Sadly, this morning I had to say “goodbye” to Germany. And I also said “goodbye” to Bill! You see, Bill chose to do the walking tour of Passau (still in Germany), while I left at 8:15 on the bus for Salzburg (Austria, of course). I wouldn’t be seeing him again until evening, when I (and the others who went on the Salzburg excursion) met up with the ship again in Linz, Austria.
Bill did take a few photos on his walking tour, so I’ll talk about Passau first.
Passau is located at the conjunction of three different rivers: the Inn River, the Ilz River and the Danube. For obvious reasons, Passau is called the “City of Three Rivers.” The population of Passau is around 50,500 people. It does have a university there, which has about 11,000 students. According to our Avalon documents booklet, Passau “is a maze of narrow cobblestone streets lined with beautiful patrician houses.” The tour guide said that, fortunately, Passau was not damaged during WWII.
Upon docking along the Danube at Passau, Bill could see the the Veste Oberhaus up on the hill. The Veste Oberhaus is a fortress that was built in 1219 by Ulrich II, the first prince-bishop of Passau, and this was his main residence. However, the Veste Niederhaus, which is located below and at the tip of the peninsula, was sometimes used as his second residence.
According to Wikipedia, “between 1535 and 1540, numerous Protestant Anabaptists were imprisoned in the castle dungeon for their beliefs. During their imprisonment, the Ausbund hymnal, still used in Amish religious services, was developed. Some of the hymn writers died while imprisoned; many were martyred.” By 1918, the fortress had been used as a state and military prison for almost a century. “It was feared as the ‘Bastille of Bavaria’.” From 1932 until today, the fortress has housed a museum, the Oberhausmuseum. The complex also has an art gallery, a restaurant, an Observation Tower, and a youth hostel.
Bill’s walking tour began around 9:00 a.m. First up on the tour was the Town Hall, or Rathaus. Large 19th century paintings by artist Ferdinand Wagner are displayed here, inside the baroque festival hall, though the tour group did not go inside to see them.
Bill spotted an interesting car that was parked in the area, just outside of the Rathausplatz, and he was compelled to take some photos of it for our son, Austin.
They walked through a residential area, where the tour guide pointed out some very old cobblestones (the colorful ones), as opposed to the new ones on the outer edges.
Now the group arrived at St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Der Passauer Stephansdom). This is a baroque church that was built from 1668 to 1693. According to Wikipedia, “since 730, there have been many churches built on the site of the current cathedral. The current church…was built…after a fire in 1662 destroyed its predecessor, of which only the late gothic eastern side remains. The cathedral’s overall plan was made by Carlo Lurago, its interior decoration by Giovanni Battista Carlone, and its frescos by Carpoforo Tencalla.”
This cathedral boasts of having the “largest cathedral organ in the world.” The organ has 17,774 pipes and 233 registers. The cathedral also has eight large bells.
After the walking tour ended, Bill saw Fox & Lois. He told them about a potter he had noticed, while on the tour, at an art studio. Since they are potters themselves, Fox & Lois were interested in checking it out. Then Bill walked over to a small cafe and ordered a coffee and a pastry and sat outside to enjoy himself before he had to be back on board by 11:00. The ship then left for Linz and wouldn’t arrive there until 5:30 p.m.
Other interesting facts about Passau:
*There is a cycling path along the Danube that begins in Passau and ends in Vienna.
*Beside the Passau Rathaus is the Scharfrichterhaus, which is a jazz and cabaret stage. “Political cabaret” is performed there.
*Adolf Hitler and his family lived in Passau from 1892 to 1894, when he was ages 3 to 5.
Meanwhile, I had left the ship and boarded a bus at 8:15. Since we would be leaving Germany and entering Austria on the way to Salzburg, we had been instructed to take a copy of our passports with us, in addition to the usual rain gear, extra sweaters, etc. in case of inclement weather. I didn’t see any of the others in our group on my bus, but there were a few other buses, and I had noticed Jan and Dan boarding one of those.
Soon we were driving along the Autobahn, which has no speed limits in Germany. There are no tolls along the Autobahn either, which makes for fast traveling. As we were speeding past the countryside, I noticed lots of solar panels atop the houses, and our tour guide said that Germany is the leading country in the world for renewable energy. He also said that citizens must pass both a technical and a psychological exam before they are allowed to buy a gun license. Other trivia he mentioned during the drive included the fact that many Germans who live in Bavaria don’t really even consider themselves to be “German.” They just claim to be “Bavarian.”
As we neared the border of Austria, the tour guide said that Austria used to be part of the powerful empire of the Habsburgs (also spelled “Hapsburgs”), from 1278-1918. In 1918 the Democratic Republic of Austria was founded. He said that Austria has been a member of the European Union since 1995, but it is not a member of NATO.
Not long after we crossed the border we passed a small town called Braunau am Inn. This town has the unlucky distinction of being known as the birthplace of Adolf Hitler, who was born here on April 20, 1889. The tour guide said that most Austrians were pro-Hitler at first, before they realized what a madman he truly was.
Our bus also passed by another small town of some renown that was located about a half hour’s drive from Salzburg. This town is called Oberndorf. It was here in 1816 that the local priest, Josef Mohr, wrote a text of six verses. Two years later (according to our Avalon guidebook), this priest and his organist were “finding it difficult to get into the Christmas spirit” because the St. Nikola Church organ was broken. So the organist, Franz Zaver Gruber, took Mohr’s text and composed a melody for it. “All of the villagers from Oberndorf gathered in their church to celebrate the Christmas Eve service of 1818,” and there they heard, for the very first time, the beautiful song of Silent Night sung “in two voices with guitar accompaniment.” Since that first performance, the song has been translated into more than 300 different languages and dialects.
