Monday, April 7, 2008

ACM ICPC World Finals 2008: Arrival in Banff, Canada

After 28 hours of flying (not counting stopover time and ground transportation) we finally arrived in Banff this afternoon. The journey took us from Cape Town to Johannesburg to Dakar (refuelling only) to New York (where we spent a night) to Minneapolis to Calgary (where we spent a night) to Banff. I'd love to hear of any other teams that may have had a longer journey as at registration they hadn't heard of anything as long as ours.

My camera was flat for our brief stopover in New York, however, we will be returning there for a couple days on the way back. We mostly just wandered around times square going into places that looked interesting and noting places to see when we return next week. Calgary was the first all but one of our delegation had seen of Canada. We were rather surprised by the weather as it was about 10 degrees, when we were expecting sub-zero weather. Calgary is a fairly large city, but there wasn't all that much to see in the short time we had. Below is a picture of the city's skyline.

After a night in Calgary we headed back to the airport where we caught the 2 hour bus to Banff. In Calgary there were tiny patches of snow, but Banff is in the mountains and so there's plenty snow around. Banff is the largest national park in Canada, situated in the Rocky Mountains. We're staying in the Banff Springs Hotel, which I think is an amazing hotel. Not such a great shot, but below is what the hotel looks like from the outside.

And here's a shot of the team and me outside the hotel (me, Migael, Tamara, Timothy):

We arrived in Banff at 14:30 and dinner being the first scheduled activity started only at 18:00, so we took a walk up one of the mountains. In the middle of the many snowball-fights we decided to put together a little snowman. However, this would be no ordinary snowman -- it was made to look like Bruce. It's a snowbruce! :-P

After the walk up the mountain we went to see the river, which was half frozen, as well as the frozen waterfall. Below is a shot of the scenery with the river in the foreground.

Dinner was pretty good. We met the RCD from Virginia with which we had a very interesting conversation on their experiences versus ours as well as a discussion on the American economy. After dinner they had some wild birds on show and we got to hold an owl:

After dinner we went to check out how registration was going. We were scheduled to register at 20:00, however, things seemed to be moving very efficiently so were able to register early. I find it annoying that they alternate between some years having a very efficient registration process and others (2005 and 2007) being very inefficient. During the registration process we picked up the load of free goodies which you can see below. Hopefully they are more reasonable this year like they were last year with the enforcement of wearing the single t-shirt for so many events.

Just recently to end off the day they had two speakers giving talks on Chinook (the project that solved checkers) and IBM's Unified Parallel C compiler. They were both very interesting and I hope they are a sign of what's to come!

That's all for today. Time for sleep. Tomorrow there's the IBM TechTrek which is usually a rather boring sequence of talks, followed by an excursion to the Columbia Icefield, which has the largest ice glacier south of the artic.


  1. I always wanted a teddy bear wearing an ACM t-shirt ever since I saw it once in some local or regional contest :D
    Isn't there any more left :D ??!!

    Anyway, nice post, nice memories. can't wait to read more. and best of luck for u in the contest :D

    //I got here from the TC forum about ICPC blog. I hope I'm not annoying u by my comment :$

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  3. i hope to be there one day (not in canada) but on ACM ICPC in Cairo University Team
    anyway congratulation to cape town university