Nakation Chronicles II: France and Corsica

This gallery contains 22 photos.

Installment number two of my attempt to chronicle our naturist travels as I go about sorting through the thousands of photos we’ve collected over the years… Two big events in 2004: We bought a new digital camera (our first Canon Digital Rebel), and we got away for almost two weeks without the kids to explore […]

Mallorca Hospitality – Grant and Jordi Style

This summer marked our first visit to Mallorca, but most certainly not our last. Having read about Skinny Dippers resort for years, we finally found our way to this beautiful little hamlet near the south shores of this island in the Balearics, off the Spanish coast near Barcelona.

IMG_0178Of all the naturist places we’ve visited, I have to say that this one is truly unique – in a good way – largely defined by what I came to refer to as the “Grant and Jordi Show.” Grant and Jordi are the owners/innkeepers of this classy little resort “for the discerning naturist,” now in its second edition. They began with a smaller inn down the road, but expanded to this property with twelve rooms a few years ago. Apparently that is going so well that one’s failure to book a year in advance may well mean you don’t get your dates, or maybe, you don’t get in at all. There is clearly a devoted following that makes this their one stop nakation destination each and every year. Now we know why.

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Famous map by Grant

Most of the rooms are in a beautiful two story finca that was originally built as a home for a guy long on money, but short on time to absorb the qualities of the simple life in the country. That, along with a few adjoining apartments make up a lovely selection of beautiful apartments with unusually spacious bathrooms. Perhaps the nicest accommodations we’ve had in a naturist venue anywhere!

But what really makes the place unique is the innkeepers themselves, attentively looking after each guest with humor and charm, eager to personalize each guest’s holiday experience. Grant is famous for his hand drawn maps to local naturist beaches and various tourist attractions, usually doodled on the back of a scrap of paper, but acutely accurate. (You can read about our naturist outings in a previous post should you wish.)  If you desire to dine in, meals are served on one of two verandas where guests dress – or not – according to the evening temperatures. Into the new trend of gourmet dining au naturel, skip London and Paris and head straight for Mallorca.

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Beach combing

Over the course of our stay, the communal meals made it nearly impossible to remain completely anonymous, unless you should choose to dine elsewhere or alone. We made many new friends from Great Britain, along with those from Switzerland, Norway, the Netherlands, and Sweden as well. Lots of lively and convivial banter in the midst of Brexit and the US Presidential Election. But what truly impressed us about Skinny Dippers is how our hosts worked so diligently (and discreetly) to maintain the calm and welcoming environment that creates something of a familial sense about the place. In fact, during our stay, there was an incident where guests had arrived that were not quite in sync with the ambiance of this particular resort. (You’ll need to read between the lines on that one.) This was handled quickly and discreetly, and suddenly, they had chosen to make an earlier than anticipated departure. What Grant and Jordi have created here is something very special in the naturist holiday realm, and they are most definitely committed to protecting that investment for their most valued clients. No wonder their customers are so loyal.

IMG_0177So we have already made our reservations to return next year. Pool gravity made it difficult to get dressed and get out to see as many sights as we might have hoped, especially if it involved donning clothing. My only reticence about talking up the place on social media is that I suspect it will become increasingly difficult to book a room with each successive year. To that end, it seems there are plans underway to reopen the original resort, this time as self-catering apartments. Staying there means you’d miss out on the Grant and Jordi Show, but I suspect it will be fabulous in its own right. I can’t imagine any endeavor put up by these two naked entrepreneurs to be anything less than first rate.

Thanks Grant and Jordi, for such a welcoming introduction to Mallorca. We look forward to the food, the wine, and the laughter again next year.

