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COVID Covid and bathroom availability in Spain

CAJohn

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances Sept/Oct 2019
When I did the Camino Frances in Fall 2019, I only came across one public bathroom during my entire walk. There may have been others, but I didn't notice them. This bathroom was in a park and it was relatively typical for public bathrooms in parks in the US.

Now, I never really had any problems finding bathrooms, because their were bars all along the route. Buy something, use the bathroom, and move on.

Covid has changed that. I heard on RTVE news today about an actor who was upset that he. was not able to use a bathroom in a market and complained. The market chain later clarified that their stores do have restrooms for customers, except for the smallest stores, and that was the case this time.

But it led to a larger discussion about men of a certain age having difficulty in Covid times finding a bathroom and the general lack of public bathrooms. There were also many people who worked in the streets doing repairs or maintenance no longer having a place to go. People do have emergencies. There was concern about cities smelling like urine, etc.

It is interesting how an informal solution that has worked just fine forever is not functioning in the setting of closed bars and cafes that have traditionally done all the heavy lifting in providing this public service.
 
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Bristle Boy

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2022
When I did the Camino Frances in Fall 2019, I only came across one public bathroom during my entire walk. There may have been others, but I didn't notice them. This bathroom was in a park and it was relatively typical for public bathrooms in parks in the US.

Now, I never really had any problems finding bathrooms, because their were bars all along the route. Buy something, use the bathroom, and move on.

Covid has changed that. I heard on RTVE news today about an actor who was upset that he. was not able to use a bathroom in a market and complained. The market chain later clarified that their stores do have restrooms for customers, except for the smallest stores, and that was the case this time.

But it led to a larger discussion about men of a certain age having difficulty in Covid times finding a bathroom and the general lack of public bathrooms. There were also many people who worked in the streets doing repairs or maintenance no longer having a place to go. People do have emergencies. There was concern about cities smelling like urine, etc.

It is interesting how an informal solution that has worked just fine forever is not functioning in the setting of closed bars and cafes that have traditionally done all the heavy lifting in providing this public service.
What you have described and highlighted is just one of the many faceted problems related to the current situation we face.
I think you sum it up with the fact that bars and cafes "have traditionally done all the heavy lifting in providing this public service". It is much more than a public service it is a vital public health service. This service needs to be maintained and kept covid secure by the cafe and bar owner as they rely on the business for their very survival.
It does come at a cost to the businesses that provide it.
Businesses have paid a heavy price (and continue to do so) in these times. I can understand it if they feel they can no longer do so.
 
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dick bird

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
As men get older, they have to pee,
With ever increasing frequency.
So sensible gentlemen will not miss,
Any convenient chance to piss.
Take advantage of the installations,
To avoid embarrassing situations.
And so there is a compelling reason,
Whatever the time of day or season,
To use the facilities when you can,
And be a relaxed and confident man.

Lines written from bitter personal experience.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Brilliant, @dick bird 😄. However, @CAJohn has provided us with a new worry we could worry about: the availability of toilets (bathrooms, restrooms, loos, aseos, servicios) on any future Camino, should restaurants and bars be still closed, have disappeared, or keep their toilets shut. So it was with increasing fascination that I learnt about the situation on the beaches of Malaga in the newest news from Spain:

Thus, on weekends, 11 of the 28 public toilets on the beaches equipped with automatic systems and continuous sanitation systems using germicidal ultraviolet lamps are in operation. Thus, one is open in Guadalmar, three in Misericordia, one in San Andrés, one in Malagueta, two in La Caleta, one in Pedregalejo, one in El Palo and one in El Dedo. These toilets have sensors for toilet flushing and pedals for the sink as measures to avoid contact. When the user leaves the facility, a red light comes on indicating that the disinfection process has begun by means of a germicidal ultraviolet lamp. The total time for complete disinfection is 15 minutes with an efficiency of 99%. The toilets are also equipped with hydroalcoholic gel dispensers.

☺️
 
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woody66

This is my boy Yankee!
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Hi All!
Dick bird summed it up very well; that's me in a nutshell! (although it's not just a male problem)
On my walks locally here in the UK during lockdowns there have only been two opportunities to use the loo in 6 or 7miles;the two supermarkets in the area!
A bit of a strange thing to consider but how do you pee on a board walks or along public beaches with members of the public are out in force; when bars and restaurants are shut.
In normal times Efrén González mentions walking out of Porto on the coastal for hours and no toilets.
I definitely don't want to embarrass myself by being seen to do this; so incontinence pads/pants might have to be the solution?
Even if Spain/Portugal introduce lots of the automatic loos even if i had to wait the 15 minutes it would be to late!!! (let alone having to wait 30 mins impossible)
They do say that the chances are that your life will begin and end wearing a nappy;looks like i might have to break that rule!!🤨
Woody.
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
I definitely don't want to embarrass myself by being seen to do this; so incontinence pads/pants might have to be the solution?
Good heavens, no. Don't go all astronaut on a camino in Spain or Portugal. I can't say anything about caminos, habits and traditions in Portugal but I do know about a heavily frequented camino in Northern Spain and the habits and traditions of some of those who walk there. You just turn around so that you don't see anyone. Never mind anyone else seeing you, not even the peregrina walking right behind you on a very narrow path (she came from countries/rural areas where seeing such behaviour isn't regarded as shocking, and she merely had a fleeting thought of well, really, couldn't you wait a few seconds until I had walked past you. On second thoughts, perhaps they couldn't wait ... the two of them were of retirement age and part of a group of 4, presumably two married couples; their spouses just kept on walking). I also had heard them talking and knew where they came from. Definitely not from countries where they have "restrooms" and "bathrooms". 🤭
 
