Note: When I first set out to write a blog, my intention was to post every day while traveling. Our days became super busy, and internet service was super spotty so things didn't work quite as planned. We had a fabulous time, and now my remaining blog posts are more of a post-trip review. Here goes!
All the guides provided by Viking Cruises have been great so far. Our guide in Passau today, Bridgette, was fabulous! She was knowledgeable, had a great sense of timing (always got our group into great position among the others), and was also an enchanting storyteller!
The city of Passau, with it's population of 50,000, has 50 churches and 5 breweries. As we toured this 7000 year old medieval city, our first stop was St Stephan Cathedral, the biggest baroque cathedral north of the Alps.
Built in the 1600s, this cathedral took less than 30 years to build. As evidence of its baroque style, there were copper domes on the outside and the higher you looked inside this church, the more beautiful it was. Bridgette explained the intention was to bring heaven towards earth, enticing the parishioners with what was waiting there. St Stephan's Cathedral was filled with frescoes, and also a spectacular organ (made up actually of five)... with a total of over 17,000 pipes.
Next, we went inside a very elegant Rococo Palace. In the exquisite library, filled with centuries old books, she told us the story that led to the expression "the walls have ears". Proof positive that gossip has always been a pastime.
As we walked through the old town, and listened on our headsets, Bridgette told us how several other expressions were born during the time of the plague… for example, "wouldn't touch it with a ten fool pole" - passing food through a door opening on a ten foot long pole, as to keep distance and not get sick. Others were "ring around the rosy", "god bless you", and "saved by the bell".
When our tour with Bridgette was complete, we returned to St. Stephen's Cathedral to listened to an organ concert. I should say, some of us listened.... some fell asleep (cough…cough…Jeff…cough…cough). The concert consisted of 3 pieces and lasted 30 minutes, during which time I never ran out of things to look at in the very ornate church. My favorite memory was when the sound began, and at that exact moment, the sun broke through causing the light to pour in through the high glass windows. Incredible timing!
We found a little cafe for lunch, then paid a visit to the Glass Museum. With over 14,000 pieces, there was a lot too see! After a while we were on visual overload, so we took the shuttle bus to the Oberhaus Museum, which is housed in an old fortress. Not only were the displays quite interesting, the building itself was a sight to be seen; and the location provided amazing views from above.
The day ended back onboard with cocktails, sailing through more locks, dinner and a game of Yahtzee (1/2 a game, actually). Another early day was to follow!
Next up: Melk & Vienna