Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Forewarned is Forearmed

Picture this... a lovely fall day, spent wondering thru villas in the Venetian countryside. The astonishing grandeur of the homes, gorgeous art, beautiful gardens, a fun hedge maze to wander through. Add to that, good food and a handsome Italian acting as your personal tour guide; sharing the history of the area, speaking in that sexy accented English... sounds like a perfect day no?

Oh yes, it was... until "It" happened. On the way to visit the villa pictured above, all my water, espresso and wine caught up with me. Still a ways from the villa, driving the winding hilly roads of the countryside, my endurance was pushed to the limit, but FINALLY we arrived at our location. Much to my delight, the first thing I spotted was a few buildings not far from the house. And look - there is a BAR! Bar=ladies room. I am saved! And so, while my Italian purchased the requisite espresso enabling me to use the facilities (tip for traveling in Italy - you ALWAYS have to buy something to use the bathroom) - I hurriedly, yet gracefully (ahem, cough-sputter) ran, I mean walked to the restroom.

I entered. then promptly, with a speed that defied my condition, turned around and walked right back out. grabbing my Italian on the way while he was trying to gulp down the hot espresso. all the while asking me, rather loudly I might add, "what is wrong? what are you doing? why are we leaving?"

Those of you that have spent time in Europe, may have already guessed the horror I happened to see when entering the bathroom. This naive little Texan who was not, I might add, warned beforehand of the sight I might see in the public restrooms. And so, I feel it is my responsibility to warn women around the world that there is always a possibility in Italy you might come across one of these. A "Turkish toilet". Or more aptly, a porcelain hole in the floor, with treads on either side of that hole for your feet.

I dragged my husband as far as that villa, and proceeded to hunt down, in a feverish pitch, the facilities in the building. Thankfully, I lucked out. I found a regular toilet, though lower than what I was accustomed to, one I knew how to use. My husband patiently explained to me (when he got through laughing) that these types of toilets are supposed to be more "hygenic" - a word I would come to hear alot of when dealing with an Italian - though he didn't really go into detail on how one utilized such a thing. To this day, I still don't fully comprehend how to go about using one of these. I understand in theory, but what do you do? completely undress from the waist down? Do you just pull things to the side and hope you have something to hold onto? what if you are wearing pants - I mean EWWWW, I don't want to take my shoes off! More hygenic or not, no thank you.

I have successfully avoided using those in all of my subsequent trips to Italy. I have also, in the telling of the tale, scarred my sister into thinking that ALL toilets in Italy are of that type. (though I have tried and tried to "un-convince" her of that) I feel that while this is not a pretty subject, and I refuse to post a picture (hence the pretty villa pics), travellers should be warned. Be prepared. Either learn their correct usage or when you see one, know you will have to hold it a little longer. Don't be shocked as I was. Knowledge is power. hehe


more later...

10 comments :

Jennifer ASH said...

Oh mercy, I won't even go if the restroom is too gross looking or smelling. There is no way I could handle that. Thank you for the warning!

rowena said...

LMAO - my husband said the same thing. Hygenic eh? Hmmm... I've been here 4 years and I still roll my eyes whenever I come across one. The first thing to happen whenever we go to a new restaurant is for my husband to check out the washroom facilities. If it's a go, he'll nod his head. If not, he'll just scrunch his nose and make a face. Nevertheless, I always try to use skirts. Makes the whole ordeal a bit less traumatic and easier to manuever. heh heh...

J.Doe said...

I would use those Turkish toilets if it was an extreme emergency but if not I would search out another bathroom. No matter how many coffee or packages of candy it took.

Giulia said...

Thanks for the warning. I'd rather wee wee in my pants!

jessica in rome said...

I can't remember how many times in the course of a day out I would buy a caffè only to use the bathroom! I have a week bladder so let's just leave it at buzzin. I hate the Turkish toilets! But what's worse is when there is no soap and no toilet paper. One time the water didn't even work. Now I carry tissues and antibac in my purse EVERYWHERE.

jessica in rome said...

Hey I added you to my blogroll. I hope that's ok with you! ciao!
jessica

KC said...

I ran into one of those Turkish toilets in Como by the lake. I really had to go and there were no cafes open nearby...

I don't like them at all but they actually annoy me less than the regular toilets that don't have seats. I feel that if they're going to go through the trouble of putting in a toilet fixture, they could at least spring a few extra Euro for a seat!

Texas Espresso said...

Jennifer Ash - you are very welcome! I'm glad I could give you a heads up.

Rowena - hehe, those Italians are consistent in some areas aren't they? I think I will implement your plan once I move - let my husband check out the facilities. thanks!

J. doe - girl, me too. and it would have to be EXTREME.

Giulia - glad I could help. lol

Jessica in Rome - oh man, you poor thing. At least you are prepared for anything now. And thanks for the blogroll add! I will do the same

KC - yeah, the no seat toilets are bad too. why do they do that?

Runaway Rubber Duckie said...

Those things are disgusting, but sometimes ya gotta go! It cant be any worse than camping, can it??
No-one ever goes into the correct usage of them though. Firstly, which way do you face?? I have encountered them from Romania to China and even ferry boats in Turkey (ew) and still don't have a clue.

Karla said...

I've used those sorts of toilets in so many places they don't bug me anymore. I mean, I hover over public toilets anyhow, so it's really not a different technique, all told. I always back in...seems safer. And carry my own tp. ERm...and I can only do number one in those. NO WAY can I do, er, the other.

It IS a bit difficult to use them if you are in pants, and i hate it when the floor is wet.

One funny thing I saw in Thailand were signs telling people not to stand on the sit down toilets...so there is some cross cultural confusion. Sometimes I would see footprints on the sit down toilet seats...can you imagine balancing on one of those?