Our first city stop was Vienna in Austria. Here of course we had no problems talking to the “natives”, as Austria is considered holiday destination number one for many Germans, especially skiers and climbers / hikers/ bikers. Except for a few words that are different, we speak German. Our apricots are their Marillen, our tomatoes are Paradeiser, our pancakes are Frittaten and an adhesive sticker is a Pickerl.
Our tour guide schleppte us through the town in a bus, past the Hundertwasser tower, but then we got off and looked at the lovely rose gardens where you can ‘adopt a rose’. Almost all smell heavenly
Below you can see the Sissi Monument of (Emperor Franz Josef I and) Empress Elisabeth made of Laaser marble in the Volksgarten. It seems she was rather anorexic and also very outdoorsy. She had her portrait done as long as she was still pretty and always wanted to be seen that way. The Volksgarten is near the Parliament building, the Burgtheater and the Neue Burg. The statue depicts Prince Eugen riding a horse.
One of the most delightful shops (besides Manner waffles and Trszniecki sandwiches) is the stuffed animals by Steiff, once created by Margarete Steiff who sat in a wheelchair all her life.
Farther on you walk past the Wiener Hofreitschule where you can see the horses that are bred and trained to perfection. One is not allowed to go closer, but you can buy tickets. In the pedestrian zone there are more fountains and the St. Stephans Dome (cathedral).
Passau is a very nice little town right where the three rivers converge (read also my post from May 26 2019). The three rivers are the “blue Danube“, which is only blue if the sky is reflected, the “schwarze “Ilz”, a small confluent which is black due to sediment, and the “grüne Inn” which is really rather green. As Passau was the beginning of our trip down the Danube, we arrived early to see some of the sights at more leisure than with the large group.
At the tip of the peninsula (photo in the middle) you can clearly see the two larger rivers Inn and Danube converge with the Ilz coming down the valley and joining them. There is a ripple in the water where the currents with two different colors flow headlong into each other.
We found a very nice hotel Residenz at the water’s edge with a full view of the castle. So we started off with the castle, Veste and drove up to the top. The parking lots are near the youth hostel, you walk past a lookout and the restaurant. When entering the walls you will see the elevator going down to the museums. The special exhibition is about 800 years Veste: the first foundations, the ceramic tile ovens, the coat of arms, statues, carvings. In one courtyard you can relax on deckchairs, sculptures adorn the large inner courtyard which leads to the other smaller museums. One museum is about fire engines, one about apothecaries, one about trade and one about porcelain.
Afterwards we drove down to the opposite peninsula to check out the small Roman museum built over some of the ruins that had been dug up. The museum has some excellent exhibits and a good video, unfortunately there is no snack bar near by. Parking is in front and free during the visit.
After lunch we walked into the hotel lobby of the Wilder Mann on the Rathausplatz, which has the largest collection of blown glass that I have ever seen. This enormous glass museum was opened in 1985 by Neil Armstrong, the owner Georg Höltl was able to buy many articles for little money. You start up in the 4th floor and work your way down with glass vases and mugs tucked into the very last corner under stairs and over doorways. You will need a lot of time to look at all the objects of each century and types of glass that are documented here. Nevertheless, it is worth its while, or just walk through the more interesting exhibits. The exit goes through the cellar out to the street.
In the evening we walked through the cobblestone streets past the Artist’s Alley to the Rosengasse where all the Italian restaurants were celebrating Ferragosto. From afar you could tell there was a party going on, several bands and duos and solists singing at every corner, lots of underwear and sheets strung up across the streets. We checked out quite a few restaurants until we finally found two seats at a beer table for 8 people. Everyone was quite jolly, even though half the meals served were not what we had ordered.
Monday was dedicated to the Organ concert in the Cathedral, the largest organ of the entire world. It is split into 5 separate organs placed on the balcony, at the sides of the altar and the fifth integrated into the ceiling. Each one is built differently, Italian or German and has its own sound and pitch. All five with over 17,900 pipes are coordinated on one manual. Tickets can be bought in the inside courtyard, every day but Sunday. Nearby you will walk past the Ministry of Justice and the Passauer Tölpel.
We had a nice walk to the tip of the peninsula with shade trees and lots of people to watch the three rivers flow together and up to the castle.
The next morning we had to leave and go on board the Viktoria. It involved finding the parking lot on the outskirts and taking the shuttle bus back to the river dock, where the Viktoria and Máxima were waiting. About 150 passengers fit in plus about 40 crew members. 14 days packed with new impressions on the Danube! Stay tuned.