In a palace by the sea

Well, we’ve finally arrived in lovely Ostende, a city on the Belgian coast and our home base for the next few days.

And we are among the lucky ones – it looks like about half of our IFAJ colleagues either never got off the ground or are stranded at airports in various parts of the world.

The now infamous Icelandic volcano has unleashed a travel chaos of unprecedented scale across much of Europe.

Luckily we don’t have fly to take a train anywhere until later next week – and, fingers crossed, a semblance of normalcy will hopefully have re-settled across the European airspace by then.

Most of the Canadian contingent have made it to Ostende, having left before the madness began, but we are sorry that we’ll be missing our fellow travellers John Greig and Sarah Andrewes.

Our congress hotel is the Thermae Palace overlooking the sea and it was a pleasant surprise to find ourselves upgraded to a sea-view room when we arrived.

Kelly and I had opted out of the couple hundred Euro sur-charge for a view overlooking the beach when we booked – cheap was the way to go, we figured – so this is a lovely and unexpected bonus. The view from our balcony is the image above.

Throughout our trip so far, our Belgian and Luxembourg hosts have been the epitome of grace and calm.

I can only imagine how stressful, not to mention disappointing, it must be to have an event you have spent the better part of three years planning for, held hostage by an act of nature out of your control.

We have already seen and learned – not to mention eaten and drank – many wonderful things over the last few days.

More details and blog posts to follow.

Note: My participation in IFAJ 2010 is partially supported by the IFAJ Alltech Young Leaders Award.

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