recap of some naked surf fun and watching sea life at Black’s Beach

I’ve already written up about Black’s Beach twice – in general, and on our first nude surfing experience there specifically – but as I’m finishing the latest Californian series of blogposts, I can’t help adding some new footage from surfing there again, as well as photos of marine life.

Well, I guess I have to promise to post another video in the future when I improve both my surfing skills and using GoPro camera. It was my very first attempt to shoot a video with GoPro on a surfboard, so I’m pretty confident the next one will be better. In any case, it was still a lot of fun to play with the waves naked. And it was very liberating too, especially after that pretty long (especially when you carry a surfboard) hike down the dirt trail from the parking lot to the beach.

I was very happy to find quite a few other naked surfers (including one woman) on those days. And a couple of days ago, as I was preparing my footage for this post, I got across this recent video of a guy surfing naked at Black’s Beach.

Who knows, maybe some time soon those nude surfing contests will be back at Black’s Beach?!

naturist 0002 Blacks Beach, California, USA

Black’s Beach would be also perfect for a barefoot (or should I say bare all around?) running race, with its perfect flat wet sand (not necessarily submerged in water, as on the photo above, but running in water could be a sport of its own).

sand 0002 Blacks Beach, California, USA

Speaking of sand at Black’s Beach, it fascinated me quite a lot how those sand grains of different colors formed various patterns

sand 0000 Blacks Beach, California, USA

depending on the waves and tides.

sand 0001 Blacks Beach, California, USA

These patterns change from place to place as you walk along the beach,

sand 0003 Blacks Beach, California, USA

and throughout the day too.

sand 0004 Blacks Beach, California, USA

The symmetry of this pattern is amazing

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but inexplicable to me due to lack of enough knowledge in physics and geology 8-)

Even more exciting view followed from the ocean, however!

dolphins 0000 Blacks Beach, California, USA

Well, it could also be a worrisome sight, if I thought those might be sharks… But dolphins are a lot commoner in these water, and the fountain from the blowhole revealed their identity with certainty.

dolphins 0002 Blacks Beach, California, USA

I’ve never seen wild dolphins in the ocean so close!

dolphins 0001 Blacks Beach, California, USA

(I have to specify “in the ocean”, because I did swim with wild river dolphins in the Amazon, and canoed next to sea dolphins in the mangroves in Florida.)

dolphins 0003 Blacks Beach, California, USA

Another time, dolphins appeared at sunset.

dolphins 0004 Blacks Beach, California, USA

They were even more active, probably feasting on a shoal of fish,

dolphins 0006 Blacks Beach, California, USA

and I hoped to get a picture of a dolphin jumping above the setting sun :D Was that too much to ask? Well, I got pretty close to it!

dolphins 0005 Blacks Beach, California, USA

As a bonus afterwards, a seal came by as well, but it was getting too dark to take a decent picture of it.

seal 0000 Blacks Beach, California, USA

Once again, Black’s Beach proved to be an amazing site for beach activities and marine life observation. I can’t wait to go back!

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hiking and bouldering in Painted Canyon (California)

naturist 0015 Mecca Hills, California, USA

Painted Canyon in California is yet another place for a nice hike in the buff; it’s not an official naturist territory, but it has a history of naturist excursions and feels quite secluded.

view 0015 Mecca Hills, California, USA

This place is also known as Mecca Hills, but Painted Canyon makes better justice as its name – the rocks are quite colorful there!

view 0008 Mecca Hills, California, USA

Shortly after then entrance (parking), you’ll have to get up the ladders on another level of the dry riverbed,

naturist 0001 Mecca Hills, California, USA

but otherwise it’s pretty flat. Except for the vertical rock walls around! It’s difficult to imagine how this place is transformed when the river gets full here, but you can get a rough idea when you see the traces of its work, such as the base of this rock wall being washed off…

naturist 0000 Mecca Hills, California, USA

I posed both as a Titan supporting the whole thing and being succumbed to some kind of gravitational force pulling me deep in the Mother Earth…

naturist 0014 Mecca Hills, California, USA

We continued the hike,

view 0011 Mecca Hills, California, USA

and after a brief clothed break as we let some school group pass by, we got naked again.

