German Washroom Icon, photo by Dionne Peart

Waschküche

When you go to Berlin, bring your Depends. In the major areas, like Brandenburg Tor (Gate) and other tourist spots bathrooms are either restricted or the line up is so heavy, that even if you have your euro or 50 cent piece ready you could fall over hopping on one foot before you finally get into a stall and the tide not stemmed.

There might be a culture of shame for public bathrooms. They are staffed by attendants who feverishly try to keep them clean by going in to freshen things up, wipe things down, and provide napkins to patrons with each use.

Though they are charged with what seems like a task of national importance, it’s really degrading and unnecessary. In Canada and the US we only occasionally see sanitary crews– unlike in Europe– it seems like a real job. They are in uniform and comply with scheduled times of service. I could only “hop” with compassion and concern, taking care not to put further pressure on the young man at a donut shop feverishly trying to keep pace cleaning women’s bathrooms after each use.

On a lighter note, the bathroom signs were positively chic…like this one at the Pergamon Museum on Museum Island in Berlin.

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Or a chic worker motif–fitting as it was in the former socialist east Berlin.

10726277_10154769428735078_1977637980_nThere’s money to be made on a Freebathroom App and Personal Potties…

McDonalds is always your best bet in Europe. And the outfits are quite uncomplicated too…no attendants.

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by Dionne Peart – Berlin, Germany

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