I have wanted to go to Switzerland since I was in elementary school. Maybe reading "Heidi" started my dreaming of Alps and goats and cowbells and incredibly beautiful nature. Up until last month, I hadn't seen that dream become a reality.
However, my husband and I decided to include a few cities in Switzerland on our ridiculous European summer road trip. Currently, we have family members in three cities in Switzerland, which makes it hard to resist just stopping in for a visit.
Our first few days consisted of border-hopping between France and Switzerland. My brother lives in Geneva, but we stayed about thirty minutes away in the beautiful countryside that happens to belong to France.
The morning we were officially, really, truly heading into Switzerland, I was pretty happy. We drove along Lake Geneva on the French side and enjoyed some breathtaking views of the lake. As we rounded the northern tip and made our way into Switzerland, I made sure my husband knew how excited I was. (Even though I got kind of annoyed at my parents on road trips when they would stop at state borders to take family pictures by the welcome signs, I secretly want to stop and do a little happy dance that I'm in a new country every time we cross a border)
We both felt the need for a toilet and a quick lunch, so we stopped at a lovely rest station which had a fantastic view of the lake. We ate, watched the storm that was rolling in and used the toilets.
|Starting to see clouds rolling in over the lake|
|Quickly lost visibility of the mountains|
Now, I'm not sure what you have in your minds when you imagine Switzerland, but I obviously think it's very beautiful and I know that it's quite expensive and has extremely quality products.
I definitely didn't think I had an idea in my head of what the toilet would look like as I headed that direction. However, I was not prepared for this:
Yep, that's right. A squatty potty. In Switzerland. Granted, it was a very clean and stainless-steel modern squatty potty, but it was not quite what I was (unknowingly) expecting. Had we been in Asia or maybe a third-world country, I wouldn't have been surprised, but this definitely rocked my idyllic dream of Switzerland.
When we arrived in Basel, I discovered that there is definitely a difference in the Swiss culture of toilets compared to my culture of toilets.
We arrived just in time to celebrate Swiss National Day. They were setting up food stands all along the Rhine in the heart of the old city, getting ready for concerts that would be held on floating platforms, and preparing for the likelihood of drunken peeing that might be indiscriminately placed along the pathway and buildings if not for this:
Yep, a porta-pissoir. And yes, people used it.
The playful image below was featured on all the permanent public toilets I saw in Basel. I'm not sure whether the fella is unique to Basel or is featured on toilets all across Switzerland. Based on the fierce individualism among the 26 cantons of Switzerland, I wouldn't be surprised if each had their own public toilet mascot.
I'll leave you now to ponder the conundrums of Swiss public toilet culture, or what I just can't resist calling (due to it's slightly irreverent and rhyming cadence) the Swiss piss.