Here is just a brief overview of the variety of rocks that you may see there.

I have no idea of their composition and geological names, so I can only offer to enjoy the esthetic aspect of their colorful variety:

view 0002 Mecca Hills, California, USA

dotted

view 0014 Mecca Hills, California, USA

and striped,

view 0013 Mecca Hills, California, USA

green

view 0003 Mecca Hills, California, USA

and pink-red!

naturist 0003 Mecca Hills, California, USA

As we continued, there were a few bifurcations – dried estuaries of the dried river – and we were taking the left ones, but I imagine they all look similar.

view 0012 Mecca Hills, California, USA

I climbed up one of the hills to get a view from above, and it was quite spectacular with all those rocks zigzaggedly eroded by rivers.

naturist 0002 Mecca Hills, California, USA

After that we headed back, but then I saw something I’d been trying to photograph for years –

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a hummingbird!

Anna's hummingbird 0002 Mecca Hills, California, USA

I knew that they could be around as soon as I saw elongated red flowers that this pollinating bird loved.

Anna's hummingbird 0000 Mecca Hills, California, USA

I managed to take a few pictures, as you can see, even while it was hovering,

Anna's hummingbird 0003 Mecca Hills, California, USA

but the light was quite low already, so given the speed with which hummingbird flaps its wings, they become invisible on the photo :D

Anna's hummingbird 0004 Mecca Hills, California, USA

There was also a plant with red stems, but I’m not sure if that is to attract any kind of animal.

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Once I started paying attention to plants, it was quite fascinating to see such a variety,

desert plants 0002 Mecca Hills, California, USA

and many of them blooming, in such arid conditions.

desert plants 0001 Mecca Hills, California, USA

Some cacti though looked somewhat squashed, as if they used up almost all their water cache.

cactus 0001 Mecca Hills, California, USA

This one seemed to be very well protected.

cactus 0000 Mecca Hills, California, USA

Close to the exit, Don knew of another trail that was rather special. As all passages here, it was a dried riverbed, but the river that carved this canyon must have been nothing more than a narrow creek. It looked very surreal.

view 0004 Mecca Hills, California, USA

I’ve only seen such kind of terrain in the movie ‘127 Hours’. It was like a winding labyrinth,  sometimes very narrow,

view 0018 Mecca Hills, California, USA

where you never knew what you’d see at the next turn –

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perhaps a naked man? :D

naturist 0007 Mecca Hills, California, USA

Mostly the walls looked too steep to try to climb up, but in one place I was tempted to do so, as the cliff wasn’t entirely vertical and had a lot of dents and bumps.

naturist 0008 Mecca Hills, California, USA

It was quite easy to climb up,

naturist 0019 Mecca Hills, California, USA

but I didn’t dare to go all the way up that tower-like rock.

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I still felt like king of the hill (or king of the castle?)

naturist 0018 Mecca Hills, California, USA

But as it often happens, it was much scarier to go down than to climb up, and the ground seemed suddenly shaky…

naturist 0020 Mecca Hills, California, USA

I made it down without problems though and even went back up half-way to take a picture of the slot canyon from above.

view 0006 Mecca Hills, California, USA

It was a lot of fun to walk through that labyrinth,

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and it didn’t just turn all the time, we had to go up and down a few times too.

naturist 0021 Mecca Hills, California, USA

It was good though that there was a clear main path, as you wouldn’t want to get lost there.

view 0007 Mecca Hills, California, USA

After we reached a relatively wide part, we decided to turn back.

naturist 0012 Mecca Hills, California, USA

The sun was just about to set, but it was getting dark in the slot canyon already. We headed back fast, as we still needed to set up the camp,

view 0016 Mecca Hills, California, USA

but we still got the last sun rays.

view 0017 Mecca Hills, California, USA

I guess we were so inspired by the views of the Painted Canyon, that despite being quite sleepy we spent a couple of hours painting each other… with light! I actually posted the results of our light-painting frenzy a while ago.

