A Tour of Kurion

This tour came to the conference schedule almost a last-minute, and I told the organizers that it was a terrific idea. As I said before, just walking around during the after-hours was not an option. When I researched “thins to do at Limassol,” I realized that the interesting stuff is outside the city. Unfortunately, all the tours you could book, even the half-day tours, were starting in the morning.

That tour gave the conference participants an excellent option to see at least some of the history of Cyprus and in a very compact way. I do not appreciate an idea of going to the conference, and then spending three-quarters of the time sightseeing, A professional conference is for your professional development. Yes, it is nice to go on some tours and see a new place, but not at the expense of the main purpose. Scheduling that tour as a separate event was great, a gift from the organizers. If I was traveling for leisure, I would spend more time on each of the sites and would research more of the history in advance.

We started at 4 PM and headed to the archeological site of Kurion. During our ride, our tour guide showed us the refugee villages, which are very well maintained. It is astonishing and sad to learn that there are still hundreds of thousands of refugees in their own country. For such a small country like Cyprus, these numbers are really striking. Once again, I have to admit that we are fast to forget the things which disappear fro the top news headlines – especially if they do not touch us directly.

Passing a stream on the way

We finally arrived at the Archeological site of the ancient state-city of Kurion. There are so many things to see there, but we had limited time, and technically speaking, we were visiting at the after-hours. We had to finish our visit before the sunset, which gave us not more than 40 minutes for everything

House of Eustolios, first private villa, then public baths
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Conference: Day Three Keynotes

On day three, we had two keynotes: one in the morning, and one after lunch, and after the second one we had a social program (a tour and a dinner)

The first keynote presented by Gunnar Klau was called “Haplotype phasing or deciphering the scrolls from the four schools of Amathus”. And if you can’t figure out what it was about, I will give you a clue: there was a Biology track at the conference, dedicated to biological and genetic applications: Algorithmic Computational Biology, and this keynote was a part of that track. Hopefully you can see from the photos below how the ancient recipe reconstruction is related to understanding the genome.

The second keynote was by Mikolaj Bojanczyk and it was called “Polyregular functions.” This one was pure programming, but I could not help myself but asking why people are so obsessed with Haskell language ๐Ÿ™‚

After that second keynote, there were no more sessions, and the social program started.

A Visit to the Limassol Castle

We’ve spent quite a bit of time in Limassol Castle. That is the only ancient building in the city and an old one. FIst, there was an early Christian basilica in the 4-7th centuries A.D. A bigger church was built over it in 10-11th centuries, and then at some point in the 12th century, the castle was built, incorporating different parts of the church.

Now, when you walk in the museum, you see a lot of arrows, indicating the meeting points of different buildings and epochs.


Unfortunately, there are not enough descriptions in the museum, I need to read way more to try to understand what it is all about. Also, there is not enough historical evidence regarding many of the periods. The castle was almost ruined during the first Ottoman invasion (by the city’s Venetian Governor). The Ottomans completely ruined it during recapture, and then id was turned into a prison. We ended up visiting the museum twice – by ourselves on Tuesday and with the organized tour Wednesday night, but there was still not enough information.

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Day Two and Exploring Marina

Since it was getting dark at 5 PM, we figured out that if we want to see something, we need to skip one session. And it was indeed the only session we skipped during the conference! It was on Tuesday, and that was the first sunny day.

It was almost warm in the places with no wind, and to our surprise, we saw several people getting sunbaths on the hotel deck, closer to the walls. 

I was not one of them, but I enjoyed the sun!

After lunch, I changed to gym shoes and jeans, and we headed towards the city center. It was about 5.5 km between the city center and our hotel. Since there is always a risk that I won’t be able to walk for several hours straight, we decided to take a cab from the hotel to the city center, and then walk back on our feet. 

I have to mention that there are tons of Russian tourists in Cyprus, and especially at Limassol. Most signs are dubbed in Russian, not English, or at least Russian comest first. Local organizers were talking a lot about “Russian money,” it’s influence on Limassol and on Cyprus in general, and the ways the Cyprus government tries to control the situation (mostly unsuccessfully). 

