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Skip to my loo

I have all sorts of great–and not so great–photos of the European countryside and its famous landmarks. We saw many of the requisite tourist sites in the countries we visited. But the most interesting part for me was the little things that make life different. The details that make a writer's settings more authentic. Fun things like bathrooms, rest stops, electrical outlets, hotel rooms, and clothing.

In most countries we visited, the restrooms were called either some variation of toilette or WC (for water closet). WC was apt as most stalls had floor-to-ceiling walls and doors that provided much more privacy than I'm used to. And many of them required payment.

My kids thought this was crazy, but after seeing how nice the facilities were, we decided that we'd be willing to pay to pee in the US if the bathrooms at gas stations and rest stops were half as nice as those in Europe. You could even trade your ticket for a 50 cent (Euro) discount in the store.

Ticket for the toilet at a rest stop in Germany

Some places didn't have the fancy ticket machines and turnstiles like Germany and Austria. Italy had attendants who stood near the door accepting (usually) optional tips. The public toilet near Westminster Abbey in London had a coin-operated turnstile. In Switzerland and France, the restrooms we encountered were free.

Across Europe, the bathrooms in our hotel rooms were fairly standard, but try explaining what the extra “toilet” in the Italian rooms is to your kids. 😉

Italian hotel bathroom

Tell your friends!


  1. Reply

    Ooh, I remember that explanation the first time to ME. I was mortified. LOL. Don’t you just love soaking up the culture and all the little details that would usually go unnoticed except to another writer/artist? Totally jealous you’re traveling…and love it!

    • Reply

      Sybir: Yeah, we kind of skipped the details. 😉 I absolutely love the culture and details. That was more interesting in a lot of cases than the famous buildings and landmarks.

      I’ve been waiting almost 30 years to go back to Europe, so it was awesome. Thanks!

  2. Reply

    You gotta love the pay toilets in Europe. I was in Budapest, Hungary in 2006. I also toured Hungary, visiting ancient buried castles and churches. It was spectacular. Yet everywhere we went, we paid to get into bathrooms. I wasn’t used to it, but the Hungarians I was with said it was normal. I got used to it by the end and appreciated why they did it.

    Great post for people who haven’t seen this…

    • Reply

      Thanks, Daryl. Every time my kids said something was “weird”, I tried to get them to see “different” instead. Sometimes different is better, sometimes not.

      On our trip up from Alabama last month, I would have gladly paid for a clean bathroom after some of the disgusting ones we saw.

  3. Reply

    Sounds like a great trip, Gwen. I love the little details. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to travel without a writer’s mind. I can’t go anywhere without seeing story potential.

    I’m looking forward to hearing more about this trip.


    • Reply

      Thanks, Mary, it was a lot of fun. Even before I was a writer, I was always a detail person. Maybe that was my writer’s mind at work before I knew it. 😉

  4. Rylee


    I think I had watched Crocodile Dundee 2 before we went to europe… the Crocodile guy comes to america and stays at a fancy New York hotel that has a bidet in the bathroom… That, and I think they covered that as a noun in french class in high school…

    Anyway, it is always fun to read your reviews and comments et al. Glad you were able to get out there!

  5. Reply

    It looks like you had a wonderful trip, I can’t wait to read more about it.

    The first time my family went to Europe my sister was 4, and I swear she thought the bidet was a little Emily-sized bathtub. She climbed in, had the water running and was trying to figure out how to plug the drain before my mom found her.

    That’s a story we still love to tell. 🙂

  6. Pingback: No detail too small « The Edited Life

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