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My BIGGEST shock in Brussels

brussels

Brussels, the capital of the European Union, land of chocolate, french fries and public urinal. Yeah, thats right, public urinal.

Of course I have already seeing public urinals before, after all, public toilets are not supposed to be an European exclusivity. But I bet you are not expecting to find urinals so openly exposed as those you will find in Belgium.

Researches Pre-Travel

I arrived at Midi Station, the most important station in Brussels, the one that links Belgium to the rest of the Europe, Shock in Brusselswondering  what exactly I would find there. I decided to go there due to the indication of a friend, who told me that I would be impressed by what I would see. He was right, I really got impressed since my very first step outside Midi Station, although I highly believe my friend was talking specifically about the Grand Place or the Atomium.

Searching for Brussels online, before arriving there, I saw that one of the symbols of the city was the statue of Mannekin Pis, the famous boy peeing the fountain out. Besides him there are two other statues there, not as famous as him, one is the Jeanneke Pis, a fountain that pictures a little girl peeing, and the Zennike Pis, the statue of a dog peeing in a famous street corner.

But they are not the only ones who like to pee around the city. Apparently these three statues are not only exotic and funny touristic points but also represent a strong costume between the locals of Brussels.

First Impression

Leaving the Midi Station, I was supposed to find the bus stop to go to my hotel, I was told me it was besides the Station itself, in my way there, I stopped a little bit to look around, and noticed that the floor was a bit wet, I looked to my mom and was starting to comment about it when we both looked at our side and muted right the way.

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Right at our side, there it was, not only one but two men peeing in a public urinal, in the middle of the street, in front of the bus stop! I looked down, looked back to my mom and said: Oh My God, please tell me it’s only water, please don’t tell me we are stepping in their pee!!

Turned out that, yeah, we were stepping on their pee, our bags were on their pee, the long skirt of the lady at our side was also on the pee.

But the urinal in the Midi Station is not the only urinal available in the city. They are many. Including one in a church. Brussels might be the only place in the world where you can actually pee in a church’s wall without anybody screaming BLASPHEMIA! at you.

Shock in Brussels

Street Pee Culture

In a conversation with a french friend of mine, who spent a good amount of time in Brussels for reasons, she told me that this public urinal thing is deeper than I thought. It is not only about relieving yourself or having some fun peeing on your neighbor‘s wall, it is actually a part of their culture already, that reached a level of calamity.

The urinal was the government’s latest try to stop the vandal act of peeing anywhere in the city. For years, the government have been trying all kind of stuff to prevent this to happen, including the creation of a kind of paint that would retrieve to you, all your pee, like a ping pong.

The thing is, the pee itself not only makes the city looks dirty or smelling bad, but also damage monuments and buildings due to corrosion.

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Installing public urinals around the city, as well as imposing a fine on those those who keep peeing on the walls, apparently helped to keep it in order, but doesn’t prevent it from being an awkward and maybe funny situation for those who are not used to this kind of view.

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61 Comments

  • Reply
    Alyssa
    2 de março de 2017 at 11:10

    That’s insane! I’ve never heard of anything like this before. Thanks for sharing. I would have turned as red as a tomato. Ha-ha!

    • Reply
      Isadora
      2 de março de 2017 at 11:16

      haha That was something totally new for me as well, I wasn’t expecting to see it!! You should have seen my face, I didn’t know where to turn to haha

  • Reply
    Frank Hubeny
    2 de março de 2017 at 12:16

    Although I’ve never been there my imagination of what Brussels might be like has totally changed. Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply
      Isadora
      2 de março de 2017 at 12:38

      Yeah, sometimes we stick in seing only the good parts of things, but the truth is that nowhere is perfect and as a place has amazing sides, it also has the bad or at least unusual ones. Brussels is still a beautiful place home of a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site and I do recommend people to go. But it is not only about glamour.

  • Reply
    Robyn
    4 de março de 2017 at 02:57

    This is mad! I did not realise that was a thing!! Thanks for the share, I feel enlightened!

