The EGU, or more precisely the European Geosciences Union General Assembly, is the biggest geoscience conference in Europe and the second biggest in the world. Over 12 000 scientists come to Vienna every year to meet at the Vienna International Center (VIC). The whole city is flooded by scientists. Everywhere, on the streets, in every restaurant, bar, café and shops, you see them strolling around with their blue badge around the neck. In the subway you find special maps that direct you to the conference center and even the trams are decorated with small EGU flags! In the morning the subway is packed with scientists and poster rolls, all hastily going to the conference center to be in time for the next important talk. The VIC is a huge triangle shaped building, with four main levels which are somehow connected, so it is quite difficult to orientate… But when you get lost, it is even more likely that you meet people you already know or you get to know. So the conference is a great place to meet past colleagues and friends. But don’t think you will meet every person you know just by accident, on the other hand, you will meet people again and again which you might not have expected at all!
My typical EGU day starts early, with a good breakfast to prepare for an exhausting, but interesting conference day. I take the mass flow from the subway to the conference center in the hurrying speed of the mass to be in time for the first talks. Inside I take the wrong escalator upstairs to the red, hydrologist floor, get lost a bit and find the right room after a while. The talk is less interesting as expected, so I search through the program for something else, and find the room pretty easy this time. At 10 a coffee is definitely needed in the 30 minutes break. I chat with some friends and luckily the next interesting talks are close by, so I don’t have to hurry through the whole building. The head is already full of new interesting ideas, so it’s time to hurry to the supermarket to wait in a line with many other scientists for a cheap lunch. The park close by is a great picnic spot where I meet some more friends who I haven’t seen for years! The day continues with talks and meeting people and hits a peak when the poster session starts and everybody is there to chat. I start the evening with white wine and some peanuts, because it’s been a while since I had lunch. With thousands of other people I am strolling around the posters, meeting some of my old professors , talking to some interesting scientists presenting their posters, and be a bit overwhelmed by all the people and interesting posters (over 2 000 each day!)… After that it’s definitely time for dinner so I just walk to the exit, meet friends on the way by accident, make a plan where to go, but end up somewhere else to have some food and drinks. After a while we recognize that we are not the only EGU folks in this bar… Luckily the subway is still running, so I easily come back to my shared apartment to start a new, interesting and great conference day the next morning.