Saturday, 8 January 2011

Let's Check Out The Loo

     No matter what country I was cycling in, one category of a ‘man-made’ monument I found that was never duplicated was the washroom. One of the things I wished for on a long, riding day (besides no head wind and a mountain’s incline less than 40 degrees) was a clean washroom at the end of the ride. The photo above shows that the good citizens of Telford in England don't fool around - they like to boast of their exquisite loos. 
     On a 6 month European trip, the adequate washrooms did outnumber the bad ones. There were a number of surprises such as:
     - Nierst, Germany: Washrooms were located in trailers a good 10 minute walk from the tent. I have to admit that there were enough washrooms as they were built within 6 large trailers. Finding a trailer without a locked entrance door was another story. I finally found an open trailer but I had to take a shower with only cold water in the dark as the lights did not work. My cycling companion, M, never did find a woman’s washroom trailer that was unlocked and so while I stood guard outside, she took a cold shower in the dark.
     - Chester England: The floors were atrocious – green slime and mould on the floor and walls; the sewer system backed up on our arrival to the campground.
     - Milan, Italy: The first Italian washroom I used was fairly clean – it was located in the train station. The issue I had with it was the entrance fee. As I ran towards the washroom (I really had to use it!), a woman sitting at a desk stated very sternly, “One Euro!” I was frantic - I ran back to my gear, retrieved a Euro, paid the fee and was initiated to my first ‘pay-first’ squat toilet.
     The most impressive washroom I experienced was in the Flaminio Village Bungalow Park just outside of Rome. One could eat off the floor - a cleaning attendant was constantly polishing, sweeping and cleaning floors, walls and plumbing fixtures. Classical music played overhead while I showered in my individual stall with an adjoining dressing cubicle that was big enough for 3 people. Some stalls even had a bathtub! The excellent lighting system allowed me not having to squint to see myself while shaving.
     The campground was quite big and accommodated large RVs and caravans. To accommodate families and children, a child’s washroom was available - a description is not necessary as the photo below speaks for itself.
     Numerous travel blogs will have photos of a decrepit washroom. A blog that I follow, ‘Rolf Potts Vagabonding’ has an interesting entry:  What does it take to be a frugal traveler?

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