Tuesday, 1st October 2019
I had left Munich on the 13:24 regional train to Passau. Arriving 30 minutes late at 16:10 I found my hotel and checked in. As is usual for me, I wasted no time before I was out and about.
My aim was to walk down to the banks of the Danube and have a look to see where my group’s cruise ship was moored. Having looked in the guide book I spotted that the key place to visit was St Stephen’s Cathedral.
With 17,774 pipes and 233 registers, the organ at St. Stephen’s was long held to be the largest church pipe organ in the world and is today second in size only to an organ in Los Angeles which was expanded in 1994.
By the cathedral is a large square (Domplatz) with the Lamberg-Palais.
Up on the hill over looking Passau is Veste Oberhaus, a fortress that was founded in 1219 which was the stronghold of the Bishop of Passau.
I couldn’t find the river cruise. It was at this point that I received a text to say that because the water levels in the Danube were so low is had moored south of Passau and I would need to get a taxi there in the morning.
Wednesday, 2nd October 2019
Up early and a taxi up river to the cruise boat. The luggage was already outside and the coaches there waiting when I arrived.
Having loaded the group onto our coach we transferred to Passau railway station. Our 09:34 train was on time and again on time arriving four hours later in Frankfurt. After changing platforms we caught our 14:29 train to Köln.
Arriving 20 minutes late in Köln we went looking for our coach, that would take us through to or hotel. There were two groups from GRJ that had arrived in Köln on the same train, but only one coach had arrived for the two groups, that was unfortunately too small for both groups.
I stayed at the station with some of my group while the rest left with the other group for the hotel. Twenty minutes later a second coach arrived and delivered us to the hotel.
The hotel in Köln is located about a 25 minute walk from the centre of the city which is more quickly accessed by the use of the underground or tram. As a consequence I arranged with my group that I would be in the hotel reception at 17:00 so that they could travel with me in to the centre of the city so that they could visit the cathedral [see feature photo at the top of this blog].
I had a special reason for going into Köln. I needed to visit the railway station lost property. On the way to the Danube river cruise, the previous week, one of the tours had had a very quick, frantic change of trains at Köln, and as a result, the Tour Manager’s bag had been left on the platform. I had volunteered to recover it on my way back to the UK since I was travelling through Köln. Costing me an admin fee of €5 it was a relatively smooth experience recovering the bag.
Thursday, 3rd October 2019
The coach arrived early at the hotel and following a smooth transfer to Köln railway station there was an opportunity to buy snacks for the train.
The 09:43 ICE train from Köln arrived in Brussels Midi at 11:35. One of the great things about travelling GreatRail through Brussels Midi railway station is that there is luggage porterage from the arrival platform through to the departing Eurostar platform.
Once we had handed the luggage over to the porter we walked down and through to Eurostar security and passport control. By the time we had done this it was only a brief wait before we were boarding our train for London.
At 14:05 I said good bye to the group as we split up at St Pancras railway station, after 1,986 miles (3,179km) of train track that we have travelled together.
Great Railway Journeys Tour Map:
Selfie of the day:
- Welsh Highland Railway & Caernarfon
- Ffestiniog Railway & Portmeirion
- Passau and Home [via Köln]
- London to Munich [for Oktoberfest]