 

 

 

 

Nude Beach combing in Mallorca

So I suppose the first thing the geographically challenged naturist would want to know about Mallorca is that it is one of the Balearic Islands, which happily enough for naked people, is part of Spain. Despite the explosion of expansive naturist centers in France, and the mass exodus of naked Germans each summer to the Istrian peninsula in Croatia, Spain has been moving into the lead as the place where it’s essentially “legal to get naked anywhere,” as long as it’s not offensive to the general public. Apparently, this policy gained such widespread publicity that the good people of Barcelona finally had to make their own policy, forbidding people to walk around Las Ramblas in the buff, as it seems too many were exercising their rights while frightening the tourists. (Mainly American tourists, I dare say!) I suppose that’s where naturism ends and exhibitionism begins, but alas, that’s a different post.

2016-07-19 11.18.00-2In the meantime, one’s license to make any beach a nude beach seems to be the common doctrine, especially in the more remote places found on say… the Balearic Islands. We were staying on the southern corner of Mallorca near the town of Campos at the exquisite Skinny Dippers Naturist Retreat, (That blog post is coming soon!) where we had the expertise of our lovely host Grant, who knew all the best spots to bathe naked in the shimmering turquoise waters of Mallorca. Our enthusiasm for the world famous Es Trenc beach was a bit more fervent than that of our host, though he was kind enough to guide us to the best parking lot that would provide the easiest access to where we’d be likely to find other naturists.

2016-07-18 11.22.18An early arrival at the parking lot was well worth the effort; (early, meaning before 10:00 am) then a fifteen-minute trek past all the beach bars with locals and tourists packed in on top of each other. But then, near the old bunkers left over from WWII, the naked people began to appear. With shallow waters that allow one to wade 100 meters into the sea, it truly is a remarkable place, and there were plenty of constituents in the naturist cohort, and as many again who were happy to go topless. We were there with another couple from the naturist retreat, and indeed, nobody seemed to notice that some people had swimsuits and other did not. So much so, one couldn’t help but wonder “WHY ARE YOU PEOPLE WRAPPING YOURSELVES IN POLY-PETROLEUM-NYLON WHEN WHAT YOU’RE WEARING IS, IN SO MANY WAYS, MORE REVEALING THAN WHAT I’M NOT WEARING?” But most importantly, Es Trenc is a place where naturists and textiles can easily co-exist – and, in fact, do so every day!

2016-07-18 11.49.20But the real find was the seaside path to the south and west of Es Trenc. Once again, at the advice of our host, we left the car near the lighthouse at Cap de Ses Salines, walked 50 meters out toward the sea, doffed our clothes and headed north. We made this walk twice along the seaside – once in the morning, then a few days later at sunset – each time finding a few other walkers along the way. The first beach we came to was broad and sandy, with a shallow shelf and more turquoise water; the second consisting of a rocky shore around a stunning bay where boats like to drop anchor and while away the day. Few of the people we encountered along the way were naked, but again, nobody seemed to care. According to our friend Grant, tourism is the heartbeat of the Balearic Islands, known for a laid back attitude to begin with. If the tourists are happy getting naked, and that means they’ll stay longer and do more for the local economy, bring on the naked people!

2016-07-19 17.30.06Though we were on Mallorca for about nine days, we found the “pool gravity” at Skinny Dippers Retreat to be incredibly dissuasive from getting our naked asses out of the resort and off to the seaside. And it occurs to me that we have only scratched the surface as to where one might commune with the Vitamin D gods on this beautiful little island. So to that end, we have already booked our return visit for next summer at which point, I’m hopeful additional “research” will lead to the discovery of a few new places to bask in the sun.

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Naked Oddessy II – Naturist Europe 2016

We are fortunate people! We discovered naturism at a young age, and now we are empty-nesters with enough discretionary income to explore the planet in the best possible way – naked.

