Spain 2008
June 28th - July 6th

June 28 June 29 June 30 July 01 July 02 July 03 July 04 July 05 July 06

      The plane left Fargo at 6:50pm Saturday and, after changing plains three times, arrived in Santander at 2:50pm Sunday. (10:50pm local time).

fargo lounge
Starting out at the grand airport lounge in Fargo at 6pm.
Notice the aesthetic use of chipboard in the design.
  map of route
The route. (Made this map with Maya).
Amsterdam lounge
Left Amsterdam from gate C4.
I like watching people moving down the slidewalks.
  flat land
Barcelona looks as flat as Fargo.
Barcelona lounge
Waiting for the plain at the Barcelona Lounge. It was 45 minutes late.
Slator may be right. According to my Spanish phrase book it's Bar-th-lona. (c before e sounds like t as in thin.)
  plain to santander
The plane to Santander. It just parks there and you walk out to it.

The Hotel
Hotel Silken Rio Santander
      I took a taxi from the airport to the hotel. That was an experience! Spain had just won Euro 2008 and there were thousands of wild fans and parties all over the city. Most of them in the street. This didn't faze the driver as he whipped through downtown traffic at a steady 120kph (75mph), blew through two red lights, and dodged the screaming, flag waving, jersey throwing, fans with a wave and a honk.

Had a bit of a problem noticing that you had to use your room key to turn on the lights. (Otto had the same problem.)
  hotel night view panorama
First view from the hotel room. (Click image for panorama view.)
half shower
The bathroom has a cool/funky half shower door.
  toilet and bidet in bathroom
Toilet and bidet (For washing privates, feet, and babies).
Heather tells me she'd skip that experience.
hotel hallway
Hallway to the room.
  the room
Room 304
hotel from casino
Hotel as seen from the Grand Casino.
  hotel from beach
Back of the hotel as seen from the beach during low tide.

Day 3: Santander
      Can you say "Oppressively humid!" The temperature was in the 70's and there was a nice offshore breeze but it was still felt like walking through a sauna.
      Even though I'd been awake for some 30 hours the day before and didn't sleep well (Perhaps it was the seven hour time difference or the endless stream of honking cars filled with screaming foot ball fans cruzing the streets until 3am?) I grabbed a granola bar and went for a two-hour hike around Santander before lunch.
      The city's a crazy mix of architectural styles packed closely together on narrow winding streets that always seem to run uphill. The city appears to be clean and well maintained. There are public recycling bins on every block and they even vacuum the beach at night.
      At noon I stopped at a small Cafe. Lunch didn't start until 3 but I could get orange juice and a croissant. Pulpiest orange sludge you've ever seen. Next time remember to order "zumo de naranja sin pulpa". (no pulp)
      Stopped back to the hotel at about 1:30 for shot of air-conditioning and immediately zonked until 5:30 when the front desk called to see if I wanted the room cleaned.
      Taking that as a hint to leave I took off for another walk until about 7:30, hit the beach for an hour, then sat in the bar with a couple of icy Heinekens and a plethora of mini foods (tapas) until Otto showed up at around 11:30.

beach monday am
First look at the beach in daylight. Around 10:15 am.
Damn! I forgot the outlet adaptor.
beach monday am
Hey! It fits in the razor outlet, so here's my computer desk.
Update: Hmmm... It runs the laptop but won't charge the battery. :(
Update 2:Yeah! Hotel housekeeping had one that someone left behind.
  Recycling Bins
These recycling bins are everywhere.
Park with cool trees
Local city park with some cool trees. (The picture doesn't do them justice.)
  A VW Bug
While most of the cars I saw are not available in the U.S. here's one that's familiar. This was also the oldest car seen on the trip.
(Gas is 1.302 Euros per liter. That's about $7.78 a gallon.)
the beach
Rocks and cargo ships at the beach.
  light house
overlooking the bay
View from a nearby scenic overlook.
  cleaning the beach
Cleaning the beach at midnight.

Day 4: Adventures with Otto.
      While Otto was sleeping in until Noon I went in quest of an electronics store or someplace that might sell an electrical outlet adaptor. No such luck.
      Otto and I made it to the conference just in time to miss lunch. There was a little trouble finding the correct bus. It seams that someone, whose name I won't mention, confused "University of Cantabria" with "University Hospital" on the bus marquee.
      On the way to the reception we stopped at the hotel and asked if they knew where I could get an adaptor. The lady at the desk asked a guy in the office who asked the bellman (Anton) who I think suggested that housekeeping might have something in their lost and found. They did!

