A Public Inconvenience

No matter how prepared you think you are or how seasoned a traveller you might be – there are times you will be caught out.

We were collected from the ship at 7.00, setting off for 2 whirlwind days in Saint Petersburg, Paris of the Baltic, Jewel of the Neva… First stop – the Peterhof and a heady 2 hour frantic race to set foot in every room in the complex, whilst running after a bobbing ornament adorned with streamers that was always entering the next room as I arrived in this… I took a lot of photos as I dashed through the place, planning to linger later on what I might have seen.

We finished shortly after 10, and boy oh boy – did I have to go. BAD. Really BAD.

Our guide reluctantly led us to the Portaloos outside. We queued. I hopped from foot to foot and discreetly crossed my legs trying to keep the moaning to a minimum. At last I reached the front of the queue and was greeted by a mustachioed, burly matron straight from the Hollywood typecasting couch. She wanted money. 1 US dollar, 1 ruble or 1 Euro!

Panic! Oh no! I reached into my pockets – Danish Kroner, Swedish Kroner, Some Aussie dollars, a few Kiwi coins… I thrust my palm out to her and said, “This is all I have.” She said, “Nyet!” And I said, “But I really have to go!” And She said “Nyet! 1 US dollar, 1 ruble or 1 Euro! 1 US dollar, 1 ruble or 1 Euro!”

Ohmigod! I was about to become an international incident! Either I was going to force myself into the loo and do my business and face probable arrest when I emerged, or stand there and let my business take care of itself. Neither was going to be pretty.

I opted for the first, trying to sidestep and outmanoeuvre Svetlana, but she was having none of it. I cried out, “Please, for godsake, I don’t have any money and I have to go! Now! You can’t stop me!” Actually, she could…

Fortunately, I will never know what might have happened because a fellow visitor took pity on me and paid my way in. Aahh… Sweet relief! I never even saw who she was – but I am grateful to her to this day!

This Tyanet is not the same one I suffered at, but looks very much the same. I spotted it from the bus window and grabbed this shot!

The moral is, of course, to be prepared… but sometimes… every once in a while… you still get caught out!

Published by Titirangi Storyteller

Telling tales from around the world

6 thoughts on “A Public Inconvenience

  1. In the 1960s, I was shocked when I discovered hands out in the WCs of Europe. I had no warning… Octoberfest was a real challenge! Thankfully I had a trustworthy bladder.

    No wonder so many found very public places for relief.

    Thank goodness someone had a heart and appropriate coinage.


    1. Whilst I do understand the concept of charging to use a service – the idea of withholding it from someone without appropriate coinage is bizarre…

      But then – human beings’ toilet habits are one of the last taboos… you’ve got your scatalogical humour and your left-handed hand-shake references, but that’s pretty much it… I wonder why it’s never seen the light of day???


  2. Oh my. If I had really needed to go, and I do tend to be one of those who puts if off as long as possible, it might have been quite a sight. Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers.

    Still, the nasty in me thinks it would have been deserving if you had leaked on the attendant’s foot . . .


    1. Ha ha! Yes, that would have been something. And not entirely beyond my scope when I am in a heightened state (as I was that day!)… But this was far bigger business than mere leakage… It really would have been an international incident.


  3. Toilets rules are amazing sometimes. I actually confronted an armed matron demanding cash and selling toilet paper in a bathroom in East Berlin. It was funny and scary at the same time.


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