March 10, 2004




Notes from Mickey Shelton

Europe 2000

This was my first trip to Europe and was asked by my younger travelers to comment on the trip.  Due to my age (56 years), and being raised in rural East Tennessee, I was assigned bathrooms (frequent visits at my age) and language barriers.

Restroom Comments:

We took extra toilet paper and wipes because we thought bathrooms would not be easily available.  This was not the case as trains, train stations, hotels and restaurants all had restrooms that were very available to us.

Although restrooms were available the major problem of toiletry is knowing what they are called and how to use them.  The first problem was when were told to find the “WC” signs.  I though this stood for “Women Could” so I looked for 15 minutes trying to find the “MC” (Men Could)!  Finally, I realized the “WC” (Wash Closet) was for both sexes.

The next problem (in the restaurants) was to go into the Doman or Herrin restroom.  There weren’t any pictures, so I went to the Herrin side because I assumed that men have more hair than women… but later after seeing several hairy armpits I realized that isn’t true in Europe.  However, I discovered that Herrin was correct after all.

The next interesting part of European Bathroom Training is how to flush the toilets and miscellaneous toilet apparatuses.  Bathrooms are wash closets, showers are douches and bidets are great for washing shoes or European personal parts.  In France, where they make everything sound romantic, you ask, “Where is the toilette, my love?”  Also, in Paris, I thought everyone talked openly about doing “Number One” because they said ‘Oui Oui’!  However, I found out that only means, Yes Yes!

The biggest problem once you are in the WC is how to flush the toilets.  To help you save some time look for these;

  1. Little round knobs on the toilet tank that you either pull or push
  2. Round rubber Foot Flusher on the Wall or Floor
  3. Round metal handle on the right side of the toilet tank
  4. Small square plastic flusher on top of the tank
  5. Large rectangular (8” x 10”) plastic panels located on the wall behind and above the toilet tank

And, believe it or not there were more variation which I haven’t listed because you might think I have a “Flusher Fetish”.  However, I will continue with the subject.  Flushing the toilet on the trains wasn’t  a problem because “everything” went straight through a pipe to the tracks below.  Remember you can’t use these toilets while at the train station ---- sanity reasons I guess, ha!

Other generic comments on restrooms are as follows;

  1. Some hotels had “pay” showers
  2. Most rooms at hotels had bathtubs and showers sprayers but not shower curtains…water all over the floor if not careful
  3. Some restrooms had men and women together but in different stalls
  4. No problem with having plenty of hot water, beccuse the Europeans don’t take baths
  5. If your really have to go, while on the highway, just go behind the car or in the bushed and you won’t have to worry about the Flusher!!

Language Barrier Comments

I was raised in the hills of East Tennessee.  My country slang words and East Tennessee accent make it hard enough to speak the King’s English and now I “are” going t Europe and have to speak Italian, Austrian, German, French and Switzerlandism!

I will tell you up front that I could not and still can’t  pronounce 90% of the cities and words in there languages, but I would like to offer some comments!  We flew to Italy and I was confused immediately.  First we went to Rome and it was Roma.  Then Munich Germany which was called Munchen.  The leaning tower of Pizza that I had heard about all my life was really the tower of Pisa.  This was all very confusing!

Backing up for a minute, after Roma we traveled in Italy to a beautiful area called Cinque Terre.  There were five small cities there I thought two of them were Ponderosa and Bonanza.  (I never did find Little Joe or Hoss)  These cities were Vernazza, Monterosa, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiou, but don’t ask me to pronounce them.  Next came Venice which wasn’t to bad because they use words like Pizzeria, grazie, Pizzeria, Gelati (Ice Cream), Pizzeria, Gucci, Lamborghini and Pizzeria.

Next we traveled to Germany where the language is harsh and everyone “yells” at each other.  The cities have names like Dinkelsbuhl, Rothenburg, Bad Megontheism (A lot of Bad somthings in this country), Baden-Baden and even a Castle named Neuschweinstein. 

While in Germany we traveled the “Romantic Road” but it sure didn’t smell like my candels.

Not to bring up the bathroom thing again, but on the German autobahn we kept seeing signs that said, “Ausfarht”.  It actually means Exit, but I thought it was a place to pull over and park your car if you had to pass a little wind.

Ordering food in Germany was easy… just order some kind of wurst (sausage).  They have Bratwurst, Knockwurst, Wiener schnitzel and wieswurst and other wurst’s that all look like giant linked sausages.

Next we traveled to Gimmelwald and Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland.  Here they speak mostly German and since I am now “fluent”  in this language I had no problem speaking Switzerlandism!  Ha!

Our last stop is France where we visited Colmar and Paris.  I remember a few words from the past like bonjour (hello), au revoir (goodbye), Notre-Dame (not the fighting Irish) and Eiffel Tower, which is the Tour Eiffel in French.  French is a beautiful, flowing, romantic language and I enjoyed listening to the French people talk.  I really got excited when I saw a “Brassiere” store with chairs and tables, but they weren’t for the table dancing, just a café.

My final comments on the language barrier is real simple.  If you can learn some of the language before you go to Europe that will make traveling easier.  However, this old Tennessee boy found that most people over the world are friendly and helpful so you can get along fine in Europe if you just smile, point, gesture and grunt a lot.