World Tour of Austria – Grein to Wien

If you only knew, my beloved seafarers, where I’m writing from… A dream, so many sea books and a model Viking boat. I’m in the secret lounge of the imperial steam-tug “Frederic Mistral”, currently moored in Wien!

Clodia is quietly sleeping next to it. I can hear the Danube water since I’m about three quarters below its level. I have the rare privilege to work inside this historical gem, a cat purring on my knees.

Smell of old boat. Humid and cold but I feel great.

This museum piece, built in 1914, at first glance looks like a normal tugboat but beyond the appearance… Its story is fascinating: 26 metres long by 5 wide, draught 1.80, steam engine with max speed of 14 knots.

It was used for tugging but also to control the waterways, hosting aboard a very special guest: No less than Franz Joseph, the emperor.

From the portholes below-deck, surrounded by a sober luxury, he could take a look to the river banks and enjoy a quiet navigation, unnoticed. His cabin is simple and small, so distant to those built on the yacht of nowadays “nouveaux riches”!! The emperor, at the time one of the mightiest man on earth, travelled aboard a tugboat, in a 2 by 1,5 metres cabin with a half bunk-bed. Now that’s class. (more…)


A healthy taste of madness – Passau to Grein

In Passau, is time for new guests to joins us. Marco comes with his girlfriend Naike, in a chilly morning over a steamy river. Marco is a big man, Naike a tiny girl: They make for a nice couple.

Passau is beautiful: Three rivers, three waters, rocks, tourism and life. The Inn is the biggest of the rivers and the most powerful, thanks to the glaciers feeding it.

Hang on… Why, then, is the main river called Danube? It should be called Inn, since the Danube flows into the Inn and not the other way around! Just think how many litres of ink could be saved by using the shortest name…

Misteries of us (in) sapiens.

Since I’m not a tourist guide, I won’t tell you about Passau’s sights, but rather about what you can’t easily spot there: The the disaster carried out on the Danube, whose banks have been covered with cement, killing life. It’s so sad. (more…)


Wrath of the Gods – Regensburg to Passau

Slowly but surely, we proceed: According to my calculations, far from being accurate, we should be a handful of km away from the 2.000 milestone. In 70 km we’ll celebrate!

Regensburg is too beautiful to be described by words. Don’t miss it if you can, I’ll never be able to tell you its true essence. You have to see and possibly live it: It’s special. This is our fourth day of navigation along the Danube, more than 180 km. The water is very clean, the current variable between 2 and 7 km per hour.

The river sides are mostly embanked and covered by stones, “rip-rap” is the correct English term (as I’m told by Andrea who’s the expert), not allowing the river to flow the way it wants and to create its own path. Sad to see. There’re some beaches and oxbow lakes left, way better than the Rhine and the most part of the Main.

However we still feel like being in a large, beautiful canal rather than in a river. (more…)