Thursday was our first German train journey, which meant our fifth different train system to negotiate, but everything really depends more on the quality of the rolling stock itself than the country. To get bikes on and off was definitely a two-person job on the first leg of our trip from Lindau to Passau (Lindau to Munich), since there were three steps onto a very high carriage.
There was space for up to 10 bikes on this carriage and we didn’t have to lift the bikes onto hooks for a change, just hook a strap around them. Still, we had to unload the bikes and put the panniers on the train separately because of the steps, and then reload to make the transfer to the next train, which was from Munich to Passau. Getting each bike on and off the trains was a two-person job. We were thrilled when we changed trains in Munich to find that our second train enabled us to roll the bikes on fully loaded. However, we were way bummed when we reached Passau to find that there was no easy way to get the bikes off the platform to the station exit without unloading them. There seemed to be a little channel next to the stairs to roll them up and down, but with a loaded bike it was next to impossible to control them. Mine came off the rails but thankfully I was able to maintain control of it so it didn’t go flying into the people coming up the stairs as I was going down. Passau is a key spot on the very popular Danube trail, so you’d think the station would be more accommodating for cyclists.
Our introduction to Passau was unimpressive as we entered from the station. It looked like a neglected modern downtown, and Angie noted later that it’s probably much like Calais, since it’s kind of between Germany, Austria, and the former Eastern bloc, so people probably are seeing it as a gateway west.
We were staying in a place called Rotel, which is something we will be ok not to experience again. It’s kind of a low end but a step up from a hostel. It was a very tiny room with no bathroom, just wide enough for a bed. There was no wifi in the rooms, only in a very large common area, which was not exactly welcoming. There are several bathrooms across the hall and if they are available there is a green light above the door, and if they are not (when you lock yourself in) there is a red light. Breakfast is included but it’s a standard continental so protein barely present other than cheese and meats, though we were pleasantly surprised that there was yoghurt. On the upside, it was moments from the station and walking distance to anywhere we wanted to see in town.
We wandered around part of the city, including the pedestrian shopping area and “old city,” which is similar or many of the old cities we’ve visited on this trip. We had enough time to walk quite a bit, and happened upon the rather spectacular St. Stephen’s Cathedral. It apparently has the world’s largest pipe organ as well as some pretty amazing baroque architecture and decoration (that word seems inadequate). Even the pulpit blew me away with how ornate it was.
We also found our way to the confluence of the Danube (Donau locally), Ilz, and Inn rivers which is also the site (go figure) of the city’s castle. When we saw it, we were quite relieved to have found the local hostel to have been fully booked, since that is where it is located!
We finished the day up with a good dinner after a rather fruitless effort to find somewhere to eat in the old city. The few places that were open were serving food mainly of the porcine variety, so of little or no value to us. We speculated that most of the business done in that part of town is based on river cruise clientele, and they leave in the evening and eat on the ships, so places close. In the pedestrian area, however, it’s likely that the locals and the bike tourists hang around more, and there were more offerings here, and more places that were open. We had noticed an Asian place on our first pass through the area, and had been attracted by their options and bemused by their branding. It was called SensAsian and their tag line was “You’ll never wok alone.” We ended up back there and had a highly satisfying meal, sharing a tofu noodle dish and a duck dish, both of which came with plenty of vegetables. We were happy women and didn’t even need to have gelato after dinner!
A few words about biking, as we were off the bikes this day.
I’m still slow, and slow to get going every day, but I’ve been doing a bit better about getting up some of the hills than I was when we started. I still walk up and down (less down, since my bike handling has improved I think, and I have disc brakes) when I feel the need or when I just feel totally cooked. It’s still hard, especially on my calves, but it’s better than falling over because I’ve ground to a halt. Angie hardly ever walks because she is so much stronger, and also because her two extra panniers do make the bike harder to push. At the beginning of the trip I wasn’t carrying anything other than then handlebar bag and my two panniers, but I am trying to at least put some stuff on my rack to help share the load. I am even catching Angie on some hills, but I think that’s because she’s hauling more weight up the hill. I definitely ride better when I am adequately fueled, but eating at the right times can be hard on a bike trip like this. It’s hard to know when you might luck upon a good stopping point, and don’t even think about finding a bathroom at such a place. I have to admit there have been more facilities on the Danube trail than there were in on the Rhine-Rhone Canal trail, but that’s probably because there are more tourists in general in places like Konstanz and some of the other places we’ve been through.