Issue 37

November 2010

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German Groups’ Holiday

On Friday Sept. 10th  18 members of the German groups flew to Prague and bussed it to Passau on the Danube on a six day holiday.

Passau was an ancient Roman colony and is situated near the Austrian border. St. Severinus established a monastery in 739 AD and an Irish monk named Boniface founded the diocese of Passau, the largest diocese of the Holy Roman Empire at the time.

During the renaissance and early modern period Passau was famous for its sword and weapon manufacture only second to Solingen. The symbol of a wolf on each weapon was to make the bearer invulnerable, so the legend goes.

Tourism focuses on the three river confluence of the Inn from the South, the Iltz from the Bavarian Forest and the Danube from the Black Forest. It is a magnificent sight!

Passau is a small city with just over 50,000 inhabitants of whom 10,000 are students of economics, law, theology, computer sciences and cultural sciences.

St. Stephen's Dom is a main attraction with the second largest church organ in the world with nearly 18,000 pipes and 233 registers. We attended a short noon time concert and experienced the full force of this instrument, which nearly blew our socks off, as well as fortissimo, in splendid acoustics. This magnificent cathedral was built by Carlo Lugano and its interior is in true Italian Baroque style.

The Veste Oberhaus built in 1219 by the Prince Bishops controlled the commerce across the rivers and was a stronghold against the Austrians.

An outing on a large ship to Linz, Austria on a sunny day, was definitely a highlight, passing three lochs (of which one was 15 meters deep) and pretty villages and towns nestled into undulating hills along the sides. There is even a cycle way all the way to Vienna along the Danube.

Linz is the Cultural City of Austria. On the Schlossberghill you can still find traces of the Roman age while the old town centre boasts elegant courtyards and baroque churches as well as classical facades and modern buildings.

A day's outing by train to the Chiemsee near Munich to the Fraueninsel was very special indeed  and is famous for its Benedictine Convent dating back to the 8th century.

A beautiful 16th cent. Roman Catholic chapel invites you to silent prayer and contemplation. It has the most magnificent cross with Christ carved in nearby Oberammergau. Nuns remind you of the importance of introspection and prayer. This two km island exudes a special atmosphere of serenity. Wonderful wall paintings were discovered there.

Regensburg was yet another destination and famous not only as a Unesco World Heritage Centre but also for its art, culture and commerce. The Palace of the Princes of Turn and Taxis is a magnificent sight and has more rooms than Buckingham Palace..."Must sees" are the Benedictine Monastery of Emmeram, Steinerne Bruecke, New and Old Town Hall,Schottenportal, Cathedral of St. Peter and the Old Chapel.

Sadly this Gothic Cathedral was very dark and all windows covered with stained glass, There was a purification process in the 19th cent. which removed most of the statues and paintings resulting in the plain church it is today. It is famous for its "Regensburger Domspatzen" a group of choristers who travel all over and  rival the "Wiener Saengerknaben".

Everyone made an effort to speak German and we all returned home enriched by German and Austrian culture and the taste of numerous excellent cakes and Torten offered in so many cafes.

Siggie Mattison