Nakation Chronicles I: The Pre-digital Age

This gallery contains 13 photos.

I’ve taken on the project of organizing my photo library – a huge undertaking in the digital age. In doing so, I thought it would be fun to chronicle our nakation adventures since we got serious about naturist travel back in the late 1990s. This is the first installment, mainly digitized prints from our first […]

Hard Times at Cap d’Agde

When we tell people we like to go on “nakation in France,” if they know anything about French naturism, the first thing they will ask is whether we go to “that naked city… Cap Dog… or something like that.”

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Hotel Eve

Of course, at this point, they’re probably already confused as to why somebody would want to be naked in France in the first place, and that’s before you try to explain the surreal atmosphere that is – arguably – the international capital of naturism. As many have observed, it’s not a resort, but a city, where neither clothing – nor a good deal of discretion about anything else – is required.

We have been to Cap d’Agde several times since 1997 when we made our first pilgrimage to the high holy place among the naked. At that time, I would say that this naturist utopia had most certainly fallen upon hard times, as many of the apartment buildings had deteriorated into disrepair and neglect, the landscaping consisted largely of grass growing IMG_0157through cracks in the concrete, and there was clearly a sense of growing tension between the naturists and the libertines (aka, the more sexually adventurous, or if you will, the swingers). One of our subsequent visits was shortly after the most famous of sex clubs had been gutted by fire, allegedly at the hand of a naturist who wished to reclaim the city for the “true naturists,” a term that has defied any viable definition since people started taking their clothes off in public about 100 years ago.

This time, we stayed only one night at Hotel Eve, a somewhat modest establishment on the edge of the naked city that seems to be the only hotel in town that caters to people who only wish to change towels on a daily basis. (wink, wink)  But before you pack up the kids and schedule the next family reunion, I should mention the suggestive artwork adorning the hallways, the beautiful art book on the reception counter that thoroughly documents your options for leather and lace, and the general acceptance around the pool with men who have no qualms about displaying their current state of arousal. Hard times indeed!

IMG_0156All that said, it seems that Cap d’Agde is coming to terms with itself as a place where the naked and the scantily clothed actually can coexist without so much angst and allegation of wrong doing. To my naked eye, it seemed that the sex clubs were much more public this time, as opposed to simply donning clever names that served as cues to those in the know. (A personal favorite is Jeux de Mains… “Hand Games”) Somehow, it all seems so much less apologetic than before. Even at the hotel pool there seemed to be little or no concern about the ominous and omnipotent male erection, nor did the appearance of such present itself (during our brief visit) as a prelude to public sexual interludes.

In the meantime, however, the 1970s concrete apartment blocks have been painted, the landscaping has been replanted, and the public pool in the center of the complex that once looked like a dilapidated city plunge has been renovated and re-framed in a most inviting way. Somebody decided to invest some major cash into the infrastructure of this place – and not a minute too soon.

Would I take my young family there now if I had one? Probably not. Though many do, and I suspect they have a lovely vacation in one of the many self-catering apartments on offer. I have tried to imagine how I would explain all the lingerie and leather shops to my adolescent offspring, not to mention the pole dancing club on a main walkway that has no walls, or the constant stream of humans finding total abandon as they literally dance in the streets. (A beautiful transgender person with breasts and a penis had the stamina and determination to dance the entire day away during our stay.)

IMG_0158To reiterate, in case you are just encountering my blog for the first time, among my most pronounced intentions of blogging has been helping people find a place to find great naturist places – or at the very least, make sure they know what they are getting into before they arrive. That said, while my wife and I do not subscribe to libertine ideals, Cap d’Agde does seems to have found a certain maturity under the banner of live and let live.

There is something there for everybody. If you find that offensive, it’s probably best you go someplace else. And to be sure, France provides an unmatched number of possibilities.

 

 

 

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.

skinny dippers

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

 

 

 

 

 

Actually… things are getting better for naked people

On the beach at Cap d'Agde

On the beach at Cap d’Agde

It’s easy to reminisce about the good ol’ days, when local nudist clubs were thriving in America, when naturist ethical mores were higher, and people were just more laid back about the naked people on the beach. You know, back before the internet.

