The $30 Bathroom Break

Trip Start Jun 02, 2012
Trip End Jun 28, 2012

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Flag of Norway  ,
Thursday, June 7, 2012

Airport arrival areas are happy places to spend the day. Especially in a foreign country, it's fun to see how people treat their loved ones. The Norwegians are definitely flagwavers, flower buyers, and balloon flyers!

I got a chance to see play this today while waiting for travelers to trickle in from North America, even a couple of Brits, who are residents of Bermuda joining us for the first time. Everyone arrived on time, and with their luggage, though we did have one bit of drama when we discovered that one traveler arrived at one of Oslo secondary airports instead of the main one. So she got a bonus ride on the Norwegian bus system through a part of Norway none of the rest of us will see.

I've been grousing lately about the prices in Scandinavia, and when I crossed the border by train yesterday into Norway, I definitely entered into sticker shock twilight zone.

One of our objectives in selecting hotels is to find locations which offer quality options for traveler free time. To date we have tried not to make an exception on arrival day, which means we are not generally selecting airport hotels for our international tours. Since we moved away from group air travel a few years back, the commitment to hotels in interesting locations has complicated the process of getting travelers from the airport to the hotel.

Oslo is a prime example, with a 40 min. taxi ride providing the most cost-effective way to move travelers who trickle in throughout the day, into the heart of old Oslo, right on Oslo Fjord and just a block away from the main pedestrian shopping and hangout zone. 

I thought I had the best possible system in place in Oslo, using the taxi desk to order up the taxi when travelers were ready, and usually getting one of the lower cost taxi companies to take our each group. Fares for an 30 to 40 min. ride range between 500 kroner and 900 kroner, or $70 and $130. All was going well until the last batch arrived. It was about 4:45 PM, and as we strolled over to the taxi desk, I asked if they needed to use restrooms the four we drove into town.

That was a $30 mistake. After first saying “no”, the wife of this couple resorted to the woman's prerogative. After she was gone I asked the taxi desk to call a taxi., but was informed that 1) the taxi could not wait for us so we could not order taxi until ready and 2) in 3 min., at 5 PM, the rates would increase by 200 kroner, just over $30.

Our traveler was quick, and my watch said only 4:59 PM when I placed the order. But my watch was slower than theirs, and I didn't know how to plead the Norwegian word for “grace” (but I definitely tried in English), so we paid the extra 200 kroner. The next Norwegian phrase I'm working on is “budget buster".

And now, I have one more reason to resent all the non-productive time we spend on “comfort stops” :)
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Mamie Bennett on

Poor Dan, the "comfort stops" have been a cross you have had to bear since trip #1, some things never change!

friesendm on

True, true...they are an abiding trial!

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