We transferred ships and found our new ship (Scenic Emerald) at a little village of Vilshofen. Its easy to say that this is just another Bavarian village on the river, but it was very scenic – just a couple of long streets running parallel to the river and some interconnecting lanes. There were some very nice little boutique shops that took our eye for their simplistic elegance. The clothing stores especially were very elegant in their style and display. Mannequins in the windows were dressed in a complete outfit and the price of each garment (blouse, scarf, belt, skirt etc) is displayed on a little sign. They always look chic and elegant and although not expensive, they are very classy.
At the end of the street was a Roman Catholic Church with a very ornate gilt baroque interior.There was a service taking place and at first, we couldn’t work out the reason for a one taking place on a Monday, but then we worked out that this was the first day that the children were returning to school after their summer holiday and the service marked the beginning of the new school year.
On Tuesday, we went to the town of Regensburg. This has a large BMW factory that produces about 1000 cars each day. It makes the 1 series, M4’s and 3 series cabriolets.
This town is famous for its medieval bridge (circa 890) that crosses the Danube. It also has an historic sausage kitchen right next to the bridge that emits very tantalising smells and odours. The town was virtually unharmed during the war, so it has a large number of medieval buildings. The old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Not quite as old as a Roman stone arch (179AD), above the town (as usual) is a medieval monastery that was gifted to the Thurn and Taxis family as recompense for the government taking over the postal services business that they began in the middle of the last century. Part of the building is still occupied by the family and some parts are open to the public. The old state rooms are as impressive as those that I have seen at Kensington Palace.
We sailed on to Passau overnight – our last city in both Bavaria and Germany. We had a number of tour options from here, and Jill and I decided to go to a little village of Cesky Kromluv, just over the border in the Czech Republic. We had an interesting 2 1/2 hour bus ride and as soon as we crossed the Czech border, we noticed that houses that the environment was noticeably different. The roads were not as good as the German ones and the farms were notably less well maintained. There were a number of derelict houses where people had been evicted under the soviet occupation regime. The Russians left in 1986 (I think) and the economy and quality of life in the Czech Republic has been gradually improving ever since.
Cesky Krumlov is a ‘Cinderella’ type of town on the bend of a river. It is still protected by its town wall and one enters through a stone arch under the castle wall. It has a series of narrow cobble stoned streets that asced up to the market square and just above the square is a nice place to look out over the town.Only ten years ago, or so, the town was virtually in ruins, but UNESCO have classified it as anther world heritage area and they are funding the gradual renovation of te buildings. It’s a charming place and has a great feature of not ye being over-run by tourists. It is famous for garnets and amber which can be found in every second shop along the street.
Whilst we were there, the ship had sailed on to Lintz (Austria’s third largest city) and we travelled to their along a very scenic river valley and across the Austrian Border. We had dinner in the forward restaurant on the ship and wee entertained by a real Austrian Brass Oom Pa Pa band.
This morning, we spent a couple of hours at the little town of Melk. The stand out attraction here is a Benedictine Monastery. within the monastery is a private school that is quite special in a number of ways. The fees amount to approx 800 Euros per year.This seems very little to us,but as all education in Austria, including university, is free, this is a significant amount. Secondly, although the school is run by Catholic monks, it also offers a protestant education stream in addition to the Catholic one. It also has a library of 17,000 priceless books and manuscripts – some of which are hand written on parchment. After our tour of the monastery, we sat in the ornate abbey church (not one of those humble little ones – this one was more like a cathedral. It had a wonderful organ and we had a fifteen minute recital of reverberating, all stops open, classical organ music
Our last stop today was at the little town of Durnstein where we were able to taste some apricot liqueur and snapps We had to laugh at some of the T-Shirts directed to American tourists which were sold by some of the shops in the village. They had a picture of a kangaroo with a red stripe through it, and the words “No Kangaroos in Austria”. We found a little Austrian cow bell to bring home as an ornament for our Christmas tree. It has been quite wet today and we have had a quite restricted view of this very pretty part of the Danube in Austria.