  • Reply
    Kristine
    4 de março de 2017 at 11:04

    Hahaha, that’s an interesting take on Brussels. I’ve been there and never really paid attention to all the public urinals, although I always found their famous fountains a bit odd. Lol

    • Reply
      Isadora
      4 de março de 2017 at 11:51

      hahahaha I still hold mixed feeling regarding the fountains, but something inside me knew there was something deep behind the peeing fountains lool

  • Reply
    Kyntra Strickland
    4 de março de 2017 at 11:20

    This is hilarious. I am so glad you shared this. What a shock it would have been when visiting the city for the first time!

    • Reply
      Isadora
      4 de março de 2017 at 11:53

      That is a really funny situation where you dont know if you should stare like a psycho or turn away and leave them in their privacity loool

  • Reply
    Karen
    4 de março de 2017 at 11:36

    Haha, yeah. In Amsterdam, they have these grate urinals, but nowhere for the ladies to go without paying for a toilet. 🙁

    • Reply
      Isadora
      4 de março de 2017 at 11:55

      lol I didn’t know Amsterdam had it too! Aah but that’s really unfair, they should tcharge everybody or don’t charge at all!

  • Reply
    Stella the Travelerette
    4 de março de 2017 at 11:37

    I have a lot of friends from France and they say they make fun of the Belgians for this. I’m American and for me it was a surprise too when I was in Brussels. But the Belgians are very upfront and humorous about everything and I admire this.

    • Reply
      Isadora
      4 de março de 2017 at 12:00

      I wasn’t expecting this kind of thing at all, but definitely they are super humorous about it. Many belgians used to ask me when I was there, what I was thinking of the country and when I mentioned the urinals and the peeing statues, they used to laugh and bring some funny stories about it!

  • Reply
    Megan | Red Around The World
    4 de março de 2017 at 12:18

    I have to say, I was not expecting this! haha. I guess at least they have something to preserve buildings and monuments and what not now.

    • Reply
      Isadora
      4 de março de 2017 at 13:00

      So true!! I wasn’t expecting it either when I booked my travel hahahahaha

  • Reply
    wiebke
    4 de março de 2017 at 12:21

    Haha, this really made me laugh. I was in Brussels for almost a month but didnt see this part of the city (well been to Midi and it’s indeed a dodgy place)

    • Reply
      Isadora
      4 de março de 2017 at 13:05

      Next time you go there you have to make a public urinal hunt hahaha. yeah Midi is not the best of the city indeed, but I have this theory that station never have good surroundings

  • Reply
    Greta
    5 de março de 2017 at 00:54

    woooow! I didn’t realize this was such an issue. Maybe we should get some of these in New York! haha

    -Greta
    http://www.mintyfrosting.com

    • Reply
      Isadora
      5 de março de 2017 at 10:59

      hahaha maybe it would be a good idea!!

  • Reply
    Stephanie
    5 de março de 2017 at 16:04

    While I knew of the peeing statues, I had no idea about the actual peeing! I was there in 2015 and was surprised how much I enjoyed the city, but I don’t recall any urinals or pee. Crazy! lol

    • Reply
      Isadora
      5 de março de 2017 at 19:06

      I find it funny because before going there I didn’t saw anything about the urinal, so they were a surprise for me! But me too, I enjoyed so much that city!!

  • Reply
    Morgan
    6 de março de 2017 at 13:27

    O my goodness what incredible timing! I was in Brussels this weekend and noticed the same thing. I mean I guess it’s a good thing if it encourages everyone to pee in a “proper” place, but still…seems very bizarre and honestly disgusting because it doesn’t seem like the men do a great job of hitting the urinal and urinal ends up on the ground flowing into the streets. xx Morgan

    • Reply
      Isadora
      6 de março de 2017 at 15:14

      fiiiinally someone who saw that too! It normally pass unnoticed by most of people!! It is definitely bizarre! And truth must be said, no matter how big urinals are, men never hit the target loool

  • Reply
    Kate
    6 de março de 2017 at 17:01

    Wow. The title of this post drew me here, the content though. that is crazy! Thank you for sharing this!

