Sunday, May 29, 2011

A hike through Germany: Passau

Pulpit in Passau cathedral
Passau sits on the German / Austrian border and was the 1,000 km mark for me. This was as far as I had wanted to hike - anything beyond Passau was just for fun. I had been in Passau twice before in 2008: Once when I had finished the Northern branch of the Goldsteig and on my bike trip through Europe as the Danube bike trail passes through Passau, too. On both occasions I had really liked Passau but had not have enough time to really enjoy it. So now I decided to spend a rest day in town.

As I was still suffering from ear pain and had started to take antibiotics I decided not to couchsurf but stay in a hotel/hostel. This turned out to be a very wise decision as I ended up staying in the Rotel Inn, a cheap Japanese-style cabin hotel in modern design. The hotel building looks like a sleeping person from outside. The inside is covered with graffiti about Japanese vs Western culture. The hotel is located close the train station and city centre right on the Danube. Almost all rooms have a view on the river Danube. The rooms are tiny and only as wide as the bed - but still have a little table, a chair and a storage board. Bathrooms and showers are across the hallway and everything is sparkling clean. Best of all: A single room only costs 30 EUR - and I immediately fell in love with place.

Organ in Passau cathredal
Passau only has a population of 51,000, but 1,6 million tourists per year!!! The major reason for that are the Americans! Passau is a popular stop over for Danube cruises and their guests are mostly North Americans. During the day Passau is full of tourists: Mostly American cruise ship tourist and also lots of cycle tourists, but in the evening most of them have already left again. Passau was spared from bombing in WWII and therefore has a beautiful old city centre and a huge cathedral with the biggest church organ in the world. I visited two organ concerts and the Americans sitting next to me promptly fell asleep - hopefully only due to jetlag and not to the music...

Passau seen from the Danube
Of course there are plenty of interesting museums and due to a Passau all inclusive card for 15 EUR I visited almost all of them. I even took a hour long river cruise. Passau sits at the spot where 3 rivers come together: The green Inn bringing flooding during snow melt from the Alps, the black Ilz bringing black tannine stained water from the Bavarian forest and the supposedly blue Danube.

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