Wednesday, 30 October 2013

back from Lyon

More cathedral than train station?
I’m just back from a short trip to Lyon, attending the kick-off meeting of our new EU research project, EvoEvo (“Evolution of Evolution”), selected for the FET Proactive “Evolving Living Technologies” call.  It was an excellent meeting, promising lots of interesting and exciting research over the next three years.  Our task at York is to develop a novel bio-inspired algorithm for tackling open-ended problems, based on the biological experiments and computational modelling being done by the other partners.  It’s going to be great fun.

It was my first trip to Lyon.  A 90 minute EasyJet flight from Stansted arrived at Terminal 3 in Lyon Saint-Exupéry airport, which is a sort of temporary high tech cowshed with metal walls and a plastic roof.

blue sky!
Sights architectural improved rapidly at the adjacent railway station, with its gorgeous swooping roof.  From there is was a 30 minute shuttle-tram ride into Lyon itself, then a shorter tram ride to the hotel.

… amoeba-table
amoeba basin …
The hotel itself, although perfectly comfortable and fine, had clearly embraced some form of crazed design concept. The first clue there was something different about the place was its stealth lifts, entrances cunningly camouflaged with a garish mural.  Then there was the the shape and colour of the hand basin in the en suite, manifesting as some sort of fluorescent green amoeboid entity.  This was clearly deliberate, as its colour and shape were mirrored by the small table in the room proper.

I never actually
tried sitting on this
looks like steel;
feels like lino
The decor continued in a sort of industrial-chic flavour, with a tin chair, and faux riveted brushed steel flooring (actually a very pleasant-feeling warm lino).

This being France, the food was, of course, excellent.  Even a mere sandwich from an airport cafe on the return trip was delicious.  On the Monday we sat outside to eat lunch in glorious sunshine.  It was blustery (probably the edge of St Jude’s storm), but very warm: I was actually rather concerned about the possibility of sunburn!

Another short hop, back to Stansted.  The flight arrived 10 minutes ahead of schedule, due to a strong tail wind (yet more remnants of the storm).  By happy chance I ended up first in the queue at passport control, and was thinking about where I had to go to get the bus to the airport carpark.  I realised the guy looking at my passport had asked me a question. Uhh. Rewind.  Oh, he’d said: “where was your flight from today?”  I looked at him blankly.  I’m in Stansted.  That means I’ve just flown in from somewhere.  Where?  Taormina?  No.  Where then?  Uhh...  Oh.  “Lyon”, I said, after a long, suspicious pause.  He looked more closely at my passport, but then let me through.  Whew.

So, safely back home.  Now to get down to the research…

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