Public restrooms are special architectures that benefits people’s ordinary life. Don’t take them lightly, there are always technical, social and economic issues involved in the public restrooms. They reflect management level, civilization level and citizenship of a city or region. Like in America, most highway restrooms in Europe are a little different from others. They usually situated in rest areas where you can find other services such as gas stations, fast food restaurants and grocery stores.
Most restrooms in gas stations are clean and well managed . Having the privilege of using restroom for free after filling gas should be a normal thing. However, that is not exactly the case in many gas stations in Germany. They will ask you to pay 0.50 euro first but give you coupons of equal value. You can use the coupons to buy their groceries.
What I really want to talk about is the simple restrooms along highways, where you can see a “WC” sign every 30 to 50 kilometers. Almost immediately after driving out Luxemburg is the French border. We saw a “WC” sign so we entered the rest area. There parked a few cars. We found the rest rooms, but they were blocked with two big iron bars – we just couldn’t find entrances. We looked around, we discovered a small hill. Several people were heading that way. So we follow them. Guess what, we saw toilet papers all over grasses on the other side of the hill. That was the largest and most natural restroom I had ever enjoyed.
The rest area had several picnic tables. Right after sitting down by one of them for a break, we saw a police car rushed in. This rest area is also a location for border inspections. We were not inspected. They only checked beat-up cars and their owners. Cops there seem pretty snobbish. A disabled French woman came to us for a direction to the restrooms. We were a little confused but still told her what we just did. That’s what I experienced in a highway restroom in France. France is known for “epicurism” and “bureaucracy”. Food was indeed great. Now we had better understanding on the bureaucracy too. Most French highways are tollways. It’s unbelievable to see tollway restrooms were maintained like that. This type of scenario can hardly be seen even in the developing countries like China and India.
On the way back to Germany from Italy via Switzerland, we must drive through a spectacular, 20 kilometer long tunnel inside Alps mountains. When driving in the tunnel, it’s required to maintain a minimum distance of 60 meter between two cars. Traffic jams happens all the time as a result. Most travelers would have to use the restroom after coming out of the tunnel. The first gas station naturally becomes a popular place. The restroom inside this gas station was the most advanced restroom I had even seen. Surprisingly, it was free to use.
After entering Germany, we found another restroom. The reason for me to point this restroom out is its full functionality with great simplicity . I remember seeing a super luxury highway restroom during a trip to China. It’s creative decoration makes people feel like being in a tropical rain forest. Do you really need to enjoy nice music and the sound from an elegant marble fountain while using restroom? It’s too sumptuous.
Lastly, I want to tell a true story happened in a highway restroom in Holland. Earthmen probably all know phrase “Go Dutch”. It’s said Vincent is one of the most popular names in Holland. It’s the first name of famous artist van Gogh. It means “found a penny” in paraphrase.
You have to pay to use public restrooms in all major cities in Holland, except for couple open-air toilets provided for men on the bank of the Amsterdam Canal. Sometimes, you may not be able to use a restroom even if you pay them. One day, a lady from Lelystad parked her car in Zoeter gas station. She wanted to use the restroom there but was refused They asked her to find a different place. She got extremely mad and emptied several wooden planers located at the entrance. She used one of them as an emergent toilet. Then, she ran into the building with that toilet on hand and dumped all urines right in the middle of the shop. Staff in the gas station called police. Police demanded the lady to clean up the mess and pay 37 dollars for the damaged flowers.