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Icacos

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2013)
......When the user leaves the facility, a red light comes on indicating that the disinfection process has begun by means of a germicidal ultraviolet lamp. The total time for complete disinfection is 15 minutes with an efficiency of 99%.
Are you sure this is 15 minutes, and not 15 seconds? I’ve only ever used one of these facilities (in France) and it was more like a 15 second wait before the light turned green.
 

dick bird

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Plata, Ingles, Madrid, Norte, Primitivo, Invierno, Aragones, Olvidado, Chemin D'Arles
Are you sure this is 15 minutes, and not 15 seconds? I’ve only ever used one of these facilities (in France) and it was more like a 15 second wait before the light turned green.
Glad you said that - I mean 15 minutes? Did the designer have any knowledge at all of basic human physiology?
 

Kathar1na

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Are you sure this is 15 minutes, and not 15 seconds?
Well, I am not sure. They say it and I merely copy-pasted it into a translation website and copy-pasted it here. The writers/editors were obviously as gullible, or thinking as little, as I had done:

In my defence, I've used similar toilets, I think even in Spain (Madrid airport?) and in restaurants elsewhere. And their automatic cleaning/desinfecting mode didn't take 15 minutes, more like 15 seconds. It was more than a year ago, before Covid-19.
 
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Icacos

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2013)
Glad you said that - I mean 15 minutes? Did the designer have any knowledge at all of basic human physiology?
😆 Fifteen minutes would be a very long wait indeed for someone who really needed to go.

BTW I witnessed one unfortunate person who I guess didn’t realize how these facilities operate (and hadn’t read or couldn’t read the instructions) and entered the cubicle immediately the previous user exited, without waiting for the green light. She had to endure the washing and disinfecting process. The poor soul was pretty frazzled when she emerged from it.
 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
😆 Fifteen minutes would be a very long wait indeed for someone who really needed to go.

BTW I witnessed one unfortunate person who I guess didn’t realize how these facilities operate (and hadn’t read or couldn’t read the instructions) and entered the cubicle immediately the previous user exited, without waiting for the green light. She had to endure the washing and disinfecting process. The poor soul was pretty frazzled when she emerged from it.
I have used these self-cleaning cubicles a number of times in Spain, France and Italy. My lack of techy computer skills can also be applied to these interesting, sanitized public bathrooms and I have been confused at how they operate. I have feared a rain shower while being locked in more than once.😬

EDIT- No matter how difficult the men find a lack of bathrooms, wee women have it even more inconvenient.
 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
This is brilliant!
What about we ladies...all positions are embarrassing for me if I'm seen squatting even if I were to wear a skirt(which I am not).
I realize the OP was speaking of men, but I think it applies to women too, so I took it a bit off-pisst.🤭
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I am a woman and there is no good way to pee on a busy trail. So I guess I just don’t care anymore, I’ll just pretend I’m alone.
Ooops, thought you were a man with your brilliant comment.😅
 
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lt56ny

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
I am a man of that certain age and I have never really had a problem finding a tree or a bush or walking way out in a field and doing my thing. I know the CF has gotten more crowded. I have a suggestion that can easily solve that issue. Walk a less traveled Camino and you will almost always be alone in the great outdoors!
 

Glamgrrl

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Travel318
Brilliant, @dick bird 😄. However, @CAJohn has provided us with a new worry we could worry about: the availability of toilets (bathrooms, restrooms, loos, aseos, servicios) on any future Camino, should restaurants and bars be still closed, have disappeared, or keep their toilets shut. So it was with increasing fascination that I learnt about the situation on the beaches of Malaga in the newest news from Spain:

Thus, on weekends, 11 of the 28 public toilets on the beaches equipped with automatic systems and continuous sanitation systems using germicidal ultraviolet lamps are in operation. Thus, one is open in Guadalmar, three in Misericordia, one in San Andrés, one in Malagueta, two in La Caleta, one in Pedregalejo, one in El Palo and one in El Dedo. These toilets have sensors for toilet flushing and pedals for the sink as measures to avoid contact. When the user leaves the facility, a red light comes on indicating that the disinfection process has begun by means of a germicidal ultraviolet lamp. The total time for complete disinfection is 15 minutes with an efficiency of 99%. The toilets are also equipped with hydroalcoholic gel dispensers.

