Another IETF, another adventure, this time to London, United Kingdom. When I was planning the trip, my friend Emily mentioned a dance festival in Scotland that she was going to. So I decided to meet her there before the IETF.
2014-02-27 – 2014-02-28
The flights from Boston to Edinburgh were relatively uneventful, though there was some pleasant turbulence over the Atlantic. I took a double decker bus from Edinburgh airport to the city center, and I got to ride on top in the front with a good view.
Emily met me in the hostel I was staying at and we decided to go see Edinburgh Castle. On the way there, we saw two halves of a fake cow. In the Prisons of War (part of the castle), we saw The Worm‘s cousin’s home.
After we left the castle, we ran into Joey, one of Emily’s hostel-mates. We went to a fudge shop that she recommended, then got delicious thalis for lunch. After lunch, jet-lag set in for me and I hung out in the hostel lounge. For dinner, Emily and I each tried haggis (with neeps and tatties) for the first time. To me, it tasted halfway between meat and TVP. I’d eat it again if I were hungry, but it wouldn’t be my first choice. As I was trying hard to stay awake after dinner in the hostel lounge, there was a very boistrous impromtu guitar and Italian song duet.
I was walking around in the afternoon, and ran into Joey again. We sat and talked for a bit, then went to the National Museum of Scotland.
On my way to the dance, I got a bit lost. Luckily, I ran into three women dressed like folk dancers. They were also lost, but less so than me. At one point, we all danced across a street. Eventually we found our way to the dance hall. The dancing was very familiar, though there were a few differences from what I’m used to. I really liked the square dances, because they were taught like traditional squares but were more complex. After the dance, Emily and I got late-night/early-morning pizza at Dominos.
Emily joined me on a quest to find a specific type of za’atar at a store called Jordan Valley for a friend back home. The quest was only a partial success (the specific type of za’atar didn’t exist any more, so I got a different type). However, the experience was great: The store’s owner was very friendly and even made tea for Emily and me. When he saw we were each planning to get a bottle of hot sauce, he told us that his was better. He then proceeded to back up his claim by letting us taste his homemade harissa on some bread. I bought two containers of the harissa.
After leaving Jordan Valley, we then headed over to a pub that was highly recommended by one of our mutual friends. At The Banshee Labyrinth, we each got a cocktail and a burger. I had a wild boar and chorizo burger with bacon, pepperoni, an egg, goat cheese, and pesto. It was a tasty combination.
I took the train from Edinburgh to London. There were some good views of the east coast and lots of farmland. As we were approaching London King’s Cross, I saw a rainbow out the window.
The hotel was a bit fun to navigate, but luckily the IETF Secretariat made an instructional video.
The IETF social event was at the Museum of London Docklands. There were a few really good human statues, and the first one managed to surprise me. Another one was holding what I thought at the time was a Holy Hand Grenade. When I asked her about it, she held it out and squeezed it. Turns out it was a squeaky toy. [As I was writing this, I did some reading, and I now think it was actually meant to be a Sovereign’s Orb, not a Holy Hand Grenade. Shows where my education was.] And here are some pictures from outside the museum:
After being in London for three days, I finally got fish and chips. It was good. I also went to a fun salsa dancing lesson with colleagues.
While eating lunch, I heard a funny line on TV that was something like
Even the typical Scottish weather failed to dampen … spirits. Later on, I saw a TARDIS!
While waiting for breakfast, I saw what looked like a sewage truck drive by. It had
TARDIS Environmental UK printed on it. Apparently, that‘s a real thing.
I took a tour of the Globe, then wandered around the exhibition.
Then I wandered around a bit more, heading in the general direction of Waterloo station.
Earlier in the week, Emily had mentioned a really unusual London activity, Loo Tours. I knew I had to check it out if I had time. So, at Waterloo, my second tour of the day commenced. Rachel (The Loo Lady) was entertaining, and I learned a bit about London’s toilet history.
Time to go home. The flight over the Atlantic was really surprisingly not even close to full. I got a port-side window seat with an empty seat next to me. I had a good view of northern Labrador and Québec.