I have formed a pretty firm opinion about academics. I have decided that academic conferences are just like any kind of gathering of like minds -- Star Trek conventions, flute camps, stamp collecting expos -- any gathering of people who have reached a mockable level of obsession with any particular hobby. Academics just like to pretend that their obsessions are more respectable than other hobbies, but, you know really, they're not.
This is the "pleasure palace" King George IV built when he was prince. What do you do when you have all the money in the world and nothing to do until your crazy Dad dies? You do whatever you want. And I like to think of this palace as a Prince's version of a lego castle. It's huge and absolutely amazing inside - it's all elaborate chinese and Indian-inspired architecture that really just looks like some rich jerk said, "I want a massive palace with gold ceilings and secret passageways and the world's biggest kitchen and the world's best chef to cook me disgustingly elaborate feasts." And that's pretty much what happened.
I love those nights when you decide to eat whatever you really feel like having for dinner no matter what it is. On our last night, I got a smoothie, and Marc got deep fried bangers and chips. Yeah, he's eating a battered, deep-fried, massive sausage. mmmmm.