Next day, we visited Morongo Valley,

naturist 0022 Mecca Hills, California, USA

where we could refresh in the remains of the river that was still flowing (and was very cold too).

naturist 0023 Mecca Hills, California, USA

The following night and morning we spent in luxury at Vista Grande Resort in Palm Springs; nudity combined well with luxury too, as it turned out :-)

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DeAnza resort, Heartbreak Hotel etc.

naturist Heartbreak hotel 0000 DeAnza resort, California, USA

In case you thought this photo depicts DeAnza Springs Resort, don’t worry, it’s in much better condition. This is just one of their sites of interest, where some scenes of a 1988 movie Heartbreak Hotel were shot. The resort hosts a resident nudist community, as well as a motel and RVs to rent; it’s actually the largest clothing-optional resort in North America, according to their website. Below is a photo with the view of DeAnza resort and its surroundings taken from a rocky peak nearby.

view 0003 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

But before I get to tell you how I got to that peak, a couple more words about the resort itself. Typically for a nudist resort, there is a sauna, hot tub and two pools – open-air and indoors, where water volleyball is played. There are also tennis courts, and perhaps the best equipped gym I’ve seen at a nudist resort so far!

naturist gym 0000 DeAnza resort California, USA

However, the most attractive thing about DeAnza Springs Resort is its nature surroundings and possibilities for outdoor recreation: bouldering, and miles of hiking and mountain-biking trails. I was a bit disappointed they didn’t have a bike rental – it would be useful when we explored the ‘rail-trail’, which I described in my previous blogpost. There’s definitely a lot of potential for outdoor activities at DeAnza, and I think they should put more emphasis on it on their website.

view 0005 DeAnza Peak trail, California, USA

The Peak Trail, which was called so for obvious reasons, is a lot shorter than the ‘Rail-trail’ (about a mile), but it’s very diverse in terms of sights and experiences that you get on the way. It starts right off that Heartbreak Hotel movie scene site and goes around a rocky peak.

view 0006 DeAnza Peak trail, California, USA

Right off the start, there are some enormous boulders,

Native American art 0000 DeAnza Peak trail, California, USA

and some rocks with Native American art. There is apparently a lot more of it, but we couldn’t find where… (Better self-guide maps and markings on trails would be my other suggestion to DeAnza Springs resort for improvement!)

plants 0000 DeAnza Peak trail, California, USA

The trail is quite easy to lose; it’s not like you can get really lost, as everything is quite visible and in the open there, but you should watch out for those cacti and other spiky plants.

lichen 0000 DeAnza Peak trail, California, USA

There’s actually quite a lot of vegetation. Lichens may not seem as interesting at first, but it’s quite amazing how they manage to live on bare rocks in the desert.

view 0001 DeAnza Peak trail, California, USA

We lost the trail a couple of times and my travel buddy decided to go back to the campground, while I was determined to climb up the peak. As I was coming up behind the peak, I noticed a few small caves, where I thought I might see more of Native American art or could pose for a picture, so I was looking for a rock on which I could leave my camera on self-timer… I reclined, trying to find the best angle, and then turned around

rattle snake 0001 DeAnza Peak trail, California, USA

and saw a rattle snake right behind me!

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I jumped away in a split second. Oh well, it was just chilling in the crack between the rocks and didn’t seem to be bothered by my presence. I spent quite a lot of time taking pictures of it, and it barely moved at all.

rattle snake 0000 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

We were warned about rattle snakes, but after that I was certainly a lot more cautious even just stepping over rocks, as I was also reminded of my first encounter with a rattle snake which was also chilling behind a rock in a forest near New York City… Nevertheless, cautious doesn’t mean anxious, so I continued exploring and enjoying the surroundings.

naturist 0001 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

As I mentioned, there were a few small caves that looked very cozy with their rounded smooth edges. Now it was my time to chill on the rocks ;-)

naturist 0002 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

This could be a nice little community of natural studio apartments :-)

naturist 0003 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

Well, I’m not sure about living in caves, but cooling down for a bit in one of those was nice.

view 0002 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

The one on the photo above might be perfect for camping, maybe next time!

naturist 0004 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

I’ve seen pictures with nudes in the rocks of this sort by some photographer, but cannot recall who… I wouldn’t be surprised if the pictures were taken here (please leave a comment, if you know the artwork). So, even though this landscape was kind of desolate, it made me at the same time feel comfortable and willing to interact with it.

