bathrooms

We were talking with some friends about their trip to Italy a couple of months ago and they mentioned that some of the public bathrooms charge for using them. Any comments about this.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
7683 posts

Some do. Just make sure you have change with you. What kind of comment are you looking for?

Posted by Chris
Bedford
28 posts

Thank you for the info. We will make sure we keep coins on hand.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7828 posts

Sometimes a pay bathroom is preferable, they tend to be a bit cleaner.. an attendant is often there to make sure there is toilet paper etc.. BTW.. Always have a little bit of Kleenex in your purse/pocket ,, you never know, some toilets may not have some..

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17783 posts

Chris, Pay washrooms are quite common in places like rail stations (Milano Centrale for example) and not just in Italy. I've also encountered them in Switzerland and other countries (the McClean facilities in rail stations are a good example). As the others have mentioned, they're usually clean and often have an attendant on hand. You may also find free facilities in other places in Italy, including the distinctive "porcelain footprints" style (more common in the south, but I've seen them in the north too). Bathrooms in some restaurants or rest stops are not always clean and some aren't equipped with toilet seats, making it a bit "uncomfortable" for those needing to sit down. On that note, happy travels!

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
3582 posts

In my experience, paying is more the norm than not, even in some restaurants/bierhalls, etc. Never pass up an opportunity in a museum, nice hotel lobby (!), restaurant, etc. Use the train facilities before arriving at the station. When we return from Europe, we bring home LOTS of change in addition to our extra Euro ;-) And double ditto on the Kleenex packages - male or female. Prepare to be amazed...

Posted by Monte
Genesee, ID
1376 posts

The bucket of washing was for flushing. This was at the bus terminal in Uman, Ukraine.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7978 posts

I can't type. It's binjo/benjo depending on where you are in asia and what year you learned to spell it.

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
3582 posts

At least some of you got a bucket of water...Let's just say that I arrived after someone else (shudders)(blink). I totally forgot about The Disappearing Light!!! MANY lights (my experiences seem to be in France mainly) are on a timer...a somewhat short timer. Once time is up, the light goes off and we're talking Pitch Black. There's no warning, and no acclimating to the darkness. Always memorize the room layout before you get too comfy :-( (Many lights in rooms, esp. hotel hallways, are on timers - some are motion-activated, some must be turned on.)

Posted by Liz
Round Rock, TX, USA
91 posts

I agree the restrooms you had to pay for were generally cleaner. I did carry with me in my day bag a small camping size roll of TP, only had to use it once. I also carried a small travel pack of clorox wipes. I used them about 8 times in my 13 day stay. Wet wipes are good for washing hands.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7211 posts

A lot of Italian public restrooms charge. Generally 50 euro cents is the right amount to pay (though you will often see larger denominations in the tray). Many simply have an attendant and a tray, but they make it clear you are expected to pay. Train stations often have a gate where you have to deposit a 50 euro cent coin to enter.

Posted by Nicole P
Truro, NS, Canada
713 posts

I actually kinda appreciate the pay toilets with an attendant...they are clean and stocked with toilet paper...unlike some dismal public toilets (I'm looking at you, Cinque Terre...Monterosso...ugh is all I can say, and Manarola...no tp, no paper towel, no hand dryers, just...carry tp with you if in Cinque Terre)

Posted by Susan
Atlanta, Ga, USA
1463 posts

We often seek out a McDonald's for toilet but found this new situation (cannot blame them). I believe it was in a Livorno McD that after you buy your coffee, etc you will see a code on the receipt and that code gets you into the toilet.

Posted by Monte
Genesee, ID
1376 posts

Your travel experiences will be incomplete until you pay to use a toilet and find a hole in the floor, and the attendant throws a bucket of water at it after you are done. And you are glad you brought your own tissue.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7978 posts

Google 'bingo ditch' and be thankful. Sheesh!

Posted by Rosalyn
Berkeley
1009 posts

O.K., I couldn't resist responding to Eileen's, "be prepared to be amazed." There must be some deep-seated cultural differences about toilets in Europe that are hard for Americans to grasp. Some examples: In the year 2000, the toilets in the main train station of Turin, a modern, major city, were all of the squat variety. At a number of newly-constructed roadside stops and other public areas in France, we have encountered the squat toilet, as well as toilets with no seats; and there is no tp, no soap, no towels. On the other hand, in both those countries we have encountered ultra-modern, ultra-sanitary amenities; where the seat is encased in a plastic sleeve. When you flush, the seat does a little hula, and a new length of plastic replaces what you just sat on. Also, some had antiseptic sprays which cleaned the seat, then a blast of air dried it. I'd amend what the lady said to, "be prepared for anything."

