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Traveldiary chapter 6 [December 2001 - October 2002]
(Nudist Year: in the birthday suit through Spain and France)
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|Photos: Spain, Naturist Scenes Publications|
Naturist winter 2001/02 in Spain: nude and natural
After briefly visiting Switzerland in December 2001 more or less on the way, we left once more for southern Spain, as we had meanwhile decided to spend one more winter down in Costa Natura. As we have seen so much of Scandinavia, it seemed better to digest it a bit before heading into new adventures in a different culture. Any way; it'll be much nicer to prepare our trip to Asia in the warmer half of the year. Possibly it'll also be easier to sell the car and take our time touring Switzerland to meet friends and family before leaving Europe.
On the road through France we stopped in Lyon and Perpignan. As previously in Switzerland, where temperatures were around -15º, it remained very cold with temperatures well under the freezing level. Shortly after crossing the border into Spain, we even found snow lying besides the motorway. Had we taken the wrong direction ??? This weather forced us to change plans and drive along the coast, thus supporting the poor "Motorway-companies" and paying tolls. In the fast lane, we drove for 5 days with a 2 day-stop in the pretty fortress-town of Peñiscola and one night in Vera. On December 20th we then reached our winterquarter where the sun let the thermometer rise to 15 ºC and we felt much warmer here, 30 degrees warmer !
In Costa Natura we were given the same Appartment we had last year, Nr. 105 with all it's mirrors on walls and ceiling.
At first we went around, saying 'Hello' to all those people we knew from the last two winters. Only 3 days later, we went to pick up our friend Gusti from Malaga airport. She had spontaneously decided to spend 11 days with us and so we had time to share many funny stories of the times when we first met DownUnder or in Austria and Switzerland. Before she'd left, already the next girl arrived, yet another friend we had met in Australia, Anita who had decided to come, sending an e-mail only 4 days earlier.
The weather wasn't all that nice as long as we had visitors, but ironically, it changed for a real steady 20 ºC as soon as both had left. Gusti, as she is a teacher, starts her next holiday only 4 weeks after Christmas and as she forgot something and, obviously telling a lot of nice things to her boyfriend, they both decided to hop on a plane again and join us for another week in February. The time had quickly gone by and soon she was back with us again, touring some nice restaurants with Pepi after the heat of Costa Natura's Sauna and Jacuzzi.
On a rainy day in February, we sat once again in our Internet-Café and were surfing, getting information and messages, whereby we found out that the Swiss government had decided to intoduce new passports as of Jan.1, 2003. Those will be smaller and most important to us: valid for 10, instead of 5 years. On top of it, we found out, that we will be able to get them from any Embassy all over the world, even if we are no registered Swiss residents at that time.
WOW, we found a reason to celebrate and changed our travelplans once more according to these news. We shall gladly wait for this passport - and why not enjoy Europe's most wonderful holiday-resorts a little longer. We have seen more or less all the corners that we were interested in, during the last 2 years travelling trough east and western Europe, so now we decided to hop from Paradise to Paradise this summer. Live the days as Adam and Eve and eat as God in France. In automn, as soon as it get's too cold, we can slowly travel down to southern Spain again and spend another winter in Costa Natura.
So, after this important decision, we had jet another two visitors. Both once worked at Alcon, where Brigitte worked before, and both came rather spontaneous. First was Joe Beelen, the now 72 years old ex-boss who found, at his age he wanted to experience the special thing of naturism. He wasn't dissappointed and quite liked it, only his skin was too fair to adapt to the sun easily. As always with him, we spent half of the nights discussing the most sensitive subjects and gaining lots of interesting views of his.
Finally, after askig many times, we got the approval that we can stay at Costa Natura also during easter time (as we hadn't booked before). Normally we should be gone by then but suddenly, a former working colleage of Brigitte, Magy announced she would come to see us some days. At 50 she had stopped working and bought a Restaurant in Spain, not far from Costa Natura. The house was first undergoing renovation and as always in this country, things take longer. So they arrived to find the roof in real bad condition and decided to better remove it and fix all new. So, now they took some days to tour around their new environment and discover Andalusia before going back to trouble... It was very nice to meet Magy with her new partner Ruedi. Again we sat and talked for hours and we exchanged some very helpful informations.
