Monday, April 18, 2016

The Danube

This is a brief account of Jenny and my bike tour along the Danube River from Passau, Germany to Viena, Austria in September 2015, just as the Syrian refugee crisis captured the world.

Blackie was a stow away to Passau, Germany. Turns out he was eager to go on another bike tour. This time on the Danube to Vienna. This bear wants to strive to be Bearthoven!
Traveling seems amazing today when you enter a plane, eat dinner, sleep a little, and wake up some place clearly not home. I wish I could remember what little German I learned while in university those many years ago. With the kindness of strangers we were able to make it through the Munich airport, to the bus, to the Freising train station, to Passau, Germany, to our hotel in the center of town. Passau has been inhabited as a city since the second century BCE. It's location is situated at the confluence of the three rivers of the blue Danube, the green Inn from the south, and the black Ilz from the north.


It is from Passau that Jenny and I begin a week long bicycle ride along the Danube River (Donau in local speak.) it's our holiday, but perhaps in today's world we are less able not to be aware of world events.


Recently Passau has been in the news as Syrian refugees pass in great numbers through this area. Situated in the southeast of Germany, Passau is the closest portion of Germany for refugees to enter. Syrians look to Germany as a haven of stability and economic opportunity. Since the tragic death last week of 71 Syrian occupants of a truck (likely headed toward Passau) found abandoned on the side of an Austrian autobahn, this small southern German town of 50,000 people has experienced the daily average climb from 400 refugees a day to 700 now – mostly Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis. This is thought to be but the tip of the wave.


As soon as the smugglers’ vehicles have crossed the border between Austria and Germany, they abandon the refugees in woods, fields, secluded farms, and the shoulder of the autobahn.


Boosted by the announcement earlier last week by Angela Merkel that Syrian refugees who arrive in Germany will automatically receive asylum, it is estimated Germany can expect 800,000 refugees this year. There is much debate in Germany about doing the right thing and encouraging other states to help out.


Jenny and I discuss these things as we also enjoy the beauty and history of this river passage. We rode 80 km today to a hotel that was switched in our itinerary when the first hotel had a guest that wanted to extend their stay. We were offered an evening at another local hotel...built around the year 1000 and clearly mentioned by 1350s. Schloss Muhldorf is a small castle off the river that current owners purchased in 1980, and renovated for their home with space for guests. We get to stay in the stables and dine in the barn...although it's a well renovated stable.


It does seem unreasonable that we can travel in such pleasure and decadence while much of the world suffers some sort of trauma. The Syrian refugee situation will continue to be in our thoughts. Just yesterday the Budapest train station we expect to arrive in about a week was closed due to 3,500 Syrian refugees overloading the services attempting to take passage to Austria or Germany.


The migration of people worldwide today is greater than at any other time in 3.2% of total population.


And yet we ride bikes?



1 comment:

  1. This is a belated post. There were difficulties in Europe when this was originally written that prevented its publication. I post it now as I warm up for this summer's activities.


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