Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Facilities in Köln

Often it's the little things that most capture my imagination. In Köln it's neither the architecture nor the people; it's the potties. Okay, so you may have seen or heard of everything I'm about to mention. If so, grant me my naive awe. If not, then read on and be amazed.

The Bosch spouses chose to spend part of yesterday in a very posh cafe for kaffee and kuchen, a typical German afternoon activity of coffee or tea and a selection of "cakes." This is an aside, but German cakes and I don't really get along. Many of the cakes and tortes are topped with fruit, or have a fruit layer, or are entirely composed of fruit. And we all know how I feel about cooked fruit. So finding a cake was a challenge in and of itself. But that's neither here nor there, back to miracle toilette technologies...

At the end of our time in the cafe one of the wives returned from the restroom and said "You have to go to the bathroom." I thought, "Well, in fact Andrea, I do not," but I figured polite behavior called for me to continue to listen. Her only answer to my confused look was "You'll see. Don't worry. Just lock the door." What?!?! Well, now I had to go.

Cut to the bathroom and picture for a moment an entirely clear glass door as the only barrier between your potty and the outside world. Just glass and you. I had not forgotten Andrea's warning so I boldly stepped in and...just locked the door. Like magic my clear door was suddenly frosted. FROSTED!!! It was instantaneous. Throwing aside my near constant fear of being discovered a tourist I let out "Whoa, cool!" and proceeded to lock and unlock the door to prolong the mystery. (The science has since been explained to me. The magic hasn't faded.)

Second remarkable WC: right here in our very hotel room. This little gem is remarkable for 2 reasons. One - when the TV is on in the bedroom, the sound is piped into the bathroom. This may seem at first glance superfluous. In fact, it's fantastic in the mornings when you've got the news on waiting for the 60 seconds of weather amidst the hour of talk. Second - our bathroom mirror has a strategically placed square that does not fog up. No matter how hot the shower, no matter how hard you breathe on it (I tried), it does not fog. Simply amazing.

Perhaps my obsession with the loos of this city can best be explained with a description of our last latrine in Munich. First of all, the entirely glass shower was exposed to the hotel room, an arms length from the bed. The "door" between the room and the commode room was in fact just a piece of frosted glass that slid on a track and did not come to the floor. This is an entirely awkward lavatory situation.

Final thought - did you know that bathrooms are sometimes called "comfort stations"? Weird.

(The picture of me is courtesy of Chris, Eulynn's husband. I'm standing in front of the Köln cathedral.)


  1. Cute picture!!! I LOVE the jacket! :) Nicely done, Chris.

    Now I'm thinking of upgrading our bathrooms at home to have frosted doors and TV sound.

    - Shannon

  2. This is amazing. If I ever go to Germany, I'm going to have to seek out this magical frosted door bathroom.