The best for us, was the tip that it is now - thanks to the EU - possible to certify the road-safety tests, even for Swiss cars, with spains local authority. For us this was big news, because we were afraid that for only this check, we would be ordered to travel to Switzerland this year, and as this didn't correspond with our new plans anymore, we were more than delighted. As soon as Magy & Ruedi had left, we went to ask round where it was possible to have our car inspected. And we were surprised, to learn that we could drive right away to the check-in hall in our town. So, without much administration or cost, we really could manage to have our :
Twingo checked in Estepona !!!!!!!!
On April 1st / NO JOKE !
We sent the test-report to the local Swiss Roadsafety department and they replied very quickly that all they need more, is the original. We were very pleased again. Not only the Euro is a handy thing when travelling within the European Union, also many other things, even for the non-joining Swiss.
Only 3 days later we left Costa Natura very happy. As on other times, we chose a nice road inland. However, (as other times) we found out that away from the Costa del Sol, spring takes much longer to arrive with warm weather. We passed many red hills with endless Oliv-plantations and slowly but surely came higher and higher. The weather was april is, changing from sunny to rainy, with nice rainbows inbetween but in the evening, we even encountered snow. This was absolutely not to our GUSTO and we felt funny, asking whether the room had heating when we looked for a hotelroom, after we had run naked until the same morning...
Never mind, we did get a warm quarter and the very next day we arrived back on the coast and found the sunny beach again in Templo del Sol near Tarragona, where we rented a mobile-home for a week.
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|Photos: France, Naturist Scenes Publications|
Naturist summer 2002 in France: nude and natural
On April 11th we crossed the border to France, and after a first night in Beziers, we decided with the help of a coin, as we just could not make up our mind, that we'd start our summerholiday in the Domaine de Bélézy near Mont Ventoux only about 40 km east of Avignon in Provence.
We didn't know the place and were delighted how much was aready going on there. On the other hand, because it was that full already, we wouldn't find a Cottage that was for rent for 3 weeks in a row. Well, they managed to keep us for 19 days, but we had to change bungalows several times.
The Camp was very charming, with big pine-trees, two pools, one of which was heated and lots of young families around. This was a pleasant change for us, after we'd been togeher with only much older people in Costa Natura. We also enjoyed the barbecue evenings very much, when everybody sat together, brought their own meat and salads and sipped the offered wine.
We took advantage to discover several of the many attractions of Provence, especially those tiny lovely villages that nestle together along the hills. As always when stones are involved, Brigitte run ahead to see the special formations of the Dentelles de Montmirail which form almost wall-like rays across the high hills. The rock was often full of holes and in very special shapes.
On May 1.we changed to our favourite campsite Domaine de la Sablière where after 10 cold days, our friends Moni and Bruno arrived, together with good weather.
Even though, we knew the area quite well already, there were still new things to discover. Especially on the culinary side - as the Restaurant in the Camp has changed for the worse... Of course we didn't wait long to ask around for new tips and then drove out to discover. This way, we found lot's of good places and also Moni and Bruno liked to taste with us, especially as they had 10 days more to stay around after we'd left.
On Mai 25th we dove down to the mediteranean to the "Village Naturiste Port Leucate" on the mediterranean sea, where the two holiday complexes Aphrodite and Oasis lye on a very idyllic setting on a sandbank between the Etang de Leucate (Inlet) and the open sea. A real little village with shops, among them an excellent bakery and superb butchery.
We rented a small Studio and spent 2 weeks on this beautiful long sandy beach.
Although the environment was quite touristy, it was very peaceful here: first it was still the beginning of the season, and second, naturist villages are almost always very secluded from the big bustle. We liked it very much here and we were already looking forward to spend another 6 weeks here in automn, as we had already booked a biger appartment ahead.
