Homeward Bound

The Rambler didn’t stay to tour the Christmas Markets  in Passau, as it was almost noon and she didn’t want to miss her last lunch on the Beatrice. Since this was the final stop,  she would have plenty of time to venture out later in the afternoon. It had been a damp and chilly stroll through the winding streets of Alstadt Passau, but Sonia, our guide,  made it fun despite everything. We didn’t get to hear the famous organ in St. Stephens as no concert was scheduled  that Friday. However, we did get to see a gingerbread haus,straight of Hansel and Gretel, across the street from Simon’s.

Passauer Gingerbread Haus!
Passauer Gingerbread Haus!

Not really, but someone  got carried away with their holiday decorating and gave their shop a gingerbread haus facade.This was the most over the top decorating the Ramblers saw in Europe, and reminded us of something the more fanatical Christmas decorators might put up in the US.

After lunch I couldn’t coax the Senior Rambler to take a stroll with me, as the weather, if anything, had gotten worse. He really dislikes cold weather and blames this on the year he spent in Greenland in the 50’s as a member of the United States Air Force! At any rate, he wasn’t about to go anywhere, so I ventured out myself with the goal of buying some Simon marzipan lebkuchen to bring home. Fortunately for me, their shop was only a short distance from the dock. I really do have a poor sense of direction, and I didn’t want to get lost on the last day of the cruise. When I disembarked I noticed several food trucks parked along the dock along with at least a dozen busses.

Line-up of busses along the Danube, hiding the food trucks
Line-up of busses along the Danube, hiding the food trucks

The trucks sold food and produce to the workers and residents of the Alstadt.  They didn’t have many customers today, not surprising because of the weather. However, the busses were another story. Evidently the Passau Christmas Market draws people from Bavaria as well as river cruisers. I did take a brief look in at the Christmas Market,; since it was a Friday afternoon, a growing number of folks strolled around  despite the bad weather.

Open for business at the Passau Christmas Market
Open for business at the Passau Christmas Market

Passau is one place the Ramblers would like to visit in good weather but on a chilly, drizzly day in December it was time to head back to the Beatrice.

The Ramblers spent the rest of the day hanging out with the many friends they had made on the cruise from both the US and Canada, as well as Australia. Tonight’s meal was  relaxing  and we took our time enjoying the excellent food and wine, although  we knew we would have to get up early for the flight back home.

Anna, one of our favorite servers, who was always waiting with my German coffee!
Anna, one of our favorite servers, who was always waiting with my German coffee! The blue light in the background came from a weird building which changed colors every few minutes. It was directly opposite our cabin window.

After dinner, we enjoyed a Christmas carol sing in the lounge,  very appropriate on the last night.

Our flight on Delta would be non-stop to Atlanta, however it left Munich at 8 AM and the Munich Airport was over 2 hours journey by bus from Passau. All departing passengers were divided into color-coded groups based on the time they would have to leave the ship to catch their flights. We were the purple group, scheduled to leave by 4 AM,(Could have been worse, the first group left at 3 AM, and the lucky ones at 8.) AND we had to have our luggage outside our room by 3 AM so it could be loaded onto our bus. Needless to say we didn’t get much sleep, but the transfer was handled very efficiently. The ship’s galley had even provided breakfast for us tho few took advantage of more than coffee and juice.

The drive to the airport through winter darkness was a quiet one, though I did hear a few snores and we arrived at the airport in plenty of time for our flight.

Waiting at the Munich Airport
Waiting at the Munich Airport

The Munich airport is attractive though fairly small and there were  shops to look through before it was time to board our plane. (And spend our remaining Euros)

We were disappointed in our Delta flight, although we had managed to get extended comfort seats so we had a little more room.  The food was really bad. The Senior Rambler ate hardly any of it, however, I managed to choke most of it down, it was a 12 hour flight after all. But really, Delta should do better for the passengers on their long haul flights. They are a captive audience.

After the passengers boarded, the flight attendants announced that this would be a special flight as our pilot was retiring  after many years in the Navy and at Delta. That was the last we heard of this special occasion, although the flight was thankfully uneventful… except for the landing. Our pilot must have been in a hurry to retire as he came in hot and hit the brakes hard. We had a very bumpy landing, not what we expected from a senior pilot. however we were just glad to get home after a very long 12 hour flight. Some of our fellow cruisers were also on our Delta flight but they unfortunately had to catch a connector to get home.

Atlanta Hartsfield is a very large airport so there was lots of walking to get to and through the customs lines, but everything moved fairly quickly. We were happy to see our daughter Lisa waiting for us, and know that home was only a half hour’s drive. We also knew we would get the urge to take another ramble before long,

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