Day 12: Nov 27, 2017 – Passau – Don’t Shoot that Cannon near the Church!
Last evening we docked in the city of Passau at about 5:00 in the afternoon. Well, I say afternoon, but here in Bavaria at this time of year, it’s already completely dark by this time. So before dinner we decided to take a short walk through town to stretch our legs. There are lots of pedestrian streets here filled with shops, cafes and restaurants, but this was Sunday evening so most were closed. A few cafes were open with outside seating and it was interesting to see local people sitting there on sheepskin covered chairs and blankets on their laps enjoying chatting and enjoying dinner or drinks.
But a little about Passau, located on the border between Germany and Austria. Few cities in Germany enjoy a setting as remarkable as that of Passau. It sits at the confluence of three rivers where both the Inn and the Ilz rivers flow into the Danube. The city dates back some 2500 years but they had terrible fires in the 16th and 17th centuries, so most of it is rebuilt from this time. For instance, a fire burnt three quarters of St. Stephen’s cathedral in 1662, but the main stone structure was saved. The people were so happy they saved the cathedra that they decided to have a celebration and brought in a number canons to help in the celebration. The canons were not aimed at the church, but it turns out that the concussion of the cannons being fired numerous times was enough to finish off the job—the walls crumbled. The one end of the cathedral that was not damaged was built in Gothic style, but the rebuild of the fire (and cannon) damaged part was rebuilt in Baroque style and includes one of the largest organs in the world, with 17,388 pipes and 233 registers. Now that’s an organ!
Passau is still dominated by its original medieval ground plan—a labyrinth of narrow lanes. So we decide this morning to walk many of them stopping in various little shops along the way. One of Carol’s favorite shops, a paper store, is run by the sweetest little old lady, so Carol needs to stop by each time we are here. We also pay a visit to the Passau Glass Museum, the biggest museum on European glass worldwide with over 30,000 pieces in their possession. This museum, officially opened in 1985 by Neil Armstrong, is certainly a must-see for people interested in the history of glass in Europe.
After having another great lunch back on board the Crystal Mahler, we set sail for Melk. Tomorrow we will connect with three small towns along the river – Melk, Durnstein and Krems.