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
3582 posts

"the seat does a little hula" Oh, Rosalyn, LOL!!! I'll think of you every time my seat does a little hula ;-)

Posted by Susan
Atlanta, Ga, USA
1463 posts

Was surprised to see the hole in the floor toilet at Vaux le Compte but they had some of the usual type also. At the Suleymann Mosque in Istanbul there was an attendant, clean hole in the floor, and beside it was a large bucket of water. Not a sink in sight for hand washing but a foot washing station outside the mosque. In Paris at a small cafe near the Shakespeare Bookstore the toilets were downstairs like many are. There was a light on in the stall and as the door closed a ticking sound started and when it stopped the light went off and there was total darkness.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17783 posts

@Ed, Google didn't have any references to "bingo ditch" but I think I know what you're referring to. I agree, that's worse than the usual public facilities being discussed here.

Posted by Michael
Des Moines, IA
2155 posts

So, what was the bucket of water for...flushing? No hand washing! That's interesting, but so is using one's hand for wiping, which is a common thing in some parts as I'm sure most already know. BTW, how in the heck does one keep from spreading microbes when hand-washing after dropping a deuce isn't practiced?

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2852 posts

Chris: It is extremely common in Europe to have to pay to use a bathroom. Get used to this now, or you will have a miserable trip. Always use a "free" bathroom at a museum, restaurant, etc., when you can, but don't be surprised if you have to pay at train stations, airports, malls, stores, etc. If you get a "disappearing light," many of these are on motion sensors, so try waving your arms around. Of course, sometimes the motion sensor is near the door, not near the toilet area, so that doesn't always work.

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
3314 posts

Ah, yes, the famous Pay-to-Pee or as it was known on our tour the P2P. I agree that you can get much facilities. But there must be people on the Helpline who remember putting a dime in the door in order to get to the toilet in women's bathroom's in the US. I am not sure when they were taken out and not every stall was charged. So, you could stand a hop from foot to foot as you waited for the free stall or you could dig that dime out from the bottom of your purse and have relief. My all time worst bathroom was on Crete at the foot of the Samaria Gorge. After the hike I went looking for a WC and was directed to the public toilet. It was on a back street and was indeed the famous hole. But the hole was full. So, I went swimming. Whenever I am in a dubious facility, I remember Crete. Pam

Posted by Monte
Genesee, ID
1376 posts

Since we are gilding the lilly, let me continue with a quote from Denis Diderot, the French author and encyclopedist. "To keep the bowels moving freely is the great aim of life in all social conditions"

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8758 posts

Nobody's mentioned the train toilets? My my you must all travel on the super plush high speeds. Even today many (most) Italian Regionale and InterCity toilets drop straight onto the track. Quite a draft can ensue at speed. And I've seen, but not dared use, on a train, a hole in the floor with no porceilein footies and NO handles anywhere. It wasn't clean. Other than that, if on the plush trains we always use the facilities just before arriving at our destination. Much easier than looking around just after arrival. And the disappearing light? My wife used to work for a major aerospace company near Los Angeles, USA. She's short. When the lights went off, quickly (guess they were saving up for rocket fuel), she had to try waving but her hands didn't often get seen by the device over the cubicle door. She got in the habit of taking something with a long arm with her so she could wave it from the comfort of the throne. Ah, modern technology. No windows either.

Posted by Christina
New York, NY, 10025
365 posts

Go when you can, especially when you find free facilities. Never take the next bathroom for granted. I spent a memorable afternoon going to the Carnavelet Museum in Paris because it was free and I needed to go. And then Two out of the three bathrooms in the place were either broken or being cleaned, which was frustrating.... At least it was a cool museum!

Posted by Nicole P
Truro, NS, Canada
713 posts

I'll use a free (clean) bathroom anywhere whether I have to or not...museums, restaurants, trains...I think I used the washrooms 3 times at the Louvre in 3 hrs...I'd be like 'A washroom! Don't care whether I feel the need to do something...I'm going in!' (I think I got that from my mom...lol...). Learned my lesson after passing up a washroom in Paris, thinking we could us public ones near the Eiffel Tower area...that were closed...ended up hunting and despairing for a while til...McDonalds!

