So, What’s the Deal with My Obsession with Nudity? It’s a Thing!

I was in the car the other day with a naturist friend, Jennifer, debriefing about the whole naturist thing.

In fact, we were on the way to the airport as she had just spent a few days hanging out with us at La Jenny, (one France’s premier naturist resorts) it seemed like a good time to grill her for a few moments about her proclivity for doffing her clothes whenever given half a chance to do so. She mused quite a lot about naked time as having become “safe zone,” which is particularly notable in this case as up to a few years ago, the idea of getting naked with other humans in a non-sexual environment wasn’t even something that had crossed her mind! Now, I think she would go as far as to identify herself as a fervent naturist.

So, there’s no question that I’m the most fervent naturist in our immediate family, having spent years creating a naturist friendly environment behind our home with the strategic placement of hedges and other landscape features that protects our neighbors from unsolicited glimpses of sunbathing and naked wine-tasting on our back deck. My wife is a most willing co-conspirator when it comes to naked tubbing, and I think she would tell you that given the choice, she’d choose nakation over vacation if such can be accomplished without compromising the touristic elements of our travel itinerary. (One is hard pressed to find a naturist hotel or campground in Morocco, Turkey, or Singapore, the latter of which has such strict anti-nudity laws that you could get you arrested if spotted naked through the sheers of your hotel window!!) Of our three adult children, all are naturist friendly to varying extents, but I don’t think any of them would drive more than ten minutes out of the way to visit a naturist beach instead of the more convenient textile option next door. BUT I WOULD! And SO would Jen. 

I asked her in the car a few days ago, “Why do you think some humans are simply hard-wired as fervent naturists? Something in our DNA? Is it a philosophical disposition? A psychological crosswire that sets us apart from the rest of the human race who can’t bear that thought of going to bed with two layers of unnecessary clothing?”

She reflected for a bit, then alluded to a common friend we’ve discussed in the past who is big into Second Life, that cyber world where people live in an alternate reality that replicates all the elements of daily life, but interfaces through a computer generated world where your actual identity is completely detached from your day to day existence.

“Getting naked is sort of like that for me. A complete departure from my daily routine. Even the ability to get up in the morning and not worry about what I’m going to wear, how I’m going to accessorize, and just how I want the world to perceive me today is a real game changer.” Jennifer thought a bit more, “When I’m naked, I’m just me. Done.”

We mused a bit more on the topic about whether there’s a correlation between one’s penchant for nudity and the qualities of openness and vulnerability that same person exhibits in their everyday (clothed) lives. I am personally fond of that notion, but as I ran a quick inventory of people we’ve encountered at all the naturist places we’ve visited over the past thirty years, I had to challenge the premise on the grounds that I’ve met a lot of rude and jerky people who seemed neither open, nor genuine, let alone vulnerable – just naked.

“Yup,” I say, “I’d like to think that naturists simply see the world and interact differently with other humans, but in reality, well… I’m not sure that checks out. “

But back to the title of the blog post itself, I’ve never really fully figured out my own disposition that somehow results in a direct correlation to the stress levels of the day, and the subsequent desire to get naked at the end of that day. In that regard, I have to agree with Jen! Especially as I’ve developed an identity as a naturist blogger where I interact (mostly in cyber-space) with a whole community of humans that are neither involved or even interested in what I do for a living and whether or not I’m successful at it. And also like Jen, I find a distinct sense of relief in leaving my textile image at the door, and at least in my case, all the insecurities I have felt that day when my shirt doesn’t quite fit right, or the shoes didn’t coordinate with my pants. Strangely, despite age spots, weight gain, and a host of other typical hang-ups that most of us have about our own bodies, there’s something empowering about simply acknowledging, “This is the skin that I have, and I’m sticking with it. So there!”

When you stop to think about it, it’s a complicated phenomenon. We have friends that will get naked in the hot tub with us but would never consider a nakation. And others who seem intrigued by our naturist endeavors, but would never even consider going topless on a European beach, despite the fact that they may be more fit and “attractive,” – by 2019 cultural standards – than we are. For my wife, it’s really much more an issue of pragmatism. Naturist friends come over for dinner and it’s warm and not too buggy on the screened porch, so off come the clothes. But if she’s working around the house when a trip into the garage or onto the front porch might require a light cover-up, “Meh! It’s not worth the hassle. Better to just stay dressed.”

But I suspect that many of my readers are a lot like me… and like Jennifer. 

