Toilets: A Love Story. No, Really, It’s a Love Story.

Prior to meeting my now husband, I had not done much traveling outside of the USA and Canada.  I had been to Mexico and some Caribbean Islands, but never to Europe.  One of the many things to catch my eye during my travels abroad were the toilets. I know, I know, most people come home with stories of amazing food and architecture.  But one of the things that really struck me were the toilets.  While traveling, I spent the majority of my time trying new foods and drinking much more that my usual. That also meant that I spent a fair amount of time looking for toilets.

Europe is not like the United States, in several ways.  But one of the biggest differences is the lack of fast food restaurants.  This is not a bad thing at all, the rate of obesity in most of Europe is way beneath the 1 in 3 person rate of the USA.   But it does pose one problem, a lack of toilets.  When traveling through the USA, you never have to search for a toilet.  There is a McDonald’s or Burger King on every corner with a toilet waiting for you inside.  That is not the case in Europe, you really have to search for a place to go, and you usually have to pay for that wee.

The other difference, or at least a difference between Germany and the US is the style/shape of the toilets.  The toilets in the USA have a bowl, and that bowl is filled with water.  You do your business, clean up, and flush.  The bowlful of water and everything else goes swishing down, then the bowl fills back up with more water.  Magic.  In Germany, there is a bowl with a shelf and a small amount of water in the bowl.  The first time I came across this type of toilet I was filled with a terrible fear.  OH MY GOD THE TOILET IS BROKEN AND I HAVE TO SHIT!  What can be done in these situations?  It’s going to happen, it has to happen, nature will take it’s course.  No matter how embarrassing it may be. I said a silent prayer to the God of Toilets, and hoped for the best.  I was pleasantly surprised as everything did go down without issue.  Not sure why they need a toilet shelf, not sure I even want to know.


An example of a German throne.  Note the shelf and small amount of water.  This toilet was created to set fear in the hearts of any Americans that may need to use it.

Dirk and I met for the first time in Detroit, Michigan. (  My then boyfriend had traveled all over Europe, but had never been to the United States.  He had all kinds of expectations and thoughts about what he might find in the States, but I don’t think that he had given any prior thought to the toilets.  After picking him up at the airport, we went back to the hotel.  He had been traveling for over 24 hours and wanted to get cleaned up before we hit the town.  I of course had to pee, as it seems I ALWAYS have to pee.  So, I went into use the toilet before him and did my wee.  Dirk gathered his things and went into the bathroom to shower.  He was in there for quite a while. Who needs that kind of time to get ready?  He finally came out of the bathroom with a rather strange look on his face.

“Honey, are you OK?, I asked.

“Ja, gut.  But, um…I think that you stopped up the toilet.”, He said with all German seriousness.

“What are you talking about?  The toilet worked fine when I was in there to pee.” I said in my most offended American voice I had.

“I just peed!  I didn’t clog the toilet!”  Very offended American voice.

“Well, the toilet is filled with water.  I don’t know what you did to it”.  Again, filled with German seriousness.

This was our conversation.  We had just met in person for the first time, after spending over a year talking online and on the phone.  Our first real, in person conversation was about his concern that I had plugged up the toilet during our first meeting.  So romantic.

I went into the bathroom to find a perfectly normal, American toilet with some water in the bowl.

“Dirk, honey.  What do you think is wrong with the toilet?”  I asked as I flushed the perfectly normal toilet.

“It’s filled with water.  It is clogged.  Did you use too much toilet paper?” Again, so much seriousness.

He watched as the toilet flushed, awaiting the flood that he thought was coming.  Only to see that the water went down, without issue. We then had a discussion about toilets in Germany versus toilets in America.  All was right with the world.  I then, left him in the bathroom so he could use it, as he had been afraid to go before, thinking that I had plugged the whole thing up.

Ours is a story of romance and love, lost trucks and plugged toilets and it just keeps getting better everyday.



50 thoughts on “Toilets: A Love Story. No, Really, It’s a Love Story.

