Wednesday, October 24, 2012

40 Days of Birthday: Day Thirty-One

A huge thank you to my loving husband for guest writing my last post. He does everything with heart. I’m such a lucky wife. He took over on the day my cold really had the best of me, but truth be told, I’m still not feeling so hot. Little sleep and early mornings keep it lingering. Today I decided to do something gentle, but physical, to stretch some of the demons out of my body. I considered a yoga class but worried about the commitment to stick with it for the full ninety minutes. Instead, I opted for the Frauenschwimmen—Women’s Swim—at the beautiful, old swim hall just down the street from our home.

The Art-Nouveau Stadtbad Charlottenburg “Alte Halle” is the oldest public bath in Berlin. There is a new swim hall next door where Nicholas and Lennon have gone swimming before that looks like a typical mid-century indoor pool and when I walked by it this evening, there were several trainings and lessons going on. When you enter the “old hall,” however, it’s isn’t romance. I’ve always fanaticized what it might have been like to swim in the old San Francisco Sutro Baths a hundred years ago and the “Alte Halle” is probably the closest I’ll come.

I paid the kind lady at the ticket booth my four euros. As always, I inquired about a student discount. She generously asked if I was under the age of twenty-six. Ah well. Such is the course for a life long learner. The locker rooms flanked the edge of the pool and there was a row of private stalls for changing. A euro deposit gave you a key to your locker with a handy waterproof wristband. The pool was already full of women, only a couple of which sported swim caps. I just wore my hair up, but I think I’m going to buy this for myself to wear next time. I love swim caps. 

I really hoped the water would be body temperature but it was slightly cooler—very comfortable if your working out and slightly annoying if you’re just interested in soaking, like I was. Two thirds of the pool is very deep and most of the women were found swimming there. The other third was standing height and less popular. The water temp eventually motivated me and I did some laps, dodging several women along my route.

Had the water been warmer, I’d have lingered longer, but after my laps, I headed to the locker room. The five shower heads available for rinsing were occupied, except, surprisingly, for the one marked “Kalt” (cold.) I believe the cold rinse to be distinctly German, and perhaps losing favor amongst the younger set. Lennon had a test swim lesson many months ago. Afterward, all the babies showered briefly in warm water with their Mamas and then were doused with cold water by the instructor. As it was Lennon’s first day, he was exempt from the torture.

The ladies at the shower tonight were doing the full bathe, multiple products and all, creating a long waiting time for others. Being just a block away from home, I chose to do my showering there. It’s been such a long time since I worked out in the water and I remembered that feeling I’d always gotten after a swim—my body actually feeling lighter.


  1. I'm in love with this elegant swimming cathedral..... and the swimming caps. I also thoroughly enjoy the way you include interesting observations about German culture in your posts. I have always wanted to live in another country and, through you, I am having a virtual experience of living abroad.

    1. Thanks so much, Cecile! I think I'll always find German culture surprising, no matter how long I live here!