The Never-ending Toilet Adventure


One of the most entertaining differences we have encountered around the world is the great variety in the toilets.  We have traveled extensively around Europe and to other countries around the world and we have seen almost as many different toilets as countries.

Ancient Toilets

Some the toilets we have come across seem as ancient as these ones!

When we were growing up we only ever traveled in North America and all the toilets we came across had a simple flush handle on the front of the toilet tank.  Since our first excursion to Europe in 2005, we have come across every toilet under the sun!  Who knew there were so many different ways to flush?!?  We have seen the most basic hole in the ground toilet all the way up to a self-sanitizing toilet that sanitizes while it flushes.  And we cannot forget the “open air” urinals we came across on the streets of Amsterdam where you are peeing out in the open and (if you are “lucky” enough) looking directly at another man peeing across from you!

We have seen many toilets with all different ways to flush.  It is quite the adventure to walk into a restroom (or bathroom, or toilet, or water closet) and not know how you are going to be able to flush!  Sometimes you have to spend way too long in the stall or at the urinal just searching for that magic flusher.  Here is a list of all the types of flushers we have come across (not necessarily all that are out there):

  • The most common type of flusher WE have come across is, like the North American style, the toilet handle on the front of the toilet tank that you press down to flush, since we are from North America and have traveled around here quite a bit.

Wall Button Toilet

  • The other one we have seen many times is the two button system on the top of the toilet tank.  There are two buttons for two different types of flushing (one button produces a light flush – for going number 1 and the second is for a big flush – for a number 2).

Tank Button Toilet

  • Naturally, the hole in the ground, though it was inside a toilet building in a stall, has no flush option.
  • Handles attached to chains that you must pull down to flush and we have seen these placed all around the stall including the back of the toilet tank and hanging from the ceiling.
  • Toilets with a pedal on the floor.  As with the chains, these pedals can be located anywhere throughout the stall and it is rarely easy to find them!
  • A more common trend we are coming across recently is toilets that flush automatically when you move away from a sensor.  Variations on this include having to wave your hand in front of a sensor which may be located on the wall behind the toilet or elsewhere in the stall.
  • Last, we have seen automatic toilets that flush when you move away from the seat AND the seats rotate through a sanitizing roller to clean the seat when you are done!

Trying to figure out the flushing mechanism on this wide variety of toilets has provided us with some funny stories from our experiences in these random toilets:

When we were in Bora Bora, French Polynesia, we were lucky enough to head to Blood Mary’s restaurant for one dinner (one of our must do activities in Bora Bora).  When Evan went to the toilet he did the now common search for the flusher.  Eventually, his eyes fell on a wood-carved penis hanging from the roof by a chain.  His initial thought was “this cannot be the flusher,” but he pulled and sure enough the toilet flushed!  Maybe it is just us, but we believe that you should not pull on a penis to flush ;).  All joking aside the restaurant is great and the rest of the toilet is amazing and you should definitely check it out.

Something that we think is becoming an all too common trend with automatic flush toilets is the random flush.  Okay here’s the scenario, you are on the toilet doing your business and all of a sudden the toilet starts to flush!  I guess a shift in your position caused the sensor to assume you had moved on.  Now you are sitting there with a misted behind and still not done!

Recently, on our trip to Scotland we had made a stop for some gas and Tracy needed to use the facilities.  This time instead of needing to do the “where’s the flusher dance” she immediately saw a red chain hanging from the ceiling for flushing (or so she thought).  Now the sad part of this story is that in gas stations and rest stops around Scotland they have had a number of assaults happening in toilet facilities and so they have installed alarms for patrons to pull in emergencies.  Tracy pulled this chain and set off a buzzer.  She released it and it stopped, but no flush!  She tried again and still no flush…now she is getting confused.  She was so sure she had it this time.  Finally, she located the actual flusher, flushed, washed up and walked out of the station sheepishly.  Luckily, people were aware she was okay and did not come breaking down the door!

It is always an adventure to walk into a toilet and not know how you are going to flush.  We have been into some stalls and not been able to figure it out!  We have searched and searched and had no clue how we were supposed to flush, so we just had to walk out and leave it!  We know, gross, but what could we do?


Can you think of any flushers we haven’t mentioned?  Do you have any good flushing stories?


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4 Responses to The Never-ending Toilet Adventure

  1. This post is too funny! We always laugh at all the different toilets we see everywhere. Definitely nothing as funny as pulling the penis though. And, I agree — sometimes it is absolutely IMPOSSIBLE to figure out how to flush!
    Debbie recently posted..Experiencing Our First “Real” Vacation In Mexico’s Mayan RivieraMy Profile

    Debbie February 20, 2013 at 5:45 pm Reply
    • Thanks for your comments, Debbie! Glad you enjoyed the humour 🙂 We definitely enjoy the “thrill of the search” and glad you do too. Plus, it always provides for some good table conversation.

      evan&tracy February 22, 2013 at 8:04 pm Reply
  2. I’ve seen the public toilets in Ephesus from centuries ago. Could you imagine having to take care of your business without any sort of divider?! Geez!
    Dana Carmel @ Time Travel Plans recently posted..Come On, Miners!My Profile

    Dana Carmel @ Time Travel Plans March 19, 2013 at 9:31 pm Reply
    • We know! I guess they were just happy not to have to do their business in the woods 🙂

      evan&tracy March 20, 2013 at 12:09 pm Reply

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