Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Sunday, July 04, 2010


Breakfast was in town. We had to get packed, get dressed in full gear to ride back to town. Get undressed again, to have coffee and cold cuts and the typical German Brötchen (or Semmeln). Our proprietor from last night had a good time serving us. At 72, she runs a bar in town and the Gasthaus we were in last night. Spry and nosy too, she wanted to make sure we were well before we left town. The breakfast was good, the whole experience last night unique.
In a light rain, we left Untergriesbach and the way to Passau was a mere 30 Km. We left town in no hurry thinking we could be there in 40 Minutes. After some 10 KM, we ran into a blockade. The road totally closed down. I tried to ride around the blockade, but no, we had to go all the way back to Untergriesbach to find a new route. Passau was not easy to get into. Even coming close to the actual town of Passau, an old, medieval town, we had to take a long detour.
Luckily, I saw a sign for the Info center in Passau. Those folks in the Info center are a Godsend. Without them, it would have been tough to negotiate the cobble stone roads, the hilly terrain, and the one-way streets. With the help of the woman at the Info center, we had a hotel in no time. Our hotel was immediately on the Danube River. The Danube in Germany changes name and is called the Donau.
Passau is an old town situated at the confluence of three rivers. The Inn, Ilz and Donau, all three are navigable Rivers and come together here. This makes for a unique situation and the position of Passau is such that even in olden days, people took full advantage of this uniqueness. All shipping in years past had to pay the city a toll to pass through. The benefactors were the King and the Bishop of Passau. People in a castle, high on the hill, watched ships come and go and made sure they paid their tolls. Passau became so rich and was so famous that the King of Austria came here during the attack of Vienna by the Ottomans. Passau had and still has lots of money. The old buildings ooze voluptuous rococo and show old money. I am sure the King of Austria and the Habsburgs, could not have found a better place to find refuge from the Islamic attack.
The town itself sits on a huge triangle formed by the Rivers Inn and Donau. Due to the recent rains in the area, a lot of the shoreline, even some minor streets were flooded. This did not affect our stay yet it shows that the rivers still play a most important part in the town. High water was always part of the town; the rivers ruled and still rule today. The transport of salt, a necessity in the middle ages, made Passau rich. Today the money comes in from tourism. Boatloads of people from all over Europe stop here. River cruises, a popular way to travel on the Donau (Danube), come from as far away as Bulgaria on the Black Sea and dock here. Passau is worth a visit; it has charm, has many nooks and crannies and caters to most everybody’s taste. The history buffs love it, the water lovers find it interesting, and the café and restaurant eaters find their Mecca, too. A large number of people rode in on bicycles since Passau is a hub for five major ‘highways’ for enthusiasts of this sport. Travelling on bicycles, using the very rural, for bicycle only, created roads is the way to go. If only I were younger…
We just explored whatever struck our fancy. We stood by and it fascinated us that River Cruise ships were loaded by hand. Each box of supplies made its way to the hull or storage on the ship via a human chain. Each case of beer, cereal, orange juice, fresh vegetables, meat, etc. was passed on from hand-to-hand until it disappeared inside the ship. It is a strange thing to see today, this handing off from person to person. You would expect a machine to do the work, a conveyer belt maybe, but no, not here. Somehow, they find it more efficient to stock the ship the old-fashioned way.
We are in a much more relaxed mood. Getting to places is not important. We are more adrift now. We do not have a target. In fact, we look at each other and do not know where to go next. Where do you want to go to next, Carol? Wherever, you pick it! Exploring churches is now off limits, we saw too many of them. Climbing up a steep hill to see another castle seems too much work. We discriminate now when we see a restaurant. Now we want to find a place that is unique, it is not that we are that hungry that any food will do. I think we are near the end of our allotted time, near the end of our trip. We both know it. We are looking forward to some peace and downtime. Our brains are loaded up to capacity with newness, we need time to digest the info we collected.

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