Sunday, November 22, 2009

My visit to Montreal

The latter half of last week found me in Montréal, Canada.  I was invited by colleagues in the astrophysics group at the Université de Montréal to give a talk on my research.

Wednesday I boarded a plane for Montreal, arriving in the early evening.  I've never been to Montréal before, and the only other time I was in Canada was over 30 years ago, when I was too little to remember.   I don't speak French, but I know enough to be polite, and everyone speaks English better than I do.  So, with no hassle at all, I found my way to my hotel and met with my host, Patrick, for dinner.  

Thursday was my business day.  I took the bus from my hotel to the university campus.  I then proceeded to get lost three times on my way to the department, but I finally found their offices.

The astrophysics group in Montréal is well-known in astronomy.  They have one of the larger white dwarf research groups around, but are active in a wide variety of other astronomy research.  Most of my interactions were with the white dwarf group, most of whom I've met several times before.  It was very good to catch up with them and to talk science.  And my talk went fairly well; I got some great questions and some positive feedback on interesting areas of further research.

I took Friday as a personal day to see the city.  The weather wasn't all that great (what do you expect in the north in November?), so I headed to the Olympic Park where there are several museums: the Biodôme, which recreates four distinct habitats; the Insectarium, which has several insect exhibits; and the Botanical Gardens, where I only visited the greenhouses, as the outdoor gardens were, unsurprisingly, dormant for the winter.  These museums took me up to about 2pm.  I then headed to Old Montréal to explore a bit of the old city, but it started raining again and I quickly became cold and grumpy, so I gave up and had coffee instead.

Saturday I came home.  It was uneventful, which is how I prefer my airline travel.

I am very grateful to my hosts in Montréal for the invitation to come and visit and for their hospitality.  I had a great time and learned a lot!

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