Sunday, October 31, 2010

Marathon month recap, part 1

I'm home! I just spent the last four weeks on the road, and have finally returned to Munich. Most of the time was spent working, in meetings, or listening to/giving talks. Although this primary aspect of the trip was very successful and I learned a lot, I will not bore anyone with such details.  I did manage to spend a little time exploring new parts of Germany, the Netherlands, and Dublin and I'd like to share some of those experiences.  To avoid a lengthy post, I will break my recap into a few parts, one for each place that I visited.  First up, Irsee.

Actually, before I describe Irsee, I want to mention that I didn't bring my camera with me (nor did I bring it with me to Dwingeloo. Drats!) Fortunately another attendee, Aris Noutsos, had his (most of the photos that I've linked to are his) and was snapping photos throughout the event.  Aris is apparently quite the photographer; the pictures he took are fantastic. Many more than I have included here are available on his web page.  Have a look.
Group photo from the kick-off meeting, taken in front of the kloster.  Photo by Aris Noutsos.
I spent the first week of October in Kloster Irsee attending the kick-off meeting of my research group (DFG Research Unit 1254: Magnetisation of Interstellar and Intergalactic Media, The Prospects of Low-Frequency Radio Observations). The kloster (abbey), founded in 1186, is located in the foothills of the Alps to the southwest of Munich.  The monastery is no longer active; the grounds haven't been used as an abbey in almost 200 years.  From the mid 19th century until the 1970s the site was used as an asylum, and now it is a conference center.  Some parts of the history is rather dark, particularly during the 1930s and 40s when many of the 'patients' were murdered by the Nazi party.

The main entrance.  Photo by Aris Noutsos

There were many statues and and a lot beautiful art.  Photo by Aris Noutsos
The building and grounds were absolutely gorgeous.  I enjoyed taking walks around the buildings and in the surrounding forests during breaks or after our meetings were done for the day. The bedrooms were nice and spacious with high, ornately painted ceilings and large windows with small panes of glass that were wavy and bubbly with age. Bedside reading, including 'The Rules of St. Benedict' (in German), was provided.

At night we dined in the cellar which had a medieval feel, with low arched ceilings and knights armor scattered about for good measure.  Not surprisingly they served very good, locally brewed beer (called Klosterbra├╝ Irsee). It seemed that the caterers were on a mission to fatten us up as best they could.  The food was quite good and surprisingly the menu was not entirely sausage-based.  Desert was provided all throughout the day.  Fun sized candy bars were available during the morning coffee break. Several deserts, usually including mousse, ice cream, cakes and cookies were provided at lunch.  During afternoon coffee they served large pieces of cake.  Then for dinner there was another assortment of desert, for example tiramisu or apple strudel. I only ate a small fraction of the available options, and it was still far too much.
The cellar restaurant. From the kloster website (www.kloster-irsee.de)



Armor in the cellar.  Not sure why.  Photo by Aris Noutsos.
Well, I don't have much else to discuss about Irsee.  The meeting was very busy, and the location was pretty remote, so I didn't do all that much of note. 

Tune in next time for a recap of my adventures in Holland.

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