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Bathrooms: Wine Tasting

8 Feb

Breathe it in…swirl…sip…do you like it? Enough to buy it?

One of the benefits of living in California is that we’re surrounded by wine trails. Driving up the coast with the top down on the car, you can smell the vines and the soil beckoning you into the tasting rooms. Wine tasting isn’t just for snobs anymore – although if you want snobby you won’t have to look very far to find it. The fun of wine tasting is that it’s always an adventure. You never know what’s around the next bend in the road, or what you’ll taste in the next glass. Experimentation and an open mind are the name of the game.

That applies to bathrooms too. Because after all that wine and those winding roads…well, eventually you’re gonna need one!

If you’re lucky, you’ll be near a tasting room that offers this:

Dusty from wandering through the vines? No worries! Clean up here.


And a nice, private stall. Ooh! Shiny wood!

Then again, if you’re not so lucky you might find that the nearest tasting room is under construction, or totally old-school and run out of a barn, or is REALLY going for the anti-wine snob vibe.

Well, it's better than nothing for the next 15 miles.

Whatever the reason, porta-potties are a risk every wine taster takes. Winery porta-potties are in a class of their own though. They’re almost always on the clean end of the scale, making me wonder if Porta-Potty gnomes live under the shelter of the grape vines and come out between visitors to sanitize and stock.

Random bathrooms are a key element of the wine tasting experience, a part of the sense of exploration and adventure. Just like that funky sounding blend they’re pouring, you just never know what you’re gonna get!


Bathroom: Antigua, Guatemala

1 Feb

The Worst Bathroom in the World

Okay, so maybe this wasn’t the *worst* bathroom in the world, but it seemed like it at the time. For the record, I have seen worse since then…MUCH worse.

I think the disconnect – what social scientists call “cognitive dissonance” – between the beauty of the room itself and the horrors of the bathroom made it seem even worse than it was. Yeah, there was mold and slime and one of those scary electric showers that I’m always sure is going to kill me but somehow never does. But the real turnoff was that it was attached to the most beautiful, character-filled room I’ve ever been offered at 4:30am in the middle of Guatemala. It was just…wrong.

The room itself was in a former home and it still had original details from who-knows-when. The tile and woodwork were amazing, and the portraits on the wall of some of the rich people who used to live there made me feel like their guest. The courtyard was a sanctuary, at least until the kitchen set up a station outdoors and started serving breakfast by the fountain at the crack of dawn. Still, the smells enticed me to join them outside for coffee and the memory of that half hour will always stay with me.

We didn’t stay here though. Not even for one night. We’d arrived from the Peten jungle sweaty, dirty, and exhausted after a red-eye bus that constantly looped The Da Vinci Code in Spanish on a black and white monitor. My boyfriend at the time stumbled into the shower then collapsed into a deep sleep for a few hours, but the prospect of waking to the grungy bathroom the next day horrified him. He wanted a nice, safe, clean room with towels that weren’t stained in every color of the rainbow. The prospect of Stranger Germs freaked him out and sent him running to a very nice, very touristy, very CLEAN hotel with a very clean bathroom a few streets over. I went along for the ride, to prevent a total meltdown. It turns out he’s not the Guatemala type – we broke up two weeks after the trip. Apparently, you can tell a lot about someone by their attitude toward bathrooms.

Since then, I find myself mourning the loss of more memories from a unique hotel that just had ONE little issue…the worst bathroom in the world.

But the room was gorgeous!