As a 50-something male, I have pined over the fact that I was born a bit too late to enjoy the “golden days of naturism.” We like to believe that things were better before people became so uptight and paranoid with a desire to legislate every possibly questionable behavior out of existence. While there’s some truth in that, (another rant for another day) I would have to say that things are getting significantly better for naked people. More complicated, perhaps, but better.

From Ile du Levant, c. 1961

From Ile du Levant, c. 1961

My inspiration for making such a bold statement is largely a reaction to having read Stephen L. Harp’s recent book, Au Naturel: Naturism, Nudism, and Tourism in Twentieth-Century France. I fear he won’t get much press outside of academic circles, as even the Kindle edition is really expensive. But given the fact that I’ve spent so much energy over the years touting the naturist glories of France, I thought this would be well worth the investment. And it was.

Harp spends a lot of time setting up the story as he traces the roots of naturism back to early twentieth-century Germany and France. In short, it was a radical movement, embraced by only a few, and held in contempt by most. The early leaders worked tirelessly to convince the government (and the masses) that, along with a diet that restricts meat, alcohol, tobacco, and anything else that tastes good, that direct exposure to the sun will be make you healthy.

A vintage postcard from Cap d'Agde

A vintage postcard from Cap d’Agde

There were various coalitions in those early naturist movements, including a few pioneers in the US, but it’s worth noting that much of what they were fighting for back then would be considered more conservative than the average swimwear you see on just about any beach today. (Especially European beaches – home of the Speedo!) The requirement of le minimum was typical, meaning that while breasts and chests might be exposed, genitalia still needed to be concealed. Of course, there were those who would push the boundaries for full nudity, but they were the daring ones. It would be the early 1960s before people really started getting naked on French beaches. That’s scarcely fifty years ago.

The early days on Ile du Levant

The early days on Ile du Levant

What changed the narrow minds of the masses? Two things; tourism and sex!

My followers know that we’re very keen on Ile du Levant, as we try to make even a brief visit during our annual naturist pilgrimage to France. And I have carefully avoided mentioning that we have twice visited the famous naked city, Cap d’Agde, as the reputation among naturists in the know is dicey at best. “Oh, you’re those kind of naked people!?!”

No. Actually, we’re not. But interestingly enough, when I tell somebody from the US that we enjoy naturist vacations in France, if they know anything about the topic at all, their first question is, “Oh, do you go to that big naked city on the Mediterranean? What’s the name?” And if they’re really in the know, “Aren’t there swingers there?”

What I found most informative about Harp’s history of French naturism was that there has been a consistent pattern over the past hundred years when it comes to humans getting naked. In very general terms, it goes something like this:

  • People were looking for a place to get naked and they found Ile du Levant. The tradition grew until it was no longer possible to mandate, let alone enforce “acceptable behavior,” until eventually, some of the naked people decided to push the boundaries of sexuality. Between nudity and sex, tourism exploded, and this little island became an international destination until the authorities cracked down and a better option materialized.
  • REPEAT: but fill in Cap d’Agde
  • REPEAT: but fill in Florida
  • REPEAT: but fill in any number of “naturist places” that begin with the best of intentions, but at the end of the day, people come to spend their naked dollars (euros, francs) or they don’t. Money speaks louder than an imposed sense of morality.

The “AH HA” moment for me was not that naturism caught on in Europe simply because Europeans are more open minded and free-spirited, but in nearly every case, the right to get naked followed some initiative of commercial development. “Turn these marsh wetlands into a place to get naked, and people will come by the thousands!” Simple supply and demand.

A sea of nakedness at Cap d'Agde

A sea of nakedness at Cap d’Agde

And sure enough, we are seeing similar trends today, even in the US, with offerings like the The Big Nude Boat and some of the Florida resorts that have simply abandoned the guise of what so many of us hold dear as holistic naturism to cater to those with more hedonistic tendencies. The assumption is that if we let people believe that sex might be related to nudity, that the public at large will completely flip out. But if this article in the Huffington Post (What Really Goes On Inside Nudist Resorts) isn’t enough evidence, the only people who are not connecting those dots – at least in the US of A, are the naked people. By and large, the average guy on the street has already made up his mind.

Am I condoning places that advertise themselves as naturist/nudist destinations only as a guise for the crazy sex dens everyone is leering and jeering about? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Am I shunning my commitment to holistic, non-sexual naturism as a truly meaningful way to enjoy life? Again, I say no. But as a fellow blogger put it so succinctly, (Sex and the Conservative Nudist) we are doing a disservice to our own credibility if we refuse to view nude recreation through the eyes of the public at large.

