And now for some toilet humour...
I find toilets immensely interesting. I have oft thought that one could base the experiences of one's traveling according the toilets encountered.
The toilets that were available at Birkenau, were of the temporary variety, and made the latrine's for the unfortunate inmates look quite enticing. The smell emanating from the boxes was both curious and over-whelming. If it were not for the fact that the nearest public lavatories were miles away, one would definitely had held on for a bit longer.
Florence's main train station, Santa Maria Novella, is the hub for many trains passing through to Rome. As such, one would have expected the station to be the epitome of modernity, in both its layout and facilities. Sadly, no. I ventured to the toilet here, after a day trip to Pisa. The toilets on the trains are abominably bad, and I was determined to wait until on solid ground once more before partaking of a toilet facility. I found the toilets that were conveniently located on the platform, but was taken aback at what I was to use. Firstly I had to collect my requisite allotted amount of toilet paper before venturing further. I am curious to know who decided that two small squares of the thinnest possible paper is adequate for one's needs. When I confronted the toilet, it was to find that it was of the squat variety, but was made of porcelain (foot-treads in tact for your convenience), with a chain for the flushing. Since I was in Western Europe and not Asia, I had not brushed up on my squat toilet technique prior to traveling. Luckily, at the time, my thighs were sufficiently strong enough to cope with a short squat.
Years later when I ventured for the first time to Thailand, I was again confronted with a squat toilet at the Chatuchak market. On this occasion, I was prepared for the effort required to manoeuvre oneself carefully. I also was prepared for the fact that the "flush" mechanism was via a cup and bucket of water to one's left. What I hadn't counted on was the fact that there were no hooks on the rear of the door for my shopping. Being in Thailand and at their biggest market, I was understandably loaded with shopping. Putting my purchases on the floor, would of course would have been the most convenient next option, except that due to the nature of the flushing, the floor was most decidedly sopping wet - and I couldn't decide whether it was only due to water, or something a little more sinister. So, it was then that I performed what was a incredibly deft combination of yoga and pilates, to achieve my toileting needs, whilst holding aside my pants and, simultaneously, aloft my bags. Proudly I left that toilet with the knowledge that I had faced another travel challenge face-on - and won.
Closer to home, although the toilets do not provide any challenges in their use, they can provide entertainment. One workplace has installed a sanitary napkin facility, that is automated. Wave one's hand over the bin, and the lid opens and awaits your rubbish. A second wave and it returns safely in place. Admittedly, I have never used the bin, but have indeed waved my hand over it many times, watching with child-like fascination at the balletic movements of the lid.
Another workplace has an automated sprayer, which delivers a burst of scent at timed intervals during the day. Oddly, I find that it always seems to spray when I am in the toilet, and never fails to give me a shock.
I have been in toilets where the mirrors of the ladies toilet look directly through to the men's toilets. I have heard of doors of toilets that are clear until locked, and then become opaque. There are toilets with views, most readily coming to mind is the view from Level 35 at the Sofitel in Melbourne, which affords a spectacular view of the MCG and its surrounds.
But my most favourite of all toilets, are those with a plentiful supply of paper, and intriguing graffiti to read.