Thursday, December 17, 2009

4. Danube River Cruise - Passau (12/17/09)

Thursday, December 17, 2009
This morning, 79-year old Yuriko was one of two people to take advantage of "Morning Exercise!" We continued upriver on the Danube, being lifted through locks. In Jochenstein, we took photos.
We are in the lock
Water is filling up the lock
The retaining wall is lowered
And we sail out into Germany!
Time for some cabin photos:
Standard double cabin
We were in the lowest level. so our window peeks out just above water level. A small table can be lifted off the wall between the beds. Looking in the other direction:
Looking towards the cabin door
There is a small wardrobe (with slippers provided!), the door to the bathroom, the cabin door, and a small desk.
Cabin bathroom
The toilet was a noisy vacuum-assisted one. The shower was to the left.
View from our cabin window!
Our next event was a lecture on Wolfgang Mozart (1756-1791),
"Mozart" tells us about himself
followed by a special Bavarian snack of Bratwurst with spicy and sweet mustard,
A plate with a bratwurst and mustards
pretzels in traditional shapes and knots,
and free beer!
Bitburger Bier
Randy, in his Lederhosen, provided appropriate drinking-song music!
As we approached the town of Passau, you could see that it was a "City of Three Rivers." The Inn River came in on the left and the Danube on the right.
Passau between two rivers
The Ilz River sneaks in farther to the right.
Where the Ilz River joins
That massive white building on the river in the photo above, once part of a castle complex, is a private residence that just sold for $3 million dollars! The old lady who lived there couldn't manage the stairs anymore!
After lunch, we stepped off the boat to begin our guided tour. We were already in the old town!
Three generations of travelers (Photo by Viking Staff)
Passau is well-preserved, having escaped being bombed during World War II. The Waisenhaus (Orphanage, 1758) had an ornate chapel doorway and a statue of St. Johannes Nepomuk (protector against floods) stood in front.
St Johannes Nepomuk
We walked along the Inn River towards the Schaiblingsturm (Schaiblings Tower, 1250),
Schaiblings Tower
which was built out into the river to block the current to allow boats to land here.
Again we passed through narrow, crooked alleys, and arrived at the Danube side of town, in front of the Rathaus (City Hall, 1398, with a 1893 clock tower).
City Hall
Frescoes of historic figures covered one side of the building.
City Hall frescoes
Levels of floods over the years 1501 to 2002 are marked on the corner of City Hall.
Flood levels
Our guide was able to get us inside City Hall to see the council halls with stained glass windows and two large wall murals painted in 1893.
The Hotel Wilder Mann (Wild Man Hotel, 1225) was across the street,
Hotel Wilder Mann
originally a courthouse, it has been a hotel since 1844.
Our tour seemed to zigzag across the small peninsula where Passau is located. Next stop was the Residenzplatz (Residence Square)
Residenzplatz Advent Wreath
with the imposing Bishop's residence (1772) and a fountain decorated with an Advent wreath that had 24 candles. When Advent wreaths were first made, they had 24 red candles to count down the days to Christmas Eve.
We entered the Bishop's Residence through an ornate portal with carved wooden doors,
Doors of the Bishop's Residence
and looked up at the marble staircase with Rococo decoration and a ceiling fresco.

We had to hurry for our appointment at Café Simon, a Konditorei (confectionary, as in bakery and chocolatier). The elder and junior Mr. Simons gave a Lebkuchen-making demonstration in a tent behind their shop.
Her Simon und Herr Simon
They had antique molds, and told us the history of Lebkuchen - first sweetened with honey, later with molasses, and finally with sugar. We sampled all three types, and had a sample of Glühwein (mulled wine) as well. A woman also demonstrated how to make an Advent wreath.
After exploring their shop with its pastries
Café Simon goodies
and chocolate truffles, we continued our guided tour.
Just up the street, we entered the Pfarrkirche St. Paul (Parish Church of St. Paul, 1678) which sat right on the city wall.
Parish Church of St Paul
The interior was Rococo with an intricately carved ebony pulpit and altar with gold-leaf accents.
From there we went to the less ornate Stephansdom (St. Stephen's Cathedral, 1673), the largest Baroque basilica north of the Alps. It is known for its organ, the second largest assembly in the world (beat out in 1995 by a church in Los Angeles). A grand total of 17,774 pipes and 229 stops.
Our guided tour ended, and we were free to check out the Christmas market.
Christmas market
Interesting beeswax candles
We returned to the boat for dinner.
After dinner, we had a "Musical Murder Mystery Quiz," with the program directors acting out a story,
Musical Murder Mystery Quiz
and we had to guess the names of 24 musical interludes, and who the murderer was. Usually the name of the song fit the story. For instance when Lady Elizabeth was complaining about her husband’s, Sir Percival's, pipe smoking, Randy played “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.” (No, we didn't win!)
Next: 5. Regensburg.

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