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July 30-31

Written August 1

Dear Friends and Family,


Same split as last time: story, pictures, web-links.




This is the start of a ten-day European vacation, travel the way we like it: by car, destinations a bit unusual, and generally plenty of time. Here, we start with the German auto industrial towns of Ingolstadt and Stuttgart. Later we will do a bit of France and come back via Switzerland.

Our first day was also the first day of school vacation for Bavaria and many other parts of Germany and Europe. The radio was filled with dire expectations of the worst traffic of the year and we know German autobahns can do traffic jams as well as any country. But we had an easy goal. Ingolstadt, our first stop, is only about an hour-and-a-half away. In fact, while there were plenty of house trailers ("caravans") schlepping down the road, we managed to avoid any serious slowdowns ("staus").

Our first stop in Ingolstadt was a shopping center to pick up a new camera memory card and card reader. We needed to be prepared. Then, it was into the old city center to our hotel, called aptly enough The Altstadt Hotel". Nice place. Easy to find. Modern. Close to the town museums, churches and squares. All in all, a good start.

After check-in, we explored the town. Like most German towns, Ingolstadt has a pedestrian zone lined with shops that are quite busy on Saturday. Unlike Munich or even Frankfurt however, we could tell this was not a tourist destination, just local folks on their day off.

Our first stop was lunch. After scouting most of the town, we settled on a place that had a daily special of Bouillabaisse, not German but it sounded - and was - tasty. Marianne even had a chance to practice Hungarian with the waitress, something that happens here in Germany as Eastern Europeans migrate to more prosperous locales. That was all good. The bad part was that we both got a bit of food poisoning, something that also happens from time to time on a trip. Nothing serious, but enough to put us off fish for awhile.

Despite the generally queasy feeling, we forged on to the tourist destinations: first stop, the Army Museum. I'll admit, this was a John destination. Marianne said she'd come along, but was not looking forward to more medieval suits of armor. I assured her that the website had described more than just the iron clothes.

However, after the first few rooms were indeed just armor, spears and swords, I was having second thoughts. Eventually, however, the displays got better and we could see bejeweled military medals and officer uniforms and generally more interesting stuff. The best for me turned out to be the last part: huge dioramas of famous (to Bavarians) battles. The displays were built of old-fashioned two-dimensional metal soldiers and really were impressive. I had fun taking pictures, especially when the perspective could shift from edge-on to profile, the first showing just sticks.

(Later, when I went to look at the pictures, I discovered that most of my pictures were unusable. Some combination of my new memory card or the new card reader had failed, rendering 80% of the shots worthless. This was not detectable at the time because the preview pictures were all just fine. The main pictures however, were either blank or complete garbage. Arghhh.)

After our one museum for the day, we decided on a rest back at The Altstadt Hotel and then a nice dinner across the street at "I due Pirati", a cozy Italian place that turned out to be just wonderful. Lively, full, friendly, good food. A good end to the day with my favorite travel partner.



An early breakfast-and-diary session (where I discovered the photo problem). Now, what will the day show?

It turned out to show museums, mostly, including those we visited on Saturday but whose pictures didn't work. Today, I concentrated far better and made sure each picture registered on the camera chip. Everything was working fine.

Our first stop was The Maria de Victoria church, home of a very famous ceiling fresco. The ceiling was done in 1734 by Cosmas Asam and he took just six weeks to do the 4,000 square meter (40,000 square-foot) picture. The scene is filled with optical illusions, transforming a flat ceiling into a full three-dimensional bible story. Photos just can't do it justice. (More on pictures later.)

After that, it was back to the Bavarian Army Museum. Our Saturday ticket was still valid so replacing pictures at least did not take an extra entrance fee. In fact, the second time through was even more fun, because we could skip through the most repetitive parts. After all, we just needed some pictures.

After the army and history, we needed a little bit of art. That's what we got, just a little bit. We found the Alf Lechner Museum. Alf is a sculptor, specializing in massive iron works. We had the two-floor museum to ourselves and, after initial disappointment at the sparse setting, we enjoyed wandering among the works.

After this, we visited the State Museum (Stadtmuseum) for a history fix. OK, but I think we are done with shards and recreated artifacts, especially where we can't take pictures. After this we visited the German Medical History Museum. Again, no pictures allowed, but we saw enough displays of old medical techniques to make us glad we were not living back in the good old days.

All in all a pretty full day and I was able to re-take all those pictures I had lost the day before.



At breakfast, I discovered my optimism on photos was misplaced. Once again, I connected my new card reader and all my pictures disappeared. ARGHHH. After some amount of screaming and whining (on my birthday even), I resorted to the internet and searched out a file-recovery program: RescuePRO. It turned out to be the best $39.99 I have ever spent. I managed to recover most pictures and my mood improved immensely.


Now, on to our car factory tours. Another story.


John and Marianne



Our first stop was Maria de Victoria church. The church decoration was elaborate outside and inside. The ceiling is truly remarkable , filled with optical illusions, not the least of which was the creation of the illusion of a vaulted ceiling when, in fact, it is quite flat. The artist created it in 1734, over just six weeks.

Spooky St. Clement
Out in the streets, we saw a reminder of earlier times: Jesuit Street is one-way (could it be anything else?) and intersects with Convict Street. Of course.
The Alf Lechner display was stark, but a nice break from the ornate Middle Ages. Simple lines, forms and textures.
The Bavarian Army Museum is a main attraction of Ingolstadt. We had feared that all we would see was another collection of armor, but there was more than that -- somewhat more.
I also experimented with my new "HDR" technology. The added complication was that tripods were not allowed, so I tried with a little stand instead. Maybe it worked, but maybe not. This technique suffers from any camera movement .


My favorite parts were the battle dioramas, despite the fact that they were almost impossible to photograph - bad light, tremendous depth of field needed, and ugly fluorescent lights.



The Altstadt Hotel

Lechner Museum

Bavarian Army Museum

Restaurant "I due Pirati"


Medical Museum (German, but you can see the wierd stuff.)



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