This morning we traveled by train from Cesky Krumlov through the Sumava National Park, the largest national park in Czech Republic to Horni Plana. When we arrived. the bikes were ready for us to start our ride through a beautiful forest, far from traffic and villages, except for the occasional logging truck that takes up the entire path. We entered Stozec where the van was waiting with snacks, water and a shot of Eggnog liqueur. At Nove Udoli we rode our bikes into Germany. This unique border crossing was closed in 1945 and reopened some time ago for pedestrians and bicycles only. At the border we saw a replica of the Iron Curtain that was built after WW II to keep the people living in the Soviet Union, under communist region, from escaping to the west.
Once we crossed into Germany the landscape changed drastically to beautiful manicured fields compared to the poor farming villages of the Czech Republic. Bavaria is among Europe’s most beautiful and serene cycling areas. We rode along a gravel bike path for 7 km, then came to a Biergarten where we stopped for lunch prepared by the owner-family. We continued on the gravel bike path after we left the Biergarten for 18 km to Waldkirchen, where we were shuttled to the historic Baroque city of Passau, situated at the confluence of three rivers: the Danube, the Inn and the Ilz. We stayed at the Alstadt Hotel overlooking the romantic Danube River, where we had dinner with the VBT group. Click on thumbnail to view image
Day 2 Loop to Austria
Today we enjoyed a leisurely cycle along the River Inn, the frontier between Germany and Austria. We started by following the German bike path beside the River Inn to the small town of Neuhaus. Where we parked our bikes and went to visit the Vornbach Abbey, it was a monastery of the Benedictines in Neuhaus in Bavaria, Germany, founded in 1094. The interior of the church is unbelievable, Baroque art at its best, and worth the stop. Back on our bikes we crossed the river to the Austrian town of Scharding with its colorful, Baroque-style burgher houses on two town squares. We spent some time exploring this quaint town in the rain and stopped in a sports store to buy Bob some Under Armor pants to keep him warm on our ride back. We were the last to leave Scharding with Petr and rode to the lunch break , a picnic on the river. We arrived back in Passau in the rain and quickly changed to go out and explore the city. Click on thumbnail to view image
Tour of Passau
Passau was first established in 739, and in 1803 Passau became a Bavarian city, after the great fire in 1662 when Italian Baroque masters created a unique baroque city with Italian flair. The most impressing highlights are the St Stephens Cathedral and the fortress “Veste Oberhaus”. We visited the Cathedral first, which almost burnt down in the devastating 1662 town fire, and it was rebuilt by the famous baroque architecture Carlo Lurago, in 1668. Since 730, there have been many churches built on the site of the current Cathedral. Over time, the Passau Cathedral has acquired the largest cathedral organ in the world. The organ currently has 17,774 pipes and 233 registers. The St Stephens Cathedral was similar to the Vornbach Abbey except on steroids, it was quite an impressive work of Baroque art the entire Cathedral.
Then we crossed over the Danube River and climbed up the 300 stairs to the Fortress “Veste Oberhaus” and Museum. The Fortress was built in 1219 by Passau’s Prince-Bishops in order to control commerce across the rivers and to demonstrate their power. We toured the Museum and marveled at the masterpieces of Passau’s armorers, at the magnificent suits of armor worn in the Middle Ages. Passau in the Middle Ages was a flourishing trading town, salt in particular was the main shipment. We spent over an hour experiencing outstanding exhibits documenting history and art history of Passau and its surroundings. Then we took an elevator up to the Observation Point where we had a panoramic view of Passau and the confluence of its three rivers: the Danube, the Inn and the Ilz. It was past 6:00pm, so we stopped in at the Das Oberhaus Restaurant and sat at the bar having an Aperol Spritz and a delicious salad. We got lost trying to find our way down from the Fortress and ended up walking down a cobbled road to the River. We stopped in at the German Restaurant Ratskeller, Lowen Brauhaus Passau, for another meal and then back to the hotel. Passau is a beautiful city and we would love to return to experience it in the sunshine. Click on thumbnail to view image