The day starts with finishing the packing of our bags, and retiring what’s left of our hotel bill. Making our way to our bus won’t be necessary until after lunch so little time to kill is all we have left given we managed to sleep in this morning. A smaller breakfast has now become more appropriate because one thing has not changed…it is Very easy to overeat!
Although it will be a bit of a long drive (from Munich to Passau) the end result will be our arrival at our new ‘floating hotel. However last night we received the latest of our hour-by-hour update of river levels.
River levels have been retreating due to the continued lack of rainfall. Now we have confirmation that our actual river cruise will not begin in Passau as was originally planned. Instead it will begin in Regensburg which would have been our normal day 2 stop on the cruise. Big problem? Not really. We took a bus to Passau (no difference there) and spent about an hour an half touring the town.
Hans is our guide and as knowledgeable as he is (which is considerable) he is equally as dry. His delivery of facts and interesting nuances of the area are difficult to listen to and enjoy. But the day is warm (a nice shift!) and the walk has much less of the obstacles we have previously faced.
Right now we are standing beside the Danube (and no, there wasn’t any waltzing!). If we could see that far, about 60 kilos north is the Czech republic. In a little different area of the town is where the three rivers meet (Danube, Inn and Ilz). Pictures sometime depict Passau as almost being an island town due to its unique location amidst those rivers.
Tomorrow is the annual celebration of German nationality known as Unity Day and this year also happens to be the 25th anniversary. So…no shopping in Regensburg tomorrow, but rest assured the restaurants and bars will certainly be open to help relieve the stress of not being able to spend your money elsewhere.
The 3 rivers that encompass Passau give a particular beauty that also hides its own beast. Those same rivers have given rise (pun intended) to masssive flooding over the centuries. June 2013 was the second highest water level in its history. 1501 was the highest with 1954 representing third place. The picture shown has no reference, but I tried to stretch out my hand up to 2002 and could not quite reach it. The rest is easy to imagine.
The Inn river is too shallow for navigation in more modern times but it did have its glory days in centuries past. Salt would come down on the Inn river from Salzburg to be stored at Passau. The name Innsbruck (you may have heard of it 🙂 ) means bridge over the Inn (river).
Interesting tidbit about Passau is that it is the sister city to Hackensack, New Jersey (bet ya didn’t know that!)
Scharfrichter Haus means “sharp judge house”… basically the executioner. It is now a cultural center.
St Michael’s Cathedral is home to the largest church organ in the world. Just under 18,000 pipes the longest of which is about 11 meters. Originally built in 739 but little of that still remains. In 1662 a major town fire destroyed the church. It was then rebuilt in a Baroque style which differed from the original Gothic. A little anecdote our cruise director shared was when she was a cruise director on an all gay cruise. She was explaining the church and its significance and made the comment that everyone should come inside to see the largest organ in the world.
Dead silence followed by a lot of laughter and a very red face.
Residents Square at the back of the church was originally home to the bishops and wealthy merchants. The fountain that is there now was built in 1903, commemorative of Passau’s 100 year birthday.
The University of Passau was built for 5,000 students and now has 12,000. Certainly impressive for a town of only 50,000. The state university at one time had fees of 700 Euros but eventually those were wiped out entirely. State university is free in Germany although there are private ones that are quite happy to take your money.
By the time you finally get your driver’s license it will have cost you about 2,000 Euro. You will undergo much training and testing but in the end you will get it for life. Demerit points can make you lose it for 3 – 6 months. Then you’ll get it back. Serious offenses will net you a greater loss as it will be gone for a year or more and then you have to reapply for it. DUI is very costly indeed. Not only is your license gone for at least a year, you then will have to take a psych test for another 700 euro. About 75% of the people that take the drivers test will pass on the first attempt. Only 25% pass the psych test the first time. And…you get to pay each time.
Now a quick retreat to the bus and our drive continues. Next stop – Revensburg and The Ship!