I was thinking last evening about the challenges people face when they are in a country where they do not speak the language. That in itself is a real handicap, but in addition, just learning how things work or operate can be a bigger hindrance.
I've gotten myself into some predicaments while traveling in Europe. Problem spots are figuring out parking meters and parking garage protocols, washing machines and toilets. Today I will speak about the toilets.
I would venture to say, most American toilets operate the same. In Italy or France, you could be faced with a real problem. Finding the flusher is the challenge. I have been known to spend a lot of time in public restrooms, simply trying to figure out how to flush. Sometimes there is a foot pedal on the floor, a tiny, almost hidden button on the wall, a cord pulled from near the ceiling, and my favorite, the double flusher where you choose a regular or eco-friendly flush.
The most disturbing toilet or W.C. as it is known in most of Europe (meaning water closet) is what is called a Turkish toilet. It is simply a hole in the floor with a grooved ceramic foot plate on either side. It is slanted with the higher edge against the wall.
The first time I saw this, I decided I could wait until later. I told my husband I had no clue how to straddle something like that and would have to read up on it first. In all honesty, I still avoid that type of apparatus even though I have found out that you back up on the foot plates. Have you ever!
I truly believe these challenging situations are what draws me back to the old country every time. To get out of down-filled beds with square pillows and emerge into the daily life of a European, make my French press coffee or Italian espresso and eat breakfast as the Europeans do. To walk the old cobblestone streets in awe of the magnificant architecture and the "oldness" of everything. That makes me wonder if I was born on the right side of the ocean because this is what I truly love and miss when I am back home.
I'll tell you about my experiences with the washing machine later....
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