds are available:

* Nordturist Pass. Good for 21 days of unlimited travel by train throughout Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland. Also valid on ferries between Oslo- Copenhagen and Stockholm-Helsinki. A first-class adult pass costs $430. They're available in rail stations. For information, call ScanAm at 800-545-2204.

* Eurailpass and Eurail Flexipass. Available for periods of five days to three months, good for rail travel in 17 European countries, including Norwegian state railways. Get it before you go, through a travel agent or by calling Rail Europe at 800-848-7245.

* Scanrail Pass, a flexible pass allowing four to 14 days of travel in Scandinavia within periods of two weeks to one month. Available through Rail Europe, 800-848-7245.

Two other rail-ticket schemes worth knowing about are:

* Mini-price or "green fare" tickets. These tickets allow you to travel as far as you like, one way, no stopovers, for about $82. Other point-to-point fares are available for less on certain trains. They must be purchased a day in advance in Norway.

* Senior citizen rail discounts lop 50 percent off the price of first- or second-class fares on any train for people over 67. Such tickets, too, can be bought in Norway.

For information, contact the Norwegian Tourist Board at 655 Third Ave., New York, N.Y. 10017; phone 212-949-2333 or 800-346-4636.

Q: For a summer trip to Seattle, do you know of any whale-watching cruises? J.D., Sewell

A: Prime time for whale watching in the Pacific Ocean near Seattle is March to May, when gray whales and humpbacks migrate between Alaska and warmer waters. Other times, the area's orcas, also known as killer whales, get most of the limelight.

The Seattle Aquarium sponsors orca-watching trips from June to August, with June considered the choicest month. The eight-hour journeys depart from Anacortes, north of Seattle, and shuttle buses are available. The program includes educational instruction before the trip, and a naturalist is aboard. The trips cost about $60.

For details or reservations, write Seattle Aquarium, 1483 Alaskan Way, Pier 59, Seattle, Wash. 98101, or call 206-386-4320.

Among Seattle outfits that offer trips during the migration period are Westport Whale Watch, 206-268-9144 and Whales Ahoy, 206-268-9150.

Along northern Puget Sound, Western Prince Cruises in Friday Harbor offers whale cruises, and the price includes admission to the Whale Museum. Phone 206-378-5315.

For tourist information for greater Seattle, call the Seattle-King County Convention & Visitors Bureau at 520 Pike St., Suite 1300, Seattle, Wash. 98101; phone 206-461-5800.

Q: I understand St. Augustine is the oldest city in Florida, but I never see it advertised. Where can I get information about the city?

A: St. Augustine, founded in 1565, is considered the oldest European settlement in the United States. Its restored Spanish Quarter and the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument are popular stops for day trippers.

For details on the old city, contact the St. Augustine-St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce, 1 Riberia St., St. Augustine, Fla. 32084; phone 904-829-5681.

Donald D. Groff welcomes questions from readers. Although he cannot reply to all of them individually, he will answer those of general interest in this column. Write to Donald D. Groff, Travel Department, The Inquirer, Box 8263, Philadelphia 19101.

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