view 0000 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

The next step was to conquer the peak itself. Here, I saw the rope I was told about at the reception, and it certainly made climbing a lot easier. Here is how it looked like and what I saw from up there :-)

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“Rail-trail” at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Southern California

naturist 0014 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

This post would have suited last weekend more, as there is a bit of a necromantic element to it… Better later than never, so here it is, another hiking story, but very unusual in a way, as the landscape through which this trail goes is deeply influenced and modified by people of the recent past. I call it a ‘rail-trail’, as it runs along an abandoned railroad, which in its initial times used to be called ‘Impossible Railroad’ due to difficulties with which it was built (in 1919). It was abandoned and then reused a few times in its history with last operation as late as 2011. As nowadays it is not in use, hikers and bikers are free to explore it. Although it might have been [nearly] “impossible” as a railroad, it is obviously very much possible as a hiking and biking trail, perhaps the easiest one in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, with as little change in elevation as it possibly gets in a mountainous terrain.

view 0002 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

We started at DeAnza Springs Resort (I’ll review it in the next post), which is the largest clothing-optional resort in the US by territory. I don’t think I should even mention what option we chose in terms of clothing (none!) – the weather was perfect for that, as it usually happens in Southern California. Just the fist couple of minutes of the trail go away from the railroad through cacti and shrub.

view 0001 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

The first ghostly train was already behind the first hill.

view 0003 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

The train seemed so out of place there, that the fact that we were entering it in the buff didn’t make it much odder than it was…

naturist 0000 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

How often do you get a chance to ride a train naked?

naturist 0002 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

As it should be expected from a ghost train, there was a ghost floating through the aisle… :D

naturist 0003 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

The cars were still in quite solid conditions,

naturist 0001 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

but nature is slowly taking over. Clearly some birds were happy to have this shelter.

view 0032 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

We felt like we could spend a lot of time taking pictures in the train, but our hike had barely started!

naturist 0004 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

This view from the back side seemed irresistible to pose with,

naturist 0005 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

so we had to stop for a couple more pics.

naturist 0006 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

It’d be fun to ride a train like this, but the train didn’t move.

naturist 0007 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

Even when we tried to push it!

naturist 0009 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

… after which we were too tired to hike, so we decided to hitchhike instead…

naturist 0012 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

Our train never arrived, we had to walk after all.

view 0004 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

The first bridge was soon followed by the first tunnel, of which I wasn’t aware at all. This was just the beginning!

view 0006 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

This tunnel was very short though,

naturist 0013 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

with enough light passing through. Tunnel’s repeating geometry and symmetry were sort of mesmerizing.

view 0033 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

After that straight tunnel, the road started winding quite a lot.

view 0008 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

The valley of Carrizo Creek, which was dry at that time, was still relatively green compared to the rocks above.

view 0007 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

Nevertheless, even the rocks were full of desert vegetation,

plant 0000 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

such as cacti and yuccas.

view 0005 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

This dead stem of yucca looked as if it was made of metal.

plant 0001 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

But then we saw a “skeleton” of a cactus!

plant 0002 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

The skeleton was actually sticking out from a cactus that was still alive… so it was half-alive, half-dead… a ZOMBIE cactus! I knew something was wrong in that place…

plant 0003 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

But we continued walking, and there I remembered about an episode of ‘Walking Dead’ TV series that I watched on the flight… In those post-apocalyptic scenes, people were walking on an abandoned railroad towards a refuge center. Once they had to go through a tunnel, and of course there was a zombie ambush! If you look at this view below closely, you’ll see entrances to four tunnels that we had to cross…

view 0010 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

Here is a zoomed photo of the farthest two, if you couldn’t see them…

view 0011 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

And just like in the series, there were encouraging signs on the way.

view 0012 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

Luckily, these tunnels were pretty short and enough sunlight could pass to see without torches.

view 0013 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

Here we saw another ghost train.

view 0014 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

And if that wasn’t odd enough on its own,

view 0015 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

this train turned out to have been used in the city of Montreal! This is probably the most unexpected place to see a metro train from Montreal, and we could only guess why this train was brought here from across the continent and then was just left in the middle of the desert…

view 0016 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

We got creative again with photography, so here is a scene of me typically being late and trying to catch the train in the last moment (would the train be more likely to wait, if I were naked?)

