Toilet inconvenience

21st July 2003, Comments 0 comments

When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go. So here’s our off-beat guide to Dutch toilet habits – the pees and queues, if you like.

Some Dutch men just can’t wait. That’s why it is a common sight to see them urinating in public – in the street, by a motorway or up against your house. Fortunately, Dutch law provides for on-the-spot fines (EUR75) for anyone caught baring their bottom by a canal – or anywhere else, for that matter.

For those with more grace, here is the etiquette of ‘doing your duties’. Toilets are referred to as 'WC' or 'toiletten'. Most toilets in public places demand a fee of at least 50 eurocents for the privilege of using them. The money is collected by a woman who guards the entrance all day. Don't expect improved hygiene at these establishments, however. She’s there to collect your money, and that’s all. Pubs, clubs and even McDonald’s have their pee-fee. You are unlikely to find a toilet in a department store, except in Bijenkorf and V&D. There are few modern public facilities in Amsterdam. You will find, however, 28 old-fashioned "krul" toilets, named because of their curly shape. The last War on Pee gave Amsterdam a new device: the pee-plate, a piece of stainless steel that protects house walls. However, the disgusting habit of urinating in public - as well as the penetrating odour - is still there. For women, the public toilet situation is even worse. The only option is to seek refuge in a restaurant, where by law you must be allowed to use the toilet. Unfortunately, visiting the toilet at home is seldom much better, requiring a degree in problem solving. But first we must investigate the real issue, the inspection shelf. The odd shape of the toilet incorporates a shelf that rests above the waterline and acts as an examination table, as it would appear the Dutch pay more attention to their meals after they eat them than when making them. The shelf involves you in two things that you’d probably rather not bother with. The first would be indulging in the aroma that lingers for hours after your visit. The second is cleaning the shelf with the provided brush and disinfectant liquid. If you’re a guest in someone’s home you are expected to do your duty and leave the bowl even cleaner than when you arrived. Fear not – we have a solution to one of these issues: build a raft with toilet paper. We’re not talking about a Robinson Crusoe-quality raft here, just a few strips of paper to cover the shelf. When you flush, everything on the raft is whisked away. Just like magic.  By Mike Lynett and Louise Doorn. (updated September 2007) Subject: Toilet inconvenience

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