Bucolic lanes and a hellish highway

Tessa here:

Wednesday June 5th

We have an early breakfast along with numerous businessmen dressed in what appears to be a de rigueur uniform of jeans and and open neck shirts. Only the Asian men are wearing suits. There are many international corporations based in Regensburg most connected with the auto industry as well as a burgeoning hi-tech hub. The first Amazon distribution center in Europe is here. It’s a relief to get back beside the Danube. We stop at a small cafe to buy water and the elderly owner is so delighted to have customers that he joins us. He is even more delighted to notice that David has had a knee operation as he has had two, the last one still causing trouble; in broken English he says his prosthetic is British.

New knees

We leave the river and bike endless kilomètres across open farmland. By midday it is really hot, the forecast predicted temperatures over 90F, so it is with relief in a village we see a small tent-like pavilion in a garden with a sign reading “Fahrrad Oasis” (Bike Oasis). A pleasant lady serves us two much needed bottles of water and a cup of soup each … she must do good business with cyclists and indeed as we leave a large group arrives. Thunderclouds are piling up over the distant hills and I hope that we do not have to cycle in a storm. My tour organizer husband has told me that we are overnighting in a lovely hotel in the country. What he didn’t mention (and didn’t know) was that to reach it we have to cycle along a really busy highway with large trucks whistling by a few inches from my bike. I dismount and push my bike along a narrow grass verge for several kilometers swearing loudly. David has vanished up the road and I manage to run across the dreadful highway onto a lane that I hope leads to the hotel. It does but the “country” hotel is on the same highway I left, and it is near a factory that employs 2000 people making auto parts … I am not exactly happy. Luckily the manager dissipates some of my fury. He is young, very helpful and very proud of his hotel. He apprenticed in hotel management in Regensburg at the same hotel/beer garden we ate at the previous evening. He worked on cruise ships for a while and learnt several languages before returning to manage this hotel in his home village. I ask if he can find us a route that does not involve a hellish highway back to the Danube and to Deggendorf where we will catch a river boat to Passau tomorrow. Later he knocks on the door with a map of a route that takes country roads to rejoin the bike path.

Thursday June 6th

The manager’s route is wonderful … it passes immaculate farms, no junky ploughs and tractors laying around the farmyards here, and neatly cut verges. David had originally calculated 40 kilometers to Deggendorf but thankfully it is only 22 and we are soon at the outskirts of town. Unfortunately between us and the dock is a 2 km path of large loose gravel. Understandably leery of gravel I dismount much to David’s dismay. “Hurry up or we’ll miss the boat!” He shouts. We don’t of course and board along with a hundred 80 year old widows or at least I assume they are widows as there a few men.

Cruising to Passau

Initially there’s little traffic on the river but then we start passing mostly Belgian flagged barges pushing their way against the current. Outside Passau we slow and stop. The lock is catering to upriver traffic. In fact it is catering to one craft; an incredibly long floating river hotel flying a Swiss flag. It resembles a crocodile.

Lock closed
Lock opening

Soon we head into the lock along with two barges and 40 minutes later we are opposite the town and disembarking. Three rivers meet in Passau. The “blue” Danube and the “black” Inn (both definitely muddy green at the moment), and the smaller Ilz. Its a pretty town, the last before Austria, that was rebuilt by master Italian architects after a devastating fire in the 17th century and it has a light and frothy Italian look.

Pigeons at Residenz Square
Saint-Stephan’s cathedral, Passau

Later we walk across the Inn on our way to dinner. The river is racing under the bridge; it more than doubles the water volume of the Danube.

Bridge over the Inn

After an excellent dinner outdoors with a fine view of Passau we head back thankful for hotel umbrellas as large thunderstorm drops of rain are starting to fall.

Passau cheesecake

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