Monday, September 19, 2005

International Toilet Search 2005

Our trip to Italy may henceforth be known by this title, since it seemed like all I did was search for bathrooms in Italy, from Venice to Capri.

I'm the kind of person who instinctively takes inventory of all available facilities wherever I go. Even when hiking I'm always on the look-out for areas with particularly lush foliage, just in case. I don't know if it's because I drink more water than most or because my bladder is the size of a thimble, but I spend about 75% of my waking hours in search of places to pee.

I panicked when I heard that public bathrooms are few and far between in Italy. Kind of like when I have a long flight and I'm in the window seat? As soon as I get on I'm wondering if I can make it to the final destination without having to go. Because for some reason I'd almost rather die than ask that stranger on the aisle to get up for five minutes. And what if that person falls asleep? A bathroom trip is TOTALLY OUT OF THE QUESTION.

So wherever we went in Italy, I was taking note of possibilities. And friends? There were not many.

Venice was our first stop and I quickly discovered that the McDonald's close to San Marco's had a bathroom. Only problem? After using it once, I was never able to find that McDonald's again. If you've been to Venice, you might remember that the streets are tiny, winding, and very confusing. Our hotel was out in the less-touristy Cannaregio area, so we had a good hike to the center of the city.

After trying to be discreet and find our way without looking like total tourists, we gave up and just marched around with our big, laminated map flying out in front of us like a flag (laminated! in case it falls in a canal!). And we weren't the only ones. Despite painstaking navigational exercises, we still got lost almost every single time. There was a lot of exclaiming, "How the hell did we get all the way out here!" But Venice, it is beautiful. And if getting lost on those lovely streets was my biggest problem, I considered myself lucky.

My first ever encounter with pay toilets was down by the San Marco waterfront. We always kept "Liz's Emergency Euro" in hubby's pocket, just in case. You put your money in and these plexiglass doors in front of you allow you to enter the Land of Relief. When you're done, you push a red button and the doors open to let you out. And since the same doors are used for both entrance and exit, you had a lot of bandit bathroom users who tried to jump through the doors without paying.

You may be relieved to know that I did not take pictures of any bathrooms in Italy. I planned to, actually, thinking that it would be funny to put some framed black and white prints in my bathroom at home. You know, toilet-themed decoration. But I couldn't find anything even remotely camera-worthy, even when I was trying to be avant-garde. So future visitors, be advised: you will NOT be required to look at pictures of Italian toilets when you use my powder room.

Now, I have a lot more to write about Italy, but I thought I should start with what was foremost on my mind during the trip. Now that it's out of the way, future posts will likely have less to do with the alarming frequency of my bodily functions. You may all thank the Lord.

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Blogger Bearette24 said...

You would probably be very compatible with my husband. His bladder is the size of a pea. Sometimes he goes 4 times during a meal. TMI? Perhaps ;)

Venice is very easy to get lost in. It reminds me of the labyrinth in The Shining. I remember getting lost in Rome, too. They don't really have the grid thing going on.

9:02 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

Yes, we got lost in Rome a few times, too. One day we spent 30 minutes looking for a restaurant whose location defied all navigational logic. When we finally found it it was closed. ;-)

8:49 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I get lost pretty much as a rule no matter where I am, so . . .

And as much as I want to hate on McD's, those golden arches take on a whole new meaning when you are in a foreign land looking for a free western-style toilet. Although I found in Rome that if I walked into a cafe like I knew what I was doing and asked at the bar for the toilet, they would point me toward it with no hassle.

9:37 AM  
Blogger Frema said...

I would have LOVED to see Italy toilet pictures! I keep picturing some kind of telephone booth-type stall thing.

Also, I too am always scouting out Lands of Relief; however, I don't drink a lot of liquids because of this problem, and I still have to "go" about seventeen times a day. Sheesh!

12:30 AM  

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