Prelude to a Blue Danube Dream

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"having a beer - Prelude to a Blue Danube Dream"

Alone among European countries, Germany can claim sections of both the Rhine and the Danube, Europe’s most storied rivers.

Most of you will have been aware of that, of course, but here is something that may surprise you: the German sections of both rivers are of a roughly similar length (865 km for the Rhine, 687 km for the Danube), and of the 10 countries that the Danube passes through on her way to the Black Sea, only Romania can claim a longer section than Germany.

This is surprising because few of us think of the Danube as a German river at all. Whereas the Rhine is undeniably Teutonic – with its Loreley rock, the Nibelungen castles and all that – the Danube of the mind belongs to more eastern parts of Central Europe, specifically the doomed Austro-Hungarian Empire of Kaiser Franz Joseph.

But there is another, perhaps – for our purposes – even more important difference. The Rhine is a “landscape river“: close your eyes and think about the Rhine, and what you will most likely see is a scenery of castles, vineyards and dark forests.

The Danube, meanwhile, primarily brings to mind the large cities that have been established on its banks, particularly Vienna and Budapest. To get the best out of a trip along the Danube, it is probably best never to stray too far from civilization.

Which is why for the first of our Danube walks, we invite you to come with us to Regensburg, one of Germany’s oldest cities (it was a large garrison in Roman times) and one of her most beautiful, too.

One thing that medium-sized towns (such as Regensburg with 150,000 inhabitants) definitely have over their larger peers is their relative proximity to nature. You walk from the city centre for 10 or 15 minutes, and you will already find yourself surrounded by birdsong and butterflies. In Regensburg’s case, nature is trapped in a maze-like system of bodies of water which are a part of the Danube one way or another. You will now begin to understand that the Danube is a rather complicated river where things are not always what they seem.

Your Prelude to a Blue Danube Dream

Start your walk at the Steinerne Brücke, the 1000-year-old stone bridge, that crosses two river islands and finishes on a third.

"crossing the bridge - Prelude to a Blue Danube Dream"

Cross the main arm of the river and the still body of water immediately behind it before descending on your left hand side to the Upper Wöhrd, the larger of the two river islands.

Once you are down on the island, turn around immediately and pass underneath the bridge, with the lake-like body of water on your right hand side. This was once a part of the river but has long since been separated from its flow and is today essentially a pond.

Cross over to the northern bank of the island…

"the island by the Donau - Prelude to a Blue Danube Dream"

… and turn left onto the bridge called Grieser Steg.

At the far end of the bridge, you will have arrived in the town quarter called Stadtamhof, an ancient village that has managed to preserve an almost unworldly charm. You half expect a horse-drawn carriage to come around the corner at any moment.

"something old - Prelude to a Blue Danube Dream"

Turn right from Wassergasse into Stadtamhof, the village’s main thoroughfare, until you reach another body of water, the Europakanal, built in the 1970s to allow commercial and passenger ships to by-pass the Old Town.

Turn left here and then return in the direction of Regensburg via Herzog-Heinrich-Straße, the Pfaffensteiner Weg and the Pfaffensteiner Steg, a bridge across the northern arm of the Danube …

"a still river - Prelude to a Blue Danube Dream"

… that leads to the Upper Wöhrd island. (I warned you that things would become a bit confusing.)

Cross the width of the Upper Wöhrd until you reach the main arm of the Danube again and then turn left into Badstraße by the river bank. Have your camera ready: this is the best spot anywhere in Regensburg for panoramic shots of the Old Town.

"view of town of Regensburg - Prelude to a Blue Danube Dream"

Keep right where the path forks, across the thin artifical strip that separates the Danube from its dead, pond-like arm …

"dead river - Prelude to a Blue Danube Dream"

Pass underneath the Stone Bridge into the Lower Wöhrd …

"on the other side of the river - Prelude to a Blue Danube Dream"

… before using the Eiserne Brücke (the Iron Bridge) to cross over back to the mainland. And you are almost back from where we started.

Now have a meal and refresh yourself, perhaps with the typical Bavarian snack of weisswürste (white sausages). But never after 12 o’clock! (Bavarians are very strict about that, I am afraid.)


You will need your energy because in our next post, we will be exploring the city of Regensburg itself.

After this prelude to a blue Danube Dream, we hope you will join us again along this famous river.

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2 comments to Prelude to a Blue Danube Dream

  • Thanks for pointing it out to me, Harald!

  • Harald Birnstingl

    Among European countries, Austria and Germany can claim sections of both the Rhine and the Danube … the Rhine forms part of the Swiss-Austrian border.

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