April 8, 2009
Last week I presented a paper at a conference on choice modeling in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. I had the opportunity not only to meet Dan McFadden, who won the Nobel Prize precisely because of his contributions to discrete choice models – which by the way is exactly what my research is related to –, but also all the other big names in choice microeconomics and econometrics of consumer behavior. I also met with my dear friends from Chile and Italy. Interestingly, both Chile and Italy have a bunch of very good researchers on choice modeling – a world that is largely dominated by the Anglophone academic community. The Chilean school is particularly prestigious, leading research in the area.
That being said, I was very happy with the location of the conference. Harrogate is a lovely (or should I say ‘loovely’?) and affluent SPA town with impressive Turkish baths, superb public gardens and parks, interesting 16th century pubs, and really nice architecture – mainly Victorian and Edwardian. Actually, it reminded me of some areas of Pennsylvania (but nicer).
Because of the warm and sulfurous waters, Harrogate became an important touristic destination of the European aristocracy, especially in the last part of the 19th century. People came to relax and enjoy the healthful benefits of spring water: salus per aquam (health through water). Rapidly a luxurious hotel and a nice Kursaal were built. The touristic vocation of Harrogate has perpetuated to the present. Currently, Harrogate is one of the most important exhibition and conference centers of the United Kingdom.
When in Harrogate you have to go to Bettys tea rooms. Bettys and Taylors of Harrogate is a lovely tea house – actually one of the Queen’s favorites. There, you can enjoy the full afternoon tea experience. Yorkshire loose tea is served in a teapot, together with another pot with hot water. Tea is drunk without sugar and with a touch of milk, and accompanied rigorously with raisin scones, homemade strawberry jam and clotted cream. You can also have a piece of cake (I had a delicious Yorkshire curd tart) and a sandwich (smoked salmon is a very good choice). Now, I want to have my afternoon tea on a daily basis! Since I grew up in Chile, it was a wonderful experience for me. In Chile we also have the tradition of afternoon tea, which we call onces or elevenses in Chilean Spanish (onces are served in the afternoon and not in the morning, when the British elevenses snack is supposed to be eaten).
Despite the fact that Harrogate has plenty of hotels, I highly recommend staying at the Acorn Lodge Hotel. A ‘loovely’ Bed and Breakfast offering affordable luxury, ranked 1st for B&B’s in Harrogate on TripAdvisor. Phil is an extremely welcoming host. And he prepares the most succulent full English breakfast (a tradition that we do not have in Chile or in Italy): eggs, crispy bacon, grilled tomatoes, sausage, sautéed mushrooms, beans and toast!