The Shelf – It’s a Bit Stinky from ExpatrodinaryAmsterdam

Warning: This Post May be Gross and Disturbing to Some Readers!

I remember quite clearly during my first time living in the Netherlands 20 years ago my awkward and gross fascination with the Dutch toilet. If you have traveled or lived here, you know what I mean. It is something that shouldn’t be talked about – but here goes. And for obvious reasons, I have not included a picture. But feel free to google this topic as I am sure you may find some.

The Dutch are super tall people – Dutch men are the tallest in the world. The average height of Dutch men is six feet tall. I am not sure if this has anything to do with the toilets or not, but I thought I would mention it just the same.

One of the first things I was struck by when I first moved here, and still strikes me as odd, is the shelf inside the toilet. Yes, the shelf. The toilet is not ALL bowl. There is this kind of porcelain shelf before the water. It’s kind of disgusting and fascinating at the same time. You can imagine where I am going with this. If you need to do a poo, you will surely get to see it, and smell it – in all its stinky glory before you flush.

I mean WHY? Just why? Please. Can someone explain this to me? It’s not like this topic comes up in everyday conversation. And I would never want to insult the brilliant and inventive Dutch who reclaimed most of their land from water, who are building parking garages (for bikes!) underneath canals, who installed garbage depositories that push your garbage bag in an instant under ground – right on one’s very street! I would never question the ingenuity and brilliance of the Dutch. But seriously, why?

The good news is that bathrooms are usually very private in a household or restaurant – separated from the rest of the bath, shower and vanity. As an expat from a country that does not have this shelf situation in bathrooms across America,  a lasting and stinky impression is imbedded forever in my experience living here. Expats do talk about this here and there, and since it is an experience different from at home, perhaps it is good to get it out there in the open.



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