Even though the talks yesterday morning at AISTATS 2014 (day #2) were of the same high quality as the other days, I “had” to skip them to drive my daughter to the airport. Originally, the flight was planned at 7:40, which would have given me plenty of time to get back for Andrew’s talk at 9pm, but the airport staff was on strike from 4 to 9 and so all flights were delayed. (Compared with strikes in France which are synonyms with chaotic mess, this Icelandic strike was quite civilized in that the disruption was rather minimal, with desks opening at 9pm sharp [and the passengers in the queue counting down the last seconds together!] and a very swift processing of bags.) Once at the airport, my wife and I took the opportunity to go birding on the peninsula, unsuccessfully seeking the elusive puffins who have seemingly not yet made it back to the Icelandic cliffs where they nest in the summer. And I managed to get back to the conference hotel for an AISTATS executive meeting which may have landed me in more involvement in the AISTATS 2016 edition of the conferences.
Then, rather than joining the whole conference happily soaking in the hot waters of the blue lagoon, we went for a hike to a peak just north of Reykjavik, Þverfellshorn, which is part of the Esjan range,starting at 4pm (a first for me as I usually prefer starting at 4am..!, but this is far North, where days are getting long enough to enjoy two days in one!), and aiming at the leftmost part of the plateau in the picture below. The path was very well-marked, with a grading in boots (from one to three), and snow-free until the ultimate slope (it would have been very different a few days ago), and very mild in difficulty. What I liked most was the great views, starting under blue skies and ending up with a stormy one, the sun being low enough to dramatically light up the scene. (An helicopter visibly looking for someone in the mountain range obviously added to the dramatic feeling.) Another nice thing was to meet many people going up on our way down, meaning that locals did see the hike as an evening stroll they could start at 7pm!