Tuesday, 2 August 2011

To the Continent!

On Tuesday, July 19th, we headed into London from our Cambridge base to catch a train for the Continent.  The next three days we would be spending time in Brussels and Bruge (or Brugge or Bruges depending on who you ask!).  Getting there required a trip through the Chunnel on the Eurostar, which was a new experience for a number of us!

The Eurostar train

Getting settled onboard

Excited to head into the Chunnel
Our first night in Brussels we met at Steak Frit for a group dinner.  We're not all used to the long European style meals, but it was tasty nonetheless!

Part 1 of our very long table for 25...
Part two!

Wednesday was a jam packed day full of visits to the European Commission Visitor's Center, the European Commission Climate Directorate and Euroelectric (an organization that represents electricity producers).  It was a lot to take in, but provided some excellent connections to the both the Industrial Revolution class and the Environmental Economics course.

Part of the EU compound
While at the Commission, we met with two staff, Jo Vandercappellen, (who gave an excellent talk about the structure of the European Commission and how it's institutions have evolved in recent history) and Steven Blaakman, who spoke about EU transportation infrastructure and policy.

Our fancy EU goodies

Checking out the loot

Getting down to business...

From there it was on to the Directorate General for Climate Action where we met with economist, Ger Klaassen about his take on current energy and climate policy in the EU.

The lovely lobby at the European Commission Directorate General for Climate Action

Stop two for the day

Note takers...

A break in the activity... time for a picture!

After a quick lunch at the train station, we made our way to the final stop for the day: Eurelectric.  This organization represents a number of the electricity companies in the EU during the policy making process. Our presenters provided a great deal of information about the potential for widespread introduction of smart grids and the transition from fossil fuel to renewable forms of electricity to power Europe's future.

Our final stop for the day

Some pre-meeting mingling

The lovely view from Eurelectric's lobby

Preparing for powerpoint round four!

In the evening, we took a team of students who had won a data visualization challenge out to dinner in the city.  We went to the iconic Chez Leon, where they serve up some of the delicacies of Brussels: mussels and fries.

Brussels 'n mussels = yum!

A peek at one of their tasty mussel dishes

Following dinner, we sampled another of Belgium's delights: chocolate!

The beautiful chocolate display at Neuhaus Chocolatier
Tomorrow we're off to Bruges to explore the city by bike!

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