In 2013, we were lucky enough to live in Europe for a year and took advantage of that to make a three-month journey across Europe with the intention of visiting as many naked places as we could manage. You can read a little about that here, but we’re at it again. I have business in France this summer, so I’ll need to wear clothes for a few weeks, but for the rest of the summer, we’re going to do all we can to live in the now and the naked. Our itinerary…

Therme Erding is always our preferred first port of call when traveling to Europe. It’s a short drive from the Munich airport, and by the time you’ve soaked, sweated, and slumbered in their comfy lounges, the jet-lag thing seems like a non-issue. We’ll stop here twice on this trip – on our way into Europe, and again on our way out. I’ve referred to Therme Erding several times in my blog over the years, in several different contexts. Not a naturist place by definition, but if you want to spend the day with a bunch of naked people, well, I guess it is.

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Beach at Ile du Levant

 

 

We have visited Ile du Levant at least a half-dozen times now and stayed at several hotels on the island. By now, there’s no question – our lodging of choice is Heliotel near the plaza at the top of the hill. It takes at least a couple visits to the Golden Island to figure out what that’s all about, and in fact, having done some reading on the topic, the “about it all” has changed quite a lot over the decades. But today, it is mostly a tranquil little island virtually unnoticed by the rest of the world. Perfunctory rules tell you where you can and cannot be naked, but nobody seems to pay them much mind – in either direction. Naked and clothed people just going about their business in anticipation of another stunning sunset on the Cote d’Azur. This year, we’ll be there for a long weekend with novice naturist friends. Talk about throwing them in the deep end…

Nude Shopping

Shopping nude, because you can!

Then I have to work for a few weeks before we make our way to Barcelona to catch the ferry to Mallorca. While we regard the place with a sense of circumspect, we will stay overnight at Hotel Eve in the renowned (infamous?) Cap d’Agde. I think this will be our third visit to this theme park of human deviant behavior (harsh… I know… but really, humans walking humans in studded collars? C’mon!) since we have a day to kill en route, and indeed, there is something alluring about having the freedom to go banking or grocery shopping in the nude. Our last experience (maybe ten years ago) at Hotel Eve was very pleasant. A quiet oasis in a metropolis of bizarre.

 

We are counting the days until our arrival at Skinny Dippers resort on Mallorca. Neither cheap, nor easy to book – we reserved last summer – this appears to be one of the premier naturist boutique hotels in the world. Pictures could very well be deceiving, but I doubt it. And apparently, Mallorca boasts some stunning naturist beaches as well. We are prepared to reveal our findings related to all things Naked Mallorca. Stay tuned.

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Mallorca naturist retreat

From Mallorca, we take a ferry to Sardinia (just a stopover) to Corsica. Again, this will be our third or fourth visit to Corsica, but our first visit to naturist resort Bagherra located on the East coast of Corsica, about 2 hours south of Bastia. Our previous stays were at Riva Bella, and another complex called Piana Verde which is no longer naturist. And we’ve made day visits to U-Furu (Lovely!) and La Chiappa, each of which are charming in their own right. But it seems Bagherra has the best accommodations on offer at this point, so we’ll give it a try. One thing for sure – they have a good webmaster.

 

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Corsica

With the desire of finding blindingly sunny days, we chose to end our sojourn in Greece, but as it turns out, getting from Corsica to Greece on a car ferry takes some doing – in this case, making our way across the rather naturist-unfriendly country of Italy to the Adriatic Sea. There are a few naturist places to be found, but the one not far from the port in Tuscany called Locanda di Terramare; a smallish inn that appears to blend simple Tuscan elegance with the freedom to be nude. Just two nights there, but it looks like a great stopover.

 

Locanda 2Given its perfect climate, there are amazingly few sanctioned naked places in Greece, though the one that has emerged as our personal favorite is Vritomartis on the southern coast of Crete. This will be our third visit to this stunning resort perched on the cliffs over the deep blue sea. A fabulous bonus is that they organize amazing day trips including naturist boat excursions and even a naturist trek through a remote gorge. This year, we hope to take the day trip to Gavdos – the most southerly point in Europe – a small island that has long been a safe haven for hippie types and other naked folk.

