Francs or Euros

Swiss Excursion
Day 3 (Tuesday): Lugano and Milan

From Como we take a day trip into Lugano on the other side of the border – a Como clone nestled in the Italian part of Switzerland. This is our fourth country since Monday (Canada, Germany, Italy, and now Switzerland).

Lugano must be Italian for expensive – luxury niche boutiques abound, some selling stainless steel watches in excess of 15,000 Swiss francs (that’s muchos deniros in any currency) as well as other merchandise for the very rich or those who like to max out their credit cards. Plenty of Swiss chocolate as you would expect too – and you can pay for your purchase in Swiss Francs or Euros.

It’s in Lugano that a certain and often pressing reality sets in – you realize that finding clean toilets will be a holy quest during the balance of the trip. Unlike Canada, in Europe you must pay for the privilege of exercising basic physiological functions such as taking a leak.

Regardless of whether it’s for number 1 or number 2 (uno or due) toilet rates range from half a Euro to a full Euro – or you can just go to a café, order an espresso and enjoy the facilities at the same time. In passing, the espresso was just awful – it looked and felt like mud and tasted worse than battery acid. Footnote: Euro is also European for expensive.

The variability of the plumbing and facilities in Europe never ceases to amaze me. On average it would take me 10 minutes to identify the mechanism for flushing a toilet and 5 minutes or more to find out how to turn on the faucet. I was tempted to photograph all the WCs as part of a coffee table book project – The Toilets of Italy.

Interesting tidbit – in Italia the hot water is identified with the letter C (caldo) which explains why you hear lots of American tourists scream in agony as they unwittingly scald their hands under boiling hot water. Note to self, C does not mean “cold”.

Next stop: Milan