Thursday, September 10, 2009

Strasbourg Day 1

I hope you do not take my earlier posts too harshly. Today was great, although that might be because Strasbourg is beautiful and warm, and it might be because I got to spend the entire day talking math, rather than just reading math and working on math.

The city is very pretty, with a large central cathedral an an island formed by a canal connecting to the Rhine. The hotel does not provide coffee, but there are cafes around, with good espresso. Indeed, except for the urn at the conference breaks, _coffee_ as the Americans have it seems fairly foreign here. For example, at lunch, I followed my adviser and a friend of his to a take-away sandwich shop (I had a nicoise salade, with canned tuna, canned anchovy, egg, celery, peppers, lettuce, tomato, and canned black olives), and to drink the coffee options consisted of "espresso, cafe au lait, cappuccino, chocolat".

After a long day of talks (I was very awake for the first four, but six is grueling), we had a reception hosted by the office of the mayor at the old city hall, and then went as a whole group to a fun restaurant across from the cathedral. The menu for the conference: meat eaters started with a small salad and a quiche with pork, and then had ham wrapped in bread; non-pork-ers started with a wonderful collection of shredded carrots with light dressing, shredded cabbage with light dressing, and shredded something else mixed with mayonnaise; dessert was a flan, and there was Alsatian white wine with the meal (I had one tasty glass, and had had another at the reception) and espresso to end the meal (I abstained, planning on sleeping tonight).

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