This first one is different, than what you may encounter at ‘home’ (unless home is Italy or parts of France), but a good difference I think. I waxed poetic about ‘what is a bidet’ and all its merits last year. Go read that post, I promise a few chuckles will be had. Suffice it to say, I love some bidet.
The Two-Tap Sink
No, not a fun, new dance craze. I assume having two spigots is just due to old plumbing, but I can’t find anything good about this. The hot side stays hot and the cold side, cold…so if you want to wash your face without scalding or freezing it, I suppose you have to go all old-style by plugging and filling the sink and using it as a real wash basin. Or just do like I do and run your cupped hands back and forth really quickly to make a small mix of warm water. I did this in my University dorm for about a year and hoped it was the last time. Not so in some old timey hotels.
There is nothing wrong with a detachable showerhead that you can handhold to wash certain areas, or even keep down low if you are not washing your hair, etc. But some of these shower heads have no wall attachment or if they do, it’s just meant as a holder and can’t correctly be angled toward your head and body. The further east I go, the more I encounter this. I remember in the apartment I was staying in Istanbul, I MacGyvered some makeshift shower head holder with string, a rubber band, and chewing gum (okay no, gum). That is one thing I do enjoy about a hands-free American shower. No need to hold the head in one hand and wash with the other. You can go all-out crazy, feeling yourself up two-handed style and get all soapy in a jiffy – also cutting shower time in half. But some places just don’t give you the choice.
Adjustable Shower head
On the flip side, something I love in many European showers is the shower head attached to a metal rod allowing you to slide it up and down depending on your height, and even better depending on what you want to wash. There are times when I am just feeling icky and want to take a quick shower, but not wash my hair (many of these icky times, a bidet would come in handy…see??). Instead of doing some kind of shower dance in which I try not to get my long hair wet (which I inevitably do anyway), or having to wear clips and headbands and such to keep my hair up as much as possible (trying really hard here folks to NOT where a shower cap – even if I am alone!), I can simply lower the shower head to below my head-level and voila, body-only shower. Seriously good idea.
Shower is the Bathroom
I have stayed in many places where the entire bathroom is treated as the shower. There is just a small divider from the shower ‘stall’ the rest of the room and there’s just one drain on the floor. In my tiny hotel bathroom in Hong Kong, there was no division whatsoever. The shower head was above the toilet so I literally sat on the toilet lid while washing my hair. In some ways, I guess this is okay as it’s sort of a ‘wet’ room anyway. But I don’t really like the whole floor getting wet since after my shower I like to stand near the sink and moisturize, swab out my ears, and other fun hygienic rituals. I prefer to do this with dry feet…not standing in a puddle. Plus, you have to make sure your roll of toilet paper is safely tucked away or else you’ll have one squishy mess.
I’ve used some of the smallest bathrooms in my life during my travels. I’ve gotten good at balancing and shaving in tight showers. I don’t mind this much actually because I really don’t need all that American room. But there are some times I get in front of a mirror and want to do a little jig (yes, sometimes I get jiggy in the bathroom) and more room would help with this pastime…at least to cut down on bumps and bruises.
What did I miss? What foreign bathroom bizarreness have you encountered on your travels??