Posted by Laurie Beth
Was MN, now TX
638 posts

Nicole, I think your Mom and mine were related. Mom was always saying, "Don't ever pass up a toilet, you never know when you will find another one." It was right up there with the always wear clear underwear when you go out advice.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7211 posts

Funny how I got a harsh reaction when I said Spain had noticeably cleaner bathrooms than Italy. These posts are reminding me why the very clean bathrooms in Spain stuck out as such a contrast - particularly paying to use a hole in the floor (not to mention lining up to do it).

Posted by Nicole P
Truro, NS, Canada
713 posts

Spot on, Laurie! I prob didn't do that our 1st time overseas, but you learn pretty quick to take advantage (tho my husband hasn't yet!).

Posted by Kelly
St Petersburg Florida
948 posts

I still want to know why the toilet seat gets taken away. On our last trip to spain, we encountered many restaurant toilets without the seat. We figured that maybe they were trying to prevent people from wanting to go number 2 in their establishment.

Posted by Marco
Oxford, United Kingdom
781 posts

I recall coming across 'facilities' at a bus station in California where there was no partitioning between the toilets, so people would have to sit down in full sight of one another.

Posted by Elaine
Mission Viejo, Calif., USA
784 posts

I was shocked how some bathrooms in Italy, don't have toilets. They just have holes in the floors. You have to take off your slacks and underpants, in order to not wet yourself. It is disgusting. They have them in Turkey that way also. Definitely carry some Kleenex and some change.

Posted by Dick
Olympia, WA, USA
671 posts

Let's not forget a shout-out to the once-exciting-now-mostly-broken modular street toilets of Paris. Push the button to go in, you have a certain amount of time then the door opens. The ones I used were clean, but mostly they were out of order on my last visit. My wife and I observe what we call the Queen Mother Principle, (or just QMP in code), which we gleaned from a famous interview where the late mother of Queen Elizabeth was asked how she managed all the public appearances her job required: "Never miss a chance to go." By now Chris is sorry he asked the original question! But it was pretty open-ended, yes? :)

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17783 posts

@Elaine, Travellers are also likely to encounter the "porcelain footprints" style of toilet in Greece, and of course in some of the southern countries the "manner of disposal" of bath tissue is a bit different too.

Posted by Susan and Monte
Granite Bay, CA
681 posts

Oh, a European trip isn't complete without a great bathroom experience! I got pretty good at the "squat" on our trip to France. In Germany there was a different price depending on the height of my husband - sitting or standing! Once the male attendant stood right outside my stall shaking his can of money. That seemed really odd to have him right there. Oh, and the thrill of seeing those tracks when you flush on the train! Makes for some good stories to tell those who haven't experienced it. You have to just go along and make it part of the whole experience. Really, it isn't a big deal, unless the light goes off and you have trouble getting out of the bathroom!

Posted by Margaret
Aschaffenburg, Germany
14 posts

Just a note for men: look out for half-sheltered stalls along the streets in some cities (Amsterdam for example). I think it's a very practical solution to the "public urination" issue, and probably keeps some drunk people from falling in canals.
I guess in an urgent situation a girl could use it too!

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7978 posts

That was the standard deal in Paris way back when. A screen that stopped at you knees. Men could look over the top, but we kids had to stare at the steel. That was also when the Champs wasn't a dump and in the winter you could buy a pocket full of hot chestnuts for five francs or something. Whatever it was, it didn't dent my allowance with was forty pesetas (an even buck) per week. Regal times.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2700 posts

Hi, Aside from the usual places where you can use the facilities for free (some places), such as Burger King, Starbuck's, McDonald, etc, don't forget the dept stores, in Germany like Karstadt, Virgin Music, etc., or even the big hotel chains, Motel One, Steigenberger, Mercure, Novotel, Ibis, etc....also the independent hostels. Basic rule: be prepared to pay 50 cents to one Euro for the WC.

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
3314 posts

I just had to research the See-Through-Loo. A friend of mine from Scotland sent me pix from Aberdeen, but I can't find them. But a good google found these articles. First at Hoax Slayer. But it's the only the Houston part that's the hoax. Here's the BBC article. And then I found this article, which suits this thread very well.