Monday, June 22, 2009


I know what you are thinking: She doesn't post for almost a month, and when she does she talks about toilets????

Yeah, well, suck it up. I'm also going to talk about diapers. Diapers are expensive--29.CHF ($26.77) for a pack of 46 Pampers Cruisers. Usually. We discovered yesterday that you can pay a lot more.

We had stake conference (for my Catholic friends, a stake is like an arch dioceses--so it's a big group) in a town 1.5 hours away. No problem. We packed up the bag with toys and lunch and headed off on the train. Incidentally, when the train arrived in Biel, we weren't entirely sure where the actual building we needed to go to was, but it was easy enough to find it, as we just located people in suits and ties walking and followed them.

Anyway, Jason noted we were only an additional 1.5 hours from Geneva--and he's been dying to go to Geneva. Plus, our train tickets were all day tickets, so we could go on any train in Switzerland and not have to pay more.

After church, we headed to Geneva. And we went to change Daniel's diaper and discovered (to our horror) that while I had remembered food and toys and scriptures, I had forgotten diapers. So, we're 3 hours from home with no diapers.

Almost all stores are closed on Sundays in Switzerland. The only things open are gas stations and stores that are in an actual train station (or airport). We managed to locate diapers for a mere 40CHf ($36.92). Aren't you all glad you can go to Costco?

And now more potty discussions.

We were afraid the Swiss didn't have actual bodily functions, as they are so neat and organized and clean. But, they do. And, predictably, there is a very Swiss slant to them.

First of all, all public toilets have a toilet brush next to them. Don't think about leaving any "remains" for the following person. Clean up after yourself! Then, many toilets (like the one pictured above) have two levels of flush. Small button for small deposits, large buttons for, ummm, bigger ones.

Incidentally, there is no such thing as those wimpy US toilets that try to save water by making you flush them numerous times. All toilets have super flushing capabilities. Sometimes it's a bit amazing how much water they use.

In many places they have pay toilets. These are called McCleans and you pay 1 or 2 francs in order to use a clean bathroom. At one rest stop you had to pay 1chf for the toilet (kids under a certain height were free!), but you could have it refunded if you ate at their restaurant. Which we did, so free pottying for us. They are regularly cleaned and are very nice. If you're a man and you just need a urinal, it's generally cheaper.

There are also pay toilets on the streets, although these never seem to work very well. You insert your money and the door opens and you can go in. These have not been as clean, but are handy if you need one.

Sarah loves to use train toilets. The Swiss trains are as expected. However, much to our joy and surprise, the French trains just dump the contents directly onto the train tracks. They have signs warning you to not use the facilities when the train is at the station. I guess not.

Most stores don't have public restrooms, but we're getting better at locating them. I feel like finding a new public potty is a red letter day! I can't tell you how excited I was to find one, in reasonable proximity, to a tram stop we use regularly--plus, it's a free one! Yeah for clean, free, bathrooms.

I understand Turkey is very different.


  1. No diapers? The thought makes my stomach twist up in knotts. I am glad you found some, though. No price is too high to avoid the no-diaper disaster. And the clean, free toilets? I am ALL about that. Toilets totally gross me out (see my latest post) so I can appreciate your appreciation.

  2. After realizing a box of pull-ups would cost more than $50usd in Manila, I invested in some Nikki's reusable ones (though I could have ordered them, I felt it was more cost effective and they work great). Also, Asia is a whole different story when it comes to pottys (and squatty pottys) so count your lucky stars!

  3. Mercy! That's a lot of potty information!!

    It sounds as if it's an all-round adventure and I look forward to being duly entertained.

    I used cloth diapers with my first (37 years ago...) and toilet trained her when she was one, really! Well, my Mom said that's when you did it, so I did. Maybe you should try it, with the cost of diapers and all....tee hee.

  4. I was just thinking you should wait until you move back to train Daniel. It is very important to be able to find a public restroom when you are potty training.

    I think of you every time I throw away a diaper these days.

  5. In Singapore they had separate toilets for the Muslims. And I hate to say it, but it was for a good, good reason.

    So I believe you when you say that Turkey is very different.

  6. I love clean potties. I wish NYC had more/any clean public potties.

  7. Great post Susie. I've always wondered if the Swiss had actual bodily functions as well. Having just returned from Turkey, I'll agree that Turkey is different, although I don't recall their toilets being remarkably unkempt. Quite nice actually.

    For some reason in the Philippines, people are generally uber-phobic (is that a word?) about cleaning bathrooms, even in private homes. It seemed like the general strategy was to let the bathroom get so filthy and vomit-inducing that the day would come when you would just tear the place down and start over with a new, clean bathroom.

    And China. Cripes. If I lived in China I'd "hold it" for the rest of my life.

  8. Unfortunately, these kinds of posts are right up my alley!--what does this say about me? :(

    It's all so very facinating! I really need to make a trip to Switzerland to potty talk some more!

    P.S.--Does anyone live near the train tracks?
    Yikes! How utterly unfortunate if they do! I can't believe they dump the "contents" right there on the seems so inconsistant with Swiss ways!

  9. When we were in Italy last summer I thought since there were two buttons I had to press them both at the same time. So I did. It wasn't until Seth pointed it out to me on the last day that I realized the distinction.