A few weeks ago, some friends invited me to go swimming at the Badeschiff - a barge turned indoor swimming pool and sauna in the middle Berlin's Spree River. The idea of jumping into a heated pool in the middle of the German winter was appealing to me, so I packed my beach bag and headed for the Badeschiff.It all reminds me far too much of my own experience when, having played squash with some work colleagues in the Netherlands, we adjourned to the sauna to relax.
I showed up with my beach towel, Gap swimsuit, Richardson High School "Beach Team" T-shirt and flip flops ready to go for a dip.
But when we went into the locker room to change, I realized that nobody else had brought a swimsuit. No need - no swimsuits allowed on the Badeschiff.
A mixed sauna.
A nude mixed sauna.
Now, naturally, as a Brit I wasn't going to engage in any of this nonsense and kept the crown jewels firmly under lock and key under my towel. I soon discovered, however, that a further challenge lay ahead - straight ahead.
Let's just say that unaccustomed as I am to finding myself in a room surrounded by naked athletes of the opposite sex the temptation is, on occasion, to let the eye wander. Sadly, here my Britishness once again came to the fore. Whereas the true European is only too happy to appreciate the finer points of life and meet the gaze of their sauna companions with a winning smile, I instinctively felt this would be a gross breach of etiquette and instead fixed my gaze straight ahead. Half an hour later, my colleagues led me in a somewhat catatonic state to the cooling balm of the showers and thereafter the security of my Marks and Spencers underwear.
I've played very little squash since.