Nakation for Dummies

So I have made repeated mention in recent posts of my daughter and 20-something friends – mutual friends, I might add – who have become increasingly naturist-curious; a true bonanza for a long time naturist blogger who throws a small party every time he gets a new follower on his blog. This, in an age where nudism is frequently dismissed by Millennials as something my slightly deranged, post-modern hippie parents threaten to tell us about…

“Anyway, your father and I just booked on a nudist cruise to Aruba.”

“NOOOO!!!!! MOM, don’t tell me THAT stuff! Just STOP”

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Day-dreaming in Croatia

It’s strange to me, really. I was a late bloomer, who wasn’t even old enough to bloom during the Summer of Love. By the time I came of age, we were in the Reagan era, California was cracking down on nude beaches, free love was under fire from the emerging religious right, and the AIDS crisis was just about to erupt on the horizon. But the bizarre part of it all to me is the dichotomy of the strange relationship 20-somethings have with immodesty. I know quite a lot of people in this age bracket, most of whom are not especially religious, don’t think twice about a one-night stand (Do we still call this casual sex?), are as likely as not to make out with a new acquaintance at a party, frequently wear seductive clothing in casual settings, but would never consider going to a nude beach or resort. What’s up with that?

What’s up with that, says this humble blogger, is that we’ve made the whole thing seem damn weird and unmanageable! Try visiting a nudist resort in the United States and it costs a fortune (Like $50 for a day visit), and only that after you submit a full FBI check to prove you’re not a sex offender or puritanical ax murderer! Go to the wrong place in Europe, and you inadvertently end up at a naked geriatric center pondering your mortality in disbelief that skin could possibly have that kind of elasticity. Turn the other direction in France, and you might find yourself in Cap d’Agde, the most infamous of naked places in the world, where your inhibitions and misconceptions about naturism will turn into a nightmarish collage of men in studded collars and lesbian sex on the beach. (I know, Cap d’Agde fans – the place can be great for naturism, but send an unsuspecting newbie there? Yikes!)

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Family nakation at La Jenny

And thus, a few thoughts for the newbie naturist who finds the idea of no tan lines and swimming without wet nylon a least at bit alluring.

  • Leave the country! Assuming you’re reading this in the US of A, (or even in Great Britain,) you need to go someplace where people aren’t freaked out by nudity. The family naturist resorts on the southwest coast of France (La Jenny, Montalivet) are by far the most normal in terms of demographics, but they are difficult to get to, and the weather can be iffy. Croatia would be a good alternative, but the time and place means everything. If you go before school holidays, you’re back to the geriatric thing. Do your research before you go.
  • Go to a spa in Germany or Holland. Check out the website for information about FKK or Texteil Frei days, which for many of them is everyday. Elysium near Rotterdam or Therme Erding near Munich are particularly impressive, and draw huge numbers of young couples and singles who don’t consider themselves nudists, but don’t think twice about getting naked with others. It just feels normal.
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The view over Origan naturist camping in France

  • Search the blogosphere for things written by naturists. A lot of it is rubbish, and you’ll know right away this is not going to be helpful. But now and again, you’ll find a blogger who gets it, knows where to go, and when to go there. Send them a message and see if they answer. I’ve found many of our favorite places that way, on the basis of personal recommendations, greatly reducing the chances that you’ll waste your time and money, while irreversibly damaging your psyche!
  • Read Yelp and Trip Advisor reviews before you go – not just a few, but drill down. Many people adore Gunnison Beach in New Jersey, as it’s one of the only substantial and recognized nude beaches in the entire country, but if you read enough reviews, you’ll also learn about some of the oddities of the place as well. In fact, American nude beaches have big issues with gawkers, which is pretty much a sure-fire way to get your girlfriend to say, “Never again.”
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Therme Erding near Munich

  • Decide if you’re an “all in” or “ease in” person. “All in” means you’ll be more comfortable if everyone around you is naked, and you just need to follow suit. “Ease in” means you’re seeking a mixed crowd where nudity is permitted by not required, but also means you put it out there while others around you may not. You can usually figure that out from the aforementioned trip review sites, but it’s an important distinction.
  • Go high-end, or go low-end, but beware of the middle. Though a bit counter-intuitive, you either want to stay at a nice naturist hotel like Vritomartis in Greece or Heliotel in France, or find a place with lots of tent camping –  not miles of trailer camping – but tent camping. Why? The places in the middle tend to attract the folks who parked their travel trailer on a plot in 1967 and haven’t budged since. Lovely people, they may be, but if you’re looking for a youthful vibe, seek out the tent campers. Check out Camp Full Monte in Montenegro, or Belezy in France. Valalta in Croatia seems to have struck a nice balance, but not so much before schools let out in early July.
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Naturist camping on Corisca

