Monday, December 20, 2004

My trip to Estonia & Berlin

As I mentioned before, I went to Tallinn, Estonia for ICFP, and to Berlin, Germany to hang out with Anna.
To see photos of Tallinn, Estonia, click here, and to see photos of Berlin click here. If you see a photo you like, click on it to see the larger version. Some of the photos there are from Ganesh since I mostly wasn't carrying my camera with me.
All in all, I had a great time. Berlin and Tallinn are both beautiful and interesting. The conference was really good. I gave two talks. People were much more interested in and enthusiastic about Cabal than I realized, which is nice. I'm happy that people appreciate and know my work. My talks went pretty well, especially the 2nd one, where I think came off as energetic and interesting; I got the group to laugh a few times. Mine was almost the last talk of the whole conference (in fact, it was supposed to be, but they added one person after me), so people were pretty tired and relaxed by the end.

I hung out a lot with folks from the Haskell chat room, and with Simon Marlow and David Roundy. There are some photos of them all in the photo section. I had about 1.5 days of free time, and so I took a tour of the old town with Ravi, Ganesh & David. We also did a bike tour, which is a great way to tour a place, and we saw some museums.
The technical aspects of the conference were great as well, but this isn't the forum for that :)

Berlin's culture and history are fascinating since they've had so much impact on our own culture and recent history. It was really neat to get to see The Wall, or what's left of it. The whole city has a marker where the wall used to be, just some bricks instead of concrete that make a line to show you. Be sure to check out the photos.
It's so bizarre to think that you're sitting, reading in a park, in a spot where you would have been shot 20 years ago for being there. I remember that time, but only very little, and of course, I didn't understand much about it at that age.

I had never actually seen the photo of the boarder guard leaping over barbed wire (seen here) but it's all over the place in anything that talks about the cold war.
I spent a bit of time at Checkpoint Charlie. There's a museum there which has been there since before the wall fell, just documenting everything. For instance there's the VW bug that had a smaller engine put in so it could be used to smuggle people out. Anna and I also I took a bike tour that was all about the wall. She was working some days, so we specialized in romantic dinners. There are a lot of great places to eat in Berlin.

The Reichstag is another fascinating bit of Berlin. It was burned (probably by the Nazis as an excuse for cracking down on communists) and not really used I guess until a few years ago. The new glass dome that was built recently is quite different from the rest of the building, but very symbolic of the transparency of democracy
There's a really neat club / artist studio called Tacheles that was started by squatters in a bombed-out building in east Berlin just after the fall of the wall. Scroll about half-way down for the English, and take a look at the photos. Andy Adams-Moran had recommended visiting this place, and Anna had already been there, of course.
It also gives you an idea of what East Berlin was like before all the renovation. Eastern Berlin is just now starting to finish up renovation. I guess it has basically been one big construction sight for a long time.
I spent some time at the musical instrument museum. It was awesome.

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