After a week on conferencing in Geneva, we made a quick stopover in the UK for a meeting. Specifically, we went to Oxford. I've been to London before and there is no comparing the two cities. While London is loud and speckled with skyscrapers, Oxford is quiet, quaint and mostly historic. Case in point - I stayed in a prison.
When booking our hotel, my group decided to have a little fun and chose the Malmaison Oxford. Malmaison is a hotel group, with locations all over Europe, but their hotels are anything but traditional. The Malmaison Oxford was built out of an old prison, on the site of the Oxford castle. The transformation was completed in 2009 and the hotel now boasts beautiful rooms, that were once prison cells! This is most evident when you stand in the center of the main cellblock and look up.
We were only in Oxford for two days, so I had to pick and choose my tourist attractions carefully. There was no time to spend wandering through the museums in town, or spend money on a quick visit to Christchurch cathedral (the original inspiration for the Hogwarts Great Hall!), no I just did a lot of walking. And eating. So much eating.
Our first night in Oxford was spent eating some seriously good British food at The Big Bang. What do they serve? Bangers and Mash, gourmet style. You see my plate of food up there? It was three different types of sausage - The traditional, Welsh pork & leek and wild boar & pigeon, all piled on top of grain mustardy potato mash. There were some peas there too, just for garnish. Not only was the main course delicious, we indulged in dessert too. That purple fluff was their Oxford Mess and it was anything but light. So rich and creamy, I was only able to finish half of it.
What else did I do on my day in Oxford? A whole lot of walking. I walked through the Oxford University gardens, along the tiny alleys with strange names and up and down the main streets. It was fun to soak in all of the history and visit buildings that are older than America.
My favorite excursion on my trip to Oxford? I went for a run. Seriously! The Thames path runs along the river for miles and miles and so did I. Originally, I was on a hunt for the Iris inn. A sweet inn that is accessible only via this path. They serve dinner and are apparently a perfect place to wile away the evening hours. Unfortunately for me, they weren't open for business when I ran by. Tables were set up in a glen with daffodils sprouting around the legs. In plain view of the river, but tucked away from any street, I can see how it would be the perfect place to spend an evening with friends.
With my recent European adventure finished, I hopped back to Heathrow (via the Airline bus!) and enjoyed three full seats on my plane ride home. Where was I off to next? The much less exotic location of San Diego, California.