Friday, June 1, 2012

Up and Down

Ola everyone!! We took the night train from Madrid to Porto which was an adventure in itself. We were unsure about how our sleeping compartments would work since our tickets had Thomas in bed 15 and me in bed 11. Well, being the Americans we are, we assumed the beds go in numerical order...I was so paranoid that we would be in separate compartments. Thank goodness they don't follow the American way.

We arrived safely to Porto with not much sleep from the night train (we were right next to the bathrooms and tunnels tend to make the train a little noisy!). While waiting for our rooms to be ready, we grabbed lunch with Hobson (Thomas's advisor) and walked down to the conference center so they could check in (keep in mind, we had not showered in a day and a half so I'm sure we were a pleasure to be around!). Once we were finally able to get into our room, we cleaned up and went to a reception for the conference on the river. By the way, we were upgraded in's a glimpse into our luxurious hotel...

Thomas' conference went well, which included attendees from all over the world. He made contacts with folks from the UK, New Zealand, Latvia, among others. Hopefully publications will materialize! While Thomas was away for a minute, Hobson raved about how well his presentation went. He said he knew he never needed to worry about him and talked about what an effective presenter he is. I'm so proud of him!!

While Thomas was busy with the conference, I ventured out on my own and toured the city. Porto is an absolutely beautiful city. The only downside (literally) is you're either walking up a hill or down a hill! This town is not flat!! I'm pretty sure I burned a lot of calories! And don't worry, I told our concierge I was going to wonder around by myself in order to see if there were any areas to avoid. Although there is more of a language barrier here, the people are still very nice! We definitely would like to return to Porto and the surrounding regions!

On our last night, we had the opportunity to attend a dinner and port wine tour at Taylor's across the river with the conference (thanks to Hobson for getting us tickets). The winery had a beautiful view of the city. We were lucky to have a very interesting table for dinner which included people from Italy, Uganda, South Africa, and Nigeria. We talked to the man from Nigeria for a while after dinner. It was amazing to here his story about why he was attending the conference and see so much passion for his cause (oil spill and water availability issues).

We arrived in Lisbon last night and are currently heading to Cascais, a beach town on the Atlantic, for the afternoon. We'll post again soon!