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My fascination with airport bathrooms started a couple of years ago at the Montreal airport.

Our plane had just landed, and I had decided to pay a visit to the ladies' room. On my way out, I noticed that there were several dispensing machines, much like the ones you find in any other public bathroom. Only that besides the customary feminine product dispenser, there were also dispensers for dental floss, gum, and condoms. Flavored condoms at that.

Ohhhhkay, I thought. Who would be looking for a flavored condom vending machine at an airport? Does one go "It's an emergency! We need a condom! Anyone has banana?"

From then on, I decided that paying attention to airport bathrooms would be a good exercise in amusement.

I have yet to be dissapointed.

So far, here are my findings:

Montreal, Canada: Flavored condoms (not in every bathroom, but if you visit a couple you will find them).

Bogota, Colombia: The toilets have no seats. I initially thought that this might be due to security reasons. That is, until I paid a visit to a public rest room in Knoebels Park in Pennsylvania. Much to my amazement, they had the exact same toilet model, with no seats either. And since I doubt that they expect anything to go explodey in Knoebels (other than the occassional customer who may have eaten too many deep fried pierogies), and taking into account that said amusement park is about as old as the Bogota International Airport, I must conclude that both places purchased their toilets from the same early 20th Century manufacturer. Live and learn.

Orly Airport, Paris, France: Those toilets are boring, and not automatic at all. For an international airport in a large capital city (Paris no less!), having to flush my own toilet is sort of a dissapointment. However, accross one of the ladies' room, there are some strategically placed chairs in which you can get a massage and a foot rub. Just so you know.

Antigua and Barbuda: Avoid the rest rooms at all costs. I have seen porta-johns way cleaner than those, plus they leak.

Fortaleza, Brazil: The toilet seats are cushioned. Go figure.

Brasilia, Brazil: They have the exact same toilet model than Fortaleza, only that they are *not* cushioned. I am sorely dissapointed.

Manaus, Brazil: The bathroom is small, and only features a couple of stalls. They are old fashioned, but tankless. Surprisingly, they do feature a hose next to the toilet, which can be used as a bidet in case you want to freshen up. (And who doesn't?) The height of sophistication(?!) It will take months of therapy to erase that image from my brain.

Atlanta, Georgia, USA: There is a sharp and needle disposal container in the ladies' room, with a big hunking "biohazard" sign. EDIT: I don't want to ask. I have learned that this is for diabetics. A nifty little amenity. More airports should have this feature. Kudos Atlanta!

Ronald Reagan National Airport, Washington, DC, USA: It is a most unremarkable bathroom. But if you are interested, toilets are automatic and they do have a baby diaper changing station. But they've got nothing on Atlanta's needle disposal container. You've gotta try harder guys.

And that's it for today. I know I am missing a bunch of other airports, but I wasn't always this observant. It is amazing what you can find around you when you decide to pay attention.

Belfebe out



Mar. 4th, 2010 02:14 pm (UTC)
Traditional Japanese toilets don't HAVE seats. I wonder how many of them are still in use. The Western style of commode was pretty common when I was there in the early 70s.
Mar. 4th, 2010 05:12 pm (UTC)
My sister says that bathrooms in Turkey don't have seats either. Interesting.
Mar. 4th, 2010 05:21 pm (UTC)
Same kind of toilets. You're not meant to sit on them.
Mar. 4th, 2010 06:15 pm (UTC)
I recall that at some point of a trip through Europe when I was very young (the early-mid 50s) there were some public bathrooms (I think in Italy) with pit-type toilets. They had a couple of textured spots on either side of the pit on which the user stood or squatted . . . I haven't seen the Turkish ones but I suspect they're similar.

The Naval ship in which I served was a troop transport. During one NATO exercise we embarked some Turkish troops, who mistook the showers for their type of toilets. It took some explaining to stop them from using them that way.
Mar. 4th, 2010 05:25 pm (UTC)
When I lived there in the late 80s, our house had a Japanese style toilet downstairs and Western style upstairs, but it was a fairly new house (built two years earlier). Older homes (in Kyoto at least) had Japanese style only as did most condos where my friends lived.

In department stores, there was usually one Western stall with a bunch of Japanese ones next to it. The Western stall was pristine because no one ever used it. And there was never a line. =)

At rest stops and in public bathrooms, all Japanese style (and disgusting despite the Japanese propensity for cleanliness).

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