IOL, day 4: Hunting Hamilton
posted on 2017-07-30 with tags [iol]

Adventures prior to the opening ceremony of IOL! (See part 1.)

After dinner today, we decided to go into downtown Dublin as a team, just to look around. Having been reminded by a member of team Australia (who I met via Puzzling Stack Exchange chat) that Hamilton's famous inscription of the quaternion formula was in fact fairly close to DCU, I mentioned it to the team, and two members in particular immediately flew into a burst of excitement. (That's what you get when you bring a bunch of computational linguistics enthusiasts to the same place....)

We eventually agreed on a compromise with the others: we would go downtown, and if the bridge wasn't too far away, a subset of our group could go visit. When we got there, it turned out that the train station that provided a ~4 minute ride to the bridge was about 30 minutes away by walking, which was judged to be too long. Disappointed, we nevertheless joined the others in their sightseeing around Dublin.

(Click on any of these images to enlarge them.) Walking around downtown Dublin was actually rather nice, and we got to see some interesting things (like... that weird super tall pole thing that sort of just stands there). We probably walked for one or two hours, talking and wandering around the city.

When we'd had enough of that, I was expecting to go home. The two highly enthusastic teammates, however, had apparently still been scheming; when we stopped, our coach asked us to split into groups by who wanted to go to the bridge or go back to the dorms.

The conversastion went approximately like this:

Me: "The bridge?"
Them: (vigorous nodding)
Me: :D
Them: :D

It was seven of us along with a coach who ended up going. We began the somewhat long walk down to the train station, obtaining directions via Google Maps and sketchy public wifi. Keep in mind that at this point, it was around 21:30 when we got to the station, and getting colder and windier very quickly.

Well, we got to the "station," anyway. I mean, we could see it. It was clearly there. It was just that there was no apparent way of getting from where we were to where it was. With blatant disregard to a "private property" sign, we trespasse— we, er, we took a shortcut only to find a bridge between us and the station with a locked gate on our end. (Teammate: "The bridge is locked. That's not something I usually say about bridges.")

Eventually, we were forced to go all the way back across a different bridge, then walk all the way back down to where the station was in order to cross the bridge there to access it. When we finally got there... we saw that the last train had left at 19:30, more than two hours earlier.

Our valiant quest having been abruptly cut short by the closed train station, we reluctantly conceded to go back another day. (After all that time? Of course. Nothing can stop the determination of a bunch of math nerds.) Navigating through some rather sketchy and run-down places of Dublin (fences covered in barbed wire!) in an attempt to find our way to DCU, we eventually got on the bus and made it back.

But we're still coming for you, Hamilton. Don't worry, we'll be there.

Looking forward to the opening ceremony tomorrow!