13 Oct 2015
Naked in Berlin
Surprising to me, Germans really understand relaxation, and much of it centers around the sauna. I’m talking about spending the day type relaxation, not just heating up for 15 minutes.
Since nothing seemed like a better way to chill for a major poker tournament, I searched online for a nice spa. Ultimately I selected Vabali Spa. After doing the double check with the concierge and taking a 10 minute taxi there we were; ready, but apprehensive, and all signs were in German. The employees spoke perfect English, though, and were quite accommodating.
Once inside, we felt as if we were on holiday in Shangri-La, with German customs. It is quiet, with lounges, waterbeds, sofas and silent rooms all over the place.
I think they have 11 different saunas in different temperatures and smells. There was an indoor and outdoor pool. Yes people like plunging in the outdoor pool in the winter. They claim it’s refreshing. The 85-degree indoor pool was cold enough for me.
They make it easy to spend all day and spend your money. When you get there you get a wristband for charging whatever you want (massage, food, robes, towels etc). Lockers are in a coed room and the entire place is textile free. People walk around generally in their towel or robe, but hang up the robe before entering the sauna and steam.
There is protocol. Always sit on a towel, never make loud noise, no phones anyplace and total courteousness.
Don’t worry about your body. You see all sizes, shapes and ages. If you are modest you can wrap the towel around you in the sauna. That is probably the easiest way to get people to ogle you though.
Let there be no mistake about it. They’ve got it right and Americans are just puritanically wrong. We felt like we had a four day holiday in four hours.