Monday, June 16, 2014

The Restrooms of Europe!

Now that I have completed my mostly serious write up of my epic two week beer trip through Belgium and The Netherlands, I felt it was time to air some of the funnier stuff from the trip.  This particular post focuses all on childish potty humor, so please avert your gaze if this is not your thing!

Living in America we take certain things for granted:  Wheel chair access, traffic rules, universal access to health care, easy access to guns, etc.  In Europe things are different.  One item that struck me as unusual this trip was the bathrooms.  As a guy with a notoriously small bladder, taking part in a trip centered around drinking copious amounts of beer, my interest in the subject should be self explanatory! 

First off, nearly every bathroom we had in our hotels was a tiny little closet with barely enough room for my meager 5'8" frame to wedge into, and containing just a short toilet.  In every case one had to flush, open the door with your dirty hands, and go often across the hotel room to the sink.  Do Europeans just not wash their hands?  And not grow taller than 5 foot?  And not eat so much that they can't fit on a toilet?  OK, maybe that last one is true. 

I also discovered a strange mechanism for flushing in most toilets--a set of buttons, one small and one large.  It took me a couple of times before I realized these buttons must be for "I just had a wee and need a little flush" and for "I just took a huge dump and need this to actually go down," respectively.  Once I got used to this, I found this to be a great concept and useful for conserving water.  This is something we should do in America. 

Big dump, little dump!

Next up let's talk about public bathrooms.  When I travel in the States and need to drain the dragon, I know that there will usually be easily available places to do so.  This is not the case in Europe.  Restaurants usually had them, but don't take kindly to American hobos wandering in and defiling their restrooms.  I saw them at the train station, but it actually cost Euros to use the hopper!  This is why one can often see men urinating on the sides of buildings, and why one should avoid stepping in suspicious wet spots on the pavement.  The restaurants that do have restrooms usually have them upstairs or down in the basement.  One pub in Bastogne had the tightest spiral stair down to the bathroom that I have ever seen!  A freaky red horror light shone menacingly from below, tempting incautious drinkers to their deaths...

Watch your step and don't drink too many beers...

Our last day in Belgium, we took part in the Zythos Beer Festival: a huge gathering of mostly men flocking to drink a ton of amazing Belgian ales.  About 40 minutes into the festival I noticed that there was a bouncer near the back door exit to the port-a-potties.  Always looking for my next bathroom option, I discovered that they were charging 1.50 Euro to use the bathrooms!  That comes to about $2.50.  Lure several thousand beer geeks into a building where they will drink a huge quantity of liquid and then charge them to use the bathroom?  Somewhere an evil mastermind is chuckling wickedly while he shuffles stacks of Euros and pets his white fluffy cat.

Hurry up and stamp my hand--I have to pee!

As one can imagine, many men are cheep and would rather spend that money on beer.  As a result, there was a large contingent of urination going on outside the building.  While waiting for the tram home, I counted no less than 4 guys urinating in the same decorative hedge.

Gnomes do it...

"Don't you look at me!"

Trolls do it...

If this isn't disturbing, I don't know what is!  The teeth just make it worse...

Strangely, while human public rest areas were rare or absent entirely, nice spots abounded around Brussels for your faithful hound to drop a load.

That cartoon dog looks so happy!
Perhaps they should have some of these with people on them....

Proving that you never buy beer...only rent it!

This is the old toilet on the battlements of the castle in Ghent.  The "results" are dropped outside the castle walls!

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