Loos v Oslu

Friends, today is a special today, and this is a special blog post. I’m sure you could sense it as soon as you clicked on whatever link brought you to my door – this isn’t the typical Bland Blog installment. Why? Because this is my first CROSSOVER post. That’s right, today’s literary gobbet from me doesn’t just fit into one of the headings above, but two. Hold back your excitement.

Sure, most crossovers refer to collaboration between two independent sources, but I think that when you have the content, you don’t need to borrow from other people.

Today I’m continuing my hunt for a local and my quest to review every toilet in the greater Prague area. In my sights: the Belgian beer place confusingly called Los v Oslu. (My clumsy translation is Elk in Oslo. Oslo, famously, is not in Belgium.)

I was first attracted to this cosy pub when I discovered that it a) boasted a whole bunch of non-Pilsner beers and b) was located within spitting distance of my flat. What more could you want?

I really loved the decor of the place – it’s the most recognisable pub I can remember visiting in the Czech Republic, all dark wood, slightly sticky tables, and low lights. It reminded me of a generic Cumbrian pub that caters to tourists on weekends and mardy locals throughout the week. I could imagine them having a deal on kids’ Sunday roasts and legislating on whether muddy dogs were allowed. I felt very at home.

The menu was extensive – for food at least: two laminated brochures appeared before both of us. Vegetarian options, as is common in the Czech Republic, were few, although, perhaps steering into the Belgian theme, the menu did feature some dishes I’ve not seen anywhere else in the city, like two kinds of mussels. I winced at the sight: seafood dishes aren’t at all common in Prague, for the very good reason that Czechia’s landlocked. The beer menu deviated from Belgium altogether, offering the standard Pilsner Urquel or Kozel with a cheeky Flying Cloud IPA tacked on the end.

I opted for an IPA and a goats’ cheese salad, and my friend went for chicken wings. Disappointingly, considering it sold itself as a specialist beer place, the ale tasted claggy and I didn’t consume it with my usual gusto. It left a filmy aftertaste which I only later budged by consuming a lot of imported milkshake stout at my kitchen table. Resigned, it was with a heavy heart and compromised palate that my friend and I agreed not to order a second.

Whilst the beer left much to be desired, I was open-minded as I headed into the toilets. After all, some of the worst pubs I’ve ever visited, as far as drink/atmosphere are concerned, have still provided a decent urinary experience.

The ladies’ consisted, as is conventional, of two small rooms, the first containing a sink, mirror, bin etc, and the second housing the loo itself. To my surprise, however, the lock was located on the door from the sink room to the corridor, rather than between the two bathroom spaces, leaving the user with the sensation of entering a toilet suite. Given that it was a quiet night at Los v Oslu, I enjoyed this luxuriousness, but it did occur to me that it would be frustrating on evenings with higher toilet traffic.

I am not, and I hope no one will contradict me on this, a stickler for consistency, so the contrast between the bar and its toilets didn’t faze me. As I say, the pub itself felt traditional, with its varnished wood and spindly chairs, and its fragrance of beer spilt long ago. The toilet suite, however, was modern in the extreme: an ocean of glistening black tiles offset by the gleaming white john and the minimalist toilet brush. It felt like I’d been transported from the loos of a disappointing bar to some kind of luxury hairdressers’ for the super rich. I was dazzled and amazed by the contrast – the journey that the good people at Los v Oslu took me on really was a trip to see how the other half lives. I’d go even further: I felt like I’d stepped onboard a rocketship.

This second photo better encapsulates the contrast: on the right, a high-tech metal door, a gleaming sink. Steel so brushed you can see your reflection in it – literally. The blue of my Sweden-themed t-shirt appears on the door like a meteor blasting through space. Truly a journey to the cosmos.

On the left, the characteristic stained wood. This, too, is a journey, but rather than blasting off, we’re setting our sights on the past – childhood memories of teas at pubs, of being allowed Coca-Cola and not understanding the appeal of beer.

I also enjoyed the fact that the frame for adverts was left empty. Rather than forcing us to consider eg affordable broadband, half-price electronics etc while on the potty, Los v Oslu invites us to take a moment of quiet reflection. Something we can all learn from.

My experience at Los v Oslu was, then, pretty strongly mixed. Beer- bad. Food – meh. But toilets? An epic journey that takes us from the cosmos to our own memories, from a high-end hairdressers’ to, yes, ourselves.

PS Girls’ toilets only. I can’t speak for the boys’.

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