naturist 0018 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

… and a bit of goofing around.

naturist mooning 0017 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

No zombies were spotted there, and only later on pictures did I notice that we were actually watched by the devil… However, judging by his mischievous smile, he was happy about the mooning :D

view 0017 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

We continued our walk and were approaching another tunnel. There seemed to have been some construction planned but never finished.

view 0018 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

Here, the railroad was at the edge of a very steep slope, and this was clearly a site of an accident…

view 0034 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

After entering through that massive gate,

view 0029 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

we realized that tunnel was quite different from the ones we had seen before. It looked more like a cave.

view tunnel 0035 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

And it actually looked more like on the photo below, as brightness on the one above was adjusted. It was very dark, especially after leaving the bright sunlight, and we could hardly see the light on the other side of the tunnel… I wasn’t entirely sure if there was one at all…

view tunnel cave 0036 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

And of course we didn’t think of bringing torches, when we planned a day hike in the desert… In this cave, if anywhere, zombies would definitely have caught us! We had to rely mostly on the tactile sense in our feet and could only hope not to step on a corpse or bump onto some kind of “walking dead”! This tunnel was half-mile long! Luckily, pretty soon it was evident that there was indeed light on the other side of the tunnel. The only problem with it is that once you pass the middle of the tunnel and there is more light coming from the front than from the back, you practically can only see this light and nothing else around you…  Nevertheless, zombies missed all those wonderful opportunities to get us, and we were outside in the broad daylight again. Only cacti looked like they were gathering for an attack, but they were certainly not walking, and they were certainly not dead :-)

view 0019 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

We didn’t have to wait long for another tunnel, and then yet another right away, but these were much shorter.

view 0037 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

One more weird abandoned/unfinished structure…

naturist 0019 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

Leaving the last of those tunnels, we came to a fork on the railroad with an option to either continue the road or enter yet another tunnel…

view 0020 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

Although tunnels provided shade and coolness from blazing sun, we picked the open road, as that tunnel on the side looked particularly uninviting…  We were rewarded with a spectacular view,

view 0021 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

but soon had to go through a different tunnel. This one was was very short though, and we could see the goal of our hike right after it!

view 0022 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

I think I forgot to mention that our hike actually had a goal to see “the tallest curved wooden trestle ever built in the world”, the bridge over Goat Canyon. Yeah, it’s quite specific, but how often do you get a chance to hike naked to the biggest something of the world?

view 0023 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

Here it was, but we decided to cross it, as the other side seemed to provide a better view. It was quite scary to walk on that grid 60m (200′) above the ground! And frankly, the fear wasn’t unreasonable, as not all of the grid plates looked stable.

view 0025 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

We saw a group of bikers who continued their way further (and who were utterly over-dressed for that place in my opinion!)

view 0024 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

For us though, it was the final stop, as we still had to make the way back before sunset.

graffiti 0031 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

It was funny to see those messages on the cargo container: “longest hike of my life… brutal” and “I’ll be back when there’s helicopter service”. I’d have to agree with the one in between, who called the authors of the other two “wimps”. 11km one way is a good exercise, but it was still more of a long stroll than a “brutal” hike!

naturist 0020 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

By that time, we forgot about threat of zombies, but I was a little afraid to look inside that wagon. There was… nothing! A much scarier sight revealed on now the opposite side of the Goat Canyon – a crushed tunnel. It was actually that same side tunnel that we saw at the railroad fork a little earlier… I hope no one was hurt in that disaster.

view 0026 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

But then, from the corner of the Goat Canyon, we could see the bridge in its full glory.

view 0000 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

The tallest curved trestle in the world!

view 0027 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

Certainly not recommended for people who are afraid of heights… or zombies!

view naturist trestle bridge 0027 DeAnza railroad trail, California, USA

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hiking up the hills around Athens

After posting about our splendid hike at Mt Olympus, I probably shouldn’t call the activities I describe in this post ‘hikes’ – a ‘stroll’ may be a better word. Regardless, Athens has quite a few hills at its borders, and they provide magnificent views of the city and an easy escape into the wild-ish. Not many people seem to be aware of that, so it was easy for us to find trails where we could hike naked without “disturbing” anyone.

naturist 0001 Alsos Skopeftiriou hill, Athens, Greece

Alsos Skopeftiriou hill at the eastern edge of Athens provides an immense panoramic view.

view 0002 Alsos Skopeftiriou hill, Athens, Greece

It’s covered by a nice mix of trees, shrubs and grasses.

