For adventurous sewer cleaners and their families!
1. FROM AN OPEN SEWER TO A MAJOR TOURIST ATTRACTION: BINNENDIEZE, 's-HERTOGENBSOCH
Photos via Niek Geneuglijk
Let’s start close to home - in ‘s-Hertogenbosch! You can go on an unusual boat trip on the Binnendieze in this city. Contrary to the rivers of London, which are often part of the sewage system, the Binnendieze is as clean as a whistle. We wrote about the transformation of the Binnendieze in a previous blog. Many people are unaware that the Binnendieze was used as an open sewer until 1969. Because the drinking water of the time was unsafe, all the inhabitants of the city drank beer, even the children! Which explains why there were as many as 22 breweries in ‘s-Hertogenbosch in 1562. So a trip down the Binnendieze is an unforgettable experience. When the city is buzzing with life, the pavement bars are full to capacity and the heat is oppressive, you step into the small boat operated by the Kring Vrienden and experienced this historic city from a completely different perspective. Tickets are available via Dagje Den Bosch.
2. WALK THROUGH THE ‘RUIEN’OF ANTWERP
Photo via De Ruien Antwerp (deruien.be)
Ever since the Middle Ages, Antwerp's sanitation needs have been served by a network of (underground) waterways known as the ‘ruien’, ‘vlieten’ and ‘vesten’. The ‘Ruien’ are the former canals and sewers of Antwerp. Originally dug as a defensive barrier, they were subsequently used as inner-city harbours and a system for supplying water. Centuries later, the old city canals were put to use as sewers and partially hidden under arched vaults. As a result, these unique items of cultural heritage disappeared from the city streets and faded from memory. Since 2005, members of the public have been able to explore them again under the supervision of an experienced guide. Tickets are available via De Ruien.
3. LE MUSÉE DES EGOÛTS DE PARIS; A CITY UNDER THE CITY
Photo viaLe Musée des Égoûts
Le Musée des Égoûts is an ode to the Parisian sewer system’s long history, with a particular emphasis on maintenance and cleaning! It is dark, damp and silent in the sewer tunnels under the bustling city. The tunnels are characterised by a bizarre, spooky atmosphere which will definitely appeal to you as true sewer rats. They are wider than you would expect, and also a great place to cool down if you decide to visit Paris in the summer. The Parisian sewer system even figures in Les Misérables (Jean Valjean; Volume II, Chapter 1): "... Paris a sous lui un autre Paris ; un Paris d’égouts; lequel a ses rues, ses carrefours, ses places, ses impasses, ses artères, et sa circulation, qui est de la fange, avec la forme humaine de moins." Paris has another Paris underneath it; a Paris of sewers, with its own roads, crossroads, squares, blind alleys, arteries and circulatory system …. emerging from the sludge and shaped by human hand. For an entertaining description, check out CoolstuffinParis. Click here for tickets.
4. BIZARRE PARKHOTEL; SLEEP IN A SEWER PIPE
Photo via Parkhotel
If you are planning to go to Austria, you have probably already booked your luxury guesthouse or hotel? If not, why not spend a night in this unusual hotel in Ottensheim? Recycled concrete sewer pipes, transformed into comfortable hotel rooms, lie in a secluded location in a leafy park. Each room has a skylight so that the guests can admire the starry heavens at night. It is hardly surprising that this hotel, which opened in 2004, appears in the list of the 10 most unusual hotels of the world! There is a second location in Germany: das Parkhotel Bernepark. This hotel is open from May to October. Here are some tips for your stay. Rooms have to be booked via the official website: bit.ly/1R2u9vM
5. LONDON’S LOST RIVERS
Photo via the Facebook page for London’s lost rivers.
Picture taken from Stave Hill - an artificial hill made from waste material and rubble.
A warren of old rivers lies buried under the busy streets of London. Most are now sewers, but they have all left their mark on the world above. Tom Bolton has written a book called ‘London’s lost rivers’ - a Walker’s Guide. He regularly organises walks down the path taken by the old rivers to explore the history of the city and its sewers. There are walks down the Tyburn river, the Neckinger river, the Walbrook river and there is also a Fleet river walk. Make sure you enquire well in advance and make a reservation for one of these special walks.
6. BRIGHTWATER EDUCATION AND COMMUNITY CENTER NEAR SEATTLE
The Brightwater Education and Community Center is a popular destination that attracts many visitors to the site of the new Bothell and Woodinville water treatment plant near Seattle in the USA. The centre explains the relationship between science, the environment and the impact of human society. IslandWood, in collaboration with King County, provides special learning experiences for both children and adults. Please contact the organisation beforehand if you are interested in viewing the complex and plan adequate time for the education centre. The centre is located in a beautiful nature area with several hiking trails. For more information about the activities, click here.
7. VISIT THE OLDEST SEWERS IN THE WORLD, THE GLOACA MAXIMA IN ROME
No guided underground tours are offered in Rome. Fortunately, the Smithsonian Magazine informs us that parts of the most famous sewage system in the world can be viewed on the surface. For example, why not visit the Shrine of Venus Cloacina in the Roman Forum, which honours the spirit of the great sewer of Rome. Not far from here, you will also find the Arch of Janus, shown in the photo above. Not a triumphal arch in this case, but an ode to Janus, the god of duality, beginnings, gates, doorways, passages and endings. Normally, the tunnels of the Gloaca Maxima under the city are not open to the public; however if you prepare your visit thoroughly beforehand, you can request permission via foreign research institutes. You can also try via Roma Sotterranea (Rome Underground), an institute dedicated to the study of subterranean Rome - they are authorised to take people on guided tours of the tunnels. If you succeed, please let us know!
8. TUNNEL MAZE UNDER PRAGUE
The ancient city of Prague is renowned for its breath-taking architecture. Most people are not aware that the area under the city is also well worth visiting. You can find the traces of a dark city from long forgotten times here. It is rumoured that the ancient sewer system may even be 4000 km long. During periods of unrest, when the walls and forts were built to protect the city, the streets were also rebuilt at a higher level on top of the construction rubble as a safeguard to prevent flooding when the Vltava - a powerful river at that time - burst its banks. Something that even most of the city’s inhabitants do not know: this construction work led to underground labyrinths under many churches and monasteries, which were subsequently used to hide treasures. And - good news for the sewer fans among us - the city catacombs are open to visitors every day. Enquire about the availability of tickets here. And read this story by a previous visitor.
9. TOILET MUSEUM IN KITAKYUSHU, JAPAN
Japan has a reputation to uphold when it comes to toilets. So Toto, the market leader in this area, decided to build a slightly unusual museum in Kitakyushu: the Toto (Toilet) Museum.
The Museum shows how Japanese toilets have evolved, from the first flushing model in 1914 to today’s toilets with all the latest gadgets such as heated toilet seats and advanced built-in bidet nozzles. The company, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2017, has 950 of its products on display. More information is available here.
10 ‘Tour de Toilette’ in Berlin!
Photo via RGB and via Tagesspiegel.de
Are you planning to go to Berlin on holiday? As a sewer cleaner, you will hardly be able to resist accompanying Anna Haase on a tour to a collection of quaint loos in the city. For example, you will visit the toilet where the ‘Emperor’ delicately wiped his Royal derrière. Anna: “People are reticent at first, but become increasingly enthusiastic as the tour progresses and they find out all kinds of interesting facts.” Read more in John Bakker's blog - or book a tour via Anna's website.
If you still have an appetite for more toilet-related fun after this tour, why not visit Bar Das Klo to end your day on a stylish note!
Rioned hopes you enjoy these unique excursions for sewer rats during your next holiday!