LogoNaked only please

Navigating a newly-discovered German swimming baths is a bit like an episode of the Crystal Maze. For those younger than me: this involved a series of rooms with dastardly puzzles which you needed to solve to get to the prize. Except the 'prize' here is men's bare arses.

If you're used to the slightly prudish British swimming baths, where full nakedness is explicitly called out as something you must not do, then it comes as a bit of a shock. It's only really made acceptable because of stereotypical German efficiency.

In a typical Edinburgh swimming bath, showers and locker areas are generally unisex with small changing cubicles along the sides in which you can hide your private parts from view. This flexibility makes the building very open, architecturally.

Unfortunately, this seems to coincide with greater responsibility put on the bather. In Portobello baths you must remember to bring a pound to put in the locker as deposit; you can choose the locker yourself, which is good, because about one in ten are broken. In contrast, today at Hofwiesenbad Gera I paid and received a key for my locker. How did I know which one is mine? Well, I read the number on the key and used that one, of course.

German baths are like a factory line, where everything has been worked out for you in advance, if only you can go the right way. Once I did, I found a very well looked after private men's shower area. Unfortunately, it came with some less well-kempt buttocks on display.

I've yet to decide if the efficiency is worth the prize.