We noticed, here the real-estate prices for holiday-appartments didn't explode that much as on the Costa del Sol. At Costa Natura for instance, shabby 30 year old 27m2 (sorry for those who still think in feet...) go for Euros 150'000 - 250'000, whereas similar ones but in better shape, go in Aphrodite in France for "only" EUR 50'000. Little studios are on sale for well below EUR 20'000 and brand new terrace-houses go for EUR 90'000. The dearly paid difference, is easy to explain: hundredthousands of (old and rich) northern Europeans flock down to southern Spain to catch up with the moderate winter climate. With their demand and financial power, they drove the real-estate prices heavily upwards. But, we think we wouldn't like to bear the Costa del Sol's summer heat, and because the Spaniards are only abound on the peak of the summer, and so, the expensive spanish appartments are rented out for rock-bottom prices during the winter-months.
In Port Leucate, a very strong wind often blows hard, which pleases windsurfers and bothers bathers. Unfortunatly, there is little choice of good restaurants around - by french standards. Mostly only “Moules-Frites”, Pizza and what else the tourist-traps all serve...
To compensate this lack, we took a dive into the big fair at Cap d'Agde. As we had previously collected price-lists form the different Agencies and Campgrounds, Heinz had found out once more about the best "value for money" deals and probably you're surprised: it was a Studio that was price-winning and not the campsite !
As we paid only Euro 7.-- more than for a pitch, got instead a proper appartment with kitchen, bathroom and everything, we felt it was worthwhile. That way, we could buy some reserve on food and enjoy our breakky out of the fridge, which was very appropriate, since temperatures soon rose above 30°C.
Cap d'Agde's Naturist area is big as a city. In june, when we were there, it was still rather quiet and there were no crowds of tourists yet. However, in august, there must be 40'000 people around. Many good shops and supermarkets, as well as good restaurants can be found to please them all. Our favourite Resto’s were those serving seafood, then the japanese-, indian-, mexican Restaurant and so on... But how full must the beach be then ? Now, it was quite easy still to find an empty spot between bathers, where we could play beach-ball. We found it was smart to have some excercise before eating out.
In the evening, the society changed. We were amazed by the very special people Agde is famed for since 20 years. They liked to walk in sexy flimsies or framed their genitals in patent leather frames, but it looks like it made them feel very good. On the beach, the people were as on every normal nudist beach, but at night on the promenade and especially in the Bar's, this minority was striking the eye.
Business is business and obviously there are enough silly people around, to spend a lot of money to doll up and show something natural in a very artificial way. Often we wondered, who likes this inflated show so much, as we quite often noticed rather old and not so beautiful ladies freezing in their cellular shirts, with nipples standing out, walking next to a banal clad and bored looking husband.
We were quite amused by all this hum-bug, but we're glad that this is the only Naturist-place of it's kind.
We were leaving to the countryside after 2 weeks, to encounter a contrastful quietness, away from the seaside resorts. Well, we didn't want to miss out completely on every comfort. We've been too spoilt with fresh bread, fruits and everything, that we were ready to stay at a campground in Lodève, that had neither bread-delivery nor was the shop or restaurant open. We reasoned that this place was not suitable and saucily left the reception to drive on a few passes further.
Because in Cordes sur Ciel we knew about the naturist camping Lissart, that now is being managed by a nice english couple we had met last year. It was quite late when we arrived, but still very hot and so we enjoyed their welcoming us on the pool. Here, we finally pitched up our tent for the first time this year.
Lissart is rathery the luxury and philosophy of it's english owners and no ordinary camping to fetch money. The main communal building is a nicely restored farmhouse that's now equipped with a big kitchen, reading room, sauna and whirlpool. We liked this peaceful place in the midst of a green hilly landscape very much and spent 2 weeks there. With the Managers Ali and Andy, there was always something to joke about and only on sundays, when local day-visitors came, we could make an effort to speak some french. Most other camping-guests were either english or dutch.
Later, our trip led us to the Dordogne, the famous area with it's river of the same name. To be honest, we visited again to savour some more of the Gourmet-Restaurants that can be found mentioned as particularly good in those gastronomic guides of Gault Millau, Bottin Gourmand,Guide Rouge and what all their names are. That was the area, where we had chosen from July till September, to “live like Adam & Eve during the day, and dine as god in France in the evening”...
There, we visited first the Domaine de Chaudeau. This was a very nice place and we were delighted to find here a camping with very big, shady sites and two small ponds. It was still rather quiet here, as the french holidayrush hadn't started yet. So there were mainly old french people mixed with dtch and belge families.
