A well-earned meeting

View out the front door of my building in Cambridge last week.  Looks like it could just as easily be November (or March).
View out the front door of my building in Cambridge last week. Looks like it could just as easily be November (or March).

I hate the title, but wasn’t sure how to combine “I worked in the lab a lot and finally got some good results in the last half-day of work” and “I went to a spintronics meeting in Prague!” in a pithy way. So yeah. Most of the pictures are from Prague.

By luck of the draw, I got the wheelchair-accessible room at the meeting venue, so it was extra spacious!
By luck of the draw, I got the wheelchair-accessible room at the meeting venue, so it was extra spacious!

When I got back to Cambridge, I was immediately faced with a mountain of work in the form of an experiment that I hadn’t quite gotten to function properly before I left for home, combined with the deadline of presenting the data (that I didn’t quite have yet) at the aforementioned Prague meeting. That Thursday and Friday were a bit grim as a result, and the weekend wasn’t much better (though I gave myself the luxury of not setting an alarm on the weekend). Come Monday, I was quite worried about how we (me and the postdoc I’m working with) were going to get some kind of presentable result out of our experimental setup, but it actually all worked out between about 3 pm Monday and 10 am Tuesday, so I even had a bit of time to start working on my talk before packing for the meeting.

Vila Lanna, the meeting site (and also where we were staying). It's right be the Chinese and Saudi Arabian embassies, in a neighborhood with lots of these old villas.
Vila Lanna, the meeting site (and also where we were staying). It’s right be the Chinese and Saudi Arabian embassies, in a neighborhood with lots of these old villas.

Wednesday morning, we all woke up for a taxi to Stansted at 4:30 am (yay), but the travel went off without a hitch and some nice sunshine awaited us in Prague!

Walking toward Prague Castle. I'm generally in favor of trees, but in this case they kind of ruin a rather striking view.
Walking toward Prague Castle. I’m generally in favor of trees, but in this case they kind of ruin a rather striking view.

The person in my group who organized our travel to the conference conveniently arranged for us to arrive the day before it started, so most of us spent the afternoon walking between the major tourist attractions of the city.

Front of St. Vitus' Cathedral inside the castle.
Front of St. Vitus’ Cathedral inside the castle.
It's a very nice building, and you don't even have to pay to get in! (You do have to pay to walk around the nave and chapels, so we just stood in the back for a bit).
It’s a very nice building, and you don’t even have to pay to get in! (You do have to pay to walk around the nave and chapels, so we just stood in the back for a bit).
One of the main courtyards of the castle.
One of the main courtyards of the castle.
View of the old town from the castle.
View of the old town from the castle.
More old Prague, including Petrin Hill. The tower was "inspired" by the Eiffel Tower and built soon afterwards; it was specifically made to be taller than the Eiffel Tower...if you count the height of the hill as well.
More old Prague, including Petrin Hill. The tower was “inspired” by the Eiffel Tower and built soon afterwards; it was specifically made to be taller than the Eiffel Tower…if you count the height of the hill as well!
Crossing the Charles Bridge.
Crossing the Charles Bridge.
My group members walking into the main square in Prague.
My group members walking into the old square in Prague.
The Astronomical Clock! It shows a lot of astronomical/astrological information and has a procession of saints through the windows near the top on the hour.
The Astronomical Clock! It shows a lot of astronomical/astrological information and has a procession of saints through the windows near the top on the hour.
View toward the old town from back on the other side of the river, near the Metronome (it's a giant metronome. I don't know why it's there). We decided to run up the steps for some reason.
View toward the old town from back on the other side of the river, near the Metronome (it’s a giant metronome. I don’t know why it’s there). We decided to run up the steps for some reason.

For dinner, we trekked about an hour to Petrin (the hill with the faux Eiffel Tower) to a traditional Czech restaurant. I decided to go with the most traditional/famous item on the menu, smoked pork knee with mustards and horseradish, splitting it with my postdoc buddy.

Night view of the castle, taken on our walk to the restaurant.
Night view of the castle, taken on our walk to the restaurant.
Yum, a giant hunk of meat!
Yum, a giant hunk of meat!

It was…mostly fat, which I didn’t eat, but there was some nice, tender meat on the bottom that was great with mustard. Plus, now I (a) don’t have to regret not trying pork knee and (b) never have to feel obliged to order it again.

View from my room the next morning; a nice day for a little run (and then sitting inside).
View from my room the next morning; a nice day for a little run (and then sitting inside).

It’s a good thing we spent all that time walking around on Wednesday, because I didn’t leave Vila Lanna except for my morning runs at all during the conference. This was partly because I was working on my talk, and partly because the talks ran waaaaaay longer than scheduled. Oh well…I really enjoyed the meeting, and my talk seemed to go over well. Now I’m looking forward to settling back in at Cambridge.

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