Sunday, 14 September 2008

Rainy, rainy Karthaus

And Guten Tag from Italia!

'Tis a rainy day here in the Italian Alps. But all is well.

It has been an intense couple days, here. After a thankful 5:45 am departure from Bishops Stortford, it was a relatively uneventful flight to Munich. I wandered Munich aimlessly for a bit - all post-reconstruction German cities look somewhat similar to me - and then I settled into the hostel for the night. Lively place - Organizing trips to beer gardens, full of people. I went to one of the famous beer halls and had my obligatory Munich beer. And, while I'm sure it was a very nice lager, and a nice patio, both failed miserably under my standards for a decent pub experience. I'm sorry to beer hall fans; I'm aware my criteria should not be applied in such situations. But Munich is a place to get drunk, and a rural British pub is a place to soak up atmosphere. And I want the latter.

Anyway. I caught my train, and next thing I knew, I had left Germany, blasted through Austria , and found my way to northern Italy. A train trip here, a bus transfer there, and I arrived in Karthaus.

Karthaus is a village of about 300 people, centred around an old monastary. After a dissolution by the Holy Roman Emperor in the 1700's, it was converted into a town, and the monastary was absorbed into a village - people literally built houses attached to it, so the town has a cool labyrinthian feel.
It's been a busy social schedule here - intense glaciology courses by day, overloading us with charts and equations, and intense eating and drinking at night. All of the five course meals we get each night is locally sourced and made - as well as the wine. We have about an hour between the end of courses and the start of the meal, which lasts the rest of the night. Most of us use that hour to run up the mountain side a bit, to make a token effort at balancing the calorie intake.

Today is Sunday, our day off. We were supposed to visit a glacier, but the weather didn't cooperate. So we went to the castle home of a famous climber, Reinhold Messner. Very nice and envy-inspiring.

Some of us begged off after this and came back to the village; most of the rest went to the annual gathering of the sheep from the mountains. I kinda regret missing that. But I thought that an afternoon off was a good idea. Still a long week ahead of equations and wine.

Yes, life is tough for a junior glaciologist. But I feel slightly better about using that job title, now.

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