Danube : 1st stop Passau

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.

City trip: Passau in Bavaria

Passau is a small town in Lower Bavaria, well-known for its geographical situation at the confluence of three different rivers in three different colors : the Danube (Donau) which sometimes reflects the blue sky, the black peat swirled in by the (schwarze) Ilz and the green Inn. As you can tell in the photos, we visited just when it had rained a lot and many roads and passageways were flooded, so the river water had more of a muddy hue.

The buttresses (arc-boutants) over the narrow alleyways between the buildings actually support the walls on either side. Older walls have flowers growing out from between stones and some wooden doors show elaborate carvings. The alleys lead up from the waterside to the higher areas of the town. The colorful cobblestones are part of an art project leading to different ateliers; just recently the Passauer had their first Art Event. Passau boasts a Modern Art Museum, the Cathedral Museum, a Roman Museum and a wonderful Glass Museum near the Rathaus.

The Gothic facade of the Rathaus (Town hall) is a kind of trompe-l’oeil: behind it eight smaller buildings are hidden. Formerly lovebirds had to climb up and down stairs trying to find the Justice of the Peace. Nowadays lovers can find his door much more easily in the adjacent new building on the right of the plaza.

The Cathedral /Dom St. Stephen is the original of the diocese St. Stephen in Vienna. Burned down in 1622, it was rebuilt by the baroque architect Carlo Lurago , the stucco by G.B. Carlone and the frescoes by C. Tencalla. Visitors can walk into the courtyard and buy a ticket for €5 for the 11.00 or 12.00 concerts. The magnificent music is played by one of the eight organists on the largest organ in the world. It consists of five different sized organs in the choir loft, the fifth is ensconced in the vault. From the bottom you can only see some small holes in the ceiling. All of the 17,974 pipes and 233 stops have meanwhile been coordinated into the central console. So one organist can play any one organ from his bench up in the choir.

For very good lunch with a great view we drove up the hill to the Brauerei Hacklberg (brewery). Mine was pork filet with noodles and a crème bavaroise with raspberry fluff for dessert. They have many rooms, a large beer garden, a shop and brewery tours.

After lunch we headed down again and walked around building due to the fact that the walkways were flooded to the boat dock. Seeing Passau from the water with a cup of coffee is a wonderful way to spend the afternoon.

Our last stop was the fortress Veste Oberhaus. Unfortunately our bus chose the wrong road and in the first especially steep and winding curve we got stuck with white smoke billowing out of the motor vent. Our driver carefully inched back down close to the precipice and we all started breathing again when he backed into a forest road and turned to go find a regular street leading up the hill.

At the top of the hill there are a youth hostel, football fields and other buildings. One group was doing a drama course with a “freeze” game. The fortress has a tower to climb (or take an elevator) and a large, sunny terrace café with a birds-eye view of Passau and its confluence of three rivers.