Naked luxury at Cap d'Agde

Naked (concrete) luxury at Cap d’Agde

And to be sure, the Millennials and their younger cousins are growing up in a different world than the pioneers of naturism, with different ideals about sex, nudity, religion, marriage; all salted with a sense of paranoia instilled by a generation of helicopter parents. But amidst it all, I’m sitting naked on the porch of a Hawaiian yurt bantering about nudity. While some of the old nudist camps have quietly disappeared, there is a greater variety of opportunity for people to get naked than ever before… all over the world. And on the day of this writing, people are taking to the streets with the #freethenipple campaign – a war that’s already been won in New York City. That’s a long country mile from requiring le minimum on a beach in the South of France just a few decades ago.

Maybe the Millennials will help us all sort out some of the sexual hang-ups of the past. My guess is that, as in the past, supply and demand will even things out. As long as there are people who embrace holistic nudity, – whatever that means – there will be places to do that. As long as there are people who want to push that boundary, there will be a market for that as well.

How is that different than anything else that’s trending in the world right now?

A POST SCRIPT to my readers in France: Harp goes on to talk about CHM Montilivet and the other resorts on the Aquitaine as well as those in Provence and in the Ardèche, noting that these places have largely held true to the early naturist core values, while at the same time, benefiting from the local government’s desire to increase tourism. As long time patrons at La Jenny, we are most grateful for that. No such phenomenon has yet to occur in the US.

Photos for this post were found on the internet. If I used your photo without permission, let me know and I’ll change it out.

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.

Why France is such a great place to get naked.

So we’ve been in Europe for about five weeks now. Four weeks in France, and now, several days in Greece.

Headed for the port on Ile du Levant

Headed for the port on Ile du Levant

Much of the time in France this summer was work related, though we were able to steal away for a couple nights on the magical Ile du Levant, and carved out a week at our “go to” place, La Jenny, before jetting off to the dependably blue skies and turquoise seas of Greece. We like getting naked in Greece, and in Croatia, and if the conditions are right, in the Caribbean and Germany as well. But at the end of the day, France gets the prize.

If we’re going strictly from a meteorological point of view, even the best parts of France can be tricky. Get a cold front on the Atlantic coast, or a severe dose of the Mistral blowing up from the Mediterranean, and your week or two of sun-worshiping can become a soggy or sand-blasted mess! The Adriatic and Aegean Seas are much more predictable in the Vitamin D consumption department.

But here’s some interesting data…

Near the vineyard at Club Origan

Near the vineyard at Club Origan

When I make a new blog post that I think might be of interest to a certain demographic or group, I tend to post a link on a relevant message board, such as clothesfree.com or the British Naturist Corner. Despite my limited abilities of being conversant in French, I have particularly enjoyed being part of the VivreNu community – the comprehensive resource for naturism in France. After a year’s absence, (as I’ve not done much naturist blogging over the past 11 months)  I posted a link to a recent blog post on VivreNu. Within one or two hours, “referred click-throughs” from VivreNu had nearly outnumbered that from any other country, including that of the good old (but decidedly prudish) US of A.

In other words, the naturist community in France is alive and thriving. I’m not really a facts and figures guy, but from an anecdotal point of view, I would say that the French people have fewer hang-ups about casual encounters with naked people, while French families seem to be the most likely (along with the Germans and the Dutch) to go on a family “nakation.” It was this very phenomenon that drew us into French naturism in the first place, and if the VivreNu data is of any consequence, it seems that France continues to grab the brass ring when it comes to going on holiday with nothin’ but the radio on!

Truthfully, I’m not fond of gross generalizations. And there are a lot of great places to get naked in Europe, and I predict that there will be more and more opportunities for no-tan-line vacations in Asia and South America in the coming years, but for now –

On the beach near La Jenny

On the beach near La Jenny

All hail to nakedness in France, and those who celebrate the right to bare all amidst vineyards, sunflowers, and historic chateau. France will always be the place where naturism genuinely made sense to me – in a way that I had dreamt it should be – and for that, I am forever grateful to the people who are able to say “a breast is a breast, a penis is a penis, and it appears everyone sports a remarkably similar pair of buttocks!”

Viva la France.

La Jenny plage

La Jenny plage

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?