berlin: swimming in a tub

Posted on January 11, 2006



by michael scott moore 

First, put on parka, snow boots, and gloves. It’s cold. Then get on the S-Bahn. Tramp from an old East-Berlin station through a dull neighborhood to a frozen waste of icy polished snow. Navigate this without falling. Find reception area for the Badeschiff, or "Bathing Ship" — not as easy as it sounds, since reception, curiously, is not attached to the ship itself.
Receive wristband, lock, and robe. Change from boots and parka and gloves into bathing suit, lock up things, realize you forgot to bring sandals and traipse out barefoot, wearing mainly the robe, in below-zero weather, from reception area to "Bathing Ship," which is really just a tub in the River Spree. Marvel at German engineering: vaulted plastic ceiling, espresso machines.

Then boil naked in the sauna. Get out, jump into pool, which — since it’s in a tub submerged in the Spree — is bloody fucking cold. Swim through plastic drapes on either end of the bathing tub and enjoy a water-level view of the frozen river. Wave at old ladies bundled in furs on the riverbank. Wonder why you left California.

Swim back, recover naked in sauna. Jump in pool again, for kicks. Realize it’s kind of fun. Repeat. Then shower, don robe, and order a hot drink at the bar. Wonder why they don’t have these things in California.