europe,  scotland,  travel

Game Day – Day 4

Mercifully, we both got a decent night’s sleep at long last. I was up relatively early, as I had conference on the brain. The first sessions of talks at the conference were not very relevant for me, so I opted to stay at the apartment and prepare for my poster presentation.It was a bit depressing to open up the poster and notice that for some reason one of my figures had moved an inch to its left (somewhere between my sending it to my advisor for approval and my sending it D to print), leaving the axis label on the box surrounding my results section. I gave it a few rehearsals, put my game face on and headed out for the conference. I had forgotten to print out handouts of the poster, so I figured I’d swing by a printing place we’d spotted next door to Brew Lab. After scarfing down the same delicious sandwich (blue cheese, onion and portobello mushroom) from Coffee Angel as I had yesterday, I went to see about my printing needs. Unfortunately, the printing place said it would have been at least an hour and a half to print, so I headed back down the street several blocks to the slightly dodgier looking internet cafes I’d passed. The first one I popped into was cash only, which I’d used the last of on my sandwich, so I dashed across the street to get out more cash. I wasn’t encouraged by the fact the computer informed me that the copy of Windows wasn’t genuine, so I quickly made my print-outs and headed out (with the thought to re-format my USB stick for good measure when I got home just in case).

The conference site was at the Royal College of Physicians, which was a good 30 minute walk from the apartment. I picked up my registration packet, including perhaps the poshest conference name tag I’d ever gotten–our names/affiliations were actually printed double-sided on plastic cards. I snuck into what I thought would be the tail end of the talk session, though I ultimately had to leave early as they were running very behind and I figured I should set up my poster. The poster session itself was largely held in the Great Hall, a fabulously ornate room with soaring ceilings and grand pillars. How the poster stands were actually setup were not very convenient, however, involving a series of what were essentially folding screens with a poster affixed to each panel. This meant you were butted up against your neighbours and could only really have one maybe two people around your poster at a time. Once the poster session picked up, it became very hot and stuffy, as throngs of people attempted to squeeze their way through the very narrow corridors between poster stands. Thankfully, despite all the chaos, the presentation itself went just fine, with a few interesting discussions with several prominent researchers who I was happy to meet and chat with.

David, who is not a fan of crowds by any stretch of the imagination, was ready to find a drink after the crush of the poster session. So we decided to head out in search of one, along with Ariana, an undergrad researcher from our department who was in town visiting from Paris. During our wanderings, we chanced upon yet another recommended coffee spot, Fortitude Coffee. It was perhaps my favourite spot thus far, with a polished, almost Scandinavian feel to it and some of the best hot chocolate I’ve had. I was provided with a mug with a giant marshmallow over which I poured my dark hot chocolate–rich, chocolatey and flavourful. Yum! We managed to get a few recommendations for a place to grab a drink nearby, so we headed on our way.

I suggested grabbing a bite to eat, as we had the conference Whisky Tasting later, and it might be advisable to go on a full(er) stomach. After a bit of wandering and indecision along Hanover Street, we settled on a cafe called Urban Angel, which David and I suspected (and soon confirmed) was the place we ate with David’s SFU advisor and her husband on our last visit. We even sat at the same table! There, we relaxed over drinks and ordered some breakfast food (eggs benedict for me and French toast for D) before heading around the corner and into the basement for a cocktail at Bramble. With lots of dark corners and plush cushions, the space was definitely up our alley. The cocktails were as well–super delicious! David ordered an Aged Affinity Cocktail, which basically consists of Scotch and Vermouth that have been put together and then aged in oak for 3 months days. It also comes in the most adorable bottles, looking somewhat like an old-fashioned medicine bottle. Our bartender was also very friendly and humoured David’s numerous questions about liquor.

We headed back to the conference site for the whisky tasting and loitered in the great hall for some time waiting for it to start. Eventually, we were ushered into the next room and picked up several whisky snifters (Aberfeldy, Dewar’s 12 and Dewar’s 15). Well, I grabbed a glass of white wine, but David enjoyed smelling and sipping his selection. The conference goers milled about and drank until the lights flickered at us, indicating that we needed to get out. We decided to try to find some dinner with two other NU grad students, and I suggested perusing nearby Rose Street, which is lined with with pubs and restaurants. We came across Mussel Inn, a place I’d actually earmarked as they had a kilo mussels for something like 10 GBP, and we managed to snag a table. David wisely opted for ½ kilo of mussels and some seafood chowder, and I really wanted the lobster thermidor, which they unfortunately ran out of 5 minutes before I ordered. I went with shellfish pasta, with mussels, gambas, queen scallops and crayfish tails in a seafood bisque. Quite tasty! D also enjoyed his soup and mussels, though he did note that the mussels were more flavourful at the French restaurant we’d eaten at yesterday. Sated and satisfied, we waddled back to our apartment to call it a night.

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