  1. I always found that little shelf on German toilets weird. True, it prevents splash-back but I think the true purpose of it is as a presentation plinth… such a strange breed, the Germans 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  2. the first time I encountered a toilet like this was in Latvia. I flushed a couple of times to make sure it worked. The first time I pooped, my nurse curiosity got the best of me and I had to check it out, It was sort of like pooping on the ground when you’re camping… there’s something primitive about it sitting there all proud.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The shelf is to check for worms or “verms” as my German friend said. The amount of meat raw or cured eaten opens them to a predisposition for catching worms. An examining shelf is for checking of you have parasites or blood in your stools. P.s. in England there are free toilets in every indoor tea or coffee house, if it serves food or drink to have sitting inside it has to have a toilet.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I moved to Britain 11 years ago. When we first moved here, most towns and many villages (if they had, say, a beach or some other feature to draw outsiders) had public toilets, which impressed the hell out of me. (I’m American. We tend to think that if you need to pee, it’s your problem.) After years of budget cutting under Conservative governments and a Conservative-Liberal Democratic coalition, many of them have closed. Thanks, folks. Our village struggles to keep its beachside toilets open.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I recall similar confusion myself when seeing these kinds of loos the first time. It does seem strange, but what do I know: I’m British!
    Heartwarming story of your first meeting. It’s funny how these things can bring couples together!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I was slightly confused at first by the toilet in my flat in Berlin, but it worked and someone explained to me why it was like that. I’ve never known people as obsessed with their health as the Germans. They seem to delight in examining bits of themselves. I learned very quickly not to ask them how they were.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I find public toilets in the USA very strange – not sure if there the same now but the lack of, or half height cubicle was very off-putting when you can watch all the other patrons as you sit there. In fact I didn’t sit there I just clenched my cheeks and thought of England 😀

    Liked by 2 people

      1. No – the EU never imposed toilets with shelves over here. In my experience there’s no substitute for a good splash 😀
        And surely it must smell, just lying there like that 😷

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I grew up in Europe and when it comes to food alone, it is not the fast food that makes American’s fat, but the process. The grains, corn and additives, the chemicals and, unfortunately, lectins. Now, onto the toilets, (funny, I was just venting myself in my post about toilet paper) in Europe people are not as fragile when it comes to bathroom. They dont have the same requirements of bathroom being germ-free, equipped with everything to cater to their behind, so broken toilets don’t scare anyone there I guess. lol


  8. Oh poor Dirk! I can just imagine the joint horror lol!

    Should you ever visit Belfast, as part of my job I created a map of the city centre with all the Council’s public toilets on it

    Just so you don’t get caught short lol!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Some places in Western France have just a hole in the floor – especially the ones in picnic/rest areas off the motorways. In the UK there are toilets in supermarkets, pubs, museums, tea shops , shopping centres, parks as well as restaurants and we do have public lavatories/ booths in the streets but some do leave a lot to be desired and best avoided at night!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. To be fair to your hubby I find the amount of water in American toilets super disturbing actually. We don’t have as much water in our loos in the UK but there’s WAY too much water in American toilets!!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I have a real fear about toilet water – had a nightmare when I was little where I drowned as I couldn’t get out of the bathroom and the toilet overflowed – so I struggled with the American loos when I visited!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. I wouldn’t have guessed a post about toilets would be interesting, but I stand corrected! It’s really a cute story, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. America is the only developed nation to still install siphon style toilets. They don’t work very well and they waste an absurd amount of water. 99.9% of people outside America don’t own a plunger because they have never blocked a toilet in their life.


  13. I love this story! I am still a little freaked out by the amount of water in Canadian loos to be honest! I am always so worried that something will hit the water!

    The bigger issue in North America is the huge gap between the loo door. Do you really need to be able to peek out while you pee!?

    You both need to visit Japan together. You will love the variety of toilets there!! The squat loos mean you can’t help but inspect when you have just done…and the high-tech “werstern style” loos are amaaazing!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Yep. Took me a while to get used to that when I lived there. Asked the same question of my college roommates and they all explained that the platform allows for you to inspect your poop for any issues. Zee Germans take the consistency, frequency and volume of poop seriously and use it as an indicators of health, what you may be eating in excess, etc. Wasn’t much of a bother to me but man oh man does it smell SO much worse when it’s just sitting there on the open air and not submerged. Yeah I didn’t like that part. Otherwise, once I’d adapted to German culture, it made complete sense given their discipline and nuances as a people.

    Liked by 1 person

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