 

As we head back north, we plan to spend a few days at the Fig Leaf Villas back on the mainland west of Athens. This will be our final stop on our naturist explorations of summer 2016, positioning us for a boat trip back up to Venice which will position us for our return to Munich and a few more hours at… you guessed it – Therme Erding.

Hiking at Vritomartis

Nude hiking on Crete

In short, we have invested a lot of time and effort in seeking out the best naked places in the world. An endeavor not only intended to serve our own naturist desires, but to help people find places they would otherwise miss. Naturism is a niche market at best. If a few thoughtful blog posts can help keep these stunning places thriving, then it’s worth all the effort. Hard work, but somebody’s gotta do it.

 

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Vritomartis

 

 

 

 

 

A Naked Walk in the Woods

So when it comes to adventure travel, we tap out pretty quickly. While fit, neither of us are particularly athletic, nor are we into zip-lining, bungee jumping, or downhill skiing in the Alps. But a walk in the woods is one of life’s greatest pleasures – especially if it can be done without the burden of clothing.

The road to Iligas Gorge

The road to Ilingas Gorge

I realize there are entire books, blogs, and cyber communities dedicated to organizing naturist walks. These offerings have always looked intriguing to me, but rarely do they coordinate with our calendars when we’re not traveling. And reading an announcement for a “free-hiking” (a term coined for hiking in the nude) opportunity in the Austrian Alps when you’re currently in the Pacific Northwest, while enticing, is not so easy to navigate. There are dozens of organized naturist hikes in France each summer, and my sense is there is a wonderful sense of community there, but the ever looming language barrier will almost certainly be an issue as well.

The other significant trend is creating your own free-hiking in the Do-It-Yourself version; finding a little know trail on a weekday where you’re less likely to run into other hikers – especially families with children – which typically involves having some sort of clothing at the ready in case you decide at the last minute that it’s better to dress than dare as your approach unsuspecting passers-by. This sounds stressful to me.


Hiking the Ilingas Gorge

Hiking the Ilingas Gorge

Which finally brings me to the subject of this particular post – our recent journey down the Ilingas Gorge near Vritomartis Naturist Hotel on the southern coast of Crete. (You can read their description with photos here.) The hotel organizes the entire event, beginning with an open air ride up an incredibly steep and narrow road on bench seats in the back of a pickup truck where the road continues to narrow and deteriorate until even the goats decide – “Whoa, it’s too desolate out here!” We did, however, encounter something of a traffic jam when a sheep herder was moving his flock through a narrow passage.

Once near the top of the mountain, we walked a short while until our guide gave us the all clear signal, at which point, the whole group was naked within a matter of minutes. (There was one adolescent girl in our group who choose not to go bare – no problem.) While there were a few places that required a bit of scrambling over rocks, it was generally an easy downhill walk, frequently in the shade of the scraggly woods and the sheer cliffs as the gorge would close in around us. End to end, perhaps 90 minutes to two hours before we emerged into a clearing, got dressed again, and boarded the truck for the nearby town of Anapolis for lunch. You’ll also see on the Vritomartis blog that there were plenty of opportunities for photo ops, including the obligatory fig leaf photos that have great potential for that Christmas card you really want to get noticed. While respectful, nobody seemed particularly camera shy, and we seized the opportunity for a good bit of nature and naturist photography.


The road from Filaki to the hotel

The road from Filaki to the hotel

I have ranted in previous posts (See: Nude at 100 Paces) about what seems to me to be a disproportionate concern about random encounters with naked people, noting that by the time you come across a person donning hiking shoes and a day-pack, you really have to have a keen eye to determine whether that person is shrouded in fig leaves or not – never mind that fig leaves cover more skin that a typical bikini or Speedo – but that topic has been beaten to death elsewhere. That said, the Jeep and Hiking Safari at Vritomartis goes down in the books as one of our favorite naturist walks, devoid of the fear that we would unintentionally offend a local family of humans, goats, or geckos.

