Again it was cloudy when we headed to breakfast, and not particularly warm. The weather forecast predicted a high of 66 and a cloudy showery day. We had hoped for beautiful weather on our last full day on the Maria Theresa.
According to the original schedule, we would have been docked in Passau this morning; instead we were still in Regensburg. Fortunately, our walking tour of Passau was still on the menu though we would have to take a bus to get there.
The folks who had wanted to bicycle through the Wachau Valley were not so lucky. They would still be able to take their bike ride but it would be in the Regensburg area instead.
I haven’t said much about the bicycles on board the Maria Theresa because the Ramblers can’t bike any more. However, they looked very new, sturdy and comfortable. They weren’t electric though; the cyclists would have to supply their own energy. Since the trails along the river are flat, it shouldn’t be too difficult and the cool weather would probably be more comfortable for them. If you enjoy cycling, there are opportunities to ride at many of the stops on most river cruises. Most river boats now provide bicycles for their passengers.
We, along with a substantial number of the MT’s passengers, boarded busses at the Regensburg quay at 9 AM for our drive to Passau. The picturesque Bavarian city is about 90 miles cross country from Regensburg. As the Danube loops around it is considerably further by river boat. The Ramblers didn’t mind the bus ride; it gave us a chance to look at the countryside away from the river
. We would be spending most of the day in Passau with lunch on our own, so we were all handed 30 EU lunch money to cover the cost. This turned out to be more than ample.
Passau is one of the oldest cities in Bavaria, mainly because it sits at the confluence of three rivers, the Danube, Ilz and Inn. People have settled near rivers for thousands of years, and Passau has three! Initially settled by the Celts, then the Romans and finally Germanic tribes, it has always been an important stop for Danube travelers. By the 10th century it was also a Christian center, and would be ruled by the Bishops of Passau for nearly six centuries. Mozart visited the imposing Dom or cathedral and played on its majestic organ when he was only 6 in 1762. The Bishop was impressed by his talent but also thrifty as he gave the child prodigy a measly ducat ($2). In fairness, that was a lot of money in 1762. The Dom of St. Stephen’s would be our first stop when we got to Passau. There is more information about Passau in our blog about our Christmas Markets cruise.
Unfortunately the rain that had been forecast, had started falling by the time we reached Passau, around 11 AM, but thankfully it was more of a drizzle than a downpour.
After meeting our guides and sorting ourselves into groups, we headed for St. Stephen’s Cathedral for a concert on their renowned organ at 11:30. Chad, the tour director, was already stationed at the Church entrance to hand us our tickets.
When the Ramblers visited Passau on the Christmas Markets cruise we missed the organ concert. I love organ music and was looking forward to it but the Senior Rambler who doesn’t and wasn’t, opted to stay outside, saving Uniworld some money. LOL There were quite a few folks scrambling into the Church for the concert. The majority were Viking passengers, as they are usually wearing something red, red and white being the Viking colors. I am glad that Uniworld doesn’t inflict this punishment on us.
Before the concert, the audience was instructed to refrain from recording or taking pictures during the performance which is customary.
Of course, as soon as we heard the first notes of the magnificent organ, several people around me began recording the concert with their phones or cameras. This is one of my pet peeves. You are not going to get a good quality recording in those circumstances and it is extremely rude besides. Oh well, there was nothing I could do about it, so I closed my eyes and listened to the music with great pleasure.
The organ in St. Stephens is the largest in any European Church and it has the sound to match its size.
The concert was a wonderful experience. A few organ statistics here: it has 17,974 pipes and 233 stops. It consist of 5 separate parts and all can be played from the main console, either individually or simultaneously, delivering a fantastic sound. All in all, a great experience, except for the annoying folks recording it, and I highly recommend it if you enjoy the sound of a magnificent organ.
The weather hadn’t improved much when I stepped out into the plaza in front of the Church after the concert, and I soon located the Senior Rambler. We both thought it was time for lunch so we headed towards the Hollgasse in the old town area where we knew there were many restaurants and shops. Unfortunately it was still drizzling so we bypassed those with outdoor seating, though they were doing a brisk business. We noticed a number of our fellow passengers already eating lunch in several places and were then hailed by another group we knew from the ship. They invited us to join them at a large table and since the food being served smelled delicious, we were happy to do so.
I didn’t write down the name of the restaurant but after looking at photos on Trip Adviser, I think it was called Zum Grunen Baum. Not only did we enjoy the company, but the food was absolutely delicious, a true home-style Bavarian meal of roast pork, sauerkraut and dumpling.
This is dumpling country and they come in many shapes and sizes. Each cook seems to have his/her own recipe as I do myself. We Ramblers pronounced these as being excellent and noticed that all the members of our party cleaned their plates.
After our hearty lunch, we still had some time, so we wandered around the streets before stopping at Simon’s Patisserie for coffee and dessert. Simon’s is both a cafe and purveyor of Shokolade and Pralinen, really tasty Shokolade and Pralinen. They also make a wonderful gingerbread with marzipan. I know most Americans don’t like marzipan, but with my Eastern European roots, I love it.
Simon’s does not ship to the US, so I bought several cans to bring home. However first we chose slices of Black Forest Torte which seemed appropriate since we were in Bavaria, and enjoyed them with coffee in the cafe section.
We then headed back to the quay to wait for our bus back to the MT, it was still drizzling, but hopefully the sun would be shining tomorrow. Chad explained what we could expect for the next three days. We would tour the famous Meik Abbey, and cruise the Wachau Valley along the way to Vienna by bus. We were instructed to put our bags outside our cabin door by 3 AM, just as if we were going to the airport to head back to the states. However, instead we were heading to Vienna by bus with several stops on the way.