“Give me twenty-five minutes of time out of mainstream society, and I’m going to my safe place. Where I can leave my clothes, my identity, and at least someof my stress laying on the floor before I have to cover-up and face the harsh realities of the outside world again.”

We live in a world where appearance is a multi-million-dollar industry; in an age where a woman on the eastern Mediterranean could be arrested for exposing too much of her face. Yet at the same time, hundreds of naked Germans are frolicking in the altogether on a beach just a couple hundred miles across the seal. It makes you wonder how simple nudity became such a controversial subject, or even a subject at all?

And in the same breath, it makes me wonder why I’m so obsessed with the right and the desire to be naked, and even more so, why anyone else would care if I am.

But one thing I do know…. It’s a thing.

All images were taken from a Google search and are believed to be in the public domain. If you find an image that belongs to you, and you’d like to have it removed, just let me know.

Naturist Ada Bojana: The (Once) Naturist Queen of the Adriatic Coast

For those of us who bother to worry about such things, there are wildly mixed reports about the future of naturism in Europe. One day, you read that young French people are lining up in droves to get naked, but the very next page lays out the demise of naturist tourism in Croatia as all the “old leathery Germans” are dying off. Never mind the thriving spa industry in The Netherlands and Germany where thousands of 20 and 30-somethings are having naked date nights every weekend. But that scarcely ameliorates the rampant complaints on Trip Advisor that hardly anybody was naked at the big naturist center in France last week.

Really, it’s all very confusing!

I can see you Albania! So close, but yet SO far!

So confusing, in fact, that I finally had to go see one such place for myself in preparation for that awkward moment at a cocktail party when somebody asks, “So aren’t you one of those nudie types? And didn’t you say you’ve been to Montenegro? Is there a good place to get naked there?”

“Well, I think Ada Bojana is still open. You might wanna check that out.” I say with tentative trepidation, “Though I can’t really say for sure, since, well…  I’ve never been there.” 

Which was true, until a few weeks ago when I purposely diverted my flight itinerary to avail myself for a bit of nakation research in an area that has become known as the French Riviera of the Adriatic. Ada Bojana is actually a triangular island that splits the mouth of the river that separates Montenegro from Albania, or if you know your post WWII history, the southern reaches of former Yugoslavia. 

My view while enjoying a naked beer at the Ada Bojana Beach Bar

As best I understand it, Yugoslavia garnered much of its naturist fame during the Tito dictatorship that, bizarrely enough, provided a framework for stability until the dictator’s death in 1980. (Tito’s death was the beginning of the end for Yugoslavia as tensions grew between various factions that eventually led to genocide and the many atrocities of the Balkan War in the early 1990s. It’s worth reading up on all that if you decide to visit the region, as the topic is still very much relevant to the people who live there.) But ironically enough, it seems the communist regime of former Yugoslavia was amazingly good for naturism. With the northern beaches of Croatia a mere six-hour drive from rainy Bavaria, and decades of a depressed economy under a communist regime that kept the cost of tourism ridiculously low. So many naked Germans flocked to the Adriatic coast that, even today, German remains an unofficial second language of the region. 

Endless rocky shorelines on the deep blue Adriatic created the perfect formula for the rapid growth of the mega-naturist centers Koversada and Valalta near Rovinj, numerous others scattered down the Dalmatian Islands, and finally, the naturist Queen of the south – Ada Bojana; a perfect sandy beach landlocked between historic Ulcinj and the mysterious borders of Albania. I can only surmise what the place was like in its heyday, but even what remains today – a complex of several hundred apartments, an adjacent camping area, and three kilometers of sandy beach – represents one of the most expansive naturist properties in Europe. 

Several years ago, we made a naturist trek across Europe beginning in Spain and ending in Greece. Ada Bojana had been on that itinerary until I finally got cold feet after reading so many poor reviews on Trip Advisor about this place stuck in the communist era, along with rumors that the entire plot of land was for sale to the first developer with enough cash and a little entrepreneurial imagination. Regrettably, we didn’t even bother to give the place a day visit. 

Six years later, it seems the developers never showed up, the existing management made a few modest upgrades, and a few more mildly positive reviews have accumulated on line, including that of Nick and Lins from Naked Wanderings, who (rightfully!) raved about the beach bar and the expansive naturist beach.

Promo shot, but I swear, you can get naked here.

