Berlin insiders' guide: Relaxing

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The following is part of a series of visitor guides to Berlin. See also:
Berlin on a budget | Restaurants | Jewish Berlin | From the locals | Bars | Culture | Shopping

Desperately looking for sun? Forget about it. You're in Berlin now, and if you see any sun here, it's probably a misunderstanding. But there are ways to compensate. You can push your system into overdrive with indoor sports or surrender in style in a luxurious spa ... or even a tropical beach.

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Feeling pent-up? Tense? Frustrated? Let yourself go in a go-kart. On the 1,000-foot-long indoor race track at Kartland, you can race alone or with others, as fast as you can get the thing to go. Cost is 19 euros for 16 minutes; groups get a discount. (Mirau Strasse 62/80 in Reinickendorf; Tel.: 03043566841; hours: 3 -11 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 2 p.m.-midnight Friday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday)

The stylish fitness studio Ars Vitalis (website) offers such classes as pilates or yoga open to guests, as well as a large spa with sauna, pool, whirlpool and a massage studio. Special offer for Berlin International Film Festival guests: A day pass costs only 21 euros if you bring your accreditation. (Haup Strasse 19 in Schoneberg; Tel.: 0307883563; hours: 8 a.m.-11 p.m. daily)

Ever swam in a pool that was swimming? Try the Bathing Ship (Badeschiff) (website), a barge floating in the Spree River and converted into a heated, covered pool. Also with saunas and chill out-rooms with music, cocktails and a great view of the city. Tickets from 8 euros. (Arena Berlin, Eichen Strasse 4; Tel.: 0305332030; hours: noon until about midnight daily; 10 a.m. Sunday )

The futuristic thermal bath Liquidrom im Tempodrom is famous for its warm salt-water pool with underwater music and light show -- very, very relaxing. Two hours costs 17.50 euros. (Mockern Strasse 10 in Tiergarten; hours: 10 a.m.-midnight daily; until 1 a.m. on weekends)

If there's anything you can call "typical" about Berlin, it's the real Turkish steam bath. At the Sultan Hamam (website) you can order Orient-style full-body-peeling with silk gloves, organic soap massages, cosmetics and an Oriental cafe. Three-hour ticket begins at 16 euros. (Bulow Strasse 57, Schoneberg; hours: noon-11 p.m. daily; Monday for men only, Tuesday-Saturday for women only, Sunday mixed)

Take a trip right into the Arabian Nights at the Tajik Tea Parlor (Tadschikische Teestube). Take off your shoes, sit down on cushions among carved sandalwood columns and order tea from the Black Sea -- or any of the other exotic teas on offer. (Am Festungsgraben 1 in Mitte; hours: 5 p.m.-midnight weekdays, 3 p.m.-midnight on weekends)

The best way to get to the tropics from Berlin is to take a train to the small town of Brand, where a huge former zeppelin hanger has been converted into Tropical Islands (website). Sand was shipped in for beaches, a jungle was planted, waterfalls were built, saunas and jacuzzis installed and just about everything else was turned into a pool. You can even camp out on the beach -- or take a balloon ride through the hall and watch the goings-on from 180 feet above. Tickets from 25 euros. (unlimited stay). Open 24 hours daily; directions: take the regional train RE 2 from Berlin-Alexanderplatz to Brand (they leave every hour and take about 50 minutes). From there, a shuttle takes you to Tropical Islands.

Last but not least, here's a good Mobile Masseur, 30 minutes for 30 euros. Tel. 01773868654

-- Astrid Ule
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