The Cost of Convenience

Regular readers of this blog may be wondering whether I’ve dropped off the planet – there have been no posts for over a month. My excuse is that I was visiting rellies and friends in Europe for most of that time. Now I’m back in Oz, and you can expect normal service to resume.

The countries I visited were France, Spain, Germany, Denmark, and Poland. I’d never seen much of Europe before, and chose to do most of my travelling by train, so as to get a better impression of the territory I was traversing. (In order to avoid the alleged wiles of European taxi drivers, I also did a fair amount of walking.  In Poland I rented a car.) Herewith a map to give this post a slender connection to the Australian Outback, which this blog is supposed to be all about.

Australia size comp to Europe



The journey through these five countries (starting and finishing in Paris) totalled about 6500 kms, not much different to some of the Outback trips I’ve done over the years, mostly in the eastern half of Australia. May I report on one of my less momentous observations?

When I was a young fellow, it was not uncommon for entry to a public toilet in Australia to cost a penny. Hence the still-used expression “to spend a penny”. And I still remember this amusing little scrap of doggerel (please excuse the language):

Here I sit, broken hearted,
Paid a penny and only farted.

In those days, although a penny was the second smallest coin (there was a half-penny, pronounced “hape-nee”), it was still useful. A penny would not be left lying on the bedroom floor the way five-cent coins are these days!

Decades of inflation have worked their insidious effect. I was somewhat alarmed when in Berlin recently to find that entry to a public toilet cost one euro (about $A1.48). That’s about 168 pennies! But it’s a relief (ah, that feels better!) to know that this has given rise to a new verb: to euro-nate.


About dazzlerplus

Writing about the things that interest me helps me to discover what I think. One of my loves is the Australian Outback, and I travel out there often, and when possible take friends with me.
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5 Responses to The Cost of Convenience

  1. Anne Newton says:

    Did I ever tell you about my lavatory experience in Amsterdam? I was directed to the toilets downstairs (in the plaza opposite the Rijksmuseum), I paid my coins to the dour woman, went through the turnstile, and found cubicles with clear doors. Feeling very exposed, but in somewhat dire need of the facility, I decide to be brave and closed the transparent door… They had “nano-technology”….On locking the door it became opaque. Old technology now but 6 years ago, I was agog! All thoughts of my original mission forgotten, I proceeded to “play” with the door….Click – clear; click – opaque, click – clear….continued this until two well groomed young women gave me a peculiar look….I got my euro-worth in that loo! Chuckle chuckle 😉

  2. Ewa says:

    I love Australia. Outback is beautiful. I especially like the red land. How you like in Poland?
    Ewa from Poland

    • dazzlerplus says:

      My recent visit to Poland was wonderful, particularly visiting my son James, living near Lublin. I was overwhelmed by hearing some of the sad history of Poland. Also by trying to pronounce some Polish words! I hope there is a bright future for Poland.

  3. roobark says:

    Your euronating experience reminded me of going to the so-called upmarket department store, Printemps, in Paris (nice views from the top floor). Surely, I thought, the loos will be clean and perhpas luxurious there. They were indeed luxurious – you could even purchase glamorous toilet seats for a sum. I never did get to check whether or not the other seats were clean. The cost of doing what you wanted was 1.5 euros so I decided to hang on, on principle. Paul dashed off somewhere – I hope not to find a tree on the Boulevard Haussmann – so I sat on the plush settee to wait for him, and to control my bladder. That gave me a view of the passing parade of Frogs who also refused to be ripped off in such a fashion, and made their feelings known in voluble French. I learned some vocabulary.

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