Let’s talk about bathrooms. First of all, I did a LOT of research. On a LOT of things. I had spreadsheets people. I thought I was prepared. But somehow, in the midst of all this research, I did not learn about how many different situations can arise with bathrooms!
- In Ireland, there are really not too many “Rest stops”. You can however find a pub or a convenience store/petrol station, and they will have one – you may have to buy something, but it is a small price to pay for a clean (indoor) option.
- Speaking of a price to pay… You almost ALWAYS have to pay for public restrooms!! And I don’t mean just “purchase something from the business”, I mean there is a bathroom fee. This was true in Ireland AND Germany. Sometimes it’s optional, but usually not. It might be something like 50 cents – 1 euro, that really depends on location. There might be an honor system (open plate on a table at the entrance), there might be an attendant that guilt/glares at you to pay up, or it might go all the way up to an automated electronic payment system. We experienced basic turnstile type machines (think entering a metro in a big city) all the way up to a completely electronically locked bathroom that only unlocks the door when you’ve paid. KEEP YOUR COINS HANDY. Some of these do NOT give change back.
- Ireland doesn’t have paper towels. I think this is part of the environmental movement – which is STRONG in Ireland- but it was strange to realize how dependent I was on them. How am I supposed to open the doors without a paper towel?! In the end, obviously this is not a deal breaker. Also, there aren’t many washcloths. I don’t use them, but Gene
- I know that I am naive to the ways of the world. It’s really just a case of not knowing what you don’t know, and when it came to flushing toilets in Ireland and Germany, I did not know there were so many different ways! I’ve seen some variations here in the states – you’ve got your classic handle that you push down (sometimes hold), auto sensors, push button kinds, some with a #1 and a #2 option for water conservation… But there’s also pull cords, paddles (some that automatically stop water flow, some you have to stop yourself), pedals, and some that don’t flush unless you have a certain switch flipped on…the list goes on.
- The same is true for showers. Especially confusing in Ireland B&Bs. Gene’s first order of business when we would get into a new room would be to run around, find all the light switches/buttons/settings and figure out how to work the shower. Some had a small, electric pump in the shower, with varying power source, buttons, settings, time to warm, length of warm water supply, pressure adjustments, etc. Some were more familiar in function, but you had to make sure the button or cord on the ceiling by the shower was activated. Also, sometimes there was a weird glass half door on the shower, hinged to swing both ways. Or sometimes the curtain was the kind that sucked in on you the whole time and the tub was really high and you stubbed your toe EVERY DAMN TIME. It felt like every bathroom trip required brain power, and we changed rooms A LOT, so my brain got tired!
- Side note: In one room, our hotel key had to be inserted into a location by the door to power the room – the whole room. Lights, sockets, shower, everything. Again, great energy savings – yay planet! – you have to take your hotel key with you when you leave, so you can’t leave anything draining power! So, if you cannot for the life of you get the power on in your room, check for something like this by the door!
- Ireland also had a very dry and hot summer, so some towns were still on water restrictions and would have very low water pressure at certain times of night. This was something I hadn’t planned on – it’s hard to have someone take a shower at night so you can save time in the morning if there’s no water pressure to speak of! Hopefully this is irrelevant for your trip!
Again, I am sure there are important details I’ve missed- let me know if you have anything to add, and (as always) if you have any questions, comments or concerns! 🙂
(Cover photo is Padre in front of an award winning bathroom, which he insisted I photograph)