Sunday, May 27, 2007

travel past and future

My job interview here was my first trip to Germany. I didn't even make it to Europe until I was 26, in 1999. My old friend Chris Lohr was living in Paris, and so I stayed at his pad for a while during that trip and two follow up visits, in summer 2000 and then late December 2000. I have a bunch of fond memories from those trips too, but will get to them later. I covered a fair amount of ground. I made it to Florence and Bologna, where I had a great time with Dave and Julia Simard from UCSD. I stayed with Dietrich and Sarah Benjes in Göring and caroused with Chris Kanaar and Dietrich in London. I made it as far as Edinburgh, where I stayed in the surprisingly pleasant Castle Rock Hostel, and somehow kept ending up in Amsterdam. Yeah, yeah. Beautiful museums. No, really.

I was in Vienna in September 2001 for a neuroinformatics conference, and ended up effectively stuck there. Flights through the US were hard to get for obvious reasons. Ironically, my original ticket was on 9-11 (I kept it for posterity) and I ended up flying through NYC to Vienna on 9-13. There were 9 cops on the plane and I could see the smoke over the World Trade Center. I had less luck rescheduling my return flight, so I went to Prague for several days. Also a great city. The Astronomical clock and Dancing Building were cool. Concerts abounded, yet the grizzled old street musicians playing washboards and tubas in the Jewish Quarter were my favorite. And nothing like 30 cent pints of Pilsner Urquell that were brewed yesterday. I understand the price has doubled since I went there. Oh no! After that adventure I had to focus on my PhD thesis, and thus remained in North America until this year. I did get to travel quite a lot around the US, and have also been all over Mexico and Canada. These countries are geographically and culturally diverse, as should be expected for areas that span as much land as all of Europe and a fair chunk of Africa and Asia. But, I always wanted to explore further and this was a significant factor in my decision to move to Bremen.

When I was a kid, I declared my intent to make it to all seven continents and the moon. As I got older and very slightly wiser, I came to realize this is ridiculous. Why go somewhere that's inaccessible, incredibly expensive, cold, barren, and boring? But, Antarctica does have the highest mean IQ of any continent. I can't prove this, but the only people there are research scientists. So that remains my plan. Since mom and dad visited 76 countries while five years younger than I was when I left my home continent, this doesn't seem too ambitious.

Typing about Antarctica reminds me of a Far Side that I also posted in the hallway at work a couple weeks ago.

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