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One of the commonest questions first-time visitors to Greece ask is “is it true that you can’t flush paper down the toilet?”
Unfortunately, in the vast majority of accommodations, cafes, bars, shops and restaurants, the answer is “yes, it is true!”
Much of Greece’s sewage systems was installed during the 1930’s and 1940’s (by the British) using small bore pipe-work that simply cannot cope with paper waste. A pedal bin is usually provided by the side of the WC in which paper should be placed. If you are staying in a hotel or apartment, the maids will empty this on a daily basis, usually when they come in to clean the rooms. Don’t under any circumstances ignore the procedure – tales abound of visitors who have woken in the morning to find the apartment awash due to the sewers backing up, not anyone’s favourite way to start the day!
Best bet is to take a box of scented nappy (diaper) sacks available from Boots, Superdrug and chemist stores; place the used paper in one of these, tie in a knot and deposit in the bin – no fuss, no odour and the maids really appreciate the gesture.
As new upmarket hotels are constructed, many are being equipped with modern systems that can cope with the paper waste. Everywhere else, you will always see a “no paper in here please” sign above the WCs. If in any doubt whatsoever, use the bin.
Public toilets in Greece are a rarity and those you do find are generally less than hygienic. The better cafes, bars and restaurants usually have clean and well-equipped toilets (hot water, soap, paper towels) and will let you use them for the purchase of a soft drink.