Great Rivers of Europe Cruise
Melk - Passau - Regensburg
Day 5 - 7
1 - 3 May 2002
Revised 18 August 2002,
Photos & Text © 2002 by Len Schwer
Day 5: Vienna - Melk (1 May 2002)
Happy May Day!
After overnight in Tullen we sailed at 6:30 AM with a goal of reaching Melk
and the abbey before 1 PM.
We passed many small towns en route and most had May Poles on display. Tall
pole painted yellow that are topped by a pine tree with streaming ribbons of
red & white and the red-white-red Austrian flag at the top. There is also a
corona of sweets and/or meats just below the tree which the young men are
supposed to reach by climbing the pole.
The towns of note we passed were Krems, Stein, and Durenstein. Our tour director
Alex provided some interesting commentary on the history of these towns. Alex
has a PhD in history and work as an independent researcher currently providing
towns in Austria with detailed histories.
We arrived in Melk and departed by bus for the top of the
hill where the Stiff
Abby is located. The tour of the abbey was not all that interesting. Over the
years the abbey has been destroyed by fire three times. It was most recently
renovated in 1995 and thus has more the appearance of a restoration rather than
anything authentic. The tour thru the abbey consisted of several rooms which have
been converted to museum type displays of various artifacts. It was at the same
time rather dry and contrived. The telling fact about this abbey is that it is
self supporting, via tourism.
We enjoyed the walk back to the ship and stopped to look in a few souvenir shops
along the way Since it was the May Day Holiday, all the normal stores were closed.
The ship sailed at about 5 PM on its way to Paussau which was out goal for the
next morning and meant we would sail all night.
This was the night of the Captain's Dinner and the 6 course meal was excellent.
Day 6: Passau (2 May 2002)
Passau is the "Town of Three Rivers" at the confluence of the rivers Danube,
Inn and Ilz.
We arrived in Passau about 10 AM and had a guided walking tour of the city that
included a visit to St Michael's church and the city hall; the city's famous St
Stevens Cathedral was not included as there was an organ performance in the church
for an additional fee.
After the city tour we had the remainder of the day free to walk about the city and
visit the shops.
We found a department store named Muller's where Becky bought a plastic drinking
tumbler, as she found the glasses provided on the ship too small.
I found the Passau internet access; one terminal in a bookstore with a pay-by-meter
plan. To my surprise the clerk in the store did not speak English, but with here few
words of English, my even fewer words of German, and our combined understanding of
the internet, I was easily able to put my Euro in the slot and start surfing.
At 5:30 PM there was a lecture on the architecture of Passau, which emphasized the
city's Gothic heritage, but with a Baroque presentation. Because of the past fires
in the city, a large portion of St Steven's Cathedral was rebuilt in the Baroque
style. The saying is that St Steven's is a Baroque cathedral with a Gothic soul.
Day 7: Regensburg (3 May 2002)
After breakfast we had a lecture on the recent history of Germany,
from the war years to the present. The lecture was very good as the speaker
did not read his remarks but presented them in an ad hoc manner. Tomorrow
there will be a pre-war lecture on Germany.
After the lecture we met our local city guides for a walking tour of the city.
Regensburg was spared almost all damage during the war as it was not an
industrial target; the exception being a small aircraft manufacturing plant
a few miles north of the city which was destroyed.
Regensburg still has portions of its Roman wall that surrounded the
city. The most interesting Roman artifact is the multi-arched stone bridge over
When our tour paused at the Rathaus (City Hall) there were several couples
getting married and taking photographs in front of the Rathaus. We had a similar
experience while visiting Passau.
After the city tour we were free to tour the city and shops on our own. I found
the internet cafe on the top floor of the
department store; the fee was 1.5e for
30 minutes. While looking about the electronics department in this store I found
an extension cord, with European connectors, that Becky had been looking for to
connect her curling iron to outlets when one is not handy to a mirror.
There was very little evidence of tourism in Regensburg. While I did see a few
postcard stands, there were no t-shirt displays nor the other usual eye-catchers
that are displayed by the stores near the ship. I also find it interesting that
there are absolutely no street vendors greeting the ship. This must be something
that is discouraged in Europe.
Our dinner was off the ship in a local restaurant; we broke up into our four color
coded groups for this event. Our restaurant was the Augstein, where we were served
a roast pork dinner with sauerkraut, potatoes and dumplings, it was very good.
The appetizer was large soft pretzels served with a cheese spread. The dessert was
fruit syrup severed over a marshmallow consistency dumpling.
The onboard evening entertainment was a one man band show, which I elected
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Photos & Text © 2002 by Len Schwer