Soon, we got together with the only other "outsiders" who's mothertongue was neither french nor dutch and who were neither old nor parents: with Carol and Ian from England. With pleasure, we soon joined in their habit of having 5 o'clock tea with homebaked cake and they, on the other hand, joined us several times to go out for a gourmet-meal.
Apart from those restaurants, we also tried a few of the so called "ferme Auberge's", which are restaurants on a farm. They usually served big amounts of different platters to sample the traditional food and some cooked really well. But even where the meal wasn't cooked really well, the guests usually still left happy. Because with every course, a different alcohol was served, from Aperitiv to Digestiv, even some extra wine with the soup !!! However, we doubt that the booze was of a very high quality. Why else would they have made Heinz pay extra for the water that he drunk instead ? In any case, it was the best bet for drinkers as the 8 course meal cost only 20 Euro per head or shall we say gorge ?
Then we visited the places of Montpon and St. Foy nearby. Both had something special. In the first place, it was a decoration of flowers made in plastic. Those were hung up over all the streets and thus made it look like the sky was all colourful flowers. They had been made for a feast remembering the old occitan language of the region.
In St. Foy, we've witnessed wonderful fireworks to celebrate the french national day on July 14th. More than in Switzerland, it seems the people here appreciate not only light but also sound, because most of the crackers effects were underlined by a powerful banger.
Le Couderc near Bergerac was the campsite we had chosen for the high season. On July 20th we went there and were surprised to find no enclosure towards the surrounding fields. Once more it was confirmed what someone of the french naturist federation had said: Often ordinary textile campsites are protected by high walls whereas the naturist places often don`t even have a fence around them.
98% of the other guests were dutch and the place was already very near its peak capacity. Well done for all those that had reserved long in advance. Luckily we were among them, but we saw so many others who had to move their tents every few days, because their site had been booked by someone arriving later.
The campground that had about 200 pitches, was being managed by its dutch owners and around 35 joung and motivated people. For them, it was more of a fun-job, in a place they wanted to be anyway. Usually working in the nude, one could hardly tell them apart from the crowd of tourists. Except in the "night of horror". Then they turned into frightful ghosts and didn`t mind any effort to frighten kids and adults on the horrorpath. To ensure the security of the screaming and running bunch, the personnel had bothered to place 9 cars in the bypassing streets with intermittent lights flashing to slow down traffic.
But once a week, the guests were invited to entertain and bring forward their talent on an open podium. Not expecting much more than a shrill Karaoke, we were soon set right. Until 2 o'clock in the morning, we were presented with songs, music and dance-performances, one better than the other. It was no surprise anymore, to learn that many of these talented people really were professionals. It was now obvious, this camping had become an inofficial meeting-place for artists. Some of them were quite keen to perform and sometimes initiated an entertainment all by themselves around their tent or at the Bar. We didn't mind at all and enjoyed to get it all for free.
How much of the work on stage laid also in the hands of those performers, became only obvious, once the professionals had left, that could not only sing or play, but also knew something about technics. The organizers suddenly had a big chaos with cables and microphones on the next show.
We wonder, whether the selfconfidence artists need to go on stage has something in common with the selfconfidence naturists have to show their body ?
On many nights, when nothing was on the program in "little Holland", we drove out "to France" to eat well. Also around here was a big choice of really good restaurants. Some of them were not that expensive as the one of Paul Bocuse but still with high class cuisine. We went by the rule of these establishments and always reserved our table ahead by phone.
To make sure the first class chefs keep up the standard the test-eaters of the renowned gourmet-guides are used to, we finally did buy THE guide of Gault Millau. Or, to be honest; to make sure we don't miss any affordable restaurant in the "golden milieu" as we dubbed them.
However, as much as we enjoyed these places, we realized that not everyone eating out in France finds so easily what he likes. We love to eat meat and fish of any kind, but after going out with vegetarians a couple of times, we realized that the french cuisine is absolutely ignoring them, unless they eat fish or poultry.
Another, very interesting part of such a camping-summer, is to meet people. Every age and every stratum was represented; simple campers or caravan-owners spoilt with luxury.
