16 March 2005

The Practice Trip to England (I)

The overnight flight from Boston to London really kicks your ass. We were wheels up at Logan at about 7:15PM and touched down 6 hours later in Heathrow at 6AM GMT. I was running on about 2 hours of intermittent sleep on the plane and was in desperate need of coffee if I was going to make it through the day. Mark and I (who had been on the same flight) met up with Julian, who had arrived about an hour before us. With some good strong coffee in hand we hopped on the bus for Oxford.

This being my first trip to England, I actually spent the hour on the bus watching the scenery go by instead of taking a power nap. The outskirts of the airport were fairly unimpressive, but it quickly gives way to sheep pens, fields and ancient looking villages on the hill. The distribution of cars people drive here is wildly different from the US, too. I've seen about half a dozen "smart cars" which are totally awesome tiny electric cars with just two seats. Plus there are obviously fewer massive SUVs and many many more BMWs and Mercedes.

Once we arrived in Oxford, we checked into our rooms at St. Anne's college and went for a bit of a walk around town (lunch started at 12:30). Everything is really old here. Every pharmacy seems to have a 900 year old church attached to it. The whole town is built around the colleges which constitute the University and it has a very organic feeling entirely devoid of city planning.

Staying awake during the first set of talks was a bit of a challenge, since I hadn't had any solid sleep and it was about 9AM EST. The mid-afternoon coffee break managed to keep me going through round 2 of the talks. The first poster session (at which my poster featured) was held in the Oxford Museum of Natural History, which is a gorgeous refurbished Victorian manor filled with dinosaur fossils and shrunken heads collected by 18th century Britons pillaging the wealth of the world.

Dinner at a local Indian restaurant (very good) then sound asleep around 10PM GMT for a much needed 10 hours of sleep.

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