Tourist treat - famous toilets
BERLIN (Reuters) - For tourists tired of traditional sightseeing tours, one Berlin tour guide is offering something altogether different: a tour of Berlin's public conveniences.
Tour guide Anna Haase wanted to take visitors to Berlin off the beaten track and came up with the novel idea of showing them some of the German capital's most famous toilets.
She takes groups around the city's lavatories, telling them about the history of the toilet's development from biblical times to the present day and showing them toilets ranging from the oldest and most primitive to the newest and most technical.
Haase came up with the idea of taking a closer look at Berlin's "WCs" (or water closets) after attending the annual International Tourist Guide Day in 2005 in Berlin, when the theme was 'oases of calm'.
"I thought my colleagues would probably all do tours of parks and churches, but I wanted to break a taboo and explain the history of Berlin's hygiene and toilet culture," she told Reuters.
Highlights of the tour include a visit to a toilet block dating from the late 19th century and a trip to the Kaiser's fully restored bathroom at the Potsdamer Platz square.
She also wants to use the tour to draw attention to the lack of toilets for tour groups in Berlin.
Haase says that the toilet tours are in demand, especially from clubs and societies, as well as from people with a specialist or professional interest in the topic.
"At first people tend to turn their nose up, but then they are generally surprised at the interesting facts that they learn about on the tour," she said.
In keeping with the tour's theme, the meeting point is at the 19th century toilet block at the Gendarmenmarkt square, whilst a restaurant called 'The Loo' is the finishing point.
There tourists are shown a Japanese automatic toilet which costs as much as a small car, according to Haase.
(Editing by Paul Casciato)