Get Away With Fran

September 19, 2009

Delayed on the Danube

   Mother Nature has caused a little change of plans here in Germany, and it’s due to too much sunshine. The Viking Legend has been cruising the Danube on its way from Budapest to Amsterdam (on the Danube, Main and Rhine) on a two-week Grand Europe voyage. Well, that was the plan. But yesterday the Captain and program manager met with passengers to explain that a stretch of the Danube is experiencing unusually low water levels and the ship may not be able to get through between Regensburg to Nuremberg. The Legend, a brand new river ship, has a draft of 1.59 centimeters. Apparently that’s about .10 centimeters too deep for the current water level. Short of doing a rain dance (it did rain a couple of days ago when we were in Melk, but not enough) there’s not much the crew can do. Passengers were advised they will have to take buses to some destinations (we’ve already had some minor itinerary changes including an overnight near Passau and an unscheduled stop at Vil Sofen, from which passengers were bused to Regensburg for a day of touring the medieval Old City there), and may have to disembark the ship and stay in a hotel for a few nights to continue the journey, though nothing is definite yet. Some passengers among the 180 onboard are vocally complaining, though most seem willing to wait and see what happens next.


Meanwhile, after leaving Vienna, we cruised through the very green Wachau Valley countryside of Austria – there were sheep on some hillsides – and visited the 900-year-old, baroque-style Melk Abbey, which with its 500 rooms occupies a hillside and still has monks and a parochial school too. Our tour included a glimpse at medieval manuscripts in the abbey’s amazing library (you can imagine writer Dan Brown doing research here).


The abbey also has an impressively modern museum outlining its history and of course a beautiful chapel.


Friday, we visited the cobblestone streets of the lovely university town of Passau, Germany, also known as the City of Three Rivers for its location on the Danube, Ils and Inn rivers. The cathedral in Passau boasts the largest church organ in the world – some of the pipes are 30 feet tall, others less than 3 inches – and we were treated to a noontime concert, the bass notes so deep you could feel them in your chest (one song reminded me of the type of music you might here in a Frankenstein movie, deep and spooky).  


The Town Hall boasts a depiction of the Danube as a very buxom woman. But whether she can help make the water levels rise remains to be seen.

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