    • Reply
      Isadora
      6 de março de 2017 at 18:17

      hahaha thank you for enjoying it! 😀

  • Reply
    Karin
    6 de março de 2017 at 18:04

    Can´t help myself, this is hilarious! 😀 Too bad for the historical buildings, I would have thought the people know better but NO. The most peed city I ever visited was Hyderabad in India, the pee was everywhere but unfortunately no urinals in sight 😉

    • Reply
      Isadora
      6 de março de 2017 at 18:19

      omg lol idk how good or how bad the lack of urinals can be hahahah I should go to Hyderabad check this out!

  • Reply
    Jaynie Wall
    8 de março de 2017 at 00:09

    This is so funny! Hopefully it solves their problem. 🙂

    • Reply
      Isadora
      8 de março de 2017 at 00:32

      I really hope it did!! 😀

  • Reply
    Kirsty
    8 de março de 2017 at 06:42

    I was in Brussels years ago and don’t think they had these as I’m sure I’d remember. Sounds horrible!

    • Reply
      Isadora
      8 de março de 2017 at 12:10

      No no, urinals are there for a long time already!! Next time you go, pay attention when you leave Midi Station, there is one right in the corner

  • Reply
    Sheena
    8 de março de 2017 at 08:46

    Apt title, beautifully written piece 😊

    • Reply
      Isadora
      8 de março de 2017 at 10:28

      Thank you!! 🙂

  • Reply
    Bec Honey
    8 de março de 2017 at 11:00

    Even in a church! That’s so funny! I guess if it solves the peeing on the street problem, go with it!

    • Reply
      Isadora
      8 de março de 2017 at 11:38

      hahah I really hope it fixed the problem!!

  • Reply
    Julian
    8 de março de 2017 at 14:53

    Thats funny and a bit weird. You tend to see those things at festivals but not in the public. I wonder how other cities cope with this? Nice and different post – I hope you still enjoyed the city though 😉

    • Reply
      Isadora
      8 de março de 2017 at 17:45

      Indeed! To be honest that the first time I ever saw such a thing, but people told me that you can find these public urinals in Netherlands as well. Thank you so much, I reeeeally enjoyed Brussels!! It is amazing and I cant wait to go back there! 😀

  • Reply
    Adriana Smith
    8 de março de 2017 at 16:27

    Haha! I never even knew this happened. I didn’t even see these when I was in Brussels. I must’ve overlooked these when searching for chocolate and waffles lol

    • Reply
      Isadora
      8 de março de 2017 at 17:58

      Trust me, you are not missing anything tbh hahahahah but next time you go there, try to look after it to see how awkward it is!! 😀

  • Reply
    Matt Hulland
    8 de março de 2017 at 19:50

    Haha, I think the pee issue probably goes hand in hand (or willy in hand) with the beer consumption. I spent a lot my trip to Brussels peeing, but that is because their beer is so tasty! Fun post, made me giggle, Thanks.

    • Reply
      Isadora
      9 de março de 2017 at 00:28

      “willy in hand”looool. So, finally we met one of the urinal’s user! hahah you made a point here though! Their beer is amazing and they have sooo many kinds of beer, fair enough!

  • Reply
    Lana
    8 de março de 2017 at 20:33

    That’s funny. I was in Bruxelles and I found so exotic to see souvenirs made in the form of the little peeing boy statue.

    • Reply
      Isadora
      9 de março de 2017 at 00:30

      hahaha Exotic is a really good word to describe it!!

  • Reply
    WhenTwoWander
    8 de março de 2017 at 21:33

    Ah there are a few of these in spots in London, I think those are designed to stop homeless people seeing on the street though..

    • Reply
      Isadora
      9 de março de 2017 at 00:31

      Omg i never saw those in London!! It makes sense, at least it organizes things a little bit!

  • Reply
    Katie
    8 de março de 2017 at 22:12

    OMG! I had no clue these were in Brussels too, the only place I’ve ever seen them were in India. What a sight to see!

