Iceland Countdown

22Jul08

Although you usually countdown before something happens, here are the numbers for my trip last week to Iceland.

where Europe and North America meet

Þingvellir Lake, where Europe and North America meet

5 days of ICALP. My trip to Iceland was primarily for the International Colloquium on Automata, Languages, and Programming, where I presented a paper on distributed algorithms. This conference brought together a hugely diverse audience from all aspects of theoretical computer science, which was nice since I also got to see some talks close to my current research area, LP-based approximation algorithms.

Hanging out at Kerið with Alex

Hanging out at Kerið with Alex

4 outdoors adventures. I snorkeled in the 5°C waters of Þingvellir Lake, biked around Reykjavik for 6 hours in the rain, and hiked up Eyjafjallajökull summit on a glacier. The 4th adventure was relaxing at the Blue Lagoon, transitioned into a panicked run as I almost missed the departing bus.

3 delicious new animals. At the Sea Baron restaurant I had a mink whale skewer on Tuesday. Saturday I got to try puffin (with tasty blueberry sauce) at the Tapasbarinn restaurant, followed by hákarl, which is made from shark, from Sea Baron. The puffin was pretty awesome, but I don’t recommend hákarl as dessert.

Steam near Geysir Park

Steam near Geysir Park

2 fun bathroom facts. The showers (and saunas, taps, and hot tubs) in Iceland smelled like sulphur, which is because they heat their water via superheated steam from underground. The toilets had two settings, depending on whether you needed a big flush (6 litres) or a small flush (3 litres); it seems like a pretty civilized alternative to sticking an empty milk jug in the toilet tank.

1 liquid confiscated by customs. I purchased a bottle of Brennivín on my way out of Iceland. However, just before going through the security checkpoint in Halifax, I realized that it was stuck in my carry-on luggage! Needless to say, I took down a shot of it before throwing it away. Based on the shot, I don’t think it was such a big loss.

0 proceedings in my luggage. The conference organizers put the proceedings online before it started and ensured people using the local wireless could access them (how convenient!). My colleague Cora was pretty smart and just didn’t take proceedings in the first place; I was slightly less efficient since I took a copy for abstract-browing during talks, and left them in Iceland for recycling. Perhaps some day soon they’ll just hold entire conferences online…

Moss. There was lots of it, and it was great for naps!

Moss. There was lots of it, and it was great for naps!



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