"" Writer's Wanderings: Cruising The Danube - Passau, Germany

Monday, January 08, 2018

Cruising The Danube - Passau, Germany

It was a miserable day. Rainy. Cold. But we were signed up for a walking tour of Passau and a visit to their Christmas Market. We dressed warmly and grabbed an umbrella. A short bus ride into town and we set out with our lively tour guide who was a student at the university there. She made the tour interesting and fun despite the weather.

And despite the weather I managed to get some very nice pictures of the town. Passau is in Bavaria and has all the makings of a nostalgic German town. We wandered around and absorbed some of what she was telling us. Mainly we were trying to stay warm and dry.

Like many of the places along the Danube, there were markings to show how badly it floods from time to time. I was amazed at how resilient the people were here. There were some really big floods and I’m sure it led to a lot of damage but if you didn’t see the markings on the wall that showed how often it happened and how high the flood water got you wouldn’t know there had been any disaster.

The town sits on three rivers (kind of reminded me of Pittsburgh in that sense but they play a different kind of football). The three rivers that converge are the Danube, the Inn and the Ilk. On either side of the rivers, the land rises and of course offers great views if you care to visit some of the buildings that sit on top of the hills. 

On one side there is the Veste Oberhaus, a fortress that was once the stronghold of the Bishop of Passau. There was something about the date on the wall that we could see but unfortunately I let too much time go by to remember what it was. It had to do with the way they wrote the date in those days. (When it's raining you don't take notes.)

On the other side of the river valley was the Pilgrimage Church and Pauline Father's Monastery. To make a pilgrimage to the church you would have to climb over 300 stairs--something none of us were willing to do raining or not. For those of nimble body and with nicer weather the views would be spectacular (I've seen pictures online).

Along our walk we found buildings with some of the intricate folk painting that southern Germany is so famous for. This part of Germany is Bavaria and Passau lived up to all the traditional architecture and culture of the area. 

Near the end of our tour we went into St. Stephen's Cathedral which I believe was sitting pretty much in the middle of the Old Town area. It was good to get out of the rain but it was even better to have been able to see some spectacular paintings and appointments in the beautiful interior of the Cathedral.

Our last stop was of course the Christmas Market where our guide led us to the booth that she considered the best. It was where her friend was working. She had arranged for us to sample the warm wine and a little treat. While the goodies were nice, it was even nicer that the rain had let up and we were encouraged to tour the market area a bit more on our own, then return to the parking lot where a cruise shuttle would take us back to the boat.

The market offered a bit more variety of things than we had seen elsewhere and there was lots of  different sausages cooking as well as some huge slabs of salmon that were slowly cooking over an open fire. 

What intrigued us most though was the 1/2 meter sausage sandwich. We wandered in a circle passing it twice before finally giving in and buying one. I took a picture before the lady in the booth cut it in half for us. It was as good as it had looked and smelled.

One more stop at another booth that was baking a sweet dough that was wound around a spool and then rolled in whatever sweet topping you wanted. We chose cinnamon sugar and with our warm purchase in hand, headed for our ride to the boat where we would get a cup of coffee and enjoy our treat in a warm dry place.

Later that afternoon, we listened to a lecture about Bavaria and enjoyed learning more about this beautiful area--rain or shine.

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