wind blown tree 1
There's some crazy wind blown trees near the beach.
(Otto and I had drinks with a couple of other conference goers on the patio that's hidden behind the trashcan.)
  wind blown tree 2
I had to swing way over to the edge of the sidewalk in order to walk under this one.
stubby tree
I assume these trees were severely pruned and didn't grow this way naturally.
  stubby tree's bark
They do have some cool bark. (Dr. Schwert tells me they're Sycamore.)
apartment building
How about an apartment with a beach view?
  apartment building
Or this place if you like glass?
conference venu
Outside the main venue.
  event room #2
Event room #2. The woman in the black gave two talks. This one was like SLATE and a later one was like the REESE proposal.
me on tuesday
Outside during the afternoon cafe break.
  conference proceedings book
They gave us a copy of the conference proceedings. It was huge!
It about doubled the weight of my duffel bag.
bus stop and skate park
Bus stop with other conference goers, skate park, and graffiti.
  ugly building
There were some ugly buildings near the campus.
walking to reception
Walking to the reception. That's the Savings Bank of Santander and Cambria up ahead and Ronald Böck, to the right of Otto, in the green shirt.
  outlet adaptor
The outlet adaptor!
a mural
I don't know what this mural represents but it was across the street from the reception hall.
  bank of santander
Returning from the reception we passed another bank. The Bank of Santander.

Day 5: The rain in Spain falls mainly on the playa.
     It's a good thing we figured out the bus routes yesterday as it was raining when I awoke.

Rain on the plaza
Rain on the Plaza de Italy.
  Rain on the beach
Rain on the beach (playa).
computer room
The computer room.
Those are 1GHz Pentium III's and it was sweltering in there.
  Main event hall
The main event hall where the daily guest speakers give their talk.
All signs say to run.
It appears that you are supposed to run everywhere in Spain.
"Run through the door", "Run to the door", "Run down the stairs", and my favorite "Duck and run down the stairs."
  Run Otto Run!
Run Otto Run!
night bus route sign
They have a vampire bat as the logo for the night bus routes.
  A fire hydrant
This is a fire hydrant but I'm not sure where the water comes out.
apartments across from the university
There's a whole row of these apartment building across the street from the university.
  super empanadas!
Super Empanadas! Saw these at a local supermarket.
There were also three native English-speaking girls shopping there.

Day 6: The return of the sun and channeling Dr. Slator.
      Today was sunny and much less humid than Monday and Tuesday.
      There was one presenter from Mexico that gave two talks. One yesterday on a system that was almost identical to SLATE and one today that was the last REESE proposal. There were also two other talks that were very similar to the ideas in the REESE proposal. We discussed our idea with one of the presenters (Ronald Bock from Deutschland). He thought it was a good idea and was surprised it was rejected.
      There was also the gala dinner at the Grand Casino. A six course meal that supposedly cost the conference 70 €.

park behind university
The park behind the university.
  a stadium
It's a stadium and the aluminum...
sports palace
...sports palace.
It is primarily used for basketball and volleyball and holds 12,000 people.
  sports palace side
It kind of reminds me of a whale. Behind is the Campos de Sport.
It seats 22,124 football fans and is the home of the Real Racing Club.
sports palace front
They also have concerts there.
  buildings across from park
There are lots of buildings across from the park
a normal looking fire hydrant
Hey, It's a normal(ish) fire hydrant.
It says "Bomba de Gas" (gas pump?) on the sign.
No concrete slab sidewalks here. It's all tile.
  a blue flower
A blue (azul) flower.
  solar power
Solar panels on one of the campus buildings.
Saw this car on the way to the Casino. It was parked on the sidewalk.
I believe it's a Jaguar E-Type (61-74).
  the ferry from plymouth
This is the Brittney Ferry we could have taken from Plymouth UK to Santander. It would have only added an extra day to the trip but someone was a little worried about mal de mer.
grand casino
The Grand Casino Sardinero where the gala dinner was held.
The stairs up to the second floor where we had cocktails
gala crowd
A crowd of people at the gala dinner.
  cafe solo
Made some friends at the dinner. They were natives that helped us figure out what was on the menu, how bad it actually tasted compared to "real" Spanish food, and how to say "cafe solo" properly so they wouldn't try to put milk in your coffee.
Me, Ron, and "C"
Me, Ron, and "C"
Ronald's from Germany and C's from Japan.
  gala menu
The menu at the dinner.

Day 7: The presentation.
      I gave the presentation on Studying Native American Culture in an Immersive Virtual Environment. We were only given a short paper's 15 minute time slot instead of the 25 minutes assigned to a full paper so I had to hurry things a long and skimped on WWWIC background information. There were questions on its use against control groups or comparative technologies, why women did worse on the question about gender roles in the Mandan society, and why we were having trouble recruiting teachers. There was also a question on why we just didn't use Second Life? (Because It costs money and may not always exist in its current form.) They also liked the Idea of using a task-model to monitor player progress.

