Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Jendia's Travel Log Day 2

The alarm went off at the obscenely early hour of 7:45am. Having conquered bathing and dressing ourselves, we went out in search of the rumored “free breakfast.” Fail. From the lobby, we saw lots of people enjoying breakfast at restaurant #1…. For 14 Euro. Nope. Moving along, we asked the cashier at restaurant #1, in severely broken Spanish, where breakfast was. He told us the coffee shop. We wandered in and saw a lovely buffet table with everything covered in very pretty napkins. Success, right? No. When we tried to poke our hands under the napkins, we got the stink eye and a very enthusiastic “hola,” with a side of “what the hell are you doing?” from the waitress. We didn’t actually know, so we wandered out. Perhaps the concierge could help, except that this one did not speak English. After many charades and some abuse of the Spanish language, it became clear that the “free breakfast” was in restaurant #2, the only place we had not looked. Typical. But lo! Free breakfast was not a myth, it was included with our room, and it was delicious.

Now, off to the conference. As we walked confidently out of the hotel, the concierge gave chase, shouting something in Spanish. It may have been “hey you!” We stop and turned around, and he asked, “are you lost? Do you have a hotel room here?” This was incidentally the only time we were not actually lost. Apparently we look permanently lost and confused, since we since get asked if we’re lost every time we walk by. We reached the conference without incident, and early to boot, and even managed to find our room all by ourselves. So proud. But wait, one little detail – everyone around us has these lanyards and schedules. Crap, we never registered. The German in front of us, who we would later find out was named “Janos,” informed us that registration was at the front of the building. How did we miss this? Oh, right, we can’t read. There were signs that said registration everywhere. So we registered, got out lanyards and schedules, and even managed to find our room again. Sweet.

So we presented, and it was good. They did look a little frightened. Oh, well. Jen tripped over the approach slide (wtf she knew what she was talking about), but it went pretty well otherwise, nothing out of the ordinary really happened. It was in a classroom, for maybe 30 people, and everyone else's talks were in English (bonus). We were the only two to present in a pair. Two hours of talks later, it was lunchtime! Just as we were lamenting the fact that we had no one to chat with, the organizer practically threw this dude at us. His company was working on a similar project, so we had someone to actually talk shop with, though still insanely awkward. Insanely. As it turns out, lunch was in our hotel, too. Maybe they’ll finally stop asking us if we’re lost. I mean, look, we have lanyards now!

Incidentally, India kind of threw her back out coughing. But some random Spaniard offered her mints, and she thinks he apologized for not having throat lozenges, but maybe her breath was just bad.

Lunch was pretty delicious, thank God we’re not vegetarians. We chatted with Edinborough Dude (technically, Joshua, from California), Keynote Dude (from Carnegie Melon), and Germans #1 and #2 (Janos and Igno – ps – what kind of name is Igno?). We learned a lot from our lunch discussion, namely, that we know nothing about computer science. Edinborough Dude thoughtfully spent a lot of time telling us all of the cool ways that we could cange our rules to utilize all sorts of things that we had never heard of, such as decision trees, that we had never heard of and mostly resulted in our eyes glazing over. But we returned to the afternoon talks anyway. The last talk was giving by a woman form UPenn. Small world! The industry panel was boring as all hell, but Germans #1 and #2 were kind of adorable and totally sold us on Xing. Down with LinkD In! We also got some contact information for ChatCoder stuff. Yay!

We then took the scenic route home and took lots of creeper pictures of people’s houses. Success. India actually wrote her criminal law paper, so now the rest of her class will look like lazy bastards if they don’t turn it in. It’s like a silent curve killer, but better because it’s from Spain.

Now, after googling some choice phrases, we ventured out into the world of “eating out.” Our pre-departure course, taught by Jon Brink, informed us that Spaniards ate dinner around 9pm. In Sevilla, this is a lie. But we found a cafĂ© that had subs for about 3 Euro. They were full of potato-y goodness (or chicken). We also managed to order completely in Spanish. Gold star! Then we scoped out ice cream, had a really confusing conversation with a guy at a restaurant about his butt (that was supposed to be about ice cream), and then looked pathetic enough that a woman at another bar let us order ice cream before they closed. Can we just say, why is ice cream in a bar? It was pretty much the most delicious ice cream ever. The concierge did not ask us if we were lost on the way back in. Win!

And the bar played David Bowie. India was so happy. Again.

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