    • Reply
      Isadora
      9 de março de 2017 at 00:32

      Totally unecessary sight, let’s agree hahahah

  • Reply
    Gem
    8 de março de 2017 at 22:57

    Wow! Seriously? I now wonder what the city smells like haha. I am actually heading to Paris and wanted to stop by Brussels then Amsterdam. For whatever reason, I decided to book my reservation to go straight to Amsterdam, now I don’t regret doing that haha.
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      Isadora
      9 de março de 2017 at 00:34

      To be honest, Midid station isn’t the best place in Brussels, around the urinal, it reaaaally smells bad. But the cente of the city is just amazing, it smells like a mix of sweet things really matches the atmosphere of the city. But brace yourself, there are urinals in Amsterdam too I heard hahahaha

  • Reply
    Erin
    9 de março de 2017 at 01:15

    Wow – to be honest I have no idea public urinals were a thing. I’m quite glad I read this post because BOY I would have been VERY socked to stumble upon this in public. Seems so odd! But the comment above pointed out it might be to stop homeless people from peeing on the streets, which is actual quite practical. Did you enjoy the city otherwise?

    • Reply
      Isadora
      9 de março de 2017 at 01:49

      Yees after reaing that comment I started to understand the reasons a little bit, it would make sense if thats the reason! Brussels is amazing tbh, the city is beautiful, the time I spent there was very remarkable for me, the downtown is beautiful, people are kind, Grand Place is magic, I super recommend!

  • Reply
    Sutee
    9 de março de 2017 at 02:09

    Wow, that is shocking! Public urination problem is a huge problem in SF as well. Imagine paying among the highest rent in the world and having the whole city smell like urine. I’m not sure about the solution though…

    • Reply
      Isadora
      9 de março de 2017 at 10:40

      Yeah that is not fair at all.People can be pretty disgusting sometimes. It is hard to find a solution for this kind of issue but I dont think that building urinals is one of them though, it can organize the pee, but doesn’t make the city smell better in my point of view

  • Reply
    neha
    9 de março de 2017 at 06:21

    Wow..and I thought this phenomena existed only in the less developed parts of the world which lack public amenities. Strangely, my husband lived in Brussels for some time but never mentioned something like this. I am going to go back and ask him. It is really funny as well as disgusting at the same time.

    • Reply
      Isadora
      9 de março de 2017 at 13:41

      Yeees, I’m from a third world country, I would expect to see something like this in MY country, not somewhere in Europe hahah

  • Reply
    Joanna
    9 de março de 2017 at 07:32

    This looks so odd. I have been to Brussels before but I didn’t see these public urinals. They are probably new additions to the city. To be honest, I am not keen on them at all…. I don’t think they bring any value to the city and they advantage men only.

    • Reply
      Isadora
      9 de março de 2017 at 14:25

      Actually I think they are there for a while already! But i don’t understand how it helps the city either, don’t give any value at all

  • Reply
    Tami
    9 de março de 2017 at 20:11

    Honestly, I would have been horrified. I’m a bit of a prude anyway, but this is way over the top for me. I was also offended by the topless women in Times Square in NYC. Good thing Belgium isn’t on my busket list. I never saw anything like this anywhere else in Europe that I’ve visited.

    • Reply
      Isadora
      9 de março de 2017 at 22:53

      I know how it is! I would get offended by topless women in the middle of the city as well! Belgium is amazing besides the urinals though ahahhaha but unfortunately it is not restricted to Belgium only! :/

  • Reply
    Andi
    11 de março de 2017 at 13:32

    WOW! I had not seen those public urinals before! I’ve been to Brussels twice and saw the peeing boy dressed as Santa Claus and for Valentine’s Day, but I knew nothing about the other two statues or this culture of peeing – it’s grossly fascinating! There are traditions that you should continue and others that maybe you should just stop! I would be horrified to have my luggage or clothing in pee!

    • Reply
      Isadora
      12 de março de 2017 at 00:14

      hahahah you are lucky, I arrived in Brussels during the Campaign against AIDS, and guess what? He was dressed with a condom! It was all over his body but it wasnt transparent, it was kind of yellow and many people thought he was dressing as Homer Simpson instead! I bet I had a very unique staying in Brussels looool

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