I have just returned from Sweden and Holland and had an extremely enjoyable trip. I will post on scientific aspects of both visits in subsequent posts, but for now wish first to record my appreciation for the personal hospitality shown to me in Sweden by Fred Goldberg and in Holland by Marcel Crok of NWT.
In addition to the KTH conference on Sept 10-11, Fred Goldberg took me and a couple of other early arrivers on a boat cruise through a lake district in the middle of Stockholm. The boat cruise was on his own medium-sized power boat and took about 5 hours; crayfish were in season and are a local delicacy. The terrain is granite with pine trees like the Muskoka/Georgian Bay terrain in Canada -w hich most Canadians regard as particularly beautiful. The water vista of Stockholm is quite remarkable and one that I recommend to any other visitors. Each night had an excellent dinner in a different venue.
In Holland, I made two presentations – at the meteorological institute (KNMI) in the morning of Sept 14 and at the Free University in the evening. Both sessions were well attended – probably about 50 at KNMI and 120-150 at the Free University (I don’t have experience in estimating crowds and was too busy to make an informed estimate). After the KNMI session, I had lunch and talked for a couple of hours with the scientists interested in reconstructions – Nanne Wber, Rob van Dorland and Jos de Laat. I also had two long newspaper interviews and a meeting with an interested mathematician. Plus again excellent dinners with Marcel Crok and his charming wife. I’ll need to go on a diet. I talked more in 36 hours than I’d talked in the previous month, probably 2 months.
It is impossible to comprehend the number of bicycles in Amsterdam. There are tens of thousands of bicyles parked everywhere in Amsterdam and especially at the rail stations. Most streets have reserved lanes for both bicycles and street cars with cars having third priority in the city center. In Toronto, we’re having disputes over reserving street car lanes and have some limited bicycle lanes but this decision had been affirmed long ago in Amsterdam.
At the Free University, I was amazed to see a sign saying “Lezing McIntyre”, something that I’d never seen before in any language. A photographer from the university newspaper wanted to take my picture so I made sure that one was taken to include the sign. After the presentation, a couple of groups of students came up and wanted to have their picture taken with me. My daughter who’s the same age would have rolled her eyes in disbelief.
Both Stockholm and Amsterdam are extremely pleasant cities to visit and, in different ways, offer excellent models for what modern cities can aspire to. Combined with the personal hospitality shown to me, it made for a great week. Later I’ll chat about scientific issues in Stockholm and Holland.