Our Tuesday started out on track with a bus trip from our rescheduled port of Deggendorf to our originally scheduled stop in Passau. We had a lovely hour-long tour with Francis, a law student at the local university (law school takes seven years in Germany). As we made our way through this charming town, we stopped at St. Stephen’s Cathedral – home of the world’s largest cathedral pipe organ in the world with 17,774 pipes. A church has been in existence on this site since 730. Originally built in Gothic style, it was rebuilt in the early 1700s after a fire nearly destroyed it in the late 1600s. .
Across the Danube from the old town is the Veste Oberhaus, a large fort founded in 1219, and the seat of the prince bishop.
We then made our way to the Christmas markets. Passau’s market – at the center of the town square – featured more food than previous markets we visited. In fact, most of the stalls were selling food items. We enjoyed a glüwein and a baumstriezel – the most delicious column-shaped cooked sweet dough doused with cinnamon and sugar!
A few thoughts about Christmas markets: they are not all created equal. Some are very commercial and touristy, others feature art pieces made by locals, and many are full of homemade arts and crafts, some very unique, others repetitive in every location. In Vienna, you can skip the largest, most well-known market in front of the city hall. Outside of a photo opp, this is full of touristy items, most of which were likely mass-produced in China. Instead, venture to the market at Schönbrunn Palace. It was simply lovely with beautiful items for sale.
When it was time to depart and head back to our ship, we learned it was once again delayed due to water issues. Apparently, a vessel got caught in the locks and shut down the entire river.
After sitting on the tour bus for nearly three hours as our crew tried to identify a plan B, we finally were taken to the nearby town of Straubing and divided into three groups for dinner. Our restaurant, Reumann’s, was bustling with locals when our group of 50 or so American tourists invaded it! There were some wide eyes as we came pouring through the door! Our waitress, dressed in a classic Dirndl dress, spoke no English. I had the hausgemachte Rinderroulade mit kartoffelpüree und blaukraut – also known as homemade beef roulade with mashed potatoes and red cabbage. Incredible, especially the deliciously sweet red cabbage.
As luck would have it, three of our four bus drivers hit their driving limit, per union laws, so we were down to one bus that had to shuttle groups at a time from the town to the new port once our ship finally arrived. We finally made it back to the ship at 10:30 pm!
Due to the issues on the river, our next day’s plans of an early tour in Regensburg was also at risk. Good news? Another day to sleep in! Guten Nacht!