I didn't actually believe the children of Freiburg floated toy boats around the city via baechle, the streetside rivers. My mother had told me stories--this being her city, where she went to college and returns annually--but I thought for sure this was her rose-colored glasses, back in the day memory. But oh no: the baechle boats were everywhere! And it so happened that we were in town for the annual boat race.
This is no small deal. You have to register, then there is a race of three boats, followed by a nine-boat run. Local press covers the event. There are prizes and a winners' podium.
The suspense mounted as Jack and Charlie waited with their brand new baechle boats. 22, 23, 24...finally it was our boys' race and they got in position. Off they went! Very quickly the other racer's boat fell behind and it was just the Foster boys sailing to the finish line. As Charlie's boat eked past, I wondered how Jack would take being beaten by his baby brother. Luckily he quickly justified it: "Charlie was on my team."
The next race with nine boats was even more exciting, and though the boys didn't earn a spot on the podium, Jack left with nothing but pure joy and it was only the beginning of our baechle adventures: he insisted on sailing his boat wherever we walked throughout our stay.
Baechle boats were first on my mother's checklist, and she kept us happily busy from beer garden to market to beer garden. We climbed the tiny, windy staircase of the Muenster, where we could smell wurst grilling in the market all the way at the top. We ate wurst, schnitzel, spaetzle, and the real deal Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte black forest cherry cake. And we drank beer--even Jack, who we allowed his first taste. He was unimpressed, describing the taste as "seltzer with weird ingredients."
All the charming images my mother had painted for me: totally real. Everyone had a blast in Freiburg. And I've got to think that whatever fantasies my mother could have had about her grandsons' first visit to Freiburg were surpassed in this moment:
Find more pictures from our Freiburg travels here.