Health & Hygiene

Laundry

Even apartments with washers won’t have dryers; most washers just spin forever and then you use racks to air dry. Drop-off laundries may be your best–or only–option.

Standard rates are 2€ per kilo for wash, dry, and fold or 2.5€ per kilo for wash, dry, iron, and fold  (my preference). Specify 30 degrees (rather than 60) so your natural fibers will retain their original size.

No experience with or comments about dry cleaning.

Water

I buy all my drinking water , usually around 30 cents for 1.5 liters, whether it’s still or sparkling (gas, as they say). I boil tap water for coffee (instant Nescafe, the standard in much of Europe) and use tap to brush my teeth. I did have minor stomach problems (loose bowels) a couple of days but am fine now.

In our building, tap water is not available (shut off) 6-8 hours every night. Hot water exists 2-3 hours after I turn on my water heater; this is less convenient but probably saves lots of electricity. This given, showers probably will end my days rather than begin them.

Showering

Most bathrooms here are tiled with drains in the floor. There is a shower corner with a shallow tray/basin to catch most of the water, if drainage is good. Even when it is, a shower usually means using water only to wet and rinse: I don’t think long hot showers are possible. Standard practice is to wear flip-flops anytime you’re in the bathroom; I also wear them when I shower.

Toilets

I have encountered only one squat toilet during the past month. Most places seem to have “sitting” toilets with small and large flush options. Although warned at the DC briefing that flushing toilet paper isn’t recommended (or sometimes possible), I cannot do otherwise but try to restrict myself to 6-8squares of paper and haven’t had a problem. My apologies if this is TMI, but bath-rooming is essential and one of those things most Americans take for granted.

As for squat toilets, men (myself included) excel at peeing on the floor; adding a hole for aim just makes it sport. Yes, there is a protocol for how to use these toilets (particularly when uni-sex), but I haven’t learned it yet, and I pity any unaware female who has to learn the hard way.

Do note that in much of Europe, you have to pay to get into and/or use a bathroom. The standard price seems to be .30-.50€. Keep small change with you for this purpose!

About David McTier

Professor of Theatre Department of Theatre & Musical Theatre Sam Houston State University