Tag Archives: Naked

On noise and nudity

On Friday, my half-naked neighbour graduated to being full-on naked. While I’m not a fan of my eyes being assaulted by a swaying, sagging, dimply arse, I do have bigger problems with the guy.

As I’ve mentioned before, he’s an opera singer. Or opera student. Whatever. All I know is that it entails him singing sporadically, at the top of his voice, from early in the morning until late in the evening most days. I’m as much of a music lover as the next person, but I do need peace and quiet while I work (or nap).

Maybe if he’d mixed it up with a bit of Johnny Cash, I could have stood it, but it was wall-to-wall opera. Opera, opera, opera. I was going out of my mind. Sorting him out had been on my to-do list for quite a while, but I wasn’t sure how to go about it.

20160319_170652
German organisation

The helpful, and often fabulously entertaining, “Free Advice Berlin” Facebook page came to my rescue. On this page, people can post pretty much anything they like in the hope that a kind soul will help them out. Questions have included everything from people looking for unusual products or cool bars, where to neuter a cat or buy a TV, help with moving flat, and even a Russian asking someone to explain feminism to him. (Good luck with that last one.)

The post that caught my eye, however, was by a musician. He explained that he wants to study sound engineering and plays around 13 instruments, including the drums, which he practises at home. Amazingly, he was getting noise complaints from the neighbours…

People were quick to comment on this one and, luckily for me, this being Germany, there are RULES about this sort of thing. It turns out that you can’t actually practise an instrument (voice included) for more than two hours a day. I downloaded the “Merkblatt zur Hausmusik” that someone posted, which contains scary terms like “Gemäß § 5 des Landes-Immissionsschutzgesetzes” and “Einschlägige Gerichtsentscheidungen”. I wasn’t entirely sure what they meant, but I figured you probably wouldn’t want to mess with that stuff.

Fun with German words...
Fun with German words…

A quick perusal through my rental agreement backed up the general Berlin rules with more specific house rules.

Take that!
Take that!

Ah, lovely German rules.

After a night filled with bad dreams about jiggly, naked opera singers, I was rudely awakened on Saturday morning at 9.30am by the man himself. I repeat, 9.30 AM on a SATURDAY. This was war.

WAR I tell ya!
WAR, I tell ya!

But instead of banging down his door like the fighting Irish woman that I am, I opted for the more civilised German approach. This involved me sitting at my laptop in a fury, with extreme bed hair and fluffy pajamas, and hammering out a “pleasant” letter to my neighbour, “politely” asking him to stop with all of the fucking singing because he was driving me fucking mad disrupting my work and my sleep.

I printed out the letter and the Merkblatt and, after making myself slightly less mental looking, popped them both into his letter box.

And now I wait. I guess there’s a good chance an angry, half-naked opera singer will show up on my doorstep. If that does happen, rather than resorting to fisticuffs, I’m hoping we can have a good old-fashioned sing-off. Throw in a couple of beers and a bit of Schlager and that would seem to be the most German way to handle things…

 

A visit to a German sauna – a treat for ball enthusiasts

As experiences go, it’s pretty hard to top riding around the centre of Berlin in a bed. But luckily, I didn’t have to trouble my brain cells for too long as my English friend, Cecil, was coming to town. Cecil, the big perv German culture vulture had decided that he would like to go to a German sauna while he was here and who was I to refuse? OK, so I’d spent four years in Latvia refusing to go to saunas, but it seemed it was finally time to grow some balls and go be around complete strangers’ balls – an inevitable moment in every young woman’s life.

As I glumly regretted the Apfelstrudel, cookies, chocolate brownie, crisps and packet of Jaffa Cakes I’d eaten that week, Cecil dived into the naked corners of the internet. While I was grunting through a few half-hearted sit-ups and butt-lifting exercises, Cecil gleefully resurfaced with the new gem on the Berlin spa scene – Vabali, a 20,000 square metre, Balinese nudist colony in the heart of the city.

Having thought that my sauna adventure would consist of sloooooooooooooooooowly walking to a sauna, dropping towel and hastily exiting again four seconds or so later, this was not exactly good news. A quick look at the website revealed that the spa is open from 10am to midnight daily, and that the minimum amount of time even a chicken-shit Irish girl can spend there is two hours… Brilliant.

