Monday, 1 July 2013

Sofia to Krakow


I feel rather tired.  Yesterday I was in Sofia and today I am in Krakow.  I spent the morning yesterday working in my hotel room until it was time to check out around 11.  Then my friend and colleague, Nikolay, picked me up to go to the Bulgarian National Museum.  His family came too, and we had a nice time eating together before going to the museum.  They were really friendly and the children were keen to speak English with me, which was nice.  I say children - one is about to go to university and the other not far behind, so "children" is perhaps not the right word.  Well, obviously, they are the children of my friend but ... well.  The museum was in a pretty grand building built by the communist authorities to impress visitors.  Lots of marble and grand rooms with ornate ceilings.  

The contents of the museum are all Bulgarian-related, starting from the earliest signs of human habitation in the form of stone tools and burial mounds (In the English translations, they used the word "tell" which I didn't recognise in that context, but is plausibly correct according to the Chambers Dictionary app on my phone).  Then there were artefacts from Thracian times through Roman, Byzantine, Old Bulgarian, Ottoman, and Bulgarian, stopping at the end of the second world war, just before the communist days.  I think the most impressive things were the Thracian gold items know as the Panagyurishte Treasure.  The fineness of the craft beat most things that came later in the museum.  The picture on the wikipedia page does not do them credit.  I'm afraid I didn't take a picture, though I can't claim that my phone would have done a better job than the wikipedia article photographer.

After the museum, I was dropped off at Sofia Airport.  I had to hang around for a while before Air Berlin were ready to check anyone in, but it all worked out okay, and I flew with them via Berlin Tegel to Krakow.  I arrived at around 11pm, made it to the hotel and fell asleep, only to wake up quite early as I was fretting (unnecessarily) about being fully prepared to talk at the conference here.  I finished tinkering with my talk, and headed to the planned excursion to the museum of the University.  It's an old university, with much history to celebrate, and their museum is pretty cool.  It's in a building of the university which is still sometimes used for formal events, and there are lots of artefacts, from things used to teach astronomy at the time Copernicus was there, through to donated items from famous Krakow residents, like Oscar and Nobel Prize medals.  We waited in the cloister for the famous clock to ring the hour, which then started a slightly silly mechanical display of characters moving around it.

Then to the conference.  It was pretty gruelling, in that it started after lunch, with two session of three hours each, with a coffee break in the middle.  Three hours per session is quite a lot to deal with, and what with being a bit tired from travelling I really struggled to fight the seminarcolepsy for the first hour or so before perking up.  I gave my talk in the second half.  It was okay - perhaps not as well-prepared as my talk in Bulgaria, but fine.  Really, I can't complain about my delivery, but I'd rather have done more calculations that I hadn't already talked about elsewhere.  Oh well.  I finished the evening by finding a nice vegetarian restaurant close to my hotel and coming back to listen to the Archers omnibus from yesterday and to write this.  

Since it's nice to include a picture in these posts, I include a picture of people taking a picture of the famous clock.