With that, here are a few other places that have made our Naked Walks Hall of Fame, with similar criteria for walking naked without worries for at least an hour round trip. I’m hoping readers here might be inspired to share others we should add to the list.

  • The beach at Naturist La Jenny (France): I have written volumes about our many visits to La Jenny, but one thing we enjoy the most is the fact that we’ve walked one or two hours up and down beach from the resort without ever feeling IMG_6524the urge to wrap up, even as we’ve meandered into textile beach areas. In short, nobody cares.
  • DeAnza Springs Resort (California): Hardly a walk in the woods, as this is high desert with lots of rocks and scrub brush, but we thoroughly enjoyed following the trail that weaved in and out of the nearby abandoned railway. You have to get the timing right as a mid-afternoon walk on a 100+ degree afternoon would probably loose its charm pretty fast.
  • Club Origan Village (France): A fairly modest naturist resort in the mountains above Nice, but one of the best features is a path that scales the mountainside and runs along the ridge for about an hour, providing breathtaking views of the valley below. When we stay there, we make it our morning ritual to do the 90-minute loop each day.France_U-Furu
  • U-Furu Naturist Camping (Corsica): A remote campground on the island of Corsica where you can take a fairly substantial hike back to a small stream that features some lovely waterfalls if there has been enough rain that season. Also a wonderful spot for naturist photography.
  • Ile du Levant (France): The coastal trail along the Mediterranean is simply spectacular, making you realize how silly it is to ever wear clothing when walking along the sea. I’ve written a lot about this little island near the French Riviera if you dig back in my blog.
  • Harbin Hot Springs (California): It’s been a while since we’ve visited, so I can only assume that policies regarding nudity on the grounds are similar to that of years past, which not only allowed for nude soaking in the magical hot springs, but also the opportunity to explore the paths on the nearby hillside sans clothing. Last time we did that, the few people we encountered on the paths were clothed, but scarcely batted an eye at our nudity.
Ile du Levant

Ile du Levant

Know a great spot we should check out for our next naked walk? Add it in a comment and we’ll put it on the list.

Sorry if you’re offended by my elbow…

Today was a good day.

I spent most of it sitting naked by the pool at a quaint little naturist resort on Rhodes (Greece), which allowed the luxury of a day of dozing and pleasure reading. And indeed, it was a pleasure to read Mark Haskell Smith’s Naked at Lunch: A Reluctant Nudist’s Adventures in the Clothing-Optional World. i’ll get around to posting a full blown book review in the coming days as I think this is a must-read for anyone interested in nudity; pro, con, or indifferent.

An afternoon dip in Montenegro

An afternoon dip in Montenegro

As I reached the end of the book, one of those silly internet quiz games came to mind, like this one, where you try to guess whether you’re looking at a picture of an ass or an elbow. While I don’t have statistical evidence of this, it seems that most people pretty-much fail these tests outright. When put to the task, most are unable to distinguish one from the other. In other words, all our family photos of arms in flexion should have been confiscated by the WalMart photo guy as pornographic – just a simple crop and Photoshop away from the photo line-up of inter-generational asses!

Forest walk the South of France

Forest walk in the South of France

What’s most brilliant about Smith’s book is his assertion that being offended lies mainly in the eyes – or more accurately, the acculturation – of the beholder, well illustrated by the fact that in many parts of the world, the exposure of a woman’s elbow would be considered way more heinous than a guy like me dropping his clothes and walking naked through Barcelona. (Which up to a couple years ago, used to be legal, by the way.) After chatting up all the leaders of various naturist movements at play in the last fifty years, he concludes that the crazy ones are not the naked ones, but the people who can’t handle looking at them – or even simply knowing about them.

