8.06.2014

Passau-Wien By Bike - Part 2: Passau

Where Donau and Inn meet
Fog, or mist. Or low clouds. Humidity saturating the air, floating on the river. Heaviness in the bones from a long travel by train and too long sleeping. There was no room on the night train so we have left Florence early in the morning on a fast train to Verona - memories of a Giro d'Italia, all Team Liquigas wearing a pink strip on their jerseys... -  then the long trip to Munich - cyclists standing on the platform by their bikes - finally the train for Passau - fields and fields of solar panels, country cottages. The sky, still gray. The hotel, big and decandent. Functionalism from the 50ies. The rain out the window. 
The two rivers' water has a different colour
The morning has started slowly with a lazy break-fast and a random walk, our backpack on our shoulders. But at the playground we couldn't resist and I agree that we were a funny show, mother and son alternately jumping up and down on that kind of pole, our helmets hunging on our backpacks... The sun came out eventually but it was still cold. We have sat down by the river reading our books - Alice Munro for me, "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger for my son, in the summer homework list - and eaten our lunch - bread and bananas from the hotel's generous break-fast. A good coffee and a good cake by a cozy local at the pedestrian bridge and we were ready to explore.
The center of Passau
Now I'm looking to the different colour of the water in the point where the two rivers meet: the Inn's water is paler, almost white, rich or mineral salts and probably colder while the Donau's water is warmer and green. There is another river in Passau, the Ilz, almost a swamp, small and slow, impenetrablely green of vegetals and mud. Passau is called indeaDreiflüssestadt: The Three Rivers City. But the Ilz dies very young, indolently accepts to lose itself in the larger Donau on the promise of a long travel till the Caspian Sea. 
We are not going to ride so far: we go to Wien, where the East begins, where the Turkish invasions brought  Europe the coffee and Austria made an art of it. Trinkengarten and dehors cafés, newspapers, cup in the hand and the word on the tongue. 
Marks on the wall for the many floods
These big boats slowly bring tourists to Wien and to Budapest, rarely further. For centuries these barges have brought goods across the boarders of the many and many countries living on the river and they still do. We watch in silence thinking of fantastic places. They are all Europe now and that's a hug step after so many wars. News from Israel's bombing on Gaza's schools and hospitals seem a rebuke.
In a few hours we'll meet our group and get our bikes for the next six days. The sun is out, it's finally hot. We cross the center admiring the Bishop's Castel, high up the hill, and the elaborated clock atop the Cathedral's tower. It's pipe organ is told to be the biggest in the world. We can hear the music of the midday daily concert: majestic, cheerful, a bit mechanical. 
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MORE TO COME

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