On our ninth day we visited Passau which is a medium size city of 50,000 people in Germany on the border of Austria. This is a very heavily populated university town with 12,000 students in the city. It is known as the “City of Three Rivers” and originally started as a Roman fort in 739. The town is very picturesque like so many other small German towns. On the side of some of the buildings close to the river are markers. These markers identify the height of the water during some of the major floods that have occurred over the last 500 years. Many times the buildings were totally flooded even past the second floors. Overlooking the town is the upper fortress which is now a restaurant with a great view of the city below.
The most interesting building in the city is St Stephen’s Cathedral. After the church was originally built a fire destroyed most of it in 1662 and when it was rebuilt it was larger and made as a baroque masterpiece. The organ in the church has the most powerful bell chimes in Germany and has 17,734 pipes. It is located in the center of town.
In the afternoon we took an optional excursion to take a Bavarian Cruise and visit the baroque town of Scharding. The drive to the cruise boat took us back and forth between Germany and Austria. Even the river we cruised on had Germany on one bank and Austria on the other bank. The cruise was interesting and we were given an Austrian pretzel and beer to enjoy during the cruise. After the cruise we went to the small Austrian town of Scharding. It had an interesting town square with many shops surrounding a unique fountain.
Passau was another nice German town that we visited along the river.
On the morning of our tenth day we visited Melk which is known for the large Abbey built between 1702 and 1736. Originally the Abbey was a palace built back in the 11 century but was eventually given to the Benedictine monks. Today the Abbey stands as a magnificent building overlooking the town of Melk. It contains many priceless pieces of artwork and books. There are 365 windows in the Abbey, one for each day of the year. It even houses a private high school that is priced reasonably for most students to be able to attend and has 700 students. We were unable to take pictures inside the Abbey but there were many photo opportunities outside the Abbey.
It was a nice quiet walk through the city on our way back to the ship.
Danube Scenic Cruising
On the afternoon of our tenth day we cruised the Danube through the Wachau Valley. This was another beautiful scenic cruise like we had done on the Rhine earlier in our river cruise. Unfortunately the weather was not as sunny this time but we still were able to take some great pictures of the towns, churches and castles we saw as we went do the river. We also saw all the vineyards in the area which was especially interesting since we had planned a bike tour of these vineyards when we got to Vienna.
The one castle that really stuck out was where Richard the Lionhart was kept in a dungeon by Leopold, the king of Austria. The two kings were not on good terms, and when Richard was found trying to get back to England through Austria, Leopold captured him and held him for ransom. Richard’s mother paid the ransom of 32 wagons of silver and Richard was released. There were other more beautiful castles viewed during this cruise but this ruin had the best story associated to it.
We have really enjoyed our days of scenic river cruising.
On the evening of our tenth day we stopped at Krems for a quick visit in the evening. This was a nice town to take a quick walk through the shops and see some of the churches but there really wasn’t much to see in this town. We enjoyed a nice walk through town.
Greg & Sharon