Time to leave home for my short work trip to Oxford. Thanks to public funding, my union offers educational meeting once a year – and often it is cheaper to travel abroad than staying in Norway.
As the plane to London leaves early in the morning, I was booked on the flight the evening before and stayed a night at Oslo airport. Of course I tried to upgrade my ticket, but group tickets cannot be upgrade – but it was worth a try.
At Oslo I got a room at the Radisson blu hotel, directly at the terminal. A great place to stay – but at a price. Unfortunately they forgot to book breakfast. Dinner was Burger King take away and the breakfast the next morning I ordered online served on the plane. A nice feature on the SAS homepage. 79 NOK is not cheap, but you will leave more money at the airport.
After a good night and an early wake up I meet up with a lot of other local union leader from all around the country. Flight on a SAS Ireland Arbus 320neo. Before the flight I managed to put half a cup of coffee over my general secretary – a great start. Short flight to Heathrow, terminal 2. There we have to wait for planes from Trondheim, Bergen and Copenhagen that also transport members of the group. After all 40 participants have arrived we take a bus to Oxford – a drive of about 75 minutes.
Our hotel is the DeVere Oxford Thames in a small village a little bit outside of Oxford. A great location. The hotel must have been an old manor that was made to a hotel and all the different buildings are connected. I won the lottery and got one of two premium rooms with my own private terrace to the park. Not that I can use it – there is to much on the program and it gets dark early.
We had some lectures that evening, but not important for my blog.
Dinner at the hotel is a nightmare. The staff did not pay any attention, the food was cremated and came out of the freezer, we didn’t get offers for drinks etc. Not a good start. After a long day I go to bed in the super nice room.
A good night in a comfy bed. Breakfast at the hotel. Good breakfast, nothing to complain. Different types of eggs and a variety of bread, cereals and fruit. Of course most order English breakfast tea.
The whole day i filled with lectures. Interrupted by a lunch, which was Ok, but no highlight (I am not allowed to complain – I didn’t pay for anything^^).
In the afternoon/evening we have some free time and are transported by bus to Oxford. We have some hours to explore the city on our own. Unfortunately, it gets dark only a short time after we arrive. Nevertheless you get an impression of the great college buildings in the city. Otherwise it is a normal city with all the normal shops. I walk around the streets. In the side alleys you might find some interesting small shops – just take a look.
Dinner at a the Cafe Rouge. Nightmare dinner no. 2. The only chef here was the deep fryer. Terrible. Keep away from the Cafe Rouge. It just sounds French. Frustrated back to the hotel and to our rooms before a new day of lectures.
Day four starts again with a nice breakfast, followed by lectures until 3 pm. After that we have an official program as a group. The bus takes us back to Oxford, where we meet up with some local guides that will take us around the city. As we all have a background in architecture/planning there is a focus on different eras of architecture. Quite an interesting walk. A very knowledgeable guide. Even when darkness falls he is able to show us some great buildings.
The time before dinner i spent in a local pub. This time we are lucky with the dinner. It makes up for the last two bad days. Again a French restaurant, but the quality of the food was great, the servers superb. Brasserie Blanc is the name of the place. Good food, good wine and I tried a Japanese Single Malt Whiskey. Definitely a recommendation.
This time it is a happy bunch of people that takes the bus back to the hotel.
Last day in Oxford. We have a free morning at our hands and we organize 3 taxis to get to Oxford. First we drive to a college that was planned and build by a famous Danish architect – whose name I cannot remember. But it was good. A very special type of architecture.We walk around an visit the dining hall. They have – very cheap – fried chicken on the menu… not kidding. Must be an English thing.
After that we take the taxi further to the city center. All go their own way and we agree on a meeting point for the taxis back to the hotel. Now it is a walk around the city in daylight. Many of the colleges are closed to public. Maybe it is because it is Monday. So all you can do is enter the main gate and take a short look around. I also take a tour through the Covered Market – a big hall where you find a lot of small shops/food etc. Interesting concept.
It is geocaching time. I just need to find one here. Walking through the street I find on at the botanical gardens. Quite obvious, but the log in tn the box and next stop is a Cafe. Having a nice coffee and a waffle. Taking the time to book a hotel at Paris airport for my Easter holidays in 2019.
Time for more walking, some window shopping and more architectural sigh seeing. At the meeting point at the agreed time. But if you think it is easy to get 2 taxis for the ride back – forget it. No taxis passing by and calling didn’t help at all. 30-50 minute waiting. But we have to reach our bus to the airport. After some quick walking we find a taxi stand and the driver takes us back to the hotel. The prices are Ok compared to Norway. Between 10 and 16 Pounds for a 20 minute ride.
Bus to the airport. We are a little bit early, so there is enough time for a lunch with a part of our group before boarding. In Oslo, I have to stay another night at the hotel (I even get a free breakfast for the next morning – nice staff) and take the first plane back home and then directly to work. I had a great long weekend with a lot of useful input for my union work and a lot of interesting people.
Thinking about Oxford… it is worth a day trip, but not more. Old buildings have to be considered “special interest”.