March 23-24: Prolog
After moving the Prius into the garage, turning off the house water supply and shutting down all unnecessary electrical sockets, we forgot to turn off the house Wifi system and also forgot to move the Miata into the driveway. Partly we were hurried because we had to put all the plants and seedlings outdoors the morning we left as the temperature had dropped to 23 degrees the night before, which was a hard frost. Plus, the taxi arrived fifteen minutes earlier than requested, which I would ordinarily count as a good thing, but in this case we were so squeezed for time that we forgot those final two tasks!
But the taxi was a clean, comfortable Lincoln Town Car with a very smooth driver, so we had a comfortable ride to Dulles airport. Unfortunately, Delta does most of its overseas flights from its hub in Atlanta, so we first had to fly southwest to Atlanta for over an hour, and then had to fly nonstop from Atlanta to Munich, Germany, coming right back past Washington on our route. The end result was 9 solid hours in the airplane, and missing most of a night's sleep, so we were pretty tired and groggy when we arrived in Munich.
Fortunately, the Viking cruise line folks had arranged for a greeter at the terminal gate who assembled us for the next shuttle bus over to our cruise ship, the "Tor", which was docked in Passau, Germany.
The drive through that corner of Germany was rather fun as we saw the typical German bucolic countryside, which was familiar and rather comforting for me. But we also saw one of the last remaining atomic power plants in Germany. Later on German TV, we saw the first formal de-comissioning of an old German atomic power plant, and the program mentioned that all their nuclear powerplants were scheduled to be de-commissioned by 2023. It is curious that the German Green Party has swung German public opinion so against nuclear power, whereas just next door in France the public opinion is still decidedly pro-nuclear and there is no thought whatsoever of closing down their nuclear powerplants. (When I saw an anti-nuclear protest in France, I learned that they had bussed in anti-nuclear protesters from Germany in order to swell their numbers for the protest!)
The Tor crew members organized the transfer of our luggage to our room, so we could relax and immediately head to the small buffet in the bow of the ship for a midday meal, which is important in trying to reset our biorhythms to a 5 hour earlier time zone. Bob rested a bit with a short nap, while Monika, who does not do naps, investigated a Lidl store (a fierce competitor to Aldi in Germany) across from where we were docked, and then she walked back to the Tor along the riverbank.
We were docked a bit downstream from the city of Passau, so we had to take a shuttle bus over to the center of Passau, where we had a brief introductory walk around the New Town area (only 200 years old!), which helped keep us awake despite being desperately tired.
The buildings along the narrow, cobblestone streets were quite pretty, many of them decorated in the Baroque style, and painted in pastel colors somewhat reminiscent of the "Tidy Towns" of rural Ireland.
After our tour ended we walked back to St Paul Church to look at its interior decorations, which were really quite nice.
But all at once, we hit a wave of fatigue, probably due to jet lag and a lack of sleep. So we hopped on the next shuttle bus to get back to the Tor. There we found our luggage in our stateroom and slowly and carefully unpacked. We still had time to take a shower before dinner, for which we were profoundly grateful after a solid day and a night of traveling. Having dinner with Lois, Beth, Linda, Jerry, Rob and Debbie perked us up for a bit, but after dinner we quickly became very fatigued and finally turned in for the night shortly after 9 pm.
|Map of the Donau Cruise||Map of Hamburg to Haffkrug||Map of the Elbe Bike Ride|