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:: Lagos

Tuesday and Wednesday were my main work days for the trip, with my talk being on Tuesday. For the most part, the talk went well. While the Café com Leite probably made me talk twice as fast as I'd planned, I'd practiced the talk enough times to feel comfortable with the material. At the end I received a good number of questions from the audience, which is a good sign that some people at least were listening. During lunch, I had a good chat with a grad student from a school in Germany who had heard of some of the work we'd done at Georgia Tech and talked about network-related FPGA details. While it feels odd to think of my work as a niche research area, it was good to jabber with someone that knows how tricky some of the stuff I do really is.

The rest of the conference was kind of ho-hum. There were a couple of interesting talks that went into using the hardware in different ways (ie, instantiating multiple soft processors and building algorithms in software), but the people that did this were basing their work on existing tools (ie, someone had already done the hard work). Sensing that the other workshops in the conference were not going to be of any use to me (web collaborative tools?), I decided not to pay for the other sessions, and instead took some extra vacation time.

The FPGA workshop ended a couple hours ahead of schedule on Wednesday, so Amy and I decided to take the rental car out for a drive. We wound up in a beach city called Lagos (see my Lagos pictures), which is about a half hour west of our town. We stumbled upon a park on the water with some giant cliffs and amazing views. There were all sorts of paths along the hills, and a handful of people wandering about. Most of the paths looked kind of dicey, so we decided to heed the danger signs and just look at the scenery from the safe spots.

We then drove from the cliffs over to the historic part of the city. The roads looked tiny, so we parked the car just outside the city, thought about how we were liable for 30,000 Euros, and then started out on foot. The historic part of town is still surrounded by a large castle wall, so the first problem was finding a hole for us to get through. We wandered around pretending to be frustrated Moors for a little while, until we came across an entryway that led us into the city. Once inside we wandered around for some time, marveling at the dense European buildings and the tiles sidewalks that took windy paths through the city. We looked for and unknowingly found an old church, and then left the city from through a different gap in the wall. We followed the streets down to the water, where there was a tiny little fortress that was closing up for the evening. I guess most invaders arrive by tour bus these days.

One of the maps we saw in town seemed to imply that there was a lighthouse just down the road from the cliffs we had originally stopped at. We went back to the 30,000 liability and decided to try to fin our way there to see what it was all about. When we ran out of road, we found a small lighthouse that the guards were closing up for the night. This wasn't a big deal for us because we could still wander around the cliffs and take in the coastline with the setting sun.

The cliffs by the lighthouse were pretty crazy, because there were all these old stone pathways that were starting to fall apart. We noticed that there was a long, stone stairway down to the water that looked like it was in good condition, so we followed it and the voices that were coming from people by the water. At the bottom we found this cool, sheltered inlet where boats could come and pick you up. We thought about how cool it would be to be here in the summer, but at the same time, we were happy not to be with the crowds. On our way back up the stairs, we actually ran into the crowds- a tour bus of elderly Portuguese had just been let off and a whole bunch of manly retirees were zipping down the stairs before it got dark. We stopped and let them go by us at one of the turns. A few of the wives on this trip decided that that's as far as they needed to go. They were all excited to be here, and chatty about their husbands. I don't know what they were saying, but I'm sure it was something along the lines of "Forget that! You go walk down and up those 700 steps! I didn't get to be my age by risking a heart attack!". heh..

We made our way back to the car, just as the sun was really starting to disappear. We stumbled our way back onto the interstate and made our way home. Back in Carvoeiro, the novelty of a restaurant called "California Pizza" overcame us, and we had a trusty meal of Italian food and beer (not to mention cigarette smoke). Again, I can see Bob shaking his head, but you know, sometimes you just got to go with what you know.

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