Swimming is one of the things I miss most about tropical city life. Sunning at one of Amsterdam’s parks or urban “beaches” has its appeal, but cooling off with a dip is an essential element I’ve been missing so far.
So I died of envy when my husband decided, while I was at my blog conference, to go swimming. He didn’t just pick the nearest public pool, but chose the Badeschiff, Berlin’s first and only floating swimming pool.
“Badeschiff” translates to bath + ship, and this is just what it is: the hull of a ship, or barge, converted into a swimming pool. With a sandy “beach”, wooden deck and open air bar, it’s a landmark of the new, creative Berlin… and the perfect scene for a floating party on the river Spree.
Marlon had the place all to himself when he arrived at 10 a.m.
By 3 pm, it was a different story as hordes of sun-starved Berliners began to arrive.
I headed there as soon as my conference ended at 5 p.m. En route, the party atmosphere was everywhere. This was, after all, the first scorching weekend of the year.
Signs of good things to come: brick buildings and street art, with a dash of hippie and a touch of grit.
I took my place at the end of Berlin’s longest queue of hipsters. If you want to go hipster-spotting on a hot day, the Badeschiff is the place to be. I lost count of how many girls with half-sleeve tattoos/messy topknots/striped tops/oversized black-framed glasses/men with ironic beards/________ (insert hipster trend of choice) I spotted while waiting in line.
There was nothing ironic or hipster about me that day. Not having packed any swimwear, I was simply desperate—desperate enough to pick up a €2 second-hand tank top outside an U-bahn station for sunning and swimming. I still can’t believe I was seen like this in public, and by such a huge hip(ster) crowd.
By 5:30 p.m., the Badeschiff was packed and hopping.
This is how packed it was. Close kami lahat. You just had to find a free spot on the deck you could squeeze your body into. (I imagine this would be a great way to meet people if you were single.) Good music and a great vibe made it all part of the fun.
The biggest tragedy of it all: I didn’t actually get to swim.
It was swimwear only… and my last-minute outfit of flea market tank top and husband’s swim shorts did not count. “Do you have a bra under that?” asked the lifeguard.
“Of course I do!” I retorted. Did he think I was some kind of hippie?
“You can go in that,” he replied. “Sorry, those are the rules. Swimwear only.”
I could have mugged someone for a bikini right then. I can’t tell you how agonized I felt as I watched girls leap into the pool in flimsy bras and lacy white panties, then walk away without a care in the world, wet transparent undies revealing all. I just couldn’t do it. I’ve happily embraced many things about living in Europe, but public near-nudity is not one of them.
“Just do it,” Marlon urged. “You’re in Berlin. Nobody cares.”
I replied: “I know, but I’m Filipino. I care!”
My damnable Asian modesty put me on the sidelines until sundown.
You and I have unfinished business, Berlin. I’ll be back… and I’m bringing a swimsuit with me.
P.S. I’m curious now: would you have gone ahead and done it? Brave souls, hit the comments and let me know!