When traveling the world, there is one thing we all will have to do; and that is use the bathroom.
Depending on where you are, Arkansas, India, or Baghdad, using the commode can look very different.
But what about European bathrooms? Those should be similar to American facilities, right?
Wrong! Going to the restroom in European countries can leave you confused, broke, and afraid to stay hydrated.
I don’t want to say America does everything the best way, but we sure do have the restroom thing down.
Bathing, thankfully, has been a human tradition for centuries. Egyptians were known for their cleanliness dating back to 2000 BC.
Romans had their famous bath houses, where cleansing was a social event, and the Greeks also took pride in their hygiene.
Although bathing itself has been a long-standing tradition, vacating yourself inside a bathroom stall has not.
Water closets, as the early bathrooms with toilets were called, first came to England in the 1880s and spread to most of Europe shortly after.
Indoor plumbing for toilets didn’t become popular in American homes until the 1930s, quite sometime after Europe had already begun using them.
So, with the long-standing traditions, and all the modern inventions, why are Europeans still cramming you into a small box to use the bathroom and then giving you sandpaper to clean yourself with?
Many of the famous hotels and buildings in Europe are centuries old, so when bathroom renovations were needed, there was not adequate space in the existing “washroom” to add modern amenities appropriately.
This explains the shower stalls that seem like they were designed for Lego characters, and toilets that require contortionist skills to sit on.
So if you plan on traveling to Europe in the near future, you may want to put an order in for some showering gadgets and toiletries that will allow you to wash your body with the least amount of movement.
Once you have managed to splash water over yourself in the tiny glass box tucked in the corner of the bathroom, be careful when you step out, because you are entering your personal Mediterranean Sea.
The water seems to have no way of staying inside the showering area, and no one seems to mind.
Even if there is a tub, they don’t believe in shower curtains across the pond, so any movement at all under the little nozzle they call a showerhead results in the same outpour as the leaky glass box.
Also, never leave home without your favorite herbal shampoo, because when traveling abroad, you are unlikely to find complimentary anything in your hotel room; and I’m not just talking about hostel stays.
And be prepared when you have to use the bathroom when you’re out and about. Any of the public buildings in Europe that have a decent sized bathroom, you will have to pay to use.
Most public facilities are going to charge you a Euro to use the facilities; and no, being pregnant or elderly will not get you a free pass.
So keep change on you so you can avoid the uncomfortable situation of being out on the town, and not being able to relieve yourself.
And don’t be surprised if you don’t recognize the commode you need to rest upon in your most urgent moments.
There are many kinds of toilets that we do not use in America but that Europeans find acceptable or even exceptional!
Some commodes don’t have a toilet seat at all, so sit down slowly to avoid a “help me I have fallen and I can’t get up” situation.
Or some of the more fancy latrines may have a bidet, which looks like a sink and sits very low. This is actually your “toilet” and you’ll spray your behind with water instead of toilet paper.
So, if you have little children, please let them know in advance that all the “sinks” they thought were made just for them are not to be messed with.
And if you walk into an elaborate European hotel with all the grand architecture and lavish furniture, don’t be fooled into thinking your bathroom will be just as extravagant either.
While there are many sights and experiences that Europe has to offer that will take your breath away, the restrooms are not one of them.
So just know that after the vacation of your dreams, you can go home and stretch out for a long, hot bath, step out onto a dry bath rug, use the toilet in any position you want, and thank God for American bathrooms.
Please let us know in the comments section if you have mastered the art of European bathrooms or have a memorable European bathroom experience you’d like to share!