Here in the U.S. we can always rely on free rest  room facilities no matter if traveling by car and stopping at fast food restaurants or at official rest stops off the interstate. Or at the mall or big box stores or markets public restrooms are available whether we shop or not. We just take it for granted our basic biological need to relieve ourselves is free.

Not so in Europe where we recently traveled to with a tour group.  The W/C or water closets or also called “toilette” have wash room attendants where one must pay to get past the turnstile into the restrooms.  Free ones are available only at eateries where you are expected to order food and not just go into the rest room as we can in the U.S., such as at McDonald’s or their counterparts.

We paid different fees ranging from the outrageous $l(20ck)in Prague at a museum next to the boat ride at the Vlatava River and as low as 10 ck at the Jewish quarters. Other times they were the equivalent of $.75 in Bratislava and in Budapest.  The W/C in all instances were clean, at least, but usually so narrow a small person as I, upon entering the stall, had to walk to the back near the water tank and turn around before it was possible to close the door.  The toilet paper ranged from akin to rough paper towels to smooth as waxed paper.

Once one of our fellow travelers had the light go out in her stall and had to feel the walls to find the door lock to get out.  At  the museum in Prague, a  troop of pre-schoolers came by and the teacher allowed them to go under the turnstile; what lesson did that convey to them?

And in a  busy, touristy section of Prague where magnificent architectural marvels are seen, I saw a woman allowing her pre-schooler to urinate on the cobblestone street next to the sidewalk. Not far from the magnificent opera house in Budapest the odor of ammonia  permeated the air, and one can guess the reason for it.

While it is true restrooms are not readily available everywhere in the U.S., at least it’s  taken for granted they are free if provided. Be glad you live in the U.S. where W/Cs and the air are free!


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