For some travelers, using bathrooms in foreign countries can be a troubling experience. There have even been books written about the subject, such as Toilets of the World. Finding a free, uncrowded public bathroom can be a challenge, so if you are ever in any of the following locations, these first three bathrooms might be of use to you in your time of need.
A Notable Norwegian Find
I’m not sure why I have a fascination with foreign bathrooms. It began years ago when I took my first overseas trip. In Oslo, Norway, at the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History, despite numerous interesting exhibits, I was most intrigued by the toilets in the free restrooms. Each had a rotating plastic liner on the seat, and every time a button on the side of the toilet was pushed, the liner would automatically be replaced. My 20-year-old self was quite impressed. It’s been a number of years since my visit to Norway, and those toilets may have been replaced with something even more amazing. If so, I’d love to have an update.
Amazing Austrian Artisanship
Later, on a more recent overseas trip, I made an accidental discovery which made my trip to the Mirabell Gardens (site of some “Sound of Music” scenes) in Salzburg, Austria even more enjoyable. I had been told about the famous Angel Staircase and Marble Hall, which is an original part of Mirabell Palace. If you are ever there, looking for the correct room, stand at the Pegasus fountain in the garden, face the palace, and the room with the Angel Staircase will be on the left end. Some visitors have difficulty finding it, but on my first visit, I was very lucky.
I entered from a lovely courtyard at the end of the building, and there it was. No one else was in the room. My photos of the famous staircase do not do it justice. It was breathtakingly beautiful. After taking a huge quantity of pictures, I quietly walked back down the stairs, turned a corner, and found a very nice little bathroom. It was free, and no one else was waiting to use it. I was thrilled! I kept that bathroom in mind each time I returned to the gardens for a visit, and I hope to return again one day.
Germany’s Best-Kept Secret Panoramic View
Most people are familiar with the famous exterior of Neuschwanstein Castle, in Bavaria, Germany, as shown in the first picture. Very few have seen the exact view pictured in the panoramic scene in the next photo, unless they have visited the women’s public restroom. It is located in a little-used corner of the castle. At the time of my visit, the bathroom was very peaceful and deserted. What a welcome contrast to the throngs of dusty tourists (of which I was one) roaming the corridors! The most fantastic features were the windows, which were open (no screens) to the gorgeous scenery to the north and west of the castle.
I lingered, absorbing the refreshing breeze and marvelling at the wonder of it all. I was amazed that no one else came in during the time I was in the room. It was the highlight of my visit.
Inescapable Italian Ingenuity
I share this next story in the hopes that you may avoid a “tourist trap” restroom, such as the one I stumbled upon in Venice, Italy. It was a very hot day, and my traveling companions chose to rest in the shade of a building. I chose to go exploring. Walking along the seawall, in the blazing sun, I noticed little signs stuck to the walkway with “Bagno”, the Italian word for bathroom, printed on them. The signs were shaped like an arrow, pointing the way. Yes, I thought, I could use a bathroom. I followed the signs. In my trusty, favorite travel shoes I trudged over canal bridges, then up and down staircases, on and on.
Strikingly Memorable Foreign Bathroom Hoax?
After awhile I began to wonder if someone had placed the signs on the walkway as a joke for unsuspecting tourists. Feeling frustrated, I was just about to turn around, when the direction the arrows pointed switched and indicated I should proceed to a pleasant-looking, shady, smaller walkway. I must be getting close, I thought. I soon found myself facing a turnstile placed in a doorway. It was, to my dismay, the entrance to the “Bagno” noted in the signs I had foolishly followed. By that time, I was getting pretty desperate. Feeling very silly, I paid the exorbitant entrance fee and made use of the facilities. So, if you are ever in Venice and you see some “Bagno” signs stuck to a walkway, do your best to find another alternative.
What About You?
Those are all of the bathroom stories I have for you today. Thanks for reading them. I know there are other bathroom stories out there. Do you have a fantastic bathroom find you would like to share? Has anyone else been the victim of a “Bagno” scheme? I’d like to think I wasn’t the only one. Please post any comments in the space provided below, if you like. Happy traveling, and may all of your foreign bathroom experiences be good ones.