My life has included residences in nine states with a half a dozen in cities and towns in Kansas, my birthplace. Until 4 months ago I had no first hand experience of the world beyond but seen enough House Hunters International to know life outside the United States can be very different. Wendy (sister) and I were both curious to see how it would play out.
It would seem the hotel industry has tried to do their best in accommodating Americans. The differences we experienced in our various rooms were more about basic facility design not luxury or comfort no matter the age of the establishment. For example, bathrooms were a frequent topic of conversation between the two of us and fellow travelers. They were all nice and lots bigger than most I’d seen in the HHI episodes but those were also long term rentals or purchases. There were just differences we simply found curious.
For instance, there was never an exhaust fan in any of the bathrooms where we stayed. So taking a shower meant the room became a steam bath that took quite a while to dehumidify as the hairdryer was always in the bedroom. And then there are the other times (particularly when sharing) those fans are very helpful.
Sometimes there was a shower only but when there was a shower bathtub combo the big difference was the bathtub. Every one we encountered had quite a high side making it necessary to hang on to something to get a leg up and over the side. Then the tub didn't always drop back down but rather had an elevated base. It felt like standing on a stage once in (something I personally have always wanted to do while showering. Dream realized!). I kept saying Pat Boone needs to take his walk in tubs there because I think they would be a hit!
Of course before getting into the tub we learned to figure out how the water controls worked. No sets of how to turn on the shower etc. were alike from hotel to hotel. Every single time one of us would have to figure out how to make it work. These are not complaints mind you, just points of interest and things that made us laugh (still). It did get to be a joke between Wendy and I as to figuring out the shower operation.
Before I ever had to deal with the shower/tub or lack of exhaust fan the lack of a tank on the back of the toilet caught my attention. No tank just a flat wall and then a few feet above the bowl a square metal plate on the wall that had either two circles or squares as shown in the photo. It didn't take me long to figure out it was how to flush as it was the only option close. However, it did take me more than a day to realize why there were two options. Once realization dawned, I regarded it as completely genius and I still do. Don't understand why we're not using that technology here in the states.
Anyway to put it delicately, the smaller circle or square is to flush #1 and the bigger square or circle is for #2. Talk about a brilliant way to conserve water. I will be couth and skip the other things I liked about the design of their toilets.
Something also featured in the bathroom of every lodging was a flip top waste can or bin as they are called there. It was shiny metal and the kind that had a little “pedal” to step on to raise the lid. Occasionally there would be a second one in the room. So the thing that made them a huge source of complaint among our fellow travelers (we later learned) was they were so small and light that when you stepped on the pedal it raised the lid but also tipped the whole thing forward. It too got to be a big point of humor and wonder as to who convinced every hotel to have them!
So back to differences and toilets (sorry but when you are on a bus for many hours this becomes a big deal) a number of public facilities in both Scotland and Ireland (and I'm guessing many other places outside the US) are pay to enter. Again curious, there were never change machines. Our driver did his best to alert us of when there would be pay toilets where we were stopping and what would be needed because you had to have exact change. Scotland currently uses Pounds and Ireland is Euros. Let’s just say there were a couple of times we had to borrow change.
On our second day touring and making restroom stops we encountered a sign none of us had ever seen before. On the inside of the stall door was a sign that couldn’t be missed once you were in and turned around. It was a drawing of a person squatting with their feet on the toilet seat. It had a big round circle and a line drawn through it; the symbol for "NO, don't do this." We ladies thought it was a joke and laughed a lot, conjecturing what? Later back on the bus someone mentioned it and we learned from our guide in some cultures that is how they would use the toilet. In Scotland, it's a "no." Personally I'm still trying to figure out how one would accomplish that position!
I’ll share more about the new things I encountered and learned as the journey continues, but enough of potty talk!
* the photo example of the flush buttons was taken in a public restroom in Christ Church Cathedral. I actually took a shot of the whole room because it was the nicest, most private public restroom I'd encountered!