London, and what I was doing there

I spent a few days in London earlier this week, attending the annual meeting of the Astrophysical Chemistry Group (APCG) of the Royal Society of Chemistry. Hosted by the University College London, the topic of the meeting was computational astrochemistry. That’s pretty much what I do on a daily basis, and indeed there were a number of talks very relevant to my own research. Unfortunately, the meeting ran a bit chaotically. It was shifted from Leeds to London at the last minute, giving the organizers too little time to get everything properly arranged. Also, it felt like some services at the university were still on a holiday break, a problem that previous APCG meetings also suffered from.

Anyway, despite some organizational problems (and a broken heating system on the first day, with temperatures outside around freezing), the meeting was certainly useful. I met some old friends from the UK and elsewhere and got to make a few new ones. On the second (and final) day I gave a 25-minute presentation of my own research, which was met with enthusiastic reactions from several people.

The meeting ended late Wednesday afternoon, so I had the rest of the day to do some sightseeing. It was over ten years since my last visit to London, and back then I only saw a small part of the city. I took the subway (a.k.a. tube or underground) to Trafelgar Square, where both fountains would have been frozen over if people hadn’t been breaking the ice all the time. Heading south, I passed by Downing Street (with the Prime Minister’s residence at No. 10) to arrive at Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. After a brief stop at Westminster Abbey, I crossed Westminster Bridge and had a quick bite at Waterloo Station. Refueled, I took a ride in the London Eye. This 135-metres tall ferris wheel (the largest in the world) takes about half an hour to complete a full circle. The view from the top across nightly London is truly magnificent.

Back on the ground, I took the tube towards London Bridge and walked along the Thames’ south embankment to the Tower Bridge. Crossing it, I followed the street past the Tower of London and carried on towards the Bank of England. I got back onto the underground for a quick ride to my final destination: St. Paul’s Cathedral. This one was a bit of a disappointment. Beautiful and large though it is, at night from the outside it doesn’t look all that spectactular. So, after a quick walk about, I headed back to the hotel. After all, I did have an early flight to catch the next day.

Pictures can be found here.

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