This was the year of the comeback to YAPC::EU for me, after the only one I attended to in 2000 (or, better, in 19100) in London. Since I'll be one of the organizers of next year conference in Pisa, I thought I should really go and take a look (joking, I was going to be there anyhow).
By the way, Pisa was chosen for the 2010 of the YAPC::EU, that is to say I and other (mostly Italian) Perl enthusiasts will organize it. It's a bit scary when I think about it, but it's also an exciting challenge and I'm confident we'll be able to work well. We'll have to make ourself ridiculous enough by performing a part of the Rocky Horror Picture Show just before the Pisa YAPC... this is really scary.
The YAPC was, put it simple, a great conference. Most of the talks were interesting and enjoyable, with so many important speakers: you can have a look at the conference web site to see who they were.
My favourite talks were the ones related to functional programming (if I only had the time to dig this a bit more...), Moose, Devel::Declare, perl 6 regular expressions, and some other topic I can't remeber right now. I was also quite interested in the Padre editor, even though I'm not using it (yet?): having a good software in this are written in Perl could help the language to be seen as a viable option for areas such as GUI programming - moreover, Padre works well.
As expected, it was very nice and interesting to talk with people around the conference, see "old friends" (including the Italian folks I don't meet that often, after all), meet new ones, speak with the conference sponsors. It was especially nice to meet Dirk from Vlaanderen.pm again (after the London Perl Workshop 2008) and to know about Belgian Perl Workshop 2010, an event I unfortunately missed in 2009.
Coffee breaks were great, with file local pastries to choose from; the only thing I can say about that is that the coffee wasn't spectacular(as the one we use to serve at Italian Perl Workshop ;-). Lunches were good as well, with pizza slices and sandwiches: for conferences, I like this "pick up something when you want and" style much better than something like "sit down at 12:30".
As usual I wasn't able to keep my wallet locked: I bought 5 books at O'Reilly table (including a Mercurial one I'll probably never user) and a Shadowcat YAPC-dedicated t-shirt at the auction: wicked design, by Mark Keating - great t-shirt!
Around the conference
Evenings are always an interesting part of these events, as they offer the ideal environment to speak about technical and not technical matters... and they give plenty of opportunities for food and drinks. :-)
First social evening was the pre-meeting. There was supposed to be some early registration process, but there wasn't (or we weren't able to find where it was being done ;-)). The place was a big Irish pub in the Oriente district, a nice and modern part of the town, albeit a bit windy. It was good to be in a place where to drink beers which were more interesting than the local lagers. Too bad a conference attendee sitting next to me (I can't remember his name now) commented against my Talisker t-shirt: he liked Lagavulin better. :-)
The attendees dinner was in downtown Lisbon, in a waterfront restaurant, and it all revolved around very good meat... and also around caiprinhas, which were barely drinkable to say it all. I really have to mention the British-Italian quiz show team (osfameron and polettix), which achieved an honourable second place at the quiz show (hosted by Damian Conway).
I was also invited, as an organizer of next year's YAPC, at the speakers dinner, which was just nearby the Irish pub of the pre-meeting. Good meat to eat there as well. At the end of all of this, I have to say that Portuguese food is quite heavy as far as calories are concerned, but very tasty.
The city was a pleasant surprise for me. I decided not to sleep at the hotel suggested by the conference organizers, which was near the conference but a bit far from the downtown, and chose an hostel (Lisbon Poets Hostel) in Chiado. It proved to be a nice choice, as it allowed me to take a look at the city centre when going to and coming back from the conference or evening meetings.
The hostel had free Wifi, so I could keep in touch and even work a bit. As usual I chose to sleep in a dormitory (4 beds), which is a good way to save some money and to meet people. This time, however, I shared the room with 3 French girls and we didn't catch that much; oh well, no problem.
I had the chance to wander around the city centre and found it to be enjoyable: trams, small alleys, and fine buildings make it a very enjoyable place - and there are really a lot of people around. I also took a night bar crawl in the Bairro Alto with some people at the hostel: it lasted until 5AM and we drank way too many beers. The Bairro is a nice place however: everybody's friend of everybody and it's very easy to meet new people.