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Published: December 11th 2016
I'm so behind on my blogs. Going somewhere new every day is exhausting, and it's all we can do to get all the pictures into the computer before falling into bed. Today is our final day in Europe; going home tomorrow, but I am only posting pics from our third cruising day. Plus, if you have ever been on a cruise before, you know that the meals are elaborate affairs, with multiple courses, and so take up a lot of time too. I think we have both gained at least 10 pounds. Sheesh!
Passau is situated at the meeting of three rivers: the Inn, the Danube, and the Ilz, and is at the very edge of Germany where it borders Austria. The history here is mind boggling. They know that in the year 739 an English Celtic monk founded the diocese of Passau here, which was the largest of the Holy Roman Empire for many years. There were others here before that, but it seems the record keeping was a bit murky so they don't know the years for sure. This is where the Celtic tribes made war on each other for the right to call more land their own.
Think Game of Thrones setting. Well, this is where that really happened!
Passau was known as the centre for the salt trade. They called it "white gold", and no wonder. Think about what your food would taste like with no salt at all. Plus, salt helps to cure meat and keep bacteria from growing and so allowed them to store meat longer than without being cured. Salt was mined in Alpine salt mines, and transported to Passau, where it was processed and sold. They had a powerful monopoly until 1707, when all salt imports to Passau were forbidden and the city lost its valuable trade.
During the Renaissance, Passau became famous for making high quality steel for knife and sword blades. Local smiths stamped their blades with the Passau wolf, and superstitious warriors believed the wolf made them invincible.
The city was ravished by fire in the 17th century, and was rebuilt to reflect the baroque character that survives today. St. Stephen's cathedral is a major landmark, and has the largest pipe organ outside of the United Sates. The inside of the church is so full of carvings and paintings and murals...it's just so beautiful. Have a
look at the pictures. I have no words to describe how detailed this church is. I've never seen anything like it.
We enjoyed a 2 hour walking tour with the rest of the people from our boat. We even got a gingerbread making demonstration at one place that has been making gingerbread using the same recipe for ....... I forget how many years ... a really long time. Then we browsed through their Christmas market. Everything is outdoors there, and people just seem to be used to it. I had to laugh at one of the outdoor coffee houses. They had put warm fuzzy blankets and pillows on their chairs to try to entice people to sit down and have a coffee. But, it didn't look like they were having much luck when we were there. It was a grey, cloudy, misty and cold day. We were bundled up, but still got cold. So, we went back to the ship for the afternoon, and got some much needed rest.
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