Alps & European Toilets

We are back from a vacation in the Alps. I had hoped to blog while we were there, but wifi was often slow. That plus warnings that I would be wise to keep a low internet and social media profile while we were out of the country changed my plan.

Now that I am home and have begun to consolidate my trip notes, I think this may have worked out for the best. Instead of a daily travel log, I’m going to do a few topical blogs.

HH and I went to Europe when we were in our 30s. We spent time with my sister and with some missionary friends. But some of the time it was just us and our 2-year-old. We only got in trouble because of the language barrier twice, and both times we escaped without harm. But now we are both in our 60s and we both have white hair. I live with hearing problems and HH lives with vision problems. We feel a little vulnerable. So we have decided that when we travel where we do not speak the language, we will travel with a group.

For this trip we booked a tour with Globus. They were fabulous in every way. We couldn’t have been more pleased with every aspect of the trip. There were 34 in our group. We had expected to be with people like us, but it was a very multicultural group. There were 6 different nationalities. There were Hindus, Muslims, and Spiritists. There were two couples besides ourselves who were openly Christian. Everyone on the tour was friendly, and we all got along. It was a bonus that while we were exploring the history and culture of Europe, we were doing so with a very diverse group.

I have lots to say about food, exercise, and sleep – all great BTD topics. But I’m going to start with something much more basic – toilets!

American public toilets are terrible. I have mentioned this before when I have blogged about travels. First the low water American toilets in public places spray potty water all over the seats. I do not like having to clean up the facilities before I can use them. Second, much of the time public toilets in America smell bad. There is paper left on the floor (Why don’t people pick up after themselves? You know when you drop paper on the floor!)

On the first day of the tour, our director explained most places in Europe you have to pay for public toilets. He explained the system and urged us to have change in our pockets. We all groaned and complained. But it didn’t take me long to appreciate the system.

First – European toilet design is superior. They are deeper and only once in more than 2 weeks did I find potty water on the seat! American plumbers, please take notice!

Second at the highway travel stops, when you pay your half Euro to use the toilet, you get a half Euro coupon. You can go into the shop and use the coupon to buy a bottle of water or a snack. So you really get your money back.

Third most public toilets have bathroom attendants. Ok, I’ll admit I was taken back the first time I saw a male attendant in the women’s room, but I got used to it. The attendants make sure things stay clean…and I suspect that their presence motivates people to pick up after themselves.

I think we do many things right in America, and I will touch on several comparisons in future blogs. But European toilets are far superior. I would gladly pay 50 cents for a clean toilet when I travel in my own country. It may be a little thing, but this took away one of the stresses of travel.

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