Saturday, 20 June 2015

Germany - Bavaria Day, Passau, Regensburg and Nuremberg

The next day was BAVARIA DAY.

 We would be in Germany.

We had a brief stop to let those passengers who were heading off on optional tours to Salzburg and Cesky Krumlov (Czech Republic) board their coaches, and then the rest of us enjoyed cruising down the Danube before arriving around 3 pm in Passau. 

 The town at the junction of the Danube, the Inn and the Ilz.Our on board morning news sheet told us that Passau had a 2000 year history, with it's ancient walls still visible in places.
 We left the ship and strolled around Passau on our own, foregoing the official guided tour on offer.


We wandered along cobbled streets and found ourselves in a street full of antique and 'less than antique' / 'junk' shops. We spent a while window shopping as we know it, but when we enquired of the owner, the price of something on display in the window he came out into the street (locking the shop door behind him), walked down to the display and unlocked the window from the street to get the item out for us – had we bought it, it  really would have been window shopping, but after some agonising we decided that it really wasn't exactly what we wanted and was a bit too pricey.
 (It was a 19th Century hand carved and hand painted Madonna, priced at 250 euro but he dropped to 230.)
We continued exploring narrow streets and alleys, I was enchanted by one laneway which had lots of umbrellas hanging from wires strung across the lanes. (When back on board, I asked someone who had been on the guided tour and they explained that that particular laneway was badly flooded in 2013 and now no one can live there permanently. The buildings are occupied in summer by artists and craft workers. The umbrellas are a reminder of the rain and the flood.)

                                  Passau Town Hall showing the town's flood levels.

Michael headed back to the ship and I had another 45 minutes wandering, finding the modern retail part of town. I sauntered along for a while, the only purchase being a 2016 Calendar featuring donkeys, then headed back to the ship too.
A group of 68 motorbikes, (Hells Angels) rode through town, seeming rather incongruous with the peaceful surroundings and other groups of young men and women enjoying their end of school festivities.

We set sail from Passau once the tours had returned everyone and that evening after dinner were entertained by The Bavarian Devils
(We were also given 3 free drink vouchers so everyone was set to really enjoy the evening.)
The Bavarian Devils were excellent, and as the night wore on the Travelmarvel ship sailing from Amsterdam to Budapest pulled up along side and they too were having a Bavarian evening, with another trio entertaining them. All great fun although some of our fellow passengers seemed more interested in the other ship than our own on board entertainers!? (Takes all sorts).

                                        (Playing a glass trumpet!!)

They called for a group to come up from the audience and the first two were from our 'group'.

The next day we sailed along smoothly and docked in another medieval town - Regensburg  -ahead of schedule. 

We had lunch on board and then took ourselves off for a freelance tour of the town. 

We were wandering through the quiet, back streets when we spotted a flag bearer followed by a bishop hastening along towards the Cathedral. We decided to follow them.

At the rear of the Cathedral a crowd was gathering, flag bearers,  volunteer groups, priests, bishops. The street was closed off by police and we learnt that an auxiliary bishop was being inaugurated. 

The church bells rang out and the procession started, so much pomp and ceremony. It was fantastic. Michael said that he had never seen so many priests, certainly never so many bishops and there were even a couple of cardinals. I had absolutely never seen anything even close to it.

We didn't follow the procession into the Cathedral we continued our wander of the back streets, making our way slowly back to the ship. There was going to be a big street party, with choirs from around the world later in the evening but, we were set to sail on, leaving the River Danube and entering the Main Danube Canal at around 10pm.

It was a lovely balmy evening but we had to keep the cabin balcony door closed because the mosquitoes were attracted to the lights.
We sailed through lovely countryside passing farmland, villages, and 'aire' campsites.

The next morning we passed the Continental Divide, the highest point of our cruise. The locks on this section, in the canal, rise or fall 24.7 metres.

 It was raining with the temperature dropping down to around 15 degrees C.
The tour director pointed out to us the moment that we, on the canal, crossed over a road. The enthusiastic amongst us (not us personally) went up onto the 'sundeck' (in the rain) to see this moment.

After lunch we arrived in Nuremberg. We got our boarding passes and tickets for the tour and the bus into town. It was still raining and we were glad that the tour around the town was a driving tour. We drove past the 1930s Nazi Rally site and a former SS Headquarters. The Headquarters was an enormous building which we were amazed had not been damaged by bombing in WW2, but then we heard that the building had been used by the American forces after the war. The cynical amongst us wondered if there had been some forward planning.
We drove past the Court House, but as it is still an active courthouse we couldn't stop and have a look around. The window of 'the' courtroom was pointed out to us. Then we drove around the old medieval town wallls. There were some amazing buildings, but the raindrops on the window made photos impossible. The rain eased but then fell again. We decided not to do the tour of the castle and then the 45 minute walking tour of the town, we stayed on the bus and go a lift down to the town square. 

We ignored the showers and went to visit the Toy Museum – today is Monday and it's closed one day a week – Monday.
So we wandered around a few shops, I was very pleased to find Lithium Batteries for my camera. I couldn't find them in Croatia, Austria, etc so had to keep changing the batteries in my camera every few days.
We found a great shop that had some amazing 'house' gifts, including huge animal heads, like old fashioned hunting trophies of boars, elks, bears  - but they were made of soft toy fur fabric We couldn't think of where we'd put it in the house or how to get it in the suitcase so didn't buy one.

We still had time to kill and it was still raining so we adjourned to a cafe for a coffee to wait in the dry for the coach back to the ship.

And  another fantastic dinner.

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