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Posts Tagged ‘Danube’

My very first visit to Germany was a day trip to Passau, a university town about 1.5 hours from Linz where three rivers—the Danube, Inn, and Ilz—converge. It’s a really lovely town with many pedestrian streets and lots of biergartens (beer gardens), of course. Walking around the town, one had the strange and slightly disorienting feeling of being surrounded by water, since you saw a river almost every time you turned a corner.

View of the Danube in Passau, Germany

There are some interesting historical sights in the town, but I was a little tired of playing tourist after two weeks of doing so. Instead, I went with a group to several beer gardens, including the brewery and attached beer garden of the local beer we drank at lunch. I’m not a big fan of German and Czech beers; I don’t like pilsner and I far prefer Belgian beers in general, but the Austrians and Germans do make a dark version of their wheat beers that is quite good. It’s not a true dark beer, being a dark wheat, and it’s a lot less sweet than any Belgian dark, but it’s definitely worth trying if you spend time in this region.

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We spent our first free afternoon in Linz visiting the Postlingberg Church, located at the top of a hill just outside the city. There is a great panorama view of the city and the Danube winding through it, and it’s definitely worth a visit. I’m even considering going back at night to see the city lights from the hill; this has the potential to be really neat since there are some cool buildings along the river that light up very colorfully at night. The church itself is really beautiful, but frankly every church in Europe is really beautiful and I get a little tired of seeing church after church, so that didn’t excite me very much!

View of the Postlingberg Church spires from the lookout point

This creepy little gnome points the way to a children's ride through a fairy-tale gnome land

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We finally arrived in Linz, where I will be spending about three and a half weeks participating in the Summer Academy in International Commercial Arbitration. Linz is an intriguing city, especially since I have a particular interest in 20th century European history. During my second afternoon here, we went on a tour where we viewed the old rathaus, or city hall, where Adolf Hitler in 1938 announced the anschluss, the annexation of Austria with Germany. Hitler grew up in Linz and apparently held a special affinity toward it. Post-World War II, the Danube marked the division between the different occupation zones, with the side we are staying on under Russian occupation, while the side of the old city hall and hauptplatz (main square) was under U.S. occupation. If you like to go back a little further in history, Mozart stayed in Linz, and you can visit the courtyard of the home of the local count who hosted him here. He also composed his well-known in three days and nights in Linz.

A view of the northern banks of the Danube in Linz

We have encountered a few frustrating practical issues here. I have lived and traveled in Europe before, and I was completely surprised at how few places here accept credit cards. Even Saturn, a very large electronic store similar to Best Buy, won’t take credit cards. I would never have expected this to be such a huge problem here, as this never happened in France, Belgium, Italy or the Czech Republic.  In addition, every single store here closes around 6 or 6:30, including grocery stores! I was absolutely stunned when I found this out. I almost never shop before the evening, so this is about the most inconvenient thing I have ever encountered, and also completely unlike anything I have experienced in other parts of Europe. I would not have been surprised if lots of things were closed on Sunday (which it turns out they are), since this is common even in Paris, but I can’t stop being annoyed that I have to make sure to get to a store early or I am out of luck. Lastly, though not really a problem for me personally, the German speakers in my group have found that they are essentially unable to communicate with the Linzers in German. The dialect here is so strong that the Americans who speak German don’t understand the Linzers, and the Linzers don’t understand the German that the Americans speak, since it is Germany-German and is spoken in their American accents.

A view of the old city hall in the hauptplatz in Linz

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