I have all sorts of great–and not so great–photos of the European countryside and its famous landmarks. We saw many of the requisite tourist sites in the countries we visited. But the most interesting part for me was the little things that make life different. The details that make a writer's settings more authentic. Fun things like bathrooms, rest stops, electrical outlets, hotel rooms, and clothing.
In most countries we visited, the restrooms were called either some variation of toilette or WC (for water closet). WC was apt as most stalls had floor-to-ceiling walls and doors that provided much more privacy than I'm used to. And many of them required payment.
My kids thought this was crazy, but after seeing how nice the facilities were, we decided that we'd be willing to pay to pee in the US if the bathrooms at gas stations and rest stops were half as nice as those in Europe. You could even trade your ticket for a 50 cent (Euro) discount in the store.
Some places didn't have the fancy ticket machines and turnstiles like Germany and Austria. Italy had attendants who stood near the door accepting (usually) optional tips. The public toilet near Westminster Abbey in London had a coin-operated turnstile. In Switzerland and France, the restrooms we encountered were free.
Across Europe, the bathrooms in our hotel rooms were fairly standard, but try explaining what the extra “toilet” in the Italian rooms is to your kids. 😉