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When it comes to European bathroom etiquette and general knowledge, ignorance is not bliss.

The more information you have in regards to finding and using the washroom facilities, the less likely you will become scarred by your experiences.

Case in point:

A coworker who had travelled to Paris before my first trip to Italy shared her overseas experiences with me.

And I’m very glad that she did.

I was very surprised to learn about something called a “squatter’s toilet.”

I appreciated her insight, and she warned me that they were common throughout Europe especially in older and less developed areas and establishments.

Had she not warned me about them, I have no doubt that I would have been reduced to tears if and when I was suddenly confronted by the cold reality that I would be forced to use one.

If you are planning a trip to Europe, and/or find yourself curious about these squatter toilets and would like to learn more about them I suggest you google this subject matter as there are a number of sites that go into precise detail and instruction on how to properly use them.

As for myself, I do not have the heart or the will to write about them.

I’ve touched upon this subject matter at this point only because it was during my first trip to Pompeii that I began my adventures with how shall we say….

… Overcoming challenges when you find yourself in a cultural predicament when nature calls.

Picture this:

It was our first trip to Pompeii in September 2008.

We had finished our luncheon and I was taking advantage of the outdoor bazaar to pick up some Pompeiian souvenirs before our tour on the Pompeii ruins began.

After making some purchases I started scouting the area for a washroom to ensure that I would not get caught short during the tour as I highly doubted the ruins of Pompeii would include a 7-11 or other similar pitt stop.

I found a little building which appeared to be the designated ladies room.

There was an old woman sitting at the entrance.

As I approached the door, she held out her hand to me.

She wanted the equivalent of fifty cents before she would allow me to enter the bathroom.

There was a small paper sign over her head which gave the name of the charity that was being collected from the public for that day.

I did not have the fifty cents.

I told her that if she allowed me to use the facilities, I would immediately return with the money.

She nodded her head no.

Exasperated, I went to look for Frank for the required change.

I returned with double the amount required, and handed it all to her.

When she tried to give me back the change I told her to set the extra aside for the next desperate person who came along shortchanged…

Henceforth, I had no problem as I spirited myself away to make use of the facilities as I left her behind in a proverbial cloud of dust….

…Speechless.

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