Destination: Passau, Germany

Along the Danube river in Passau, Germany (April 2016).

Once our stay in Munich was over (along with our day trips to Salzburg and Neuschwanstein Castle), my parents and I were ready to embark on the Danube river cruise that they’d reserved months prior, which would take us through five or six different countries along the long river for the next week or so. With that said, we needed to meet at the embarking destination, which was located in Passau, a city located in Bavaria, Germany near the border with Austria and the Czech Republic.

That said, my parents and I check out of our hotel in Munich, taking the 10h00 train to Passau, located about two hours away. We arrived around 12h30, proceeding to our cruise ship docked along the river where we registered to board, and we shown to our cabins- due to the layout of the rooms, my parents shared one with a balcony while I got a stateroom on the ground level. Mine was smaller than my parents, but considering that I was alone in the room, I had the large, two-person bed all to myself. Up until then, I’d been bumming through Europe, staying in hostels and Couchsurfers’ homes, so a cruise room all to myself was certainly a nice change from it all! From my own bed to my own shower and television, it was like paradise!

After we dropped our belongings off and got settled in, my parents and I got a light lunch in the cruise ship, as more passengers were just coming in and boarding. The ship would be docked overnight, so we had some time to explore Passau during the afternoon, which was what we did later that day; we had a very short, two-hour independent tour of the town, of which we saw the main town center, with cute cafes and boutiques to boot. Dinner that night on the cruise ship was fantastic, with a three-course meal that was not only delicious, but also artfully prepared for the eyes to feast on.

There was also endless wine on-complimentary, complimentary due to the fact that passengers had paid a large sum (a few thousands, I’m sure) to take the cruise, so it was expected that service lived up to it, which it did! Funny enough, I have to thank my parents for having paid for our trip on the river cruise, as I graciously accepted glass after glass of red and white wine that night, as well as eating to my heart’s desire before collapsing on my bed in a state of bliss afterwards.

Although I’d been on cruises before with my family in the past (some including Alaska, the Mediterranean, the Baltics, and the Caribbeans), this particular one was different not only in the price (significantly more than other cruise lines we’d paid for), but also the service, which I found went above and beyond with friendliness and, again, endless bottles of wine for dinner. Heck, there was even champagne for breakfast, which I didn’t take, but the other passengers did!

Any case, in terms of Passau, we ended up exploring a bit more of the city the following morning, with an official tour of it. Our tour guide was actually American, having married a German and stayed in Germany since then; she was a real hoot, cracking a lot of bad jokes (pun-based) that made the other tourists howl with laughter (mind you, many of them were at least sixty years of age, so the jokes were right up their alley…although I have to admit, I do love a good pun).

I had never heard of Passau before visiting, and apparently, it is quite interesting, in that it’s situated on a peninsula, at a conjunction where two rivers– the Ilz and Inn– meet to form the Danube river. Even further, Passau is at the border with Austria and the Czech Republic, so in a way, it’s a sort of “crossroads town” that, geographically-speaking, is quite fascinating.

Along the Ilz (or Inn?) river.

Due to its location along three, different rivers, Passau has been susceptible to floods throughout history, including the most recent one in 2013 which was the second highest-marked one ever, to the point that even the buildings were half-submerged in water and that it took the entire community to clean it up afterwards- how insane is that?

Aside from that, Passau is also historically known for its ties to St. Stephen, an important saint figure not only for Germans, but also for Slovaks and Hungarians- apparently, this St. Stephen has done something really for the sake of these countries’ religions! That said, we popped into St. Stephen’s Cathedral, which at least the one in Passau is home to the largest organ in Europe. I have to admit, it was quite big when I saw it, and it played beautifully when we happened to stumble in towards the end of Mass.

St. Stephen’s Cathedral.

By 11h00, we were down with the tour of Passau. Before heading back to the ship, I crossed the bridge to take a photo of the town along the river, since it looked so lovely. Especially in the balmy, April sun, it made it all the more beautiful! For the rest of the day, we stayed on board the ship, until the last of the passengers boarded and we officially set sail around 18h00. Again, dinner wasn’t completed without tons of good food and good wine that night, and afterwards it was time for bed.

Passau turned out to be one of the most pleasantly underrated places I’ve been to- once more, I didn’t expected a lot out of it beforehand, just because I didn’t know anything about it. However, it ended up having a lot of charm, for it’s situated on one of the most scenic rivers in Europe and has colorful, sharp architecture to boot. Definitely was a cool one to have checked out.

With that said, we’re moving on to the next destination in the following post on the Danube river cruise from last April. Next up: Český Krumlov, Czech Republic!


— Rebecca


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