Rennes Day 1: Travel

It is interesting where an small, but apparently intersting idea, can bring a person. Over a year ago, I wrote a short paper on uncertainty in science, which was later published in the `Honours Review’. After a proposal based on this paper was accepted and I was able to participate in a `Rennes Joint Sessions’ Workshop on methodological pluralism, I elaborated upon the basic argument of the paper and today I find myself traveling to Rennes (France) to present my paper.

Today is travel day. I decided to travel to Rennes by train. The map above shows the route I’ve taken. In total, 740 kilometers. But what to write about a 8:30h train trip?

My first stop was in Rotterdam. I had an hour to spare, and all went well. So, the first words of this post (to be precise: these words) were written while I was enjoying a sandwich (breakfast) and come coffee. From Rotterdam it was on to Paris, by means of the Thalys. In Antwerp, some drunks boarded the Thalys. Hope they will smell less awful on their way back, having loaded themselves with French wine, instead of Belgian beer. In the meanwhile, I was able to read an interesting conference paper.

The Thalys arrived in Paris about 20 minutes late, resulting in quite some rush toward Gare Montparnasse. Fortunately, I had planned some extra time on my travel schedule, for I arrived at my train to Rennes with only 15 minutes to spare. So far my desired `grand café’ in a little French bistrôt.

The travel to Rennes was calm (which is rather amazing for a TGV racing forward at 300 km/h) and beautiful. Immediately after leaving Paris (which takes some time), the typical French hills `emerged’ which were beautifully spring-green. The hills were intermitted by typical villages, acres of wheat, small lakes, and orchards. The sky was blue, with some small clouds, so the light was soft and warm.

Upon arrival in Rennes, there was not much time to relax. Rather, there wasn’t any. I had to find my hotel (this was easy, for it resides next to the train station), claim my room and then rush toward the conference site to register and to be in time for the welcome reception.

The welcome reception was both quite luxury and interesting. It appears that it is always a nice idea to organize an conference in France. Both the food and the wine were excellent. The weather was nice as well. Many appeared to be on their own, so it was easy to have a conversation with someone. And there is a lot to talk about, when so many exciting things are about to happen.

I ended up with a Frenchman and an Englishman, talking about politics. These different perspectives were rather interesting. For instance, it appeared that both knew about the Geert Wilders movie `Fitna’, but were not really impressed by it. As the Englishman said: “We did have a bombing.” And he’s right: the upheaval is nothing more than just a little upheaval.

All in all, I had a good first day. Exhausting due to the travel, but really nice and well organized regarding the conference. And, to start a conference with a French and a British political scientist, drinking beer on a terrace and talking about politics: I could have imagined worse ways to start a conference.

(This is one of my blog-posts on my participation on the ECPR 2008 Rennes Joint Sessions, that were held in Rennes, France. For an overview of all posts, ranging from somewhat personal to outright academic in nature, please visit this page.)

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