Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Agro-Know on the move - Keep on travelling!

Ok, it is in the nature of our work to travel quite often (project meetings, dissemination events, participation in Conferences etc.), but sometimes this is getting too much (or too funny!); for example, due to our frequent trips, many of us in AK tend to be away from office at the same time and this week is one of these cases:
  • Andreas is currently in Australia, participating in the 3rd EU-Australia Research Infrastructures Workshop, which takes place between 4-8 November 2013, at Canberra, Melbourne, Australia.
  • Laura and Nikos are currently in Vilnius, Lithuania, in order to attend the ICT 2013 - Create, Connect, Grow, in Vilnius on 6-8 November 2013, focusing on Horizon 2020 - the EU's Framework Programme for Research and Innovation for 2014-2020.
  • Another Nikos and me are travelling to Brussels, Belgium in order to attend the 10th EdReNe Conference, which takes place between 7-8/11/2013 at the EUN premises.
I guess days like these are much quieter for those staying back at the office; I surely appreciate such days when I am at the office while others are travelling.

Lovely logo for the ICT 2013 Conference

This also reminded me of the summer of 2011, where I spent three weeks in a row out of office, travelling for the Organic.Balkanet project meeting in Maribor, Slovenia (28-30/6/2011), the ISLE summer school in Malta (4-8/7/2011) and the EFITA 2011 Conference in Prague, Czech Republic (11-14/7/2013). I only had the weekends in between in order to get back home, get some clean clothes and get back on the road again! 

I really love travelling so I do not mind; sometimes I find it amazing how automated this process has turned into so I can pack and get everything ready for a long trip in a couple of hours. My packing skills have also advanced over the years, allowing me to take only the necessary stuff with me (even though I am usually tempted to fill any space available in the suitcase with additional stuff, just in case). I know which airplane seat to choose and why, how to take advantage of the time during short and long flights (reading/taking notes/preparing my presentations and using my netbook respectively), what to do in between flights, how to select a nice hotel within the available budget, how to adapt to new environments, small hotel rooms, find the best way to travel from an airport to my hotel and vice-versa. Of course this takes some time in planning before the trip, explore available options, take notes and print maps but it worth every minute of it as it makes travelling much easier.

Working in the woods! Leuven, Belgium
Sometimes (unfortunately not frequently) I get to find some free time during the trips to go for long walks, sightseeing and taking photos; I usually find myself in such a tight schedule that I hardly find enough time to sleep. In any case, each trip is different and it's always an interesting experience to visit new places - challenging might also be an appropriate word for that! I have found myself working in benches in the woods (during the VOA3R preparations for the 2nd review meeting in Leuven), trying to connect to wifi in hotel lobbies after midnight, squeezing myself next to a snack dispenser in the Sofia airport in order to plug my netbook to the only power source available, working while relaxing in Star Alliance lounges, missing my only mean of transportation and looking for alternatives on the fly, trying to understand why I do not have a hotel room while I have the voucher in my hand and so on. These memories are not to be forgotten in any case ;-)