So you want to poop in Sochi. One of the unexpected highlights of the lead-up to the Olympics has been the discovery that many of the bathrooms in and around Sochi are, shall we say, Russian Unorthodox. If you or a loved one are heading to the Olympics, you may need a primer. Allow us to help.
The Russians, with their fatalist sense of humor, have embraced the chaos. Holding it up as emblematic of corruption or incompetence, Sochi toilets have become something of a meme on Russian social media. (I'm not sure who created the image above, which makes a pun by mashing up Sochi and the Russian word for taking a crap. I found it here first, and if anyone can decipher the signature or point me in the direction of the creator, it'd be appreciated.)
But the Sochi toilet meme has led to confusion. Russians are posting any old photo of bizarre bathrooms and claiming they're from Sochi. So first let us weed out the impostors.
One popular photo making the rounds is not from Sochi, but is from a hastily built facility constructed for last year's University Games in Kazan:
Kazan University on the eve of the Summer Universiade 2013. Image: BBC cameraman Max Lomakin pic.twitter.com/s9PDECpSrN
— Steve Rosenberg (@BBCSteveR) January 21, 2014
The provenance of another, which turns defecation into a spectator sport, is unknown. It first started making the internet rounds in December, and does at least appear to be Russian in origin.
Now that the frauds are out of the way, your first questions will be how to find the bathrooms. That will be easy!
— Jonathan Edwards (@JDE66) February 4, 2014
If you merely need to pee, you don't need our help. Just brush up on your aim:
— Rob Elgas (@RobElgasNBC) February 5, 2014
But if you need to go No. 2, you may be confronted with unexpected obstacles. This backward-lidded toilet is located at the main train station in Sochi. The photo was taken by a Russian visitor last week.
If you are from America or Western Europe, you may be confused by a warning on many of the bathrooms. No toilet paper in the toilet?
People have asked me what surprised me the most here in Sochi. It's this. Without question ... it's ... THIS. pic.twitter.com/1jj05FNdCP
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) February 4, 2014
This is not weird for most parts of the world, where the pressure in the pipes isn't sufficient to handle paper. (It is another question entirely if a world-class resort, built entirely from scratch and with new infrastructure, should have had Western-strength plumbing installed. Especially for $51 billion.) But you will just have to deal with it, and pray your TP basket is emptied periodically.
You think you're ready to go? Not so fast. There are many other rules for Sochi toilets, some of them logical enough you wouldn't expect to be specifically warned against them, others that you hadn't even considered...until now.
— Sebastien Toutant (@SebToots) February 1, 2014
All set? Great! You may need to bring a buddy with you. The world first became aware of Sochi's double toilets last month, and had a good laugh.
— Steve Rosenberg (@BBCSteveR) January 20, 2014
But Olympic organizers were quick to point out that the whole story hadn't been told. That restroom was apparently in the process of being converted into a utility closet, and was never meant for synchronized shitting. Here's what it looks like today:
— Cork Gaines (@CorkGaines) January 23, 2014
That's...still a little weird. But it's an explanation. Except, upon arriving in Sochi this week, journalists and athletes discovered even more double toilets. It's not a bug, it's a feature! You may want to hold hands.
— Yahoo Canada News (@YahooCanadaNews) February 2, 2014
Прибывающие на олимпийские игры иностранные спортсмены с удовольствием позируют в диковинных туалетах города Сочи pic.twitter.com/NFzUmybHar
— Илья Яшин (@IlyaYashin) February 3, 2014
So you've finally gone, and made a new best friend in the process. But for the true pinnacle of defecation, you'll want to make your way up to Roza Khutor, the resort hosting the alpine skiing events. There you'll find a nice, clean, private stall where you can picture yourself hurtling down the mountain.
Congratulations! You're pooping like an Olympian now.