I flew into Podgoriça where I rented a car for the 90-minute drive through the mountains down to the sea, well worth the entire trip simply for the scenery alone. But as you make your way south of Ulcinj, the mountains fall away into broad open marshlands, past a few modest hotels, and across the bridge onto the little island Bojana. Walking into the reception area, it felt very much like the hotels of Zagreb and Budapest I had visited as a college kid in 1985, before the fall of the Iron Curtain. It was early June, and the place wasn’t crowded, and thus I think they upgraded my 60€ room to an apartment right on the sea with a small terrace overlooking rows of loungers – ALL intended for naked sunbathers, like ME!

The linens were clean and starched, and clearly the bathroom fixtures had been updated within recent years, but even with the terrace doors wide open, it was impossible to get rid of the pervasive aroma from decades of cigarette smoke. I would later ask about non-smoking rooms as I was checking out of the hotel, when the man in the white shirt and black tie behind the counter looked at me as if I were proposing some bizarre revelatory idea for the first time ever. “Oh no…. we don’t have that kind of room.”

Naked blogger hard at work in his Soviet era apartment.

Making my way to the beach bar, there were only three or four other people there on this weekday evening in early June, but the kitchen was open, and the server was pleasant enough to communicate in our best GerFranglish. Calamari and beer seemed like a good bet. It took a couple visits on subsequent days to figure out the laid-back policy of dress or undress as you wish while enjoying a beverage as you’re overlooking the sea, another particularly well-deserved rave from Nick and Lins. No shirt? No shorts? No problem.

One of my main objectives during my short stay was to test out the walkability of the three-kilometer naturist beach. The most immediate realization was that the management of the naturist resort does an excellent job of keeping their sector of the beach clean and groomed, as once outside the resort, the accumulation of plastic bottles and assorted trash was immediate and overwhelming, in some cases, sculpted into art installations of sorts. But indeed, the beach was sandy, and a chance encounter with a herd of cattle while beach-combing was a first for me. Not only was naturism not a problem, but I was practically the only person out walking that day, with the exception of one or two others, also fully nude. 

Um… You cows are blocking the beach, and my sandy ass and I need to get through!

When a cluster of small fishing boats appeared on the horizon I thought I must be approaching the outlet of the river, and thus, the Albanian border, only to realize upon closer inspection that maybe those weren’t fishermen in those boats. In fact, a good swimmer could easily wade out into the mouth of the river and make their way across the stream onto mainland Albania in a matter of minutes, and it seemed evident that the occupants of the yellow boats were quite concerned I might attempt to do just that. The jetty formed a quiet little bay that was similarly littered with refuse, and while the rugged Albanian mountains in the close distance looked inviting, the feeling of being naked and watched – by border-guards in small motor boats – was at least a little spooky.

Making my way back to the resort area, signage demarked an area closed to public access (only by signage, not by barrier) where simple cabins for maybe one or two- hundred more naturists were slowly falling into ruin. It made me wonder about those years during the Balkan Wars when devoted naturists are said to have maneuvered around the areas of intense fighting to make the annual pilgrimage to these hallowed naked stomping grounds, and the parts of the region that never quite recovered from all that.

I bet these were pretty decent apartments, back in the day. 😦

Today, textile civilization is slowly closing in around Ada Bojana, providing some excellent dining options within an easy walk of the naturist lodging, but a burlap fence has also been placed near the end of the beach with a beach bar for those who insist on wearing swimwear. Will the textiles eventually capture the entire resort? Are there simply not enough naked Germans left to go around? Can’t you find your own private island someplace where you can drink cheap beer in a swimsuit?

I’ll keep an eye on Ada Bojana. If you can handle a couple imaginative flight connections, it’s a stunning place for vacation even with your clothes on! And given the success and proliferation of naturist places in France, it’s hard to believe people wouldn’t pay two or three times as much for naturist accommodations here, simply for the privilege of just a few more amenities and the option of a no-smoking room. Thankfully, it seems change happens slowly in Montenegro, which may be the very reason this magical little corner of Europe hasn’t been swallowed up by holiday business tycoons… wearing beach pants and nylon swim trunks. 

These signs still exist. “Buy perfume, Shop at Lidl, and oh get naked!” WOO HOO

Hang in there Ada Bojana! You are a most worthy naturist destination. You just need a little TLC, and a few more naturist tourism dollars that many of us would part with in a heartbeat for a fresh room and a naked beer on the shimmering Adriatic!