Unfortunately, the St. Nikola Church of Oberndorf was severely damaged by flooding in the 1890s, so the church was finally demolished and a memorial chapel was built upon the site in 1937.
As we neared Salzburg, our tour guide told us that the name means “Salt Castle.” He said that the city is named after the almost 800,000 tons of salt that is mined here every year. The “burg” refers to the castle that sits on the hill overlooking the city. Today, Salzburg has about 150,000 residents.
Besides being known for its salt (or “white gold”), Salzburg is most famous for its native son, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Mozart was born here at 9 Getreidegasse on January 27, 1756. He was the youngest of seven children, though five of his siblings had died in infancy. His older sister, who was also a gifted musician, was Maria Anna Mozart, nicknamed “Nannerl”. Our tour guide said that “Nannerl” may have been even more talented musically than Wolfgang. Her problem was that she had been born female and was, therefore, not given the opportunity to make music her career. In the early days, she and Wolfgang traveled around Europe with their father, Leopold, performing. Maria Anna often “received top billing, and she was noted as an excellent harpsichord player and fortepianist,” according to Wikipedia. She also played violin.
Our guide said that “everything is named after Mozart in Salzburg.” There are some famous handmade, spherical candies made by the Cafe-Konditorei Fürst, founded in Salzburg in 1884. “Paul Fürst created the now world famous Salzburger Mozartkugel in the year 1890. He was awarded a gold medal for his product, which had already become famous, at the Paris Exhibition of 1905,” reads the literature that came with the small bag of five delicious Mozartkugels I bought at the Fürst Konditorei while in Salzburg.
Mozart lived in Salzburg during his youth and young adult years. He then moved to Vienna at the age of 25 and never returned to Salzburg. He died at the age of 35 years in 1791 and was buried in an unmarked grave at St. Marx Cemetery outside Vienna on December 7, 1791. Joseph Haydn, a fellow composer and one of Wolfgang’s many friends, told Mozart’s father, “I tell you before God, and as an honest man, your son is the greatest composer known to me by person and repute, he has taste and what is more the greatest skill in composition.” Haydn had previously written that “posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years.” (Wikipedia)
Another of Salzburg’s claims to fame was the fact that the Von Trapp family lived in this area. Georg Johannes (Baron) Von Trapp, a submarine captain, had moved his family there after the death of his first wife in 1924. He went to the Nonnberg Abbey in Salzburg to hire a tutor for his second eldest daughter, who was recovering from an illness and couldn’t attend school, and that’s how he met Maria. They married in 1927.
Our guide said that the movie, The Sound of Music, was filmed here, but many facts had been changed for the movie. For instance, the family did not have to climb over any mountains to escape the Nazis. They simply took a train. Indeed, according to Wikipedia, “Some details of (Baron von Trapp’s) escape with his family from Austria were changed in The Sound of Music. In the film, it was stated that he was threatened with death if he did not capitulate to the Nazis. In fact, the Captain had been born into what later became the Italian territory of Zara, so the family members were all Italian citizens, and were able to leave Austria for Italy by train in broad daylight, rather than by hiking over the mountains from Austria to Switzerland in the middle of the night.” Our guide also added that Maria von Trapp “was not as nice as Julie Andrews”!
Here are my photos of Salzburg during and after our tour of the city.
As our group neared the Salzach River we could see the Staatsbrücke (State Bridge), also known as the “Locks of Love Bridge” because many people had hung hundreds of padlocks on it to symbolize their love for someone. The Staatsbrücke connects the Altstadt (Old Town) of Salzburg on both sides of the river between the Rudolfskai area, near the Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall), and the Platz/Linzergrasse (the main shopping area in the Altstadt).
We walked along Getreidegasse street until we came to Mozart’s birth-house (Getreidegasse 9), where he lived with his family from birth to 1773. The house now contains a Mozart museum. I would have liked to go inside, but we didn’t have enough time during the tour.
Then we walked through some gateways and small courtyards until we came to one of the main market square areas, the Alter Markt.
We went inside the castle to the Panorama Restaurant where, in keeping with our music-themed river cruise, we were treated to a delicious lunch and some classical musicians and singers. They were, of course, singing and playing Mozart’s opera music. It was wonderful!
I decided to skip the dessert so I’d have more time to look around the castle. There were a few small museums inside it, including a Marionette Museum.
I walked back to the shopping areas, where I took a break at Café Tomaselli for coffee, then bought some souvenirs (including a cute little miniature violin with case for Jesse) before I had to meet back at the St. Florian statue with the tour guide and the others at 3:40. Susan and I bought some goodies at the nearby candy store.
We met the tour guide and followed him back to the bus. We left Salzburg for Linz, where we would meet up again with the ship. I had a wonderful time in Salzburg! It was a beautiful and very interesting city.
This was the only photo I took of Linz itself. The guide had told us about the delicious and famous Linzer Tortes that the city is known for, but I didn’t have time to try to find any. I returned to the ship at around 5:30, met back up with Bill, and soon it was time for dinner. After that, the ship left and headed down the Danube toward the gorgeous Wachau Valley and the city of Melk. I spent a lovely day in Salzburg, and Bill also had a good day in Passau and Linz.
More interesting facts that our tour guide told us about Austria and Salzburg:
*Every Austrian man between the ages of 18 and 35 years is required to sign up for military service for a length of at least 6 months.
*The retirement age in Austria is 60 for women and 65 for men.
*University tuition and health care are free for all citizens of Austria. International students are charged about 700 Euros per semester.
*The unemployment rate in Austria is 4.8%–the lowest in the European Union at this time.
*Salzburg is the “most expensive Austrian city” in which to live.