Beautiful Blue Danube Waltz - 2002

We learned today that the Danube River is 1661 miles from the Black Forest (where it has its source) to the delta at the Black Sea. The river runs west to east chiefly. There was 45 feet difference in low and high water before the first dams were constructed, meaning that parts of the river were not navigable due to rapids, etc. The Danube is subject to flooding and freezing and it can freeze over very rapidly, causing ships to make much haste to avoid being crushed. This River has never been the vibrant commercial artery that the Rhine has been through history. However, that relative neglect of the commercial possibilities may in part explain why the areas we cruise through are pretty much devoid of development and why the little towns and villages have remained so isolated, small and charming. Our morning lecture on Germany post l945 was helpful in reminding us about fairly recent events, such as the Berlin airlift, the Wall’s original construction, the fall of the Wall, the troubled reunification of the two Germanys and what that has cost the country economically, socially, and culturally. We got off the ship over the back of the other ship and met with another local guide, Anita, for a walking tour of the Baroque city of Passau. Regensberg is called the Gothic city. Passau is on a peninsula formed by the confluence of three rivers: the Inn from Switzerland, the Ilz from Bohemia in the Czech Republic and, of course, the Black Forest born Danube. It’s a city of 42,000, much smaller than Regensberg. It also shows lots of colors on the buildings, though those colors are more subdued than those of Regensberg. The Old Town Hall is impressive both within and without. The General Assembly Room is very church-like due to its having been designed by a church architect, Friedrich Wagner (no kin to Richard Wagner). The paintings on the wall were baroque in style though they were not actually done until the nineteenth century. Continuing our walk, we saw the Capuchin Monastery across the Inn River up on a hill, where now only one lonely monk lives and serves. Anita told us about the new (since 1975) Passau University which attracts students from all over Germany.

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