Friday, August 8, 2008

Germany Trip Report, part V.

Friday, 3 August, 2007

We ate breakfast at our hotel before setting out in an attempt to salvage something out of our stop in Munich.  

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Our destination was the Deutsches Museum, the world’s largest science and technology museum.  We checked out of our hotel, packed up our car and drove over there.  This was not really such a great idea because street parking in Munich is scarce and onsite parking a completely foreign (read: American) concept so we ended up walking, oh, just about as far as we would have from our hotel. 

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Arriving at the museum around 10:00 we found a very, very long line snaking from the street through the courtyard to the ticket window.  Fortunately the queue moved fairly quickly, and we were inside the museum in about 30 minutes.

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We went first down to the basement to the mining section.  The museum has constructed a labyrinth of mining caverns that trace the history of mining in Germany.  Even though all of the explanations were in German, we found the exhibits fascinating and we emerged with a sobering concept of what rigorous, dangerous work mining is, even with modern machinery. 

We stopped next on the ground floor in the Marine Navigation exhibit.  This area displays everything from model ships to life-size canoes sailing vessels.  Robert’s favorite was the bisected U1 submarine.  

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We continued on through the aeronautics exhibit, where one of the Wright Brothers’ early planes and the first functioning helicopter are displayed along with lots of other planes from the World Wars to modern times.  Upstairs from this is the astronautics exhibit, featuring early German rocket-propelled cars and sleds as well as one of Hitler’s V-2 rockets and many satellites and space capsules, including Sputnik 1 and Spacelab.  

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Next we stopped in the fascinating History of Measurement area showcasing time, weights, surveying equipment and maps.  We were especially interested in the globes, one of which was a replica of a globe from 1492, which was amazingly accurate in its renderings of Africa, Europe and Asia, but showed only scant islands where the Americas are located.  There was also a really interesting globe showing the earth’s topography in great detail, including the elevations of the sea floors.  We were well past the time we planned to leave the museum when we came to the mathematics exhibit (otherwise I would have lingered there all day), which featured all sorts of early mathematical instruments and a fantastic display of the history of computers. 

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There was a model of Zuse’s 1941 Z-3 computer (rebuilt by Zuse in 1960 as the original was destroyed by a bomb in WWII), an ENIAC from 1946 and a UNIVAC from the 50’s as well as examples of computers from the 70’s to the present.  Dorothy was amazed to hear that Robert’s Blackberry (and likely a pocket calculator) was more powerful than these large computers, some of which filled an entire room.  

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My favorite exhibit was an ENIGMA device from WWII in a section on cryptology.

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Leaving the Deutsches Museum about 1:00, we stopped on the outskirts of Munich to refuel and spotted a Burger King next door.  Dorothy and Robert sent me over there with no-onions, no-mayonnaise, ketchup-only type instructions for their hamburger orders.  They were disappointed to find that Have It Your Way does not work when the customer does not speak German and the counter help knows no English.  I was reduced to hand gestures just to specify the size Cokes we wanted.

We entered the autobahn with our GPS lady telling us it should take about four and a half hours to reach our friends' house in Bingen.  After only about 15 minutes on the road, GPS lady started warning us that there was traffic ahead and implored us to let her route us a detour.  We ignored her only to find ourselves enmeshed in an awful construction zone where we traveled only six kilometers in an hour and a half.  It was truly awful.  As we approached Stuttgart, GPS lady started beeping about more traffic ahead so this time we choose to heed her warnings and exited the autobahn only to be sent on a “scenic” route through Stuttgart during Friday afternoon rush hour.  We finally arrived in Bingen at almost 9:00.  Only Dorothy was even mildly rational at this point.  I certainly wished I had never heard of Munich, and I was no longer singing the praises of the German autobahn.

Our friends greeted us with much-welcome glasses of wine and a wonderful dinner spread.  We talked and laughed and ate and drank, and finally, just after midnight, Robert and Jogi insisted we turn in for the night.  I frankly had no idea it was so late; I think subconsciously I was afraid if I got up from the table, the bubble might burst and I’d find myself either back in Munich or still stuck on the autobahn.


Diane said...

Hi Eloise! I hope you don't mind that I followed your blog link from my blog. I just wanted to thank you for all of the sweet and thoughtful comments you have written to us! How cool is it that you are in Germany right now?! I have never been there, but based on what I have seen and read it is a truly beautiful country!
We hope to be in China, ourselves, very soon! Have fun on your trip!

Anonymous said...

Love Dot's red hat!