☺️
Wow, that’s really great that it cleans so well, but 15 minutes between users? Does it lock the doors or is it by choice of the patron to wait or not wait for the cleaning measures to complete their cycle? I can’t imagine a parent with multiple children waiting 15 min per child.
 

CAJohn

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances Sept/Oct 2019
I do realize that this is a problem for males and females on the Camino. This RTVE report focused on older men because of the actor‘s complaint. They did talk to some women, but these women also seemed focused on the plight of older men as well. Oh well.

I just found the report interesting due to my experience in Spain as a pilgrim from a country where public bathrooms are more common.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2017
Planning for 2021
13/14 years old. Caught short in the middle of a vast cauliflower field I asked one of my fellow cutters, a stout woman of certain years, "which way are the loos?" Her laughter still rings in my ears...
I remember my mother explaining to a much younger woman why there was a thick hedge around the field when I was taty picking with her as a child. And the brazier at the field entry wasn't just for the tea kettle but to burn the tp.
 
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Piscesman1946

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Portugués (Oct 2019)
A number of years ago, I came down with a nasty UTI just as I was leaving on a major excursion. I needed to pee every fifteen minutes, and I was embarrassed buying adult “diapers,” but after awhile I found them incredibly liberating! Since then, when faced with a dearth of public facilities in populated areas (and on trans-Atlantic flights!) they have proven very handy...
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
A number of years ago, I came down with a nasty UTI just as I was leaving on a major excursion. I needed to pee every fifteen minutes, and I was embarrassed buying adult “diapers,” but after awhile I found them incredibly liberating! Since then, when faced with a dearth of public facilities in populated areas (and on trans-Atlantic flights!) they have proven very handy...
That's probably a good suggestion for anyone having a UTI on the Camino as I doubt anyone is "peeing like a race horse". I know from a personal experience.😐
 

SabineP

Camino = Gratitude + Compassion.
Year of past OR future Camino
some and then more. see my signature.
That's probably a good suggestion for anyone having a UTI on the Camino as I doubt anyone is "peeing like a race horse". I know from a personal experience.😐

UTI and walking into Leon is not a good combination. Walking into a bar, consuming something . Then of course you have to stop in the next bar to have another toilet stop...repeat repeat. Take bus into Leon! Personal experience.
 

nidarosa

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Inglés 2009+2017, Francés 2012+2018, Astorga-Santiago repeatedly
Are you sure this is 15 minutes, and not 15 seconds?

The poor soul was pretty frazzled when she emerged from it.
I can assure you all that if you are that person who doesn't know how it works, and the person who exits the self-cleaning loo also either doesn't know how it works, or is evil, and lets you straight in to save you the toilet fee, and the metal door locks loudly behind you as this cleaning process starts; lights going off, steam coming from everywhere, loo flushing and the floor being flooded with disinfectant, 1) you might easily mistake 15 secs for 15 minutes, and 2) you have every reason to appear pretty frazzled when you finally get out!
I even forgot/decided to forego the wee I had gone in for in the first place, and headed straight for the nearest bar, where I instead added a quick beverage before visiting their harmless facilities. Oh and I couldn't get the synthetic lemon scent off the bottom of my jeans for the rest of the week we spent in France.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Well, I read up on it. It does indeed take 15 minutes for the UV light to kill viruses. What they‘ve installed on the Malaga beaches is different from what some of us know from pre-Covid times.
 
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Don Camillo

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 04-16
Norte/Primitivo 09-16
VdlP/ Sanabres 02/3-17
Levante 09/17,
Ruta de la Lana 09/18
My guess is that there is a balance to be had somewhere here. Walk a Southern Camino late August early September and the chances are that 2+lt of water and a couple of cold ones during a walking day will evaporate out with no recourse to tree's, invisibility cloaks or the risk of a 15 minute exposure to UV rays.
Or you could just walk one of the remoter camino's in late February. Sure the cold will process any liquid intake faster but on the plus side there is unlikely to be anyone else around to witness it.
The issue is not unique to these times. Any visit to a pre-lockdown market town in UK after "kicking out time" would have revealed liquid flowing out onto the street from doorways which had nothing to do with any plumbing issues within the building. Not restricted to recent times either. Prague Castle has, if I recall, a narrow street preserved within the grounds named - in pre-public convenience times as - Golden Lane.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Prague Castle has, if I recall, a narrow street preserved within the grounds named - in pre-public convenience times as - Golden Lane.
Yuck. Well, that association may work for the contemporary English speaker but in reality the Golden Lane at Prague Castle was named after the alchemists who lived there or were presumed to have lived there and a synonym for alchemist is/was gold maker, or alternatively after the goldsmiths who actually lived and worked in the lane for a period of time.
 
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