Everyone enjoyed his holiday, also those that hadn't seen rosy days only. Sometimes, we saw people with big scars - even small children. Further, we've had neighbours in a wheelchair even twice. However, they master their destiny so very differently:
First was Jo, a very energetic and joyful english lady of 40. Wherever possible, and often impossible to others, she moved past all hindrances by herself. She's even the breadwinner, as her husband had lost his job.
He invented a change to their tandem, so that Jo can move the pedals with her hands, because they both are still very fond of cycling, although her handicap resulted from an accident with the bike.
For her, it's no question that also the family-car has been adapted, so that she can drive it, just as natural as it was for her to camp with a tiny tent.
Then the second, a maybe 50 years old dutch lady. She didn't have a fraction of Jo's energy or optimism ! Within 10 days, we've seen her only one single time move the wheelchair on her own, and that was when a sudden shower set in. But mostly, she remained in the place where her husband had put her, sitting apathetically on the same spot as a piece of furniture, letting her head hang down. Sometimes, she had a book in hands, but also then, she always sat with her back towards the people, as she didn't want to speak to anybody and mostly remained in the Caravan. Also for her, the car had been altered. But it wasn't the same way: the Minibus had been equipped with a lifting ramp, so her husband could roll her into the back of the bus and shove her around. This woman obviously lacks the joy and the courage to change anything to her fate.
Further, we met a very happy couple, around 45, who had come as real bike-hippies with an old black motor-cycle combination. From the woman we learned that they needed to plan their holiday very accurate, because she had to arrange for purifying her blood 3 times a week in a Dialysecenter, wherever she went.
Becoming acquanted with these people, made us realize once more, how valuable a good health is and how important to enjoy life as long as one can.
We’ve been rather lucky this summer, not to stay too long in real crowded tourist-sites. Thanks to being first on campsites that were mainly frequented by french people and those usually don't start their summer holiday before the end of July. On July 20, we changed to that dutch camp and as the holiday season in the netherlands ended already around that time, we were quite well off and didn’t see big bustling places.
By the time we left Couderc end of August, it had become already a bit too quiet, we felt. Never the less, we continued to another camping that was owned by dutch people (others hardly exist in the Dordogne area) and were quite deligted that we didn't find an empty campground upon arrival at
Cro Magnon near Sarlat la Canéda , which geographically lyes in the center of the cultural, as well as the culinary highlights. In contrary, we had to queue at the reception and to our surprise there were many french people arriving along with us. It seems that with a clever advertising- and price- management, the owners have been able to attract guests from all different countries and thus extending their season quite a bit longer, than if they had concentrated on their fellow-countrymen only.
On the other hand, it meant that we didn't get one of the on-site-caravans that can be rented cheaper than a campsite with electricity - which we remembered very well from last year. At least not in the first week. After 7 days again in our tent, we could rise up from an anthropoid on four legs to a Cro Magnon (as Neanderthal) who housed a primitive caravan.
Here we had rather astonishing neighbours. They managed to sleep in until 10 o'clock almost daily, even though they had a 3 years old girl and a 6 weeks young baby.
In general, during the last 5 months, we often got the impression, that french parents seem to deal with their kids in a more pleasant tone than we are used to hear from german speaking fellows. Could it be, that their mentality is more relaxed and permits the children to collect their experiences by themselves, rather than bewaring them of everything bad by continuous controls and directions ?
Also, quite often we noticed how many people took their kids to the restaurants. Again, we got the impression that french children were mostly more happy and quiet than others. Even though, poor things sometimes couldn't even choose chips + burger from the childrens-menue, in some places they had to go either for snails, mussels or fish. After the meal, they hardly could sit still longer than other nationals too, but the parents let them run outside and quietly continued their meal. Before dessert was served, they were back anyway. And one time, when this wasn't the case, we heared a joking father ask the waiter, whether he would mind to look for his gang out on the townsquare, to ask them what they liked to have....
