Jewish Danube day 1: Tel Aviv to Munich and on to Passau - 1 September 2015

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September 1st 2015
Published: December 29th 2015
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We thought that we would begin our Danube cruise (officially due to start on Tuesday 1st September) with a comfortable night at the airport. After all with a 6am flight we wouldn’t get much sleep. However, that didn’t quite work out as planned.

The idea was that we would leave home for Ben Gurion airport after our bridge game, at about 11.30 pm. Plan number 1 thwarted and at 1.45 we got to the airport and made straight for the lounge. Bucket seats are not exactly made for sleeping so we didn’t get any sleep.

At 6am we flew to Munich on the first stage of our journey. Our cruise was organised by Kosher Cruises and the cruise director was Rabbi Stewart Weiss, a popular figure here in Ra’anana. As the name of the cruise company implies this was a kosher cruise and at Munich airport we met some of our fellow cruisers and waited for our transfer to Passau where we met the boat. One of the other couples travelling with us are the parents-in-law of someone who used to come to our house when we lived in Staines England – Michael Fluss. He often led the services at Staines Synagogue. We invented a new verb: to fluss. This meant to cut the challah so thin you could see through it! Somehow he always cut a complete slice, paper thin.

The baggage arrived very quickly and we walked to the meeting point. Munich airport was spotlessly clean. I was particularly fascinated by the electronic roller towels which instead of paper had real linen. The towel was activated by waving at the magic eye and then as soon as the pressure was relieved from the towel the dirty towel magically rewound itself round the back of the roller and was hidden from sight.

We were supposed to leave for Passau at 1pm but either our guide was late or our information was wrong and about 2pm we loaded up the bus and the adventures began. We hadn’t even got started when it was thought that a hand bag had gone missing. The owner went back to the lost and found to see if it had been handed in. It hadn’t. Prepared to forgo this bag the owner came back onto the bus only to find that it was sitting where it had been left - reserving the bus seats.

Then we had a roll call and found one of our passengers was missing. He hadn’t called to say that he wasn’t coming and as it was 2:30 pm and we had a sailing schedule to observe we set off. Several kilometres down the road the coach driver, Günter, did a U turn as our missing passenger had turned up at the airport.

Finally we were off. En route we passed field and fields of wheat and solar panels and a huge BMW factory. The landscape changed and to our right the flat fields gave way to the valley dropping down to the Danube (which is definitely not blue).

The town of Passau Germany is home to three rivers and downtown is where the riverboats are generally moored. We were travelling on the Mozart which was too big to be moored downtown and so we had to go further downstream. We passed the chocolate box buildings of the cathedral and the town hall.

The Mozart is a very smart, big riverboat. We were met by the remainder of the group who had been in Prague for the weekend. A very nice tea was awaiting us but we appreciated more our room's minuscule shower which was very welcome after 16 hours of travelling.

At exactly 5 pm the boat set sail. We had the usual boat drill. The meeting point was up on the top deck. There were no life jackets in our rooms as we are used to on a sea cruise. We were told that we shouldn’t worry too much because the deepest depth of the Danube is 6 meters and the height of the boat to the top deck is 11 meters. We went through the first of many locks which was great fun. Unlike the English Broads we didn’t have to get out to operate the locks ourselves. Once through we found ourselves in Austria. The scenery was very beautiful – green and hilly with lots of forests on the mountains.

After a wonderful dinner, catered by Malcolm Green, it was time for bed. After being up for 48 hours we were wiped. We weren’t in the mood to start socialising – so for dinner we found a nice little table for two!



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