Nothing when travelling in a foreign country, is ever as daunting as that first trip to the lavatory.
German toilets are among the scariest. You see, on first sight, German toilets masquerade as normal toilets. This creates a false sense of security in the unsuspecting foreign user, who then lifts the lid and finds…. the inspection shelf.
German toilets are modelled back-to-front. Anyone sitting normally on the device cannot aim last night’s digested curry squarely down the hole. One option would be to straddle the toilet while facing the cistern, however this requires the user to divest all their lower clothing. Obviously the time taken to do this means that the queue of Germans outside the door becomes restless. People start banging and shouting: “Sind Sie immer noch nicht fertig?” in an increasingly hostile manner.
What the locals do is to sit on the seat as though it were a normal toilet … and emit their excrement straight onto the shelf. SPLAT.
The shelf, I am informed, plays a key role in the health of the German nation. The user, on rising from the throne, will inspect (I’m not sure whether with satisfaction, disgust or curiosity) the resting turds and make a note of the consistency, shape, colour and any abnormalities. Once the inspection is over, the toilet will be flushed… and the bowl cleaned as necessary using the brush provided.
The scatological information gleaned from the study of this morning’s dump can be passed on to a member of the medical profession if anything untoward were found (possibly with accompanying photo). Alternatively the experience will form part of the cheery response if any unsuspecting English person is silly enough to enquire after the Teuton’s state of health.
So when in Germany, remember to take your camera to the toilet… and never ever ask a German how they are. Especially when they’re just emerging from the bathroom.