Blog entries for category "europe":
They say I was in Amsterdam, and for a change I still remember. I knew I would have a stopover here on the way from Madeira back to Oz, but I neglected to realise that it was quite a long one. Only having arrived at the Schiphol airport I realised that there was plenty of time to dump my carry-on luggage into a storage locker and to take the train to the city for a few hours.
I'd like to briefly report about the bad experience of staying in the Tivoli resort hotel in Funchal (Madeira) and why I recommend to avoid that place at all costs.
I went to Madeira to attend the ICEC'09 conference (International Conference on Evolutionary Computation) where I presented my and Suzanne's work on Dual Phase Evolution. The presentation went extremely well and there were some interesting questions during the following discussion.
I had a stopover here on the way from Moscow back to Hamburg. For Fabian’s benefit I must say - it's a cute little city. It's got a typical West German downtown with a shopping district. There is giant Mercedes Benz skyscraper that dominates the otherwise unimpressive skyline. The atmosphere was very nice; I went to the city centre, got a kebab and an ice cream, went for a short stroll. Certainly, there would have been more nice things to do in Stuttgart, but I would not have known what they are, so I was on my way back to the airport within a couple of hours.
One question I have been asked many times during the week in Moscow was - "why did you not come earlier?". And looking back at the last 15 years of foolishly avoiding Russia I must say - I really do not know. In either case - I am very glad to have finally corrected the mistake.
Since I first moved away from Hamburg many years ago, there was not a single time when it did not feel warm around my heart when I stepped out of the Hamburg airport terminal building onto the street. Whether I came for 2 days or for one and a half years, it always felt right to be there.
This time I came for 6 days and then again for 3 days a week later.
Down in the old town centre lights shimmered busily. The wind mixed the buzz of the city, the hooting of cars, and the occasional laughter and shouting into a jolly babble and carried it up the Castle Hill, across the park, and up to the walls of the palace. Around, a few groups of people, strolling, many with wine glasses, chatting, smiling, enjoyed the warm Indian summer night and the views across the Danube onto the city of Pest. The giant cornice above the tunnel that lead through the Castle Hill and connected Buda's alleys directly to the Chain Bridge shimmered in a magical silver tone created by the fool moon that shined through the trees. The cornice was a traditional meeting place for couples, and on this night several of them sat and stood along the cornice edge and further up between the trees of the castle. Enchanted, I thought that if someone would ever ask me what it was that I missed while living in breathtaking Australia, missed so much that I could hardly imagine settling there, all I needed to do was to bring across a little of this humbling atmosphere that filled everything around. I could not imagine to find anything like that anywhere outside Europe.
The visit to Hamburg was very brief indeed. The sole purpose of it was to spend some time with my family and that is exactly what I did. Nevertheless, I am very happy that I have still managed to meet some friends one night.
The Eleventh International Conference on the Simulation and Synthesis of Living Systems was a big success in general as well as for me personally. While the biggest ALife event to date, the conference was signified by a traditionally very low acceptance rate and a very high paper quality. Presenting my own work as a full conference paper was fantastic, and attending the meeting of the leading ALife researchers in the world was a stimulating and rewarding experience.
Finally. I had waited for a very long time to go back to London. All the efforts of the American Airlines staff to screw up my mood did not have a chance to succeed - I was finally there.