Passau and Regensburg
08/18/2016 - 08/20/2016
When planning our trip I'd debated whether to stop for a night in Passau or Regensburg on the way back to Munich from Prague. At some point I realized I had an extra day in the itinerary due to having forgotten that there were 31 days in July, so we were able to visit both. I probably would have chosen Regensburg, the larger and more well-known of the two, but Passau proved to be a wonderful and unique city that would have been a shame to miss. That extra day proved to be very fortunate.
As with Český Krumlov, the unique character of Passau is made possible by the interaction of land and water. The Danube and Inn rivers converge obliquely to form a narrow tongue of land which contains the Old Town. At the northern bank of the river opposite the convergence point, the smaller Ilz river empties into the Danube as well. Overlooking this confluence is the Veste Oberhaus, a medieval hilltop fortress on the northern bank.
Our Airbnb was on Lederergasse, a narrow cobblestone street on the southern bank of the Inn. The winding street was lined with immaculate and colorful houses with stucco facades.
As usual, there wasn't much time to do more than check in and get dinner. We got a very good meal downtown with some delicious desserts to reward the kids for not being too horrible on the drive from Czechia.
We only had half a day to explore Passau, so we got an early start Friday morning. The main landmark of the Old Town is St. Stephan's Cathedral, which looked close as we crossed the Inn over the Mariahilfstrasse bridge but actually could only be reached via a long circuitous uphill route.
We walked eastward among beautiful Baroque fountains and townhouses to the tip of the Old Town, which finally ended in an attractive park mostly surrounded by water. Across the Danube, the Veste Oberhaus loomed above us.
We took the easy way out and drove the SUV up to the Veste Oberhaus. We climbed the observation tower for panoramic views of the idyllic countryside and the Danube. On ground level we got ice cream for the kids at the cafe, which also had a sandbox with a view. Here and here are more blogs with pictures and stories about Passau.
We encountered the Danube once again in Regensburg, our last city of the trip. The Old Town of Regensburg wasn't as storybook perfect as Passau had been, but there was still a lot to see. We found an Italian food festival in the main square before having dinner in the shadow of Regensburg's enormous Gothic cathedral.
On Saturday morning we drove to the southern bank of the Danube in the Old Town to hunt for the weekly market, the Donaumarkt, but were unable to find either the market or anyone who seemed to know what we were talking about. Perhaps it doesn't take place every Saturday, or perhaps we were in the wrong place. Instead we settled for some views from the Stone Bridge and a sausage breakfast before leaving town.
Our last stop before returning to Munich was an unusual building called Walhalla on the bank of the Danube, about 15 minutes downstream from Regensburg. The monument was constructed in the 19th century to honor German cultural heroes throughout the centuries. Some might regard it as an architectural monstrosity, but I found it very serene and we were glad to have some final views over the amazing Danube.
We had booked a hotel near the airport for our early morning flight back to Miami, so we decided to spend our last few hours in Munich. Naturally we made a beeline for the Hirschgarten where we braved a steady drizzle to gorge on currywurst and Steckerlfisch one last time. The rain ruled out the playground so we sorrowfully got back in the SUV and prepared to endure another months-long exile from our favorite continent.