Busting in Belgium

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I'm in Ypres, Belgium, and busting. Not from this country's famed beer, sadly, but from the six pack of bottled water I downed on the bus during a very busy day.

In search of relief, I go to Cloth Hall, an absolutely incredible 13th- century building.

Uh-oh. The washrooms are under renovation.

The kind woman behind the tourism counter points towards the temporary lavatories in trailers at the rear of the building.

I scoot there to find the door locked.

Yikes in Ypres!

I survey the parking lot, hoping to find another place.

On the horizon is an attractive string of busy bars, restaurants and shops. No public loo.

It's tempting to go in a pub, order a Stella, and hightail it to the lav.

I don't do so, because there seems to be thousands of people around, and I don't think I can hold it long enough to line up, get seated and order.

I head back to the temporary toilet in the trailer. (Ha! A lavatory alliteration. Yes, I'm a loo-ser.)

The door is still locked. I don't know how much longer I can last.

I spy a neighbouring church, which I believe is called Saint Martin's Cathedral, also an incredible piece of architecture built in the 1220s.

Hmmm, maybe the doors are open so visitors can go in and have a look? Perhaps I can use the washroom there - and get a look inside another of these incredible buildings.

I turn the handle. YES! It's open.

I enter to an in-progress church service. I get glares.


Outside, I take a deep breath and wonder what to do.

"What to do?" I wonder.

I fear the embarrassment of meeting a group of Canadian journalists for dinner in a half-hour.

"There was this reporter from Newfoundland," they'd tell their newsrooms upon returning home, "and he wet himself. We were seated for dinner and he walked in soaked. What an idiot!"

I stroll the streets, past more busy bars and restaurants.

I'm at a loss what to do, and don't think this is the type of call the Canadian consulate will take seriously.

Frustrated in a foreign land, I begin pondering an extreme measure - ducking behind a tree with no leaves.

Imagine the headline: "Canadian journalist arrested in Belgium for urinating on some kind of landmark." (Everything in this city appears to be a landmark, or of at least historical value.)

About to give up and let nature take its course, I spy an oasis - an idle construction site at the rear of a restaurant. I have never been so happy to see a Porta Potty in my life.

Yeah in Ypres!

I race to it as fast as my body will allow.

The door is open, thankfully, and I'm able to avoid a catastrophe.

I'm late meeting up with the other journalists. No one really asks why, but my reply is ready just in case: "I got lost in Euro-peeing culture."


Steve Bartlett is sorry to subject you to this blither and blatter. Reach him via email at sbartlett@thetelegram.com or follow him on Twitter at SteveBartlett_

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