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.
I arrived at Midi Station, the most important station in Brussels, the one that links Belgium to the rest of the Europe, wondering 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.