we had a three day weekend thanks to czech national day! three day weekends are just made for trips. so we went to bavaria to a lovely little city on the SE german/austrian border called passau.
passau is a small city in south-eastern bavaria (at approx 50,000 it has only half the population of ceske budejovice) and is only a four hour train ride away, with a change in linz, austria. (a great reminder of why living in europe is so wonderful and always exciting: getting anywhere in a short amount of time!)
i wanted to go to passau because during my prior travels in germany (which are admittedly quite extensive for an american), i have never been to south east bavaria before. and alex, only having been to berlin twice really had no taste for what germany is like. bavaria couldn’t be more different than berlin, as it is so much more german and proud: lederhosen, those funny green hats, dirndl kleidung, pretzels, steins of beer: it’s something different for sure. passau also has been often recommended by locals. even in our flat we have two different pieces of “made in passau” souvenir glass or ceramic-ware.
immediately upon arrival, i realized i had judged passau much too quickly. it is much more beautiful and grand than i had thought prior. the color of the rivers is breathtaking! i had seen the danube before in vienna and linz but never in the splendor that is on showcase in passau. and the amount of winding cobblestone streets in the city center that lead to adorable cafes and shops is quite great. why have i never heard about this beautiful bavarian town before? why are its only visitors primarily other germans and cruise ship daytrippers? the people are friendly and i actually spotted at least three people casually wearing traditional clothing and an old man with the funny dark green forest hat.
because the weather was absolutely gorgeous– an “indian summer” as locals are calling it– people flooded the promenades and shopping streets of the city and the energy was, in the words of our TEFL friend albertino, palpable.
i had no real agenda in passau besides really just living the good life. go out for coffees, lunches, take in the sights and energy of the city, and of course, visit the very point in which the three rivers converge. we also took a 45 minute river cruise (worth it!) and ate at the altes brauhaus, brewing beer in passau since the 16th century. i wanted my bavarian beer! so what if we live in czech republic? the dunkel in bavaria is delicious.
other great thing to do: climb up giant german stairs to the top of the hill on the northern side of the city to the veste oberhaus– fortress with excellent views of the city.
our pension was situated in a calm and serene area of the city called the innstadt that you must take a footbridge across the river to access. it was a large spacious room with an attached balcony that looked over a rushing stream and some nice bavarian backyard scenery…. perfect for a relaxation holiday. if i wanted more of a city break, i would’ve been happier staying in the city center, but this was perfect.
passau, also known as the Dreiflussstadt or three-river city (made up of the inn, the ilz, and the danube) is the only one of its kind in europe, i do believe. because of this, it was one of the most heavily flooded cities in the central european flooding of june 2013. with all this water around, you can imagine how much damage a bit of flooding can do to a city like this. below, a plaque in the innstadt showing how high the water (hochwasser) got this year… answer: way above my head.
a note on practicing german: i was quite looking forward to a venture into germany to practice my german. this happened, and then didn’t happen all at the same time. i was relieved all the times that people switched into english on me, to be honest, but i was prepared to say everything in german. i did happen to have a lovely +10 min conversation with a very friendly and kind vietnamese shopkeeper who has been living in passau for 25 years. somehow, speaking german with someone who also is not a native speaker put me at ease. but near the end of the conversation i was really straining to catch everything he was telling me… this after our visit to the brewery, so i’ll cut myself a little slack.
but later, i was totally successful when i had to explain something about my czech rail ticket to a german ticket-checker aboard an ICE train who acted like he’d never seen anything like that czech ticket before. little steps forward, little steps back… i definitely don’t think i’m a B1 speaker like i thought i was before, however when i’m not as nervous i do think i can achieve that level.
one thing that germany does so well that i wish CZ would pick up on is delicious (and late-night) fast food. their “noodle boxes” and döner kebab joints are top notch. the most common fast food here in czechland is greasy looking burgers containing something that sort of resembles beef but has the wrong consistency. CZ needs to get on these noodle joints!
but now, a few more photos. here are a few of the dreiflusseck, or point where all three rivers meet that also functions as a nice city park…
(note, all photos were taken with my phone. camera unexpectedly still out of commission from swedish kayaking incident)
and my favorite…