Our plane got into Munich around 6 am local time. The line for immigration went all the way up the stairs, but it wasn’t actually that long — it just seemed like a narrow bottleneck. There were only a few officials working the kiosks, not more than ten; Munich might not be as big an airport (or as big a city) as I expected.

After I got sorted, I public-transported myself to Garching. Since I bought the all-day train ticket I plan to go adventuring in the city after I post this, and hopefully catch dinner with some scientists later in the evening. I arrived here around 8:30 am; while nominal check-in time was 2 pm, the concierge seemed perfectly happy to let me in the room earlier, since there was nobody else there who needed to check out. He installed me in the breakfast nook with some coffee. When I had had enough, I got up to explore my new environment.

If I say Garching is “cute”, it sounds at first a bit pejorative to my ear — but really, it’s the first word that comes to mind and is meant to be high praise. There are wide-open, immaculately manicured public spaces, narrow little pedestrian paths hedged in by ivy and tree leaves on all sides, blue, blue sky. There are cornfields abutting the main road. The streets are named with a -weg suffix, where I assume a Weg is not quite big enough to be a Strasse. The bigger roads were named after heroes of science, like Boltzmannstrasse, Prandtlstrasse and Karl-Schwarzschild-Strasse (on which MPA sits). The roofs are sloped at a sharp angle in a style I associate with Eastern Europe, but they’re tiled with red ceramic in the style of Mediterranean or Californian houses. While it’s sunny and cloudless, the sun filters through all the shady green, contributing to a restful, serene atmosphere. It’s a lazy Saturday here and as I walked around, I ran into only a few people: couples cycling; a young woman out on her morning run; kids monkeying around the playground under watchful eyes; a group of what I assume were evangelical Christians bringing the word of God in convenient brochure form to this heathen scholar’s village.

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All managed to be picturesque without seeming cheesy or fake. And quiet — so quiet. I could hear every flutter of every bird’s wings. All those old Brahms lieder we used to sing in high school came back to me. I felt less of a claim on my attention than I have even in my more relaxed times in Australia. Once again, solitude is welcome.

Sometime tonight I’ll have work to do — a cursory search right before leaving Singapore revealed 10 new supernova-related articles I should probably read, so I can quiz their authors on it when I meet them on Monday. But for now — out of the house!


About Richard

I'm an American scientist who is building a new life in Australia. This space will contain words about science and math, but also philosophy, policy, literature, my travels, occasional rants, all sorts of things I find strange and awesome. The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions of my employer at the time (currently University of Sydney), though personally, I think they should.
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