Tuesday, July 10, 2012

On the Road in Germany: Freiburg

Gutter system, Freiburg, Germany

I do not have any photos of Freiburg because my camera batteries died, but this one is from Geri (mother of Amy)'s Facebook (thanks!).  We spent a day driving through the Black Forest (it was Grimm... rim shot?).  The place was beautiful.  The trees went on for days and probably prickled the clouds.  Our destination was Freiburg, a large city on the edge of the Black Forest.  It seems to really just pop up out of nowhere.  Between the hills and the forest around it, I was amazed that this city has been there since the twelfth century.  Though the area is famous for its wine (we visited just before a festival!), what we all liked best about it was the system of small gutters that runs all through the city.

These gutters, or bächle, date back to the middle ages.  The water that runs through them comes from the river Dreisam as well as the rain run-off from the streets.  It was once used to nourish livestock and put out fires.  Though one might assume this was a modern usage for an antiquated sewer system, these street level gutters were always utilized in this way.  Apparently, even in the middle ages there were severe fines for disposing of undesirable materials in the gutters.

I cannot really put my finger on why we were all so charmed by these gutters.  It was kind of like having a little river follow you around the whole city.  The water really was crystal clear, as well.  We saw children putting their feet in to cool off and even pulling toy boats in the small streams!  I have never seen anything quite so quaint.

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