Originally uploaded by Pat and Amy’s pics

Years ago, my mom shared some advice that she had been given before her own travels to Europe: When a bathroom is available, use it, because you never know when you’ll get the chance again. It’s true that there aren’t nearly as many public toilets here in Ireland as in America, and often there is a 20 cent charge to use them. Another missing item is the public drinking fountain. In nine months of living here, we have yet to see a drinking fountain in Ireland. Actually, when we saw one in Vienna, both of us immediately noticed it.

It does take some getting used to the idea that toilets are so scarce that even the main branch of the Cork City public library doesn’t have a public toilet. When I asked about one there, they directed me to the nearby English Market, where there is a single toilet available to the public. When it’s working it costs 20 cents, but it was out of service for a couple of months recently.

Another big difference between Europe and America is with the way the urinals are almost on display here. Occasionally in America a urinal will be situated in such a way that when the door to the restroom opens the back of a man standing at a urinal can be seen. In most cases here, though, the urinal is on a wall that is easily visible from the door or a window. I mean really, really visible.

Still, I think the oddest moment was when I paid a woman 50 cents to watch me pee. In Ireland, if there is a charge to use the toilet, there is usually just a coin slot for your money which unlocks the door, but in other European countries, an attendant often collects the money as you go in. At the train station in Salzburg, the attendants had a little room they sat in between the men’s and women’s restrooms, with doors to each, and the female attendants would move around in either. So, as I and other men stood at the urinals, a woman walked behind us, directing an older man to the stalls. If you have a shy bladder, you may want to stay away from Europe.

We finally uploaded onto Flickr our pix of our last trip. Sorry, no pictures of peeing, just a video.