This August, the 23rd IUCr Congress and General Assembly was held in Montréal, Canada. The fourth such event had taken place in Montréal back in 1957, so this was something of a revisit, bestowing the city with the honour of being the first to host the Congress twice. My attendance at the event along with Colin Groom, Pete Wood, Suzanna Ward and Paul Davie was also something of a revisit for me, as my former employers CCG, are based there, and so I had been a frequent visitor during my time working with them, and know the city well.
The IUCr Congress and General Assembly lasts for eight days – the longest conference of any with which I am familiar. All the events of the Congress were held within the Palais des Congrés de Montréal, including the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and the Conference Banquet. The Palais is an interesting building; the bulk of which is of 1980s construction, with a more recent extension providing some shops and a large, airy foyer with a multi-coloured glass wall. At the Opening Ceremony we were entertained by two local circus performers and a local jazz band played at the Conference Banquet. Beyond the Palais des Congrés, Montréal is a vibrant, characterful city - as anyone who ventured away from the conference events will no doubt attest – and it was made doubly so during this week as many of the world’s top women tennis players were staying at the same hotel as us, next to the Palais des Congress, during the Rogers Cup tournament!
The European Crystallographic Meeting (ECM-28) at Warwick University in August this year marked my personal return to the world of crystallographic conferences after a gap of some eleven years. I recently returned to work at the CCDC, having left in 2002, and spent the intervening 11 years working in the drug discovery software industry which, although related and relevant, is quite a different community.