That headline for this blog is a little tongue in cheek, since the subject is the open-air saunas in Berlin. They are exceptionally popular among Germans, but not so much for us shy Americans. This may be because they are not clothing optional; nudity is mandated.
Now, like the guys that read Playboy for the articles, McCurry traveled to the saunas often for the acknowledged role they play in one’s good health. (Yeah, believe that one and I’ve got lots more. After all, he was a young, male soldier.) Recently I did an online search for open-air saunas in Berlin. I found a first-person account that would lead me to believe that not much has changed. I would be interested to know if Heidi Obermeyer, who writes an excellent blog on her travels in Germany, had run across any of these saunas and what her reaction was.
At any rate, here is McCurry’s view (pun intended):
When they arrived at the sauna, they paid their entry fee in a clean, nicely appointed lobby. Each was given a towel and a locker key on a wristband. Since Evans knew the way to the locker room, they didn’t need directions.
“Holy shit, Dwight,” McCurry whispered. “We even share lockers with the women? I think I had better take a cold shower first.”
It took a great deal of self-control for McCurry to keep from staring at Sonja as she was undressing. The three disrobed and stowed their clothes and valuables in the lockers. Sonja carried a small bag with essentials and offered to put McCurry’s wallet in with her things. They then headed out into the main compound.
Beautifully kept grass ran down a slight incline to three pools. To their right was the sauna and down behind the pools were a small bar and restaurant. Lying around and sunning themselves on lounge chairs or towels were perhaps 30 or 40 men and women. What struck McCurry was that the women were among the most beautiful he had seen so far in Germany – and it wasn’t because they were all nude.
McCurry had spent some time on beaches along the Wannsee, a large body of water near the Hill that was a popular recreation area among Germans. What he noticed there was that a great deal of the women were clad in bikinis – and the vast majority of those should not have been.
“You know the big, Brunhilda-type of bar maids you’d find at the beer halls in South Germany,” McCurry once told a friend. “Picture them in bikinis and that is what you will find in most places along the Wannsee.”
I guess the beautiful women would rather have nothing on at all to wearing a bikini, he thought.
“C’mon Mike, we’ll go and sit in the sauna for about ten or fifteen minutes,” Evans said, bringing McCurry back to the present.
“Lead the way, McDuff.”
As McCurry entered the sauna he noticed it wasn’t large, maybe about twenty feet by twenty feet, with wooden benches all around and the heating element in the middle.
“This is really hot,” said McCurry, thinking that he was thankful it was also very dark as he accidentally rubbed up against Sonja.
“Sit down over there,” said Sonja. “You’ll get used to it.”
The temperature in the sauna was maintained at about 180 to 190 degrees Fahrenheit. Sonja explained that sweating was good for the body. “The sweat helps you get rid of harmful toxins and even some fat,” she said.
“Why the three pools?” McCurry asked to keep his mind off toxins and fat pouring out of his body.
“One of the pools is very cold,” Evans explained. “The one in the middle is warm and the third is hot. It’s supposed to be good for your body to jump into the cold pool after you come out of the sauna, but if it’s too cold you can jump into the warm one. The hot one is for relaxing later on.”
This hot-to-cold temperature contrast, the new sauna expert Evans explained, seals the pores so the toxins excreted while in the sauna can’t be reabsorbed. It also enhances circulation, he said.
These explanations by Evans reminded McCurry of the guys who insisted they bought Playboy magazines for the articles. But, oh well, who am I to complain.
McCurry thought he would need the cold pool rather often as the day wore on.
Taking what looked somewhat like a hard sponge from her bag, Sonja said, “What you need to do after you have been in here a little bit, Mike, is to take this and scrub your body with it. It helps draw out the toxins and remove dead layers of skin.”
“What the hell is it?” McCurry asked.
”It’s called a loofah,” she said. “It’s actually produced from a plant but is very good for exfoliating the skin. Here, let me show you.”
Stepping over him so she could get some room on the other side, McCurry was once again thankful for how dark the sauna was. She got up on her knees next to him on the bench and told him to lean forward. She then began to vigorously rub his back.
McCurry let out an involuntary moan as the throbbing grew between his legs.
“See, it feels good, doesn’t it?” Sonja asked.
“You could say that,” he managed to get out.
She then leaned back and handed the loofah to him. “Here, now you can do the rest of your body.” Thank god she didn’t ask me to do her back, he thought.
A short while later, Evans said, “Okay, time to get up and hit the cold pool. You won’t believe how good it’ll feel.”
Oh yes I will, McCurry thought. “I’ll be right out. I just need a few minutes more,” he said. He was still waiting for his erection to subside.
“Jesus fucking Christ is that cold!” McCurry exclaimed as he rocketed out of the pool. Evans and Sonja, who had been sitting on the side of the pool with their legs dangling in the water, laughed so hard they nearly fell in again.
“I told you it was really cold,” Evans said.
You’ll have to get my book, McCurry’s War, to find out the rest.