In Saal, by the Daunbe near the end of the Main-Danube-canal, we stayed at a big, fancy marina with a restaurant in the harbor and one of these infrequent “Boottankstellen”, where you can fill diesel directly in the tank. From there we went by train to Munich to pick up Gustaf, my grandson, and had a couple of hours in the medieval centre of Munich for lunch and sightseeing (see picture of new crew):
Then it was time for our first day on the Danube (whose real name in German of course is Donau – why do the English insist on their own name?). It was a mighty feeling to take my Joy and Joyce out on this legendary river. In a way also surprising that Donau here is a pretty small river, about the same size as the river Main. There was not much traffic either so we were often alone on the river, admiring an often mighty landscape with wooded and rocky hills on both sides and now and then old castles or ruins of castles. Our first day we were aiming at Regensburg, the first big city on the way, which the guidebooks raved about as a must. The problem was, though, that the marina there was full. I had hoped that we could stay overnight at the lock in the middle of Regensburg but the lock-keeper was more than clear with his message that we were not allowed to do that. So maybe we had to miss Regensburg and anchor somewhere later along the river as there was no marina there for a long time. But just after the lock I saw a private small dock, which we decided to try. To my surprise it was deep enough for my boat and I went ashore and jumped a locked gate to try to find the owner and get a permission to stay. Eventually I found out that the dock belonged to a Wasserrettungszentrum, where they teach lifesaving on the river. I also managed to get the permit to stay overnight and information on how to unlock the gate. What a pleasure to have another successful problem-solving!
We had a very pleasant afternoon and evening in Regensburg, situated on islands and shores of a Donau, which there had parted into several branches. The famous medieval stone bridge was being renovated so we missed that but the dome with wonderful stained glass windows was well worth the whole visit. And also of course a great traditional German dinner in a Biergarten – the traditional beergarden of many of the old restaurants in Bavaria.
After two more days on Donau we came to Passau, another of these cities that all our books and guidebooks were raving about. And we were not disappointed. Like once Napoleon we thought this to be the most beautiful city in Germany, a three-river city where both the river Inn from the Alps and the river Ilz from the Bavarian Forest connects with Donau. We were all so charmed by this city so we decided to spend an extra day here. Joyce and I spent a luxurious night at a hotel by Donau (picture showing our hotel Am Paulusbogen from Donau, the dome in the background).
The old town of Passau is situated on a triangular peninsula, the tip being where the rivers merge. As most of the city was destroyed in a fire 1660 it was rebuilt in a pretty homogenous baroque style. The dome, also in extravagant baroque style (see picture).
It also had an extravagant organ, the biggest in the world with 17000 pipes, which we enjoyed in one of their daily noon concert. The peak experience, though, was climbing up to Vestre Oberhaus, a medieval castle high above the city with a stunning view of the city and its hilly serene surroundings. You could clearly distinguish the different colors of the three rivers when they were merging, the Ilz blue, the Donau greenish and the Inn brownish from all the stuff from the glaciers of the Alps. It was one of the most beautiful views I have seen, probably not captured in my panorama picture.
Close after Passau the Donau became the border between Germany and Austria and a little further on it had Austria on both sides. Donau had now grown considerably, especially as the river Inn is actually bigger than Donau. The strength of the current was also for a long time much stronger so we made good speed. The landscape changed and became even more beautiful with high wooden hills on both sides with even more old castles and ruins on top.
Further on I had a celebration when I passed the 400th lock (sic!) after starting the trip in Lübeck last year. The last stop of the week was in Linz, a big city, where Hitler spent his youth and even during the last months of his life planned to retire, build enormous buildings and be buried. For us it was the place for our next change of crew, Lennart leaving us and my grandchildren Agnes and Christoffer joining us.