Day 8 – Auf weidersehen Deutschland

I arrived tired, cold and late to Deggendorf last night, and had difficulty finding accommodation. I could see no redeeming features of this neck of the woods. This morning, however, with a good night’s sleep I almost thought this was a nice place to be. Amazing how your mood is transposed onto where you are. But I soon got over my feelings of goodwill towards Deggendorf and headed out of town.

The morning’s cycle took me through more good agricultural land. I had hoped to spend some time looking around the Seebach Meer, some lake near the Danube, but there was a detour which took me away from there.

At one stage as I cycled I got a distinct smell of chamomile in the air; then when I turned a corner, ahead of me was a few acres of chamomile planted. This intrigued me- was this planted as a cash crop, or for some other reason? A short time later I think I got my answer, as I came across land that was specially managed for breeding skylark, lapwing and grey partridge. A couple of acres of creeping thisle and other wild flowers- the sign said this land wasn’t cut from 15th March till 15th July as an agri-environment measure. To my eyes I thought this blast of diversity and colour in a sea of green monoculture was a delight to see; I could just imagine many of my farmer friends from home saying what a waste of good land….

A bit on further up the road, with no visible signs of agri-environmental management I did see a pair of displaying Lapwing. A turtle dove also landed near me- delightful, as it is years since I had seen one.

Arrived in Passau late morning- I know, towns and cities in this part of the world are generally beautiful, but even against this benchmark, Passau wins out. Situated on a peninsula at the confluence of the Danube and the River Inn, with hugely impressive baroque buildings perched on the overlooking hillsides. The old town is a series of beautiful cobbled narrow laneways meandering under medieval archways, before widening out into stunning open squares. And tourism is a significant business here, and the place generally has a kind of hip scene. Bit of a contrast to the rest of Bavaria; whatever words you would use to describe the parts of rural Bavaria I cycled through, hip would not be one of them.

Left Passau along the southern bank of the Danube. From here, the first large tourist boats are visible; you can travel by boat from here right down to the Black Sea but what fun would there be in that?. The valley narrows here with wooded hillsides. A few kilometres outside Passau you arrive at the Austrian border. Leaving Germany gave me a great sense of finally making progress and moving more into the international waters. Apparently the Danube is the most international of all rivers in the world. So crossing the first border is a start.

Once across the Austrian border the river takes on a different character; the river narrows and wooded hillsides framing the view. The cycle trail now follows a road rather than going through farmland, but the surface is great and the view is not too bad either. Stopped for the evening at a very odd looking guesthouse, but the proprietor was friendly, and the beer, food and view were good. What more could a man ask for? Oh, football! I also watched Russia play their opening World Cup match. Bliss!

Covered 100km today – must be getting a bit closer to the sea.