In any case, here’s where I think Smith delivers his knock-out punch

“Society needs to come to terms with the fact that some of us like pleasurable pursuits. A person shouldn’t feel guilt or shame for being naked any more than someone should feel guilt or shame for enjoying a ripe peach. So what if people want to go skinny-dipping at the beach? If it really bothers you, maybe you need to take a long look at yourself and figure out why it bothers you. Just because you’re offended doesn’t give you the right to keep someone from enjoying their own body and the environment. Two things we all share. Two things that are free of charge.”

I don’t want to throw out a spoiler, but this is coming from a guy who didn’t consider himself a nudist before writing the book, and admittedly, doesn’t consider himself a nudist after writing the book, despite the fact that he must have spent the better part of a year hanging out naked (sorry for the pun) while researching why people get naked, and investigating the psychological mêlée surrounding people who love getting naked, as well as the people who freak out when they hear there is nakedness occurring on the beach down the road.

"Point de vue" in the South of France

“Point de vue” in the South of France

Funny thing is, I have vivid memories from my adolescence when a local swimming hole became so controversial that it made the headlines of the local newspaper for weeks on end. (I was a paperboy, so I was tracking it closely.) It seems the problem was two fold; the first being that people were getting naked and jumping off the bridge into the river, but secondly, this became such a popular pastime for so many that parking and facilities became a real issue. People were blocking the driveways of the local residents, and lacking a better option, peeing on their trees. But by the time it hit the newspapers, crowd management wasn’t the offense – public nudity was the culprit, which led to strict legislation that would make any incident that involved nakedness a serious offense with “one-strike – you’re out” kinds of penalties. My father, who I always thought to be quite open-minded, applauded the authorities for shutting down the hippies at the river. “Why would anybody in their right mind want to be swimming naked anyway?” It was probably the first time I realized that I was a naturist at heart, as I tried to figure out if I could ride my bicycle to this place. It never happened. The whole thing was shut down before I could save enough money to buy myself a map.

A couple photos in this post are from a little villa we rented on a mountain overlooking the stunning Bay of Kotor in Montenegro a few years ago. We had a private veranda with a small pool, where we could watch the cruise ships creep in and out of the harbor. The neighboring villas on each side were closed up for the season, so while we weren’t sure whether we should be naked at the pool, we thought it was worth the risk, especially given the fact that people seem more tolerant about nudity on the Adriatic than almost anyplace in the world. On at least two or three occasions, a lovely Serbian woman from three doors down would magically appear on our veranda, either to look after the villa for the owners, or to deliver freshly picked grapes and figs, or a homemade pastry fresh out of the oven. And there we were, unable to conjure up a single word in her language, unsure of how Serbians felt about nakedness, only to respond with a smile – which was reciprocated each and every time. We were naked. She was kind. Nobody got hurt.

Morning stroll on Ile du Levant

Morning stroll on Ile du Levant

Isn’t that the way it should be? I’m not crazy about tattoos and have chosen not to get one, but I have little concern for those who enjoy them. I do have issues with people who fly the Confederate flag, despite the numerous explanations I have heard as to how that doesn’t imply what it seems to me it would imply. In short, I find that offensive, just as I find some of the political propaganda signs that appear in my neighbors’ yards to be offensive. But that is my choice to be offended – in this case, quite likely the desired effect of the offender! (I could launch into an entirely new tangent about the right to be offended in the land of the free, but I think you get my drift.)

Covering one's ass is now a requirement on Orient Beach

Covering one’s ass is now a requirement on Orient Beach

But when I walk naked on the beach, i have no desire to offend anyone. In fact, I go out of my way to avoid offending people as best I can. But as many have noted, someone taking offense could lead to any number of untoward consequences, from compromising one’s career to being labelled as a sex offender. Unlike today, that would not be a good day.

All that ruckus… when you have to take a double take at the photographic evidence to determine whether you’re offended by my elbow, or my ass.

Really?

Naturist Croatia!

Several perspectives on naturist Croatia, from the clothing optional beaches near Hvar, to the expansive naturist resorts of Istria

See our other post about Naturism in Croatia