Stadtbad Charlottenburg, Neue Halle, Berlin

The Charlottenburg public pool is located in a gorgeous Art Deco hall down in a side street of West Berlin. I was desperate to swim, but got little swimming accomplished due to the number of 'obstacles' in the pool, but no matter - it was interesting just being in this place bathing away.

Fantastic cheesy frescos with mermaid types in lakes swim the upper walls, and two German lifeguards sit and chat at the end of the pool as oldies swim breaststroke up and down very slowly, in no particular lanes or directions. Where is that German sense of order gone? I guess the idea is you have to swim slowly with your head up just to avoid hitting the other people. At one point I did freestyle and felt so out of place and concerned the lifeguards would tell me off, I was shamed into breaststroke in no time.

This building also has a fantastic entry sequence - you come straight down into an empty space and walk through black and white tiled corridors and a number of arched doors. You don't get to the ticket counter until the end of the corridor, so can step back in time and play out a 1930s spy fantasy in your mind for a good minute without seeing a soul. This is all in order to eventually emerge in the really bright, natural light of this high-vaulted ceiling hall.

Nice water temperature, too. And bizarrely, it is a steel pool floor rather than tiled or concrete.




Anna Metcalfe is a content maker, word writer and editor of things.