The changing face of Greece. Nature's call.


 
Hearing that "Turkish" or "squat" lavatories are making a come back in Europe got me thinking about how many things have changed, or rather, how many things you don't see any more, since I came to live in Greece thirty seven years ago.
 
A "Turkish" lavatory is one of them, or so I thought.
A Turkish toilet" is a slab of porcelain laid into the floor surrounding a hole with two raised areas to put your feet on.
 
Apparently in Litochoro, a place at the foot of Mount Olympus in Northern Greece, there is a new posh coffee shop. The bathroom boasts recessed lighting, bowl on counter style marble and stone wash basins, the water is dispensed from electronic sensors and....the "Turkish Toilet"
 
 
Turkish toilet

 
The reason for this being that they are more hygienic, you don't have to touch anything and I suspect easier to maintain.
Litochoro is swamped with tourists, and anywhere with lots of tourists, archaeological sites, train stations etc were where this type of lavatory used to be found.
 
Roman lavatories, Ancient Ephesus, Turkey.
 
 
It seems the Turks had borrowed the idea for their lavatories from the Romans, it also seemed to be quite a social affair, maybe there was even a waiter serving coffee!
 

What a culture shock seeing these things my first year in Greece, the first reaction being; "what's that?" the second "how do you use it?"
They were in most tavernas, bars and discos.
If  the place was a bit classy, they flushed, otherwise there was a bucket placed strategically near the tap, no one ever used it!
 
It took me a while to work out why a lot of my jeans and trousers had white lines and blotches around the bottom of the legs.
It was from these Turkish toilets; they were frequently swilled out with neat bleach, which your trousers trailed in!
I formed the habit of rolling my trousers up to the knee before using the "Turkish toilets"
It would have been preferable to go outside and find the nearest bush.
 
Greek plumbing seems to have gone backwards since ancient times when over two thousand years ago the palace of Knossos in Crete had flush lavatories.
Much of today's Greek plumbing system can't cope with loo paper and used paper is put into a waste basket specifically for this!
Yes, horrible isn't it?
Any paper thrown in the bowl will eventually cause blocked pipes.
You see this sign in lavatories all over Greece.

 
 
Another thing not seen much now, apart from in public lavatories at the main archaeological sites, is the lavatory attendant.
She could be found sitting at the entrance handing out a few sheets of loo paper, a small plate at her side holding a few coins, obviously a tip was expected!
 
We had one of these attendants at our family business at the Korinth canal, Kiria Yianoula.
Kiria Yianoula kept the place clean, doled out the loo paper, expected a tip and swore under her breath at anyone who didn't leave one!
 
In about 1980 MGG(My Greek God)gave the whole place a makeover, special emphasis was given to the lavatories, at this time the category, A, B or C, of the cafe, restaurant bar etc. was awarded according to how up to date and clean the lavatories were. We were awarded first A!
 
I imagine that this system of basing the category on the state of the lavatories was to make the Greeks get their act together on the lavatory scene.
 
Bar Canal Athanasakos, family business, that's me in the foreground.Just looking at the cars makes me feel old!
 

A lot can be learnt about people's lavatory habits when you run a business that has "facilities"
People will pinch anything, loo rolls, not just one but from every stall.
They even pinch the roll holders.
This really kept Kiria Yianoula on her toes!
 


 
Another thing that made Kiria Yianoula swear and not under her breath but as loud as could be was when people squatted on the lavatory seat, yes, this happened a lot, or worse still they didn't use the lavatory at all, they used the floor!
This wasn't the European tourists it was the Greeks or tourists from Eastern countries.
Here's  another sign that was often seen in Greek lavatories because of the above.
Kiria Yianoula had one of course!
 


 
 
 
I for one will not welcome the reappearance of the" Turkish toilet"

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