On of the occasional pleasures of being in hotels is when they have leisure facilities – a pool and a sauna to relax in.. Of course I never carry swimming things with me so I usually have to beg or borrow a costume from the hotel.
Austria, as we will see was slightly different. I was there to give a talk at a company conference. Looking for something to do the first night of the conference I turned up at the reception desk at the pool and asked in my halting German if I could borrow a costume from the middle aged Frau she replied that it was “FKK”
“FKK”, what on earth did that mean?
“Freikorper kultur”, she said- freebody culture. A girl poked her head round from the room at the back.
“It is – what you call it – ze naturist”, she said and then I dawned on me – no costume necessary because it was the night that the German male throws off his inhibitions, and everything else, and frolics naked in the pool. A very Teutonic thing, but no problem for somebody like me who has had many a post-rugby match shared bath. All boys together!
Freikorperkultur it would be. I went into the changing room and my deduction was confirmed by a large sign which indicated to the non-German speaker (I guess) the nature of the evening. A large picture of a man wearing a bathing costume with a cross underneath and another of an unclothed Teutonic God with a tick underneath.
I stepped out and walked round into the showering area. It is an absolute rule in German pools that you must thoroughly wash before entering the pool as they do not use chlorine and the contamination by perspiration and dirt must be kept to a minimum. There was a picture describing the washing procedure to be followed. Including thorough soaping and washing of the private parts. This is the continent remember, no modest showering cubicles here, just one open room with six showerheads round the walls.
I started washing and as I did so I heard some more people come into the shower. I turned round to say “Guten abend” and there were three equally nude girls jabbering something and gesturing.
“My God”, I thought, “I’ve come on Ladies Night."
They jabbered some more incomprehensible then with a shrug of the shoulders gave up and started washing themselves down.
“Ah well”, I thought, “in for a penny in for a pound and all boys and girls together would be an experience, and I continued washing.
On of the girls put her head out of the room and shouted something, presumably it was “will somebody come and tell this idiot what to do”, because a few seconds later the girl from reception poked her head in and explained in words of one syllable that I was in the women’s shower area. Even if it was mixed nude it appeared that the shower suites were segregated, because, she explained pointing at the instructions on the wall (which I now realised depicted only females) you have to thoroughly soap your private parts as part of the procedure, and doing that in mixed company was too much even for the Germans.
I went through to the pool which was part indoors and part outdoors. You went into the inside and could then swim to the outside by going underwater through a sort of tunnel which connected the pools. Of course I had to have a go (swimming under water is one of my strong points – it’s swimming on the surface that I find difficult). I surface on the outside and pulled myself onto the grassy area round the pool to find myself in what was to all intents and purposes the hotel grounds.
The hotel backed onto an open area of grounds where guests could sit, and our pool area was separated off by a picket fence which screened us from the guest's area. But the whole area was overlooked by the back of the hotel rooms so I was in view of all the people staying in the hotel. In general people had brought towelling robes for walking round in and only bathed naked. I hadn’t even thought to bring a towel out so I was probably the only one prancing around in the nude
I suddenly thought – Heck – people I know are staying in this hotel – they might be watching me.
The Finnish Sauna was out in the garden in a small wooden shed. Here was respite so I dived into the sauna. One man and two girls sat naked on the benches
It was hot inside.. Very hot. And in spite of the interesting view I couldn’t stand it for long, but was disinclined to go out and start wandering around for the way back in. I asked how to get to the pool in my terrible German. The man appeared to indicate out through the opposite door.
I went out and found that he was not directing me to the swimming pool but to the sauna cold plunge pool. I was so hot I ran up the steps plungerd in and then looked round. The plunge pool was set outside the screened area in the public park with a path running past. I was sitting in it stark naked watching the people go by. And I was going to have to get out. Stark Naked. There was nothing for it but to do it. I stood up, climbed out and walked naked down the path to the sauna. It took me about five minutes to find my way back into the main building?
I made my way to the hot indoor plunge pool room which was empty. But not for long. A woman in her thirties entered, sat on the edge opposite me and opened her legs wide. She was of a type which I soon began to label a “see my parts" because they always made sure they displayed everything. I left to take the obligatory shower before entering the warm pool outside the steam room. After thoroughly rubbing myself down I turned round. The “see my parts" was sitting on the side of the pool opposite, her legs wide apart smiling invitingly. I began to suspect that these naked spas were not just about healthy natural living!
I fled quickly back into the main pool.
Another group of women I dubbed the “Willy Watchers” as they always stationed themselves opposite the exit from the pool and were clearly “sizing up” the men as they came out. Probably betting on who had the biggest willy. I realized that I was going to have to run the gauntlet, or to put it more precisely my willy was going to have to run the gauntlet, of this group as I exited. There was no way round it. It was only possible to get out of the pool facing the edge. At least the water wasn’t cold enough to shrink my attributes too much.
A final group of female participants I labelled the “Aren’t we naughties”. These were young girls who spent the whole time wrapped up in their robes giggling. I looked at them giggling at me. What was up with them? Had they never seen a penis before? I doubted it.
Then one of them spoke to me in a thick Eastern European accent.
"Hello Mr Ridley," she said, and it dawned on me. They were the Polish girls from the course I was going to give a talk at. And they were all looking at me standing there completely nude. They could see my penis! No wonder they were giggling. Why had it never occurred to me there'd be people from my course at the pool?
Oh heck! I'd never live this down. When I was giving the talk they'd be imagining me in the nude. Still, all things have a silver lining, I got really good feedback on my presentation.