As last year, we took advantage to go sight-seeing in this beautiful area with all it's many castles, villages, prehistoric-sites and grottos. Those we would like to mention particularly, are:
A very nice side-effect, is that there are much less tourists in this part of France, than on the mediterranean coast. However, the weather isn't all that good here either. Partly, the influence of the cold atlantic air can be felt and it's often not as stable and dry because it's inland. But this summer was rather wet on the whole continent anyway and reading from how much water other areas had gotten, we shouldn't complain at all. Even though we had quite a lot of cloudy days, it wasn't really cold or raining hard, where we were and often a heatwave compensated us soon thereafter. And those tourists that stood around in the nude on cloudy but warm days, complaining about the bad weather, were certainly exceding the numbers of badweather days by far !
On September 7th 2002, we returned to the "Naturist Village Port Leucate" near Perpignan, where we had arranged to stay in a flat at Aphrodite Village. We had booked via Agence Oasis, after Heinz had found out that the Agencies directed their prices according to the holiday-season of their respective clients; i.e. Germans, Dutch or French, we booked according to the cheaper offers.
After not having seen any other Swiss during the last 2 ½ months in the Dordogne area and only a handful of Germans, they were in the majority here on the Mediterranean coast, next to the French and Dutch.
Also, there were many more people in Aphrodite and Oasis holiday-villages in automn than there were in June, when we first stopped by. Well, of course, the French knew long before us, that the after-season is usually warmer and with less wind than spring, which was confirmed for this year as well. Had the nights started to be chilly and foggy inland, we were surprised how warm or even hot, it still was here on the coast. On several days, we could remain sitting outside until midnight, without even putting any cloths on. The baking oven, we had especially asked for, was never used in the first few weeks, as it was often too hot in the appartment and we sometimes had difficulty sleeping at night. But of course, we don't want to complain, because we really liked the location of our appartment very much. At breakfast time, there was a sunny spot behind the house and in the afternoon, we enjoyed the sun on our terrace that was overlooking the inlet to the west. So we could either go to the beach or stay in front of the house until sunset. Often, we decided according to the wind.
There was a swiss couple we had met before in Costa Natura and they were convinced we had chosen this particular appartment with the help of an anemometer, since they knew from their many years they've been coming here, that this was a top location. However, we assured them, that it was our good luck only, that the lady of the Agency had allocated us this one.
It's been interesting to see how different the interests and priorities of the holidayers of all of Europe can be. On one hand were mainly the Germans and the Dutch who feel cleanliness and a perfect appartment are more important than good food. They mainly stayed at Oasis village, which looked new but rather monotonous, however, certainly fulfilled their criterias. At a distinctly higher price, that's understood.
Situated just next to it; Aphrodite village, the holiday resort where we stayed. It is older, simpler but also cheaper and here owners can ask for alterations on their housing to be permitted, which is not possible in the other settlement. The majority of proprietors here was French and for them, the money must also last for enough fine food, as everyone knows. In contrary to Oasis, here you could find several good restaurants and various shops.
One time, on a lovely warm automn day, we drove towards the pyrenees to visit a very special site in lle-sur-Tet . Washed out by rainwater, some hills bordering a river, have formed wonderful pilars in the soft sandstone. We excitedly wandered around this site which is set-up with nice footpaths for the tourists to explore it all.
For 11 days, our swiss friend Brigitte visited us in the beginning of October - together with her laptop we've asked her to bring along in a joke. Luckily, she only put it in front of Heinz' nose after a few days. Because after that moment, he was constantly on another cloud ! It seemed that he even considered his other hobby "cooking" as a troublesome job, as he only had eyes for this computer and the Ladies would wait for the dinner until late. He could use this laptop very often and also, we've found the best and cheapest cybercafe all over this summer in Port Leucate. Thanks to these facts, and because Heinz had spent so many hours of almost 'real work', our baby was born just days before leaving France;
the German version of our homepage http://de.geocities.com/roving_spirits went on-line on Oct. 21, 2002 and within 3 months it learned English on Jan. 27, 2003 ...
By beginning of October, most other tourists had left and most of the shops closed. Temperatures came down to 20-23 °C degrees and we've had some stormy days,but not much rain. Around mid October, again mostly sunny, but we started often to feel cold on the beach, even if the winds blew just a little, as it now was 20 °C at the most. That was probably about the best time to move south. More naturist Years: 2002-2003(France and Spain)
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