Mr. Stick was here!
Look! Mr. Stick was here before us.
  the presentation
The presentation.
ambiguous sign
It's another totally ambiguous sign.
"No women", "No swim suits", "No swimming", "No skirts", or
"No exposed midriffs?"
  Friday's lunch
Friday's lunch. Much better than Wednesday's but not as good as yesterday. That's fish on salad with green bean stew, hard bread, banana, and water.
sun dial
And the time is...
  the time
≈14:20. The dial says 13:20 but Spain recently changed their time zone.
apartment building
How about an A-frame like apartment?
  apartment building
Or this rounded rectilinear shape?
pizza hut
First American chain restaurante.
  McDonalds :(
There's a McDonalds on the way to the airport.
It's near what I think is a shopping mall.

Day 8: The rains return and back to Barcelona.
      It was raining again this morning.

rain on the crosswalk
The rain didn't stop people from going for a stroll with an umbrella.
or without.
orange juice
I found some orange juice without pulp at the Lupa supermarket.
  drinking fountain
And a drinking fountain on the way back.
bus tour
It was raining and we had about six hours to kill before our flight so we decided to take the Santander city tour.
  tour bus
The tour bus. I didn't get an outside shot because it was raining so I cropped this out of a picture on the web.
light house
Lighthouse "Faro Cabo Mayor"
  light house from point
View from out on the point.
(Dr. Schwert was upset we didn't climb down to measure the strike and dip.)
light house tower
The tower.
  bas relief
I'm not sure what this represents.
(The Monument to the Fallen ones?)
looking left from faro
Looking to the left from the lighthouse.
  looking down from faro
Looking down. (I don't know what that is either. Maybe an older signal?)
looking right from faro
Looking right towards the point.
  looking over edge
Looking right and straight down.
rocks under lighthouse
Looking under the lighthouse.
  otto on the trail from the faro
Otto on the trail from the lighthouse to the point.
bay of Santander
The bay of Santander.
Stopped for lunch at the lighthouse cafe and bar.
  view from the faro bar
It had something of a view.
faro food
Otto picked something unknown from the menu. Looks like it was fish and olives. I had an egg and tomato sandwich that was quite good.
At least I knew what this was when I ordered.
faro toilet
The bathroom was interesting. Pull to flush.
  faro sink
Twist for water.
faro towel
Ahhhh... Air dry.
  faro sign
"The visitors have to their disposition, in the reception of the room, equipment to facilitate the access to handicapped people and knapsack portabebés"
I think handicapped access, dogs must be leashed, and babies must be diapered sounds better.
otto has a drink
Otto has some tastes some wine.
  sparrow and the crust
I saw this sparrow hopping around with something small in its beak but as soon as it saw that crust on the ground it tossed it away and went after the bread with gusto.
rain at the faro
It started to rain again while we were waiting for the bus.
  otto's form
Otto was cold so he built a fort.
inside of bus
Back on the bus.
  sailing ship
Saw this sailing ship out the bus window.
It sits in the harbor and I think is a museum.
lots of little boats
Saw a bunch of little boats...
  spanish horses
... and four "Spanish" horses too.
a very blue apartment
How about a big blue apartment?
  little blue apartment
Or this tiny little blue one?
kids are cute
All the kids were cute.
  kids at play
These two played for hours with their stuffed fox.
santander airport
Santander airport. The security here was almost self-service.
  plane from santander to barcelona
Boarding the plane to take us back to Barcelona.
Barcelona hotel room
The hotel room at the Ciutat del Prat in Barcelona.
  Barcelona hotel room 2
More of room 321. Everything on that floor was too yellow.
hotel hallway
Hotel hallway
  hallway art
At least the art wasn't the same as in every U.S. hotel.
roundabout in barcelona
Spain has a lot of roundabouts like this one in Barcelona.
  Otto at the Damm bar
We went looking for a place to eat but the only places open were a couple of pizza places. Even the Damm Star bar was closed.

Day 9: Barcelona to Fargo.
      Today's Sunday and according to the girl at the desk "everything's closed."
Since there wasn't much time to do anything anyway we ate at the hotel's breakfast buffet. It was pretty good but not worth the 15 €. We checked out at 9:45am and grabbed the 10:00 shuttle to the airport.

view from barcelona hotel
The view from the Barcelona hotel.
(Mental note: Next time, don't let Otto choose the hotel. :) )
barcelona's closed
There wasn't much to do in Barcelona. It was Sunday and everything's closed.
That's the front of the hotel's airport shuttle in the lower right.
  boarding the plain
Driving the herd up the loading ramp in Barcelona.
That's an A330 they're boarding.
hills around barcelona
Hmmm... Maybe Barcelona isn't all flat.
We never got a chance to see a bullfight.
Fernando here, is as close as we got to seeing a bull.

      I should have taken a few more days and traveled to Santander via the ferry, bus from Barcelona, or train from Lisbon but since I wasn't paying travel costs we went with the significantly cheapest option. It's nice to have a day to find my way around before the conference but a person should take time for touristy things after the conference. It's when you're most comfortable with the environment.

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