It’s funny that most of my friends and co-workers in the US reacted to my travel plans, either “what is Cyprus?” or “where is Cyprus?” The cab driver asked us where we are from, and when I said “from Chicago,” he didn’t even understand first. After I repeated more clearly, he exclaimed: Chicago?! How did you find Cyprus?!  

Although it sounds like a well-known anecdote, “How did you find Paris, Missis Astor?” he undoubtfully meant “find” in its original meaning:).

There is not much historical Limassol left. Marina, although beautiful and stylish, is very new construction. Here are some pictures:

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Traveling to Cyprus

My birthday was on Saturday, and I spent most of it in transit. Started it with a birthday breakfast of hot-smoked salmon sandwich on rye bread at the Vantaa airport and then boarded a flight to Frankfurt. That flight and the subsequent flight to Limassol were extremely uneventful, being operated by Lufthansa :).

I didn’t know that we have to cross the border going to Cyprus. Cyprus is an EU member, but not a part of the Schengen agreement. However, they acknowledge Schengen visas, so it works at least one way :).

Upon arrival, we met our driver (we had a prearranged transportation to our hotel) and got into the car. Once again, I didn’t know that Cyprus had left-side traffic, so you have to be super careful. The highway from the airport was one-way, and the reverse route was not visible. Citing my surprise that nobody asked us at the border, how long we are going to stay, Boris joked that that’s because there is no way out anyway :).

This time of the year is off-season on Cyprus, so hotels are dirt-chip, and the first two days it was raining. We won’t do much sightseeing anyway, because it falls dark right after five. But here is the view from our room ๐Ÿ™‚

I also managed to get an hour in the gym, hence I have my usual in-the-gym birthday picture:

Getting Ready to Go to Cyprus

I am leaving in less than three days, and I am still only partially packed and can get a feel neither about the weather nor the dress code of the event. I have never been to Cyrpus, and at this time of the year, people do not go to Cyprus :).

I just got a long email from the conference organizers, and at the very end of that super-long email, they mention that the electric plug on Cyprus is English! I would not have an idea! In fact, I already packed my European connectors :). Good to know :).
In addition, I am staying after work today to run Chicago PUG meetup, and I am going to the shelter tomorrow night to cook dinner with the residents. And Thursday is my last day in the office before I leave, and also I need to visit Mom :). And I really want to rehearse my presentation a couple of timesโ€ฆ Wish me luck ๐Ÿ™‚

Be Careful What You Wish for…

 In the course of the past couple of weeks, several things have happened in my professional life. Although I am trying to separate my professional blogging and my personal one, sometimes they are very deeply intervened. 

First thing: I had a great meetup of the Chicago PostgreSQL User group. It was not easy to organize three speakers, and I am very happy I did. Also, with a tremendous amount of help from my fellow co-organizer, we secured two great speakers for our November PUG. I can’t even believe that I got these speakers:). And now, I need to plan their entertainment in Chicago, manage attendees, etc. Leading a User Group takes a lot of effort and time, although it might look like it is “just finding a speaker once a month.”

Second thing. The last paper I got accepted for the real CS conference was in 2016 (the actual acceptance was at the end of 2015). Since then, I tried to submit my work several times, and each time it got rejected. At the end of August, Boris and I submitted a paper to yet another conference, and finally, it got accepted! For me, it was like breaking the curse:). For those who are interested in my professional updates, I will post more in theย World of Data. For this blog, the important thing is that it was accepted as a short paper, so by October 28, we need to make it 1/4 shorter. Considering that we already made it almost half shorter from its original size, that task is virtually impossible to complete. Boris suggests we just remove three random pages or one section out of it:).

Third thing. Back in summer, I emailed the organizers of the 2Q PG Conf conference in Chicago a couple of my suggestions of what I would like to do for the conference. First, my training was accepted, and instead of 4 hours, which I planned, it was announced as a full-day training. Yes, Boris and I wanted to have “a good reason” to consolidate our 30 years of training :), but this is just a little bit more work on top of our regular jobs. Especially counting the fact that my talk with Chad about bitemporality was also accepted, and Boris’ talk on Postgres and Academia was accepted as well.

All that I wanted :). Except now, I am not sure how I can fit it all in my life. Oh, and also, I have an important deadline at work on October 28. And my team was recently assigned extra responsibilities, but we do not have an extra person yet.