View from the Hill, the Three Lakes in St Gallen

They were a good looking couple out on a date, dressed to the nines, on their best behaviour and probably still rather new to each other. Feeling each other out in more ways than one.

We was at the Drei Zweiren, the Three Lakes of St Gallen to do some city exploration since there was some free time available and they were part of the beautiful view. Our presence perhaps destroyed the quiet scenic vibe he was trying to create and he looked back slightly irate. The rest had gone on looking at the lake at the other side, I was however still in their direction, trying to find a good photograph angle (without them of course).

The man turned to me.

I noticed his hands distinctly gripping his date a little tighter. He eyed me up and down as if trying to discern my intentions.

“Ni Hao!”

I smiled and nodded back.

He walked away triumphantly, his hand tightly wound round her slender waist. She eyed him admiringly, “do you say that to every asian person.”

It was only after they left that I wondered if I should have been offended. Offense is a reflection of yourself and not the person giving it, why get offended at a phantom without discerning the real intention. It could have been an attempt to be polite, it could have been ignorance, it could have been racist. Why spoil my experience at such a beautiful place because of a metaphorical chip on my own shoulder.

And it was a beautiful place.

I was at the Drei Weiren, or the Three Lakes. Located on a hill, south of the old abbey these three lakes are an oasis of peace and calm in the city (the city is already very very peaceful but that’s a city boy talking). It was built in stages for different purposes. Two were built in the 1600s to to prepare a freshwater source to ensure water security for the city’s linen industry. A third was later built to provide water source in the case of fire. These three ponds gave the place the name.

Security issues settled, the residents of St Gallen next decided to dig up a pond to make a male public bath in the 1700s. The baths were popular, why not when the view was so good. The ponds were located on a hill and the city was established in a valley, the overview of the city was simply beautiful.

It took almost 200 years before a female equivalent was completed in the 1900s. The ponds are today still used by the populace, not as baths and without the gender separation of course and are extremely popular in the summer for swimming.

We couldn’t stay long though it was time to move on to work, but the few minutes in nature was a great reprieve from the city.



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