Your question for today: what is the connection between the words KAT / FLOOR / STOCK / PIANO and why might they all be found in the same place?
Today has been the customary excursions day at the World Puzzle Championships, primarily arranged so that those suffering from jet-lag from their trip from afar yesterday can acclimatise to the time zone. Almost the entire WPC team load themselves up onto two coaches and explore some nearby territory. (At the WPC in Stamford, CT in 2000, this took the form of a day trip down to New York City. I got to visit the World Trade Center while the twin towers were still intact, which turned out to be sort of fortuitous timing under the circumstances.)
Our trip today was around the Istrian region of Croatia. First we visited the delightful coastal town of Porec, which should have a hacek (sp?) above the c. A hacek looks like a set of devil horns, so it's an upside-down circumflex, and the whole enterprise looks like a >u rotated 90° clockwise. I'm sure there must be a HTML entity for a c-hacek, and at a guess, it's &chacek;, but I can't check.
Putting the typographic oddity apart, Porec is a small seaside town (perhaps low five digits of inhabitants) whose claim to fame is a Roman basilica, parts of which date from the 4th and 6th centuries AD. It's a Christian temple and there are gorgeous mosaics, including a giant golden Christ. Remarkably many souvenir shops have arisen to celebrate the basilica and the sea. Today's weather was fantastic: the most inconsequential of clouds in the sky and very light sea breezes. The sun was intense, but the overall temperature was still pleasantly cool (at a guess, low 60s °F). A really nice October day.
After Porec, we visited a traditional Croatian restaurant. The starter was once more pork'n'cheese, with the cheese being extremely strong, and once again there was soup as a second course. (Beans and corn in beef stock - so nice that I had seconds and thirds.) The main meal was a steak of unidentified dark meat (left untouched here) and a battered slice of rather gamey white meat (turkey?) accompanied by potatoes and what I imagine was sauerkraut. I've discovered that I like sauerkraut. Dessert was little balls of sponge with dried fruit in a sweet batter. One of the strongest reasons to qualify for the World Puzzle Championship is all the fine food you get at the events. Today I have eaten like a king, or a pig. (Or the king of pigs, more likely.) During the meal we were serenaded by two singers, a brace of synthesisers and some cheesy listening. (Hallmark of lounge style: a tendency to append a quick cha-cha-cha to the end of each song just because they can.)
Final destination of the afternoon was a village atop a tall hill of the local limestone called Motovun. (The village, not the limestone.) This was created while the area was under the control of the Venice Condottieri, so lions run rampant. The village has a fine festival every year and spectacular views, but otherwise doesn't have much to commend it other than an unduly exciting coach ride involving hair-raising hairpin bends. Then back to the ranch for dinner (a big buffet, so I got cheese'n'ham salad, vegetable soup, beef with chipsricecarrotscabbagespinach, a vanilla mousse, a bowl of fruit and a cream pastry) and an hour meeting to iron out remaining problems with the instructions for tomorrow's puzzles. Time for a little light blogging and off to bed for a good night's sleep, unlike last night's.
Last night we saw a very strange show on TV - no, not the uncensored T'n'A on DSF. It was effectively German puzzle TV, possibly comparable to Quiz TV on Sky Digital. A puzzle was shown on TV with an advertised €1,000 prize, a telephone number to call and a sixty-second countdown. Every now and again (often, but not always, when there was just a second or two left on the countdown) a caller would come on the air and submit an incorrect answer. Now if every caller made it to the air then they would seem to have nowhere near enough €0.9/min calls to pay back the prize, so presumably there were lots of callers who didn't make it to air. We didn't stay until the end, but presumably they do put someone with the correct answer on the air at some point, and doubly presumably there are many people submitting the right answer of which one has been selected at random.
The puzzle, by the way, was surprisingly difficult. We think it translated to "How many quadrilaterals (four-sided figures of any shape) are there in this shape?"
+===+===+ |\ /|\ /| | X | X | |/ \|/ \| +===+===+ |\ /|\ /| | X | X | |/ \|/ \| +===+===+People on-air were guessing things like 12 and 18, but we gave up when we had reached 66. Not sure what the correct answer is, by the way.
The puzzles start in earnest tomorrow! The morning has an individual round and a team round of familiar formats in the morning, with a medley (answers to early problems lead you to having enough information to solve the later ones), a 91-minute round of standard formats, a round of arithmetical grids to fill in (in a race format) and a team competition to do with sorting 72 blocks into eight nine-piece jigsaws. Fun's a-comin'!
To answer the question I posed you: KAT, FLOOR, STOCK and PIANO are all found together on the map in our room showing the fire exits on this level of the hotel. Croatian has its own language, but KAT in Croatian, FLOOR in English, STOCK in German and PIANO in Italian are considered translations of each other.