The river cruise is over, and we have been touring Europe by ourselves. I have noticed my cynicism and frustration with one thing that kind of makes my head spin. Everywhere I go, including a department store, they charge 50 euro to use the bathroom. Some of the bathrooms have a potty guardian but this concept is so institutionalized, they have turnstiles similar to those in a train station. If you do not have the correct change, you are out of luck and better be able to hold it. I find this quite peculiar on a continent that prides itself in socialized medicine and “free health care for all” as a basic human right. What could be more of a human right than to go to the bathroom? Why can’t they come up with the money to pay for those of us who need to use a facility for a basic human function?
When I asked a tour guide about it, he told me that if you want clean bathrooms, you need to pay to get them. How does that equate to health care? If you want good health care, make it free. It just does not make sense. Am I missing something?
Additionally, after doing a Google search I learned that Europeans smoke at double the rate of Americans. If health care is paid for by the government, why doesn’t the government make smoking cessation or prevention more of a priority? But I digress…
On a happier, less cynical note, I have to hand it to the Europeans, they know how to enjoy their day. There are a zillion plazas and outdoor cafes and they are all packed from morning till night. In the morning there are lattes and croissants, midday, more coffee and pastries but also beer and wine, at night there is a full meal, beer and wine and in Amsterdam, marijuana everywhere. Europeans appear more social, interactive and laid back. It is part of their charming culture.
With the weather being warm and sunny and warm there was no better way to relax and enhance my relationship with my husband than by hanging out at a local café. It is the best people-watching experience as well. We could linger at a café and the wait staff would not bother us. We would even have to ask for the check.
Traveling is a great way to enhance relationships. It changes the rhythm of one’s life and everything seems more intentional and planned. Traveling together builds bonds of learning and growing together, being creative problem solvers, making memories and sharing new and exciting experiences. It is wonderful to spend such quality time together and focus on the same thing. I am thankful for this vacation because as I teach about relationship development, I was able to practice the concepts that we at the Center for Relationship Education impart. I will be excited to get back my rhythm at home and at work and will be delighted not to have to pay to use the bathroom. For more info contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
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