Our day started with snow in the air and on the boat and coating the ground to the sides of the flowing river. That meant it was cold which wasn’t so nice, but the snow coating everything gave it a lovely look.

Right after our breakfast of too much food, we had a demonstration on making apple strudel. The pastry chef and the speaker came and looked for a volunteer from the audience to make the second strudel. Al volunteered to be the second chef.

The goal was to roll the dough so thin that one could read a newspaper through it or something like that. The dough was prepared in the kitchen so they could use their modern appliances to mix it. The apples were peeled and sliced as well. There were 1.5 kilograms or about 3 pounds of apples. Added to that was raisins, sugar, vanilla sugar, lemon juice, nuts, bread crumbs, and cinnamon.

Then it was rolled together and brushed with egg whites. Each of the two strudels would serve 40. So it was probably a bit much for a family of two. We had the strudel for our dessert at lunch with some vanilla ice cream and vanilla sauce and it was excellent.

As we sailed up the Danube, we came to an inauspicious bridge and at that point, we left Austria behind and entered into Germany.

The first town one comes to in Germany is Passau. After docking and putting on every bit of clothing we brought, carrying an umbrella just in case it warmed up, and packing our cameras and our private receivers for hearing the guide, we set out looking like a flock of Michelin men or perhaps like drunken Frosties bumping down the street.

I did not bring any gloves. My hands have been freezing. Today, I had a fetching pair of black and white striped socks on my hands which went really well with my lovely black raincoat. I was warmed by the quilted vest and the black jacket donned over the white jacket which looked lovely with my shirt. I felt like Ralphie’s little brother from A Christmas Story.

We walked around Passau and the Ober Castle on the other side of the river was pointed out to us. It was the home of the local bishop who was also the secular ruler of the area. Built in 1499 it was quite a large fortress as well as ritzy place for the bishop to live.

As time moved on and the town became even more prosperous, the bishop needed some city digs as well as he house on the hill. So he built another home here in the town on the other side of the river. And because it was later in time, it had to be bigger and better than the other house. Today, the block long, three story mansion is used as an office complex, museum, and some government offices.

In front of it was placed a beautiful fountain with three angles included. One of the angles wears a Tyrolean hat, one has a oyster shell with a pearl, and the third holds some wheat. Passau is founded on a peninsula formed by the confluence of three rivers. One is the Danube which is the source of the moving wheat of the bread basket region here. The second is the Inn which has its headwaters in the Alps. The third is the Ilz which actually has fresh water pearls still available to the lucky diver.

Connected via an arch and allowing the bishop to move from his residence to his church was a bridge connecting the palace to the cathedral. This is the first St. Stephan’s Cathedral and the upstart Vienna would later name their cathedral after the same saint paying homage to this older cathedral here in Passau.

The city itself is quite old, dating back to Roman times. However, there are certain things that have haunted the city, also since Roman times. The three rivers flow together here and when there is lots of snow melting or lots of rains falling, the region floods. It seems one of the past times here to record the high water marks when the river crests in bad years.

The last bad flood came in 2002. Several of the other high water marks are recorded. When it floods, people move to a higher floor and wait it out. The buildings are made of stone and can withstand the flooding. After the waters recede, they repaint and all is well until the next time.

However, another problem is fire and the whole town burned down and was rebuilt in a baroque style. I wish I could tell you when the fire was, but I don’t know. I looked it up because even though I am currently in the middle of nowhere, I have internet access. The fire was in 1662. The town called in architects from Italy who came to help rebuild and it is due to this Italianate style along with the location of the various waterways that the city is sometimes called the Venice of the Danube.

The St. Stephan Cathedral here houses the largest pipe organ in Europe. There are 17,774 pipes and the organ has been played by Mozart. There is only one larger pipe organ and that is the Mormon’s at Salt Lake City and the Tabernacle Church there. The cathedral was filled with frescos and paintings and carvings and statues and just everywhere you looked there was more beautiful stuff.

The outside of the cathedral had discolored with time and is being restored to its pristine white which research has shown was the original color of the outside walls. The bishop’s house was white with blue detailing.

After our tour of the cathedral, Dick and I backtracked and went to the glass museum. Some person who has personally collected approximately 17billion pieces of glass created this museum to share his collection. We took an elevator to the fourth floor and wound our way down to street level and through over 35 rooms of various glass items.

There were rooms or shelves filled with this type of glass or that era of glass and there were wonderful labels and signs telling us what was in the cases. Unfortunately, it was all in German and we weren’t really literate. There were beautiful things to be sure and they were gathered together in some logical way, but we don’t really know what that was.

There were glass pieces of every imaginable color and painted and etched in any combination possible. It was all beautiful but because there was so much, it became first overwhelming and finally when our senses were sated, just boring. It probably would have been more interesting if there was some way we could have known what we were looking at. But we were nitwits speaking only English and so we under-appreciated the entire museum. However, we still had enough sense to know that there were beautiful pieces included even if we didn’t know exactly what they were.

I started itching yesterday and thought perhaps my skin was dry from so much cold. Today, the itching was so back, I scratched myself until I was bleeding. It was at this point that I remembered being allergic to the detergent used in hospital sheets. I went and talked to the hotel manager, Eva, who said she would have my sheets rinsed and hopefully that will make the itching stop.

I was also told where to buy an anti-itch cream. Off we went in search of Fenistil and was able to purchase something that made the itching less.

When we returned to the ship there was a local woman giving a talk to those who were interested about current life in Germany. She was a local teacher and we missed the beginning of her talk but the part we heard was really interesting. Their educational system allows for the fact that not everyone is college material. They have a fast track to college and then they have a regular educational course and they also have a track for kids who are apprenticed in hundreds of different occupations. When they finish their studies, they are ready to go out and practice a trade.

Since this is our first day in Bavaria, we had a Bavarian dinner tonight with lots of traditional food. After dinner, there was polka dancing in the lounge as we continued to sail onward to our next destination.

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