Sleeping arrangements and my wish to spend more time in Regensburg and with Passau, being over 100k from Straubing, where I had just reached after a 35.5k journey, I felt it time to once more leap-frog, by train into Passau, this has always been part of my plan, the trip was never really about cycling but a mini grand tour, with the bike used to get me around the cities, or from A to B in the countryside however I found out fast that you need much more than a couple of days to really do a city justice, so I have been bunching up.
Passau, also known as Dreiflussestadt – the city of the three rivers, for it is where the Danube, the Inn and the Llz converge. This truly is a special place, and once more would need more than my allotted time to explore, so I have extended it to 4 days.
I wheeled my bike into the station at Regensburg, the morning was clear once more but still that chill in the air. I bought my ticket from the machine and took the lift up the overhead bridge then down to platform 7 for the Passau train – only ten minutes to wait. When the train arrived it was an ICE you know the sleek electric trains that speed you along at up to 200kph (this one reached 150) at one point on our journey.
Now I know I should not have been on this train, my ticket was for local trains, and I had not booked the bike. This train did not have a special carriage for bikes, but in each compartment, there was provision for three bikes, what the hell, chance your mit.
When the inspector arrived to check my ticket he pointed out that the ticket was for local trains only, I acted dumb of course, so he went on to explain at length that my ticket should have has ICE printed on it, and there is no reservation for a bike, I gave him my, by now, stock answer
“It’s a folding bike”
His tong was sharp and O’ the wounds they bled,
But then I’m used to bleeding.
Bit of poetic licence there, he was okay about it only telling me that in future to make sure I have the right ticket. As dad would say,
“Act daft and you will get a free hurrle”
Stepping off the train, the difference in temperature was evident (now 23C) and this has brought the people out onto the streets, like Livingston Daisies, they come out when the sun shines on them.
Finding my YH was easy getting up there was another thing altogether, I have competed in hill climbs less steep than this, and there must be another way up.
halfway up there was a false summit, and I had to pull over and catch my breath, this is ‘heart attack’ country. A young woman came up the hill like she was walking on a pavement in town.
“Am I on the right road for the YH?”
“Yes, keep going, believe me, it will be worth it” she replied.
I did not ask if there was a first aid station at the top.
Passau was one of the most prolific centres of sword and blade weapon manufacture in Germany after the Renaissance. Passau smiths stamped their blades with the Passau wolf – a trademark and sign of quality. The main architecture of the city is baroque; however, dominating the city is the Niederhaus a castle that stands on top of the rocky promontory at the coming together of the thee rivers. Tourism is big here and where most of the river cruises start, so the city always seems to be in flux.
One piece of information I did know was that the organ at St Stephen’s was held to be the largest church pipe organ in the world, containing no fewer than 17,774 pipes and 233 registers. Organ concerts are held daily between May and September, and I would like to do a flying visit back here to here a recital when I visit Vienna.
St Stephens is a masterpiece of Italian Baroque, built under the direction of Carlo Lurago the Italian architect, and decorated in part by Carpoforo Tencalla. I spent hours in St Stephens, but it was all too much to take in.
Flooding has always been a problem for Passau, and over the years the city has seen some serious flooding, and on the Rathaus (townhouse) wall, they have marked the high water levels and the years that the waters reached those levels.
One problem that modern wars have brought to the doorstep of Passau is a big influx of refugees and economic migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa, so bad has the problem become that funds have been diverted from flood prevention to the feeding and housing of refugees. In 2015 I watched a BBC programme that reported that traffickers drive migrants and refugees through Austria and leave them on the side of the autobahn the refugees and migrants then walk unaccompanied into Passau, the first German town, around 10% of whom are unaccompanied children. No matter the money spent to ease the problem of refugees and economic migrants into Europe the problem will never be solved until the problems are tackled at the source.