Modern Greek toilets

So with all of us recovering from excessive New Year partying, I think it's time to talk about going to the toilet.

Let me start with some modern travel advice:  it's a little known but quaint custom of modern Greece that you do not put the used paper in the toilet and flush it.  This is because Greek sewerage pipes are half the width of pipes anywhere else on the planet, and if you flush the paper, then the drain will block and that with which you thought you were permanently parted will make an unwelcome return.

Modern Greek toilets have a bin next to the bowl.  The paper goes in there, and is disposed with the other trash.  I mention this little detail because many tourists find it impossible to believe, despite the numerous signs put up by the locals begging people not to flush the paper.  (Recent buildings don't have this problem...sometimes.)

Another interesting custom is the bathroom attendant, who is to be found at many conveniences throughout the eastern Mediterranean.  Bathroom attendants have approximately the worst job in the world.  You pay this nice person a small sum at the entrance, in return for which you are given the toilet paper which you otherwise will not find within.  Tourists who don't know the system will sometimes be heard from within toilet stalls, calling plaintively for help after it's too late.

Of course, the attendant system leaves the question of how much paper you get for your money.  I recall this being a particular problem in Yugoslavia in the years before that sad country imploded.  It was quite normal to hand over your cash and receive three thin squares of forlorn paper that weren't going to stretch the distance, so to speak.  The value of the dinar was in free-fall at the time due to hyperinflation.  For the cost of the toilet paper, we calculated that it was cheaper to cut out the middleman and just use your paper money.

This is why backpacker guides sometimes advise you to carry your own rolls of paper, which then become the target of desperate thieves.


ThereseTaylor said...

Scary. Gary, this post is very, very scary.

Gary Corby said...

Maybe I missed my calling. Perhaps I should write Horror?