Easy Peasy Passau

Our Grand Circle Danube Tour was specifically designed to be ‘easy peasy’ (to quote our tour guides)  for those who don’t want to walk very far or risk getting lost.  If you don’t mind walking and perhaps getting  a bit lost, you can go off the beaten path and find even more interesting sites.  With previous Rhine tours Aldo and I have had more time at each site to be somewhat adventurous.  However, as I age, my tolerance for getting lost in a foreign country where I don’t speak the language has plummeted and is rapidly approaching zero.  I am pretty much completely dependent on Aldo for getting me back to the boat.  The bad news for him is that I am a definite back-seat walker and my opinions tend to be stronger the wronger I am—rhyme intended.  The plan for the day is posted on the white board and handed out the night before in everyone’s room.  Walking into Passau was fairly easy in that we just headed away from the water and would eventually find the Christmas Market, the bad news is that the streets never seemed to continue in the direction that you are headed resulting in much zig-zagging.  I don’t remember where this photo was taken, but this particular city had amazing Christmas lights on many of the buildings.  The whole trip was fantastic, we loved the company of friends and family, enjoyed the Christmas markets immensely and saw some wonderful sites in Austria and Germany.  At the end, the river became too high to get under a low bridge and we had to take a bus to our last two cities (Regensberg and Nuremberg).  The Grand Circle folks were gracious about coming up with a very nice, easy peasy, plan B so we ended on a high note at the purportedly largest and most beautiful Christmas Market in the world in Nuremberg.

Welcome to the Wessel

The worst part of the Christmas market cruise on the Danube was sitting through the safety speech our first day on board.  Most of the info was common sense which didn’t inspire a huge amount of confidence and the cliff notes version would have been preferable given that for most passengers, the hours spent at airports and traveling that day ranged from about 12-24 hours.  Don’t slip on the ice, do not light candles in your tiny little rooms and be careful when standing on the upper deck while going under very low bridges, if you fall in, swim to shore.  We did have fun later though imitating (poorly) the Belgium accent of our head safety officer.  His word for the ship was wessel (vessel).  Later that day when I pinched Aldo for some unnecessary comment he directed at me, he quickly responded with “why so wiolent on the wessel”?  After recovering from our jet lag, we settled into a routine of sorts.  Vienna was wonderful.  We had been to the Rathaus (great name for a City Hall in my opinion), once before in the summer, but it was amazing to see it lit up for Christmas.  The snow was an added treat since previous Christmas Markets in Europe have been largely snow free.  My favorite decorations in Vienna were the heart shaped lights in a giant leafless tree, beautiful contrast.  Overall, the trip was fabulous.  Meals on the boat were wonderful and Christmas market food from crepes, to cheesey bread to potato hashbrowns/pancakes to mulled wine (gluhewein) to warm eggnog was outstanding.  Lots of wonderful sites to see and a fabulous crew on the wessel.