Schiphol Airport: Great Dutch Art and Odd Urinal Decals

Amsterdam Travel Blog

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Rijksmuseum Schiphol Airport
We are in Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, which seems to be part airport and part shopping center. The only “duty free” purchase I have made is a big bag of  Haribo Goldbaren candies, which I can buy at our local Target Store. But I am addicted, it’s been 14 days and I couldn’t resist. I also couldn’t resist the McDonald’s, where I had a Big Mac. It is average food, I’ll grant you, but at least you can depend on it being average wherever you go. God bless America.
 
Besides the mall-like nature of Schiphol, there are a couple other things that I am compelled to mention.
Schiphol Shopping Plaza
First, there is a small art gallery in the airport that is part of the Rijksmuseum. The Rijksmuseum is a great museum in Amsterdam and is very strong on Dutch painting. Surprised? Vermeer, Rembrandt, etc. Anyway, the exhibit at the airport was on Dutch realism and intriguing to see. Oh, and it’s free. Last summer we were in Schiphol when an exhibit called “Really Rembrandt?” was on display and it showcased paintings that had at one time all been considered Rembrandt originals but were now considered forgeries or mistaken identities. Deb likes the museum shop just below the exhibit space. Be sure to find both the museum and the shop if you love art and have a little extra time to kill.

On the less cerebral side of life at Schiphol, the other thing that strikes me are the urinals in the mens’ rooms.
Urinal Fly
Women will have to imagine this, I suppose. The first time I used the facilities, I noticed a fly plastered on the inside of the urinal. I thought, “What a way to die!” But then I saw that it was a decal. Then I thought, “What a strange practical joke. Those Dutch and their sense of humor.” However, because I was curious, I noticed that every urinal had a fly decal in the same spot. Thus, I have concluded that those in charge of the urinals put them there for a purpose. An aiming point, maybe? I am curious about all of this, but I have not been curious enough to go to an airport information booth and say, “Tell me about the fly decals in the mens’ rooms.” So I’ll have to be satisfied with my theories. [Editor's Note: After doing research, I have learned that my theory is valid - the fly improves accuracy. I have also learned that there is a football stadium in the US that puts opponent team logos in the same spots for avid fans to aim at.]

Such is the nature of international travel that after 15 days of travel through Austria, Hungary, Croatia and Greece, I am left pondering urinals. But toilets actually are one of the interesting aspects of life in other countries. American life is so incredibly heterogeneous. The same fast food wherever we go, the same department stores, and the same type of toilets. “What could be different about toilets?” you ask. Travel the world and find out.

But before you go on your quest, I’ll just tell you a little about handles. Ours are silver and generally on the upper left side of the tank. But in Europe there is great diversity. Knobs on the top that you pull up. Tanks mounted on the wall above the stool with knobs that you pull down. And knobs that are cleverly hidden when the toilet seat is raised. But the best toilets have variable flush mechanisms. Push the little button on the top of the tank and you get a little flush; press the big button next to it and get a big flush. I won’t go into the details because I suspect that you can figure it out. But the bottom line (forgive the play on words) is that water is more precious to Europeans and they need to be a little more conservative than most of us in the USA.

There are better things for me to comment on (like European coffee and whether stop signs really mean “stop.”) But instead I’ll say that one of the real reasons I like foreign travel is the diversity. Things are different - the food, the cars, the clothing, not to mention the language. Or the toilets.

Having said that, I am looking forward to getting home where you can say, “How about those Twins, then?” and people will understand. And where, in most American households, you could visit a bathroom in the dark, reach for the flush handle on the upper left side of the tank and get a big flush time and again.
alyssa_ob says:
I can't say I ever noticed the flies, but then again, I can't say I've visited a urinal in Europe either ;) Thanks for the insight!
Posted on: Jun 20, 2007
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Rijksmuseum Schiphol Airport
Rijksmuseum Schiphol Airport
Schiphol Shopping Plaza
Schiphol Shopping Plaza
Urinal Fly
Urinal Fly
Amsterdam
photo by: pearcetoyou