Sunday, March 15, 2020

Traveling in These Times

I returned a few days ago from a 10 day jaunt through Munich and Vienna where my lucky eyes laid on spectacular and wondrous examples of human ingenuity and creativity. The excellent Deutsches Museum is pure pleasure for anyone with a love of engineering and science. We were traveling with a friend who is writing a book on automata and she generously let us tag along on her meeting with the curator of clockmaking. He showed us his workshop as well as introducing us to artists from the diorama workshop- this behind the scenes tour was a cherry-on-top of an already super trip.

Fascinating power tools exhibit at Deutsches Museum
I could have happily spent all my time in this vast temple of current and past technologies as a day and a half was not time enough to appreciate the enormous collection of power engines and turbines, a bathysphere, tide predicting machine, Wright biplane, a floor of room sized ancient compute devices. I truly hope to return there again once the world normalizes. 

After a full day of gawking at the various treasures of Munich, I joyfully stuffed my face with delectable edibles of the porky variety.  Being fond of blood sausages, I was stoked to find Munich's Ratskeller served them in a traditional dish "Himmel und Erdem"-  Heaven and Earth. Actually my body sadly cannot eat butter any more so these pillowy mounds of buttery mashed potatoes tasted even more heavenly.  (OMG so tasty I almost cried.)
Himmel und Erdem
While I rejoiced at every meal with such hearty fare, my choices for imbibing were sorely crimped. I was served such insipid tea at most establishments that I gave up. Either the water was not hot enough, the water chemistry wasn't good for tea particularly in Munich, or the mesh teabags had been exposed to air constantly and hence gave a stale brew.  Non-dairy options at cafe's were not a thing in Europe so pretty much espresso was the only thing I could order. 

The day before our return flight, a European travel entry ban was announced and Vienna had started to close all her museums. In hindsight, we were exceedingly lucky to have reentered the States on Thursday before the airport chaos on Saturday. For the first 8 days of our journey, we barely noticed the impact of covid-19 except for the few odd tourists (mostly Asians) that wore face masks.  Actually the lack of large Asian tourist groups would have been the biggest difference.  Also the top of my hands became dry crusty tortoise elbows from excessive hand washing and hand sanitizing. The last few days of our trip, anxiety creeped in with a fierce desire to return home.   

The last Viennese museum we visited before country wide closures was the extensive Imperial Armory which was almost empty save for 2 other visitors.  These exemplars of centuries old metalwork puts to shame any gaming armor in craftsmanship and intricacy.

I had returned to Vienna with the hopes of showing my husband the fabulous room of meteors at the Natural History Museum. I don't know why I get so excited looking at hunks of extraterrestrial rock but I do.  During my first visit, Europe was suffering a historic heat wave and the NHM, lacking any air conditioning, turned into a sauna of sorts. With my parents wilting in such heat, we had less than hour before we simply had to abort for gelato breaks. As we had saved the best for the last day this trip which was start of museum closures, we had to go home without having laid eyes inside Das Wiener Naturhistorische Museum. Still I have no regrets and feel extremely grateful we were able to see so much and returned in good health without any hassle in the airports.

Everyone I wish for your health in mind and body.  

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