Day Eight: Passau, Germany

I knew Tuesday, October 18, 2022 had potential. As we gathered to start our morning tour of Passau, Germany, a beer truck was parked close by. And the person in charge of the truck had several crates of beer stacked up being prepped for delivery.

Beer truck Passau, Germany (Photo Bill Pike)

We enjoyed our tour of Passau, and that enjoyment wasn’t grounded in access to beer. Yes, beer is part of Passau’s community and culture, but the city offers much more.

Again, we had an exceptional tour guide. A young man who covered all the bases and more. He gave us tips about the twelve local breweries, shared insights about church politics, and made a perfect recommendation for the afternoon.

According to the Viking Daily, Passau is known as the “City of Three Rivers.” Swirling around Passau are the Inn, Danube, and Ilz Rivers.

Historically, salt “white gold” made Passau an important trade center. Additionally, local metal smiths gained recognition for high quality knife and sword blades that were stamped with the Passau wolf. Some warriors believed that the wolf stamped on the blade made them invulnerable.

As noted in other stops on this trip, fire had an impact. During the 17th century, the city was hit hard by destructive fires. Gradually, Passau’s Old Town was established with beautiful churches and homes. I had a tough time controlling my desire to constantly take pictures.

In Passau, the city is graced with the stunning St. Stephen’s Cathedral. This cathedral is home to the largest pipe organ outside of the United States.

But, I liked our guide’s honesty in talking a bit about the local churches.

First, like in America, church attendance is in decline. Our guide shared with us that there is a church tax in Germany, and I didn’t quite follow the purpose, but having worked in a church for twelve years I found that interesting.

Additionally, the guide indicated that not paying your church tax could impact your access to a church for a wedding, and possibly employment.

And speaking of weddings and celebrations, our guide made sure that we saw a public beer tap in the square just outside of the Old Town Hall. He told us families gather around the tap after a wedding.

Beer tap in public square Passau, Germany (Photo Bill Pike)

Also in the city is the University of Passau with about 12,000 students. Our guide conveyed that the students were quite helpful to city residents during a recent flooding of the rivers.

At some point, we said goodbye to our guide. We purchased tickets for a midday concert featuring the famous pipe organ, and prior to the performance, we simply wandered in and out of the shops in Old Town.

Some interior renovations are taking place in St. Stephen’s Cathedral, but that didn’t detract from its beauty or the magnificent performance by the organist and the 17,974 pipes, 233 stops, and four carillons.

Interior St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Photo Bill)

After the concert, we found our way back to the ship for lunch, and we made plans for the afternoon.

After lunch, more walking around Old Town took place, and we eventually made the walk across the river to begin the hike up to the Veste Oberhaus.

Dating back to 1219, this fortress sits on top of St. Georgsburg mountain which is only 344 feet above the valley floor. Today, the building and grounds are home to a museum, a youth hostel, and a restaurant. The views looking over the routes of the rivers and the city are spectacular. We explored a lot, and then we decided to stop in the restaurant, named the Das Oberhaus.

A view from Veste Oberhaus (Photo Bill Pike)

Das Oberhaus had numerous splendid views of the city from its outside seating platforms. The ladies ordered wine, and Art and I had draft beer from the famous Augustiner Brewery in Munich.

In Germany all brewers must abide by the Munich Purity Decree. The Purity Decree only allows water, hops, and malt in the brewing process. I ordered a dark lager, and it was superb.

Augustiner Beer (Photo Betsy Pike)

We made our way down from the top of St. Georgsburg, and walked back across the Luitpold Bridge.

Continuing to be charmed by the architecture and the cobblestone alley ways winding along shops and homes, we decided to make one more stop for beer. From the alley entrance we entered a restaurant that had an open air patio looking out on to the busy street and the graceful river as a backdrop.

A Passau alley (Photo Bill Pike)

The local brewery Lowenbrau was featured here.

Our server here could not have been more kind and graceful in taking our orders and answering a few questions.

From here, we made the short walk back to the ship.

We met at 6:45 in the dining room for the Captain’s farewell toast, and a final wrap up from our Program Director, Mario.

Dinner was another delicious treat, and I think we all knew we were going to be missing this elegance when we returned to the reality of our stateside homes.

Toward the end of dinner, there was a flurry of activity related to birthdays. Of course, the Viking staff knew this trip for us was in honor of Betsy’s mother and her upcoming February birthday, number 95.

Our favorite waiters with Betsy’s mom (Photo Elizabeth Pike)

It was tough to say goodbye to our favorite waiters, Mehi and Jazz. Their skills in serving us were impeccable, but speaking for myself, I loved their humor even more.

Earlier in the day, we had learned more about the system for leaving the ship in the morning. We attended to the final details of packing, and made sure our wake up times were all cued up.

Wednesday would be a long day of travel from Frankfurt, Germany back to Dulles in Northern Virginia.

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