Friday, November 26, 2010

Where To Go To the Bathroom in Rio de Janeiro

So, my line of work is full of movement.  Yes, I'm a teacher.  But I'm essentially a private teacher.  This means that I am all over the city travelling to my students place of business or home.

When doing this you have to be smart about how to schedule your classes.  There's nothing worse than having to go to Flamengo for noon, then boot it all the way to Ipanema for 1:30 and back up to Centro for a 3 pm class.  No sir, that is asking for stress, and stress I want none of.

So I group my classes and plan them so that I'm in Ipanema during this time, Flamengo this time, Centro this time.  You want a class? You gotta make it work in these times.  And usually they do!  This is also the power of the native teacher in a foreign country... :)

Now, hot Rio weather = me drinking tons of water (or at least trying to).  And you all learned a long time ago what happens when you drink a lot of water.  That's right.  Every hour.

Usually I can use the bathrooms in the offices I work at, but sometimes (and at some student's houses) it's not exactly appropriate or offered to me so I need to go in search of a bathroom on the street.  This can be a little tricky because public bathrooms here aren't exactly in optimal conditions.  Ie. piss all over the seat and floor, no toilet paper, no soap... I even once saw that someone had missed (???) the toilet entirely and crapped on the floor instead.  Clearly, they didn't see this sign:

I can totally imagine that situation.  The person is having one of those SERIOUSLY THIS IS AN EMERGENCY situations.  They made it into the stall and facing the toilet started desperately jumping around, fumbling to unbutton and unzip their pants (and you know you can NEVER get it done smoothly - Smooth is Fast People!)
But the emergency would have been SO severe and SO uncontrollable that the poop just fell out of their butt before they had time to turn around and sit.  Then, they decided 'well, they have someone here that will clean up my poop so I'll just leave it for the poor foreign teacher to look at while she hovers about the toilet precariously, trying to avoid the other voided material surrounding her.'


This is why I have developed a guide to help you and your loved ones on their quests -nay, RIGHTS- for a decent bathroom.

1.  Ipanema (General Osorio) 
A little difficult to find a place here unless you go to a restaurant.  The place I use the most is the bathroom in the McDonalds at Visconde da Piraja and Vinicius de Moraes.  About 5 mins walk from the metro but there are several restaurants that would let you use the bathroom if you just smile sweetly enough and bat your eyes a little.  Also, asking if you can use the bathroom rapidinho seems to help.
There is actually a bathroom right in the metro station too (located at the cashiers counter and before you pay) but it's not very nice.  It's just convenient.  

2. Copacabana (Cardeal Arcoverde)
I believe the street is actually Cardeal Arcoverde but either way, it's the main street out of the subway that goes towards the beach and has a Bob's on the corner.  The Bob's bathroom is always out of service but if you walk about a block from Bob's, there is a little botequo that says "Bathroom: R$2".  Again, if you smile sweetly and say "rapidinho" they won't charge you the R$2 and it's clean enough.

3. Flamengo (Largo do Machado)
The best bathroom here is in the Oi Futuro building, located on 2 de dezembro.  It's on the right-hand side, halfway down and it's a free cultural art centre.  You go in (don't mind the guards, they always look at you accusingly but you don't have to pay) and take the elevator to very top floor (8th) where there is a little cafe with a very nice bathroom.  They also have free wi-fi and some F'd up exhibitions on regularly so, while you're at it, stay a while to take in the craziness inside Oi Futuro. 

4. Centro (Carioca)
I have yet to find a free bathroom here but I did find a decent pay-bathroom in this little downstairs mall that is in the same complex as the Bob's Restaurant, located directly outside of the Carioca metro station.  You go down the escalators and pay R$1.50 to use the bathroom.  Just remember, you have to pick up your toilet paper on the way into the stall.  Definitely forgot that about 17 times already.

5. Centro (Uruguaiana)
Lots of Fast Food restaurants like Bobs, McD's...

6. Centro (Cinelandia)
The worst options for bathrooms are in Cinelandia.  Yes, you can use the Bob's on Presidente Wilson but it's actually disgusting.  The only option I would really suggest is to sneak into the Vale building on Santa Luzia because they have a bathroom on the main level so you don't have to check in with the front desk.  Just make sure you're not wearing shorts or Havaianas because the dress code inside is strict and you don't wanna mess with them.  The bathroom is so worth it though ;)

In Barra da Tijuca it's much easier to find places to go to the bathroom because there are lots of malls that have bathrooms.  Barra Shopping has bathrooms apparently made for Queens so whenever possible, go there.

Reminders when using all public bathrooms:
-squat, don't sit
-throw paper in the garbage (even though it goes against every moral fibre of your being)
-wash your hands and try to open the lock and door with a paper towel (I've seen some nastiness out there)
-have fun!  It's a free-for-all in there so go nuts


  1. I also roll up my pant legs, if I'm wearing pants. Nothing worse than leaving a bathroom and realizing you'll have to walk around in jeans that got wet from "something" in the bathroom. lol

    Great post! There's also a McDs in largo do Machado.

  2. Love this...especially the one about sneaking into the Vale office...for so many reasons that I can't put here!!

  3. Oh my gosh, I stumbled upon a MUST SEE bathroom! It's in Flamengo, in the bar on the corner of Senador Vergueiro and Marqûes de Abrantes!!!

  4. Guys in Brazil have a different set of options. But I must say I REJECT the idea of whipping it out wherever. I am loath to pee on the street, even when it runs wet with the evidence of others doing just that.

    I am trying to be an example to others -- no matter how foolish that is.

    But for Brazilian men -- there are an infinite number of corners and seemingly 'private' niches where permission is assumed to pee on the street. It is amazing (and disgusting) to me.

    I remain a resistance fighter.

    But THANKS for the tips on real places to pee. You could sell this information!

  5. @ Rach. HA. yeah, I know, The other thing that really bugs me about public bathroom is the lack of HOOKS on ANY door. (Sometimes they have a shelf) but it means I always have to put my backpack on the floor, which you can imagine my disgust, or keep it hovering with me above the loo. Both options are crap.! Hahahahahahaha pun not intended but staying!

    @Tasha. Ok... now I'm sure I'm not alone when I say you HAVE to share the Vale Building stories!...>??? Pretty please??

    @Nancy. Is that at Largo do Machado or Flamengo? Damn, Flamengo really has some beautiful bathrooms! There is also one in the Spoleto across from the praca. I need some more suggestions for Centro!!

    @Jim. THANK YOU. Thank you so much for contributing to a humanized society and giving me a little bit less pee to walk in. Haha, you don't even know how much I appreciate that.

  6. okay, first of all, I swear the no-hook/no toilet seat cover combo is just so that girls have to squat over a toilet while holding a 7k bag (leg muscles ladies!!!!)

    I'm not really sure if the bathroom I'm referring to is considered Flamengo or Largo do Machado..its right by the Praça...anyhoo, I wrote a blog post about it that I'll post really is not to be missed. Jim, I'm sure you could try to sneak in there when no ones watching to get a glimpse!

  7. What a helpful blog entry! You sure are looking out for your fellow.... well, humans! Everybody poops! (Remember that book?)

    Thanks for the tips on teaching in a big city. It's definitely a tactic that I'll use if we end up moving and if I end up teaching in the new place. :)

  8. Lindsey, i laughed so much reading this topic about pee on public (or private) places. You're sooo funny!!! Huahuahua
    In special when you talked about Vale building. I can imagine those security guys looking to you and asking themselves why you're there and why you are getting out so quickly.


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