A bit of toilet talk: I was surprised by ...

Sunset in Cadiz Spain's main square

I’m not usually a potty mouth but could we talk toilets for a moment?

I expected to have trouble finding bathrooms and to have to pay to use them when I was in Spain. But these were not issues at all: I never had trouble finding a restaurant bathroom when I stopped for coffee or a meal, and I never had to pay.

But these things surprised me:

1. IT’S A WC
The first thing to know is that they’re not called bathrooms or restrooms or washrooms here. They’re usually marked by the letters WC, which is British and stands for “water closet.” “Toilet” seems to be universally understood, though.

The vast majority are gender-neutral. Some have one big bathroom comprising individual stalls and a common sink area. Other bathrooms have separate men’s and women’s areas, but again have the same shared sinks.

3. TP
Unlike what I’d read, my toilets always had seats, and every bathroom I used had toilet paper. I believe the seat-less toilets are more common in Portugal but every bathroom I used in Porto and Lisbon had toilet seats. I only ever saw a bidet in my hotel room.

Some bathrooms have motion-activated lighting to save on energy, and the lights only stay on for about a minute before you’re plunged into darkness. For goodness sakes, I can only go so fast! I have to admit I was totally freaked out the first time this happened to me. Compounding the issue is the fact that light switches are usually on the outside of the bathrooms here, and the first time I was sure someone had maliciously shut the lights off on me. 

Most of the bathrooms I used seemed to be either not that clean or just ok for cleanliness, even the ones in very nice restaurants and coffee shops. These toilets were all in touristy areas and my guess is that it’s just too hard to keep up with all the tourists!