Today, stories from the beach. The big photo is the view from the "beach" (I mean, cement pad on the rocks) which I mentioned yesterday. This became a favorite hangout for the students at the conference -- a good place to visit, have lunch, or just enjoy the sun. Several days were bright and clear, but even on the clearest days, there was often a misty haze across the water, as in this photo.
This photo was taken late at night, on the hotel's "terrace" -- a large open area, with a variety of seats, couches, tables, chairs, and umbrellas. My advisor -- one of the conference's co-organizers -- invited me to join him and some of his fellow Bulgarians on the terrace that evening. As it turned out, we were joined not only by a bunch of the Bulgarian students and faculty, but also our favorite Macedonians and even some of the Croatians. It was a lovely evening, with a variety of wines and brandy. While I didn't speak the language -- any of them! -- apparently English still likes to make its way into most other languages. The occasional mention of "facebook" or "linear function" was perfectly clear!
At the same time, a large group of rather elderley vacationers was also enjoying the warm night on the terrace. After dinner (out under the stars), the got up and began to sing songs and do dances in a language totally unfamiliar to all of us. One of the Macedonians got up and talked to one of the leaders (in English, presumably), and found out that this was a big group of Icelanders! One of the dances, despite being unintelligible to me, very clearly went as follows: "This is the way we wash our clothes, wash our clothes, wash our clothes..."
Back to the photo: these lights are candles which were lit, each night, on the steps of the terrace. I took this photo late at night, after the lovely evening with eastern Europeans and Icelanders!
Finally, a story from our biggest non-mathy day: Sunday, the day of the tour. While there had been several other days when we had a bit of time to get out and explore, Sunday was the big one. A tour bus (complete with tour guide!) took us west through one of the longest mountain tunnels in the region, and brought us out into the Istrian peninsula. Istria is a beautiful, rocky, and very sparsely populated area. Tour guide quote of the day: "The main industry in Istria is terrorism. I mean, tourism."
Our first stop was Hum, a tiny medieval walled town at which this photo was taken. The town is apparently the smallest city in the world (because it still has a city charter), with a population of... wait for it... 6! The next stop was lunch -- a multi-course affair involving quite a lot of wine -- at a local tavern which caters to tourists. Finally, we visited Roč, another walled medieval town. Each little town had a beautiful church and tower, and many rocky streets.
The entire area is enormously rocky and mountainous, with beautiful green fields and narrow, twisting roads. I would love to return and spend a month just wandering around the countryside.