Saturday, 30 August 2014

Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts, But Totally Trust the Toilet Attendant

ἄριστον μὲν ὕδωρ, we muttered to ourselves as we lurched in the direction of the Acropolis, the sweat of our brow liberally irrigating the dusty streets of Athens. "Greatest however [is] water" was very much a sentiment which resonated with us. Pausing for a minute to wipe the sweat, which was running into our eyes and causing an unpleasant stinging sensation, off the aforementioned brow, we noticed a sign poking out of a nearby shrubbery. "Hark!" we proclaimed, halting. "A sign! A toilet sign!"

We saw the sign.
Teetering towards the opening in the shrubbery towards which the sign appeared to be pointing, we came across a set of steps, upon which an attendant was standing. We like to think of the steps as constituting the pronaos of this holiest of temples. 
The attendant (or, in the terminology of our deluded temple allegory, the high priest), a jovial, middle-aged man, smiled and beckoned us to follow him down. Pausing only briefly to ponder the advisability of following a stranger down a set of basement steps in a foreign city, no matter how ancient and cultured, we proceeded joyfully. (We'd like to think that our manner of descending the stairs into this public toilet was rather more dignified than that of a labrador chasing a rubber chicken, but we strongly suspect, actually, that it wasn't.)

Down we went.
"There is no toilet paper", the friendly attendant announced, regretfully, as we entered the cella. While we suspected that toilet paper did in fact exist, but that a Greek public-service toilet attendant must somehow find ways of supplementing his income to reach at least the second level of the Maslow hierarchy, we decided nonetheless to take him at his word. The truth is that, due to the abundant flow of the above-mentioned sweat of our brow, we had no actual physical need of this charming, if rudimentary, public toilet, and hence had no interest in finding out whether opening our wallet would cause bog roll to magically appear. Our needs were exclusively bog-blog-based. And boy, were they ever fulfilled!

Who needs a lock on the door when there is such a friendly and dutiful toilet attendant outside?
There was, indeed, no toilet paper. There was, however, an ingenious rubber tube-based flush system. "If we hadn't had such abundant experience," we thought proudly to ourselves, "of negotiating fucked-up British flush mechanisms, we might never have figured this one out". Luckily, though, we had, and we did.

We totally aced this flush mechanism.
Having taken our pictures as silently as possible and smugly flushed the toilet, we made our way from this inner sanctum, or adyton, back to the cella. The attendant smiled. We smiled back, washed our hands, and put some change in a bottle which appeared to be intended for tips. Whether it was the money or the smile that did it we don't know, but on our way out the attendant wished us a good day, and "good luck". We were rather touched, and proceeded to scale the rough cliffs of the Acropolis with vim and brio, generously bedewing them with our plentiful perspiration in the process.

While we hold you enthralled with our gripping narrative, we take the opportunity of annoying you with these lovely pictures of places we enjoyed going to during our sojourn in Greece.

Παραλια Βαρναβα, that is, Varnavas Beach, near Marathon. The locals here are friendly and festive in the extreme, and produce a superb limoncello!
(We remember seeing, in our childhood, an illustration of the first Marathon runner in Mad Magazine. The words "coughed his lungs up" stick to one's memory - having driven between Athens and Marathon, one is grateful that one has never had to run such a distance.)

No caption necessary.

The relatively lush greenery owes its existence, no doubt, to the irrigational properties of sweaty tourists.

View of the Acropolis from the Ancient Agora. (More on the Agora later. Totally lots more Agora action coming!)

We are naturally not going to leave you hanging without a festive video.

Festive video - Tammy Wynette and George Jones, We're Not the Jet Set

Related Reading

A post about how annoying it is when other people go on holiday and post pictures of beaches one has never been to:
Det Lille Apotek - Big Beers and Small Toilets in Everyone's Favourite Toilet Country
Another instance of us mentioning Mad Magazine:
MAD - Answering Your Toilet Paper Needs Since 1952
A post about the urgent necessity of providing public toilets:
Shewees Are a Girl's Best Friend!
An unforgettable view of a public toilet:
Jonny and a Public Toilet - A Treat for Single Ladies

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