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Dragging my feet around Berlin; Swimming in a Barge and Other Stories

August 13, 2010

I decided this morning that I wouldn’t stay curled up in bed feeling sorry for myself. Instead I was going to drag my sad self around Berlin… whilst feeling sorry for myself.

There were a number of places that I had wanted to visit during my last stay in Berlin that, due to a variety of circumstances (winter, renovations, etc), I couldn’t. One of those places was the Badeschiff (literally: swim-boat). Badeschiff is so named as its star attraction is an old barge that has been repurposed as a pool and now sits permanently on the river Spree. I had mentioned to a friend yesterday that I had really wanted to go for a swim and check out the Badeschiff. Seeing as how I’m in a rather desolate mood, he knew I probably wouldn’t go and thus made me promise to email him a photo of myself there as evidence that I had been. Bugger, I thought, there’s no way of getting out of this one without breaking my promise.

And so despite the lousy weather and my solitary standing, off I went.

Badeschiff is much more than just a pool floating on a river (as if that weren’t enough). Walk past the two large, stacked containers that moonlight as toilets and suddenly you are standing on a sandy deck with a giant deck chair and a queen-sized bed to your left and a beach-style bar to your right. To the right of the bar, the theme continues with more beds, a giant cushioned swing chair and more assorted seating on lowered platforms and on a ‘rooftop’ balcony. Ahead lie two tiered wooden decks littered with hammocks, deck chairs and giant deck chairs for you to settle into. It’s at the end of the second platform that one can climb a few steps and find oneself swimming laps in (or merely reclining on the ends of) the Badeschiff. Nice.

I lay back in a deckchair whilst eyeing the giant deckchair directly ahead of me. It was occupied, unfortunately, but I had decided that the second it was released from the clutches of the two prepubescents who had claimed it as theirs, it was going to be mine. My iphone’s battery had run flat after about an hour of listening to music and deck-chair stalking, so I decided to go for a dip.

Holy mother of all that is good, it was cold, cold, cold! Even the water from mandatory showers was cold. It took a good few laps to defrost sufficiently.

On that note, here’s a tip for you: if you’re from Australia, South East Asia, Africa or anywhere where you can actually claim to know what ‘hot weather’ is, do not believe Europeans when they say how lovely and warm the water is… what the average European calls ‘warm water’ is as warm as an English pint is cold… in other words, it ain’t.

At the ends of the pool are shallow ledges that are about 2.5 metres in length; long enough for even the tallest German to stretch out and relax his/her legs. From the far end of the Badeschiff one can lean back and take in a view of the city with the omnipresent Berlin landmark, the TV tower, peeking out across the skyline.

I’ve read reviews of the Badeschiff with people claiming that swimsuits are prohibited, that the Badeschiff is the dominion of hipsters, but I found neither to be true. There was not a bare bottom in sight nor were there any wayfarer-toting, tight-jean-ensconced bodies. Perhaps there is a more ‘hip’ crowd on the weekends, but during the week the Badeschiff is rather tame and laid back with families, couples and adults of various ages. Nights are more adults-only with djs spinning live sessions several times a week. Friday mornings offer a chance to partake in a yoga class on the decks.

Come winter, the Badeschiff scene is bedecked by a cool, futuristic, tube-like covering… and more importantly, it’s heated. Sigh!

Do check it out. It’s worth at least a visit or two.


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Entry cost: €4

Students/Children up to the age of 14: €3 and €1.50 respectively

Bar: beers start at €4. Their drinks aren’t the cheapest, but I love that the bar’s there nonetheless… especially as they don’t allow you to bring in any food or drinks. I was told they serve food as well.

Address: Arena Berlin, Eichenstrasse 4; nearest UBahn station is Schlesisches Tor (U1).

Telephone: 030 533 20 30

Website: click here (btw, it’s in German)

Other: they have towels and lockers available to rent for a couple of Euros. In order to rent one you need to leave behind either ID or a small cash deposit. If you want both a locker and a towel, they’ll be wanting two ID’s or a second deposit.


* opening hours and entry fees are differ in summer and in winter, so make sure to check them out on the website (see above). Also, be sure to check out the cool riverside bars right next door.

** this information was correct at time of printing: August 4th, 2010.



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