  • Beware of naturist/nudist message boards if you want to feel normal about the whole thing. Like the blogosphere, there are some very cool people out there who have a lot of helpful information, but receiving a nude pic from a lonely guy in Atlanta is probably not the introduction to social nudity you’re looking for.
  • Seek out resources geared to people in your demographic. Perhaps the best one out there right now is The Young Naturists Association (YNA) run by Felicity and Jordan out of New York. They have done more to promote a positive image for social nudity than anything I’ve seen on the web for quite a long time. I have yet to attend one of their events (I’m told I’m welcome, despite the fact that I’m not quite a young naturist anymore) but from everything I’ve seen, they’ve got it right, including a blog that is thoughtful, intelligent, and informative. My guess is the people they have attracted to the cause have similar traits.
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Naked feeding time in South Africa

Dunno! Perhaps there’s no rocket science to be found in this post, accept to say that a bad first foray into naturism is more often than not the last foray into naturism. We started young – just months after we were married (remember, our kids are in their 20s now!) so we’ve been at this for a while. To a large degree, our naturist travels have defined our relationship; when our naked travels have taken us to places we would never thought to have visited, where we have met people we would have never had reason to talk to.

Start young. Before you have children. Before life bogs you down. Have more questions? Ask Naturist Dan! We naturists love to advocate for our cause.

 

 

 

 

Naked Time is Here!

Having just finished an enormous project that has largely consumed the last two years of my life, I am happy to report that the Meandering Naturist is at it again! This time writing from the terrace of our sweet little apartment at Valalta Naturist resort near Rovinj, Croatia.

As far as naturist travel is concerned, it’s been a very good year for us, including our first visit to Paya Bay in Honduras, (Pictured above.) several naturist stops on the eastern coast of Australia, (some of which I have yet to blog about) and a few other diversions along the way that have afforded us a few precious moments of one-on-one time with the sun. We will spend most of this summer in Europe, where I still have a couple work projects to finish up, but there will also be some time to revisit a couple of our favorite naturist destinations, while discovering a few more – namely, those on the Canary Islands.

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The walking path on Ile du Levant

This is our second visit to Valalta, noting that there have been vast improvements to the place since our last stay in 2007. (We have made it to Koversada several times since then – literally across the way, by which I mean, across the fjord!) We’ll squeeze in a reconnaissance trip to a famous naturist beach on the island of Rab during our time here, before heading back through Italy for a brief stay at Le Betulle, one of the few naturist resorts in that sun baked country. We also look forward to returning to Ile du Levant for a few days – an annual pilgrimage of sorts while getting some work done in France.

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Walking near Es Trenc, Mallorca

But once I log off for the summer, we’ll head for the islands of Spain. First, back to see our friends Grant and Jordi at Skinny Dippers Resort on Mallorca, then a scramble through several airports to make our way to the Canary Islands, or more specifically, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, and Gran Canaria. This is all new territory for us. A bloggers dream, methinks!

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The new bar at Valalta

I think that all adds up to about six weeks of livin’ with nothin’ but the radio on, interspersed with pretty intense work projects along the way. But I am optimistic that this will afford me some serious blogging time as well. In fact, I’m a mere 30,000 clicks away from a half-million hits on my blog since I first got started back in 2013. Don’t know that there’s anything like a Tony or an Academy Award for that, but I do love to write, and it’s especially pleasing to hear now and again that my naked meanderings have helped even one more person figure out this naturist thing. To that end, I will always be indebted to a guy named Don from a “Compuserve Board” (Remember those?) who first pointed me to a place called La Jenny during my desperate search for a place to take my family on nakation.

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The “swimming pool” at Charco del Palo

And for that matter, I just reconnected with a guy named Chris who responded to a message board inquiry years ago to tell me about nudity at Therme Erding near Munich. We were there just yesterday, as that has since become a ritual every time we come to Europe.

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A promo photo from Gran Natura Hotel

So there it is. On one hand, the internet makes it increasingly tricky to out yourself as related to one’s naturist proclivities. But on the other hand, this little corner of the internet has served me well in finding those who care deeply about preserving and promoting naturist values, while at the same time – I hope – demystifying the whole thing to the curious and eager to be clothes free.

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Naturist bliss at Paya Bay, Honduras

Given the time I don’t have to spend putting on and taking off clothes in the coming weeks, I’m hoping I can use that time to catch up on a few more blog posts, and maybe even touch off another debate or discussion that typically always leads to the same conclusion: “You have one set of body parts or the other. So what’s the big deal?”

We’ll keep you posted on that. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 […]

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…

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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

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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?