Trying to cheer myself up with the fact that at least I hadn’t had to fork out cash for a new bikini, I met Cecil at his hotel. As we walked to the car park to pick up his rental, Cecil had a moment of unparalleled genius while waiting for the green man:

“What’s that noise for? So deaf people know when to cross?”

Possibly in a bid to show that his driving skills were sharper than his medical knowledge, Cecil expertly manoeuvred the car out of the parking space and towards the exit. However, when we reached it, it was clear that he should have paid upstairs. Waving apologetically (and a bit Mr. Beanily) at the car waiting behind us, Cecil reversed, angled, and parked the car around 50 metres from the entrance. This left me in the enviable position of being face-to-face with all of the happy drivers who had to swerve around our car on their way in. Cecil took off at a run to the first floor machine, which was out of order, then to the second floor, where the machine worked, then clattered back down the roundy rampy thing in his sensible, English shoes. Really, it’s lucky I have a sense of humour…

We finally made it the spa where my humour and “naked spa” German failed me. We checked in (in jittery English), got our little watch things that would calculate our bill as we sauntered round in the buff, collected some towels and made our way to the changing rooms.

The walk of doom.
The walk of doom.

I took off my dress and bra and then Cecil took the piss out of me for wrapping my towel around myself to take off my tights and knickers. The rules, which had been explained to us at reception, were that you had to be naked when using the pools, saunas, and pretty much everything else, but wear a towel or robe while walking from one place to the next. With everything safely deposited in our lockers, it was time to go. I fervently wished I’d given some thought as to how to stash a bottle of whiskey in a towel before arriving.

Holding onto that towel for dear life.
Holding onto that towel for dear life.

First on the agenda was a small heated jacuzzi. I dropped my towel and ran down the steps like a woman possessed. But once I was in the water, I actually started to relax. This wasn’t so bad! Everyone was naked – nobody was looking at me or judging my Apfelstrudel consumption habits; everyone was just chilling out (naked) and having a good time. The people there ranged from 18 to 80, with the dangly bits to match, so I really didn’t feel like I had anything to hide.

This place was amazing! (Image taken from the Vabali website)
This place was amazing! (Image taken from the Vabali website)

I emerged from the pool (think of Halle Berry in that James Bond movie…) dried off a bit, and we hit a sauna. Stretched out on a bench, naked as the day I was born, all I felt was a refreshing sense of freedom – oh, and bloody hot. After all that sweating, I felt like we’d earned a glass of wine so off to the bar we went. Amazingly for the last day of October, it was still warm enough to sit outside in just a towel. The sun shone, the birds sang, I drank my wine and tried not to look at the massive balls of the man sitting at the next table with his legs coquettishly spread. This was bliss.

If you get a bit chilly, you can always warm up in here. (Image taken from the Vabali website)
If you get a bit chilly, you can always warm up in here. (Image taken from the Vabali website)

We giggled our way through saunas, massage areas, swimming pools, rest areas with water beds, and more wine, until we came to two rectangular, side-by-side, knee-deep pools of water with smooth round stones at the bottom.

Me: Hmm.

Cecil: Go on.

Me: Hmm.

As the water was only knee-deep, I figured I could leave my towel on for this one but, for some reason, Cecil was insistent I take it off… I tentatively dipped a toe in the first pool – OK, that was pleasant. I sloshed through and up the steps at the other end. I did my toe-dipping thing in the second pool and jumped about a foot in the air. The water was FREEZING.

Me: NO, NO, NO! NEIN!! It’s bloody freezing in there! 

As I tried to back backwards and Cecil pushed me forwards, you could probably hear me guffawing in actual Bali. Some Germans even stopped to watch the show, laughing almost as much as I was. I charged through the water, bits bouncing, and emerged triumphantly shivering on the other side to greet my new-found audience.

All in all, it was a great day and if you have to get your bits out in public, I highly recommend doing it in Vabali.

Disclaimer: Not everyone who comes to visit me will get to see me naked, so don’t get any ideas.