Biking the Danube – Part 1


Passau, Germany

No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time.   – Lewis Carroll

I don’t feel bad at all about giving dreadful explanations!  Our planned day and ½ in Passau was shortened to one day after our extended and undesired delay in Madrid due to a missed connection (thanks Iberia for closing the gate 6 minutes before the time stated on your tickets!).  It didn’t help that when we finally limped into Vienna eight or so hours late –we still had an almost three hour train ride to Passau, the starting city for our adventure.  Our three hour train ride turned into more like four after there was some sort of breakdown and we sat idle for at least an hour until the problem was solved.  We checked into the hotel close to midnight and basically fell into bed.

The first thing we saw out our window in the morning was the river!


IMGP0052 ~Our hotel

We had several things to deal with during the day  –sorting through the trip packet we were given at check-in, organizing our things, picking up our bikes and being tourists. Mike woke me up around 9:00 and we got busy.   After breakfast we were going to go for the bikes, but Mike noticed that there were specific times listed for that and we were past the morning session and would have to wait for the afternoon session. So, we decided to start walking around the older part of the city –which was not far at all from our hotel.

Passau sits right at the confluence of 3 rivers:  The Danube, the Inn and the Ilz.  The oldest part of the city occupies the peninsula of land between the Danube and the Inn, the Ilz being a much smaller contributor to the confluence.


~This is from a sign in town -it shows the Danube (lower) and the Inn (above) looking downriver (East).  If you squint you can see where the Ilz comes in on the left just a ways above the bridge in the picture.

The Danube is called The Donau here. The bike route is called the Donauradweg. As usual – all rivers seem to be mentally categorized/compared by me against the Mississippi. There are similarities and differences which I’m sure I’ll continue to notice as we wind our way to Vienna. The one big difference is that we’re not likely to see castles looming up high along the Mississippi.

There has been a long history of settlement in the area starting with early tribes and then the Romans.  In the late 5th century a monastery was established, which began a long period of religious control over the area.  Napoleon said (more or less) that it was the prettiest city he conquered.  Hitler lived there as a child for a few years.  Overlooking Passau from the high point across the Danube is the Veste Oberhaus a fort-like structure that had its beginnings in 1219 as a palace of sorts for the local bishops.   Today it has a museum, a theater, a youth hostel, and some great views.

Mike and I basically wandered around through the narrow old streets wherever our whims took us.  We knew we couldn’t get too far off track because we’d eventually hit one of the rivers and have to turn back unless a swim sounded like a good idea.  We saw lots of cute little buildings and shops.  There was something going on in town – we couldn’t get near the Cathedral and at one point the church bells rang for about ½ hour non-stop. I wanted to see the Cathedral because its claim to fame is that it has the largest pipe organ in Europe. It has nearly 18,000 pipes and 233 registers. Not being a musician –I don’t know exactly what that means except I bet it’s LOUD!


We saw some people dressed in traditional outfits, which we assumed had something to do with the day’s celebration.  We stopped at a little store near the back of the church for a coke and then sat down on a bench to watch the world go by.  There were four ladies sitting on the bench next to us dressed in long, traditional dresses with aprons.  Even though I don’t understand German, it was easy to interpret that they were having a fun time –and being a bit sassy.  A man asked if he could photograph them and they soon had him laughing with them.

IMGP0060 ~Mike at the bridge

IMGP0062 ~Statue at bridge

Next, we found ourselves near a bridge over the Danube (one we’d be riding over on our first day of biking) and I told Mike that I knew there was a way to walk up to the Veste Oberhaus, (which we were looking up at at the moment), but I wasn’t sure exactly where it started.  We looked across the bridge and noticed there were some steps disappearing into the hillside directly across.  We decided to go investigate and found ourselves climbing something like 220 steps up to the top.

IMGP0077 IMGP0063














After we caught our breath and enjoyed the views, we went back down and decided to visit the point where the city ends and the two rivers collide. There is a nice park there.


By then it was time to head back to the hotel so that we could get ready to go pick up our bikes. We followed the Danube upriver to find our hotel. Along the way we saw all the river cruise boats lined up getting ready for a new week of cruising the river. I’m sure we’ll be jealous of those lucky passengers at some point in the week ahead.

Along the way we passed the Rathaus (Town Hall). Pretty building.



We did feel the need to stop halfway back for a bite to eat and some liquid refreshments. 🙂

IMGP0092 IMGP0085


There were instructions and bus tickets included in our packet for getting the bikes, but I’d looked up the location before we left home and realized it was less than 3 miles away. We decided it would be easier to just walk there than deal with an unfamiliar bus system. So, off we went with a map I’d printed –don’t even ask why we weren’t using our brand new bike GPS toys …that’s a whole ‘nother story. We managed to arrive at the bike garage relatively unscathed from our efforts.


IMGP0094 ~Inside left

IMGP0095 ~Inside right.

                     Think they rent a bike or two?

After we were there for a bit watching the people ahead of us get fitted and then asking the bike mechanics how to get back to their hotels (having no idea from having ridden the bus), I realized that it was probably a great decision we made to walk because we knew exactly how to get back (DO NOT listen to Mike if he mentions something about a wrong turn on the way back…it was more like an “almost” wrong turn!)

By the time we did that, we had enough time to try to sort out the GPS issue (our Europe maps are locked and someone …not saying it was me -but it was- messed up with the unlocking task)… not sorted yet because Garmin isn’t open on Saturday. Next was dinner at the hotel (provided by the tour package) and more repacking, organizing and getting ready for our first day of riding. Oh –and maybe a good night’s sleep would help too!

Tomorrow, we ride!




Categories: The Danube Bike Trail 2014

2 replies

  1. Gorgeous pictures and you write beautifully, Terry! Can’t wait for the next installment!

  2. I agree with Lorrie.. You are so lucky..

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