Category Archives: Passau

A bus ride to Passau on our last day on the Maria Theresa

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.

As we got off the buss we could see one of the many Churches of Passau
As we got off the bus we could see one of the many Churches of Passau

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

Although we didn't get to the other side of the Da
Although we didn’t get to the other side of the Danube, it looked very intriguing.

. 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.

A picture of the huge organ, taken after the concert.
A picture of the huge organ, taken after the concert.

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.

This is a beautiful church, rebuilt at the height of the baroque era. All the art moves heavenward.
This is a beautiful church, rebuilt at the height of the baroque era. All the art moves heavenward.

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.

Not the clearest photo, but you get an idea, everything was delicious, Here they make dumplings the size of baseballs, much like mine at home.
Not the clearest photo, but you get an idea, everything was delicious, Here they make dumplings the size of baseballs, much like mine at home.

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.

A view of the pastry case from the cafe area at Simons
A view of the pastry case from the cafe area at Simons

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.

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,