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It is nice to sit and relax there on a later autumn or an early spring day, which would be too cold for a beach but good enough to sunbathe there.

naturist 0000 Alsos Skopeftiriou hill, Athens, Greece

There are lot of different flowers,

flower 0002 Alsos Skopeftiriou hill, Athens, Greeceflower 0003 Alsos Skopeftiriou hill, Athens, Greece

some manage to thrive just in a crack in the rock!

flower 0000 Alsos Skopeftiriou hill, Athens, Greece

We weren’t the only ones enjoying those flowers though :-)

flower 0001 Alsos Skopeftiriou hill, Athens, Greece

Just in case you don’t like sitting in the grass, there’s a cozy rock that lets you to recline and enjoy the perfect view of Athens!

naturist 0002 Alsos Skopeftiriou hill, Athens, Greece

Then we also found a base a column – doubtfully from the times of Ancient Greece, but it gave another opportunity for nude photography with an obvious influence from Greek statues.

naturist 0006 Alsos Skopeftiriou hill, Athens, Greece

It’s certainly worth staying there till sunset, as you’ll be rewarded with yet another beautiful view with a silhouette of Acropolis!

view 0003 Alsos Skopeftiriou hill, Athens, Greece

Oros Egaleo hills lie in the opposite part of Athens, at the western boundary of the city. So, you’ll have a view of the city and aforementioned Alsos Skopeftiriou hill as well as mountainous area of Dasos Kesarianis behind it.

view 0000 Oros Egaleo hills, Athens, Greece

This time, I was under Ancient Greek influence too: wearing nothing but sandals. I got a pair of Spartan-styled sandals from the ‘poet shoe-maker’ in Athens, Stavros Melissinos.

naturist 0000 Oros Egaleo hills, Athens, Greece

This hill was full of flowers too, but interestingly of mostly different species than at Alsos Skopeftiriou.

flower 0001 Oros Egaleo hills, Athens, Greece

And again, we weren’t the only ones enjoying those flowers :-)

flower 0000 Oros Egaleo hills, Athens, Greece

There’s a pretty dense coniferous forest at the foothills,

naturist 0003 Oros Egaleo hills, Athens, Greece

so you need to go higher to get the best views.

naturist 0002 Oros Egaleo hills, Athens, Greece

With numerous trails and intersections, it may be hard to choose where to go,

naturist 0001 Oros Egaleo hills, Athens, Greece

but it probably doesn’t matter much – as long as you go up, you’ll end up with magnificent views of Athens.

naturist 0004 Oros Egaleo hills, Athens, Greece

Although I am not a big fan of using nude imagery in advertisement of clothing, I think it is very appropriate to give some props to Stavros Melissinos‘s sandals again with the photo below (I hope he’d approve it :-)). I really like how light and open they feel, and yet they stay firmly on your feet thanks to long laces. You will have to visit Stavros Melissinos‘s store in Athens to buy them, as he wants to make sure they fit well to every customer.

naturist 0008 Oros Egaleo hills, Athens, Greece

In any case, whatever you wear (or not wear), I highly recommend hiking up the hills around Athens.

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on the way to Greek gods (hiking up Mt Olympus)

view 0000 Litochoron beach, Greece

Most of our Greek adventures have involved sea and beach in some way, and this one is no exception, but the primary goal was to hike/climb up Mount Olympus. It is also the home of the twelve Olympian gods (according to Greek myths, that is), most of whom, at least male ones, used to hang out naked; so, no wonder Joe and I wanted to visit them wearing that divine attire. Mount Olympus is also among the most topographically prominent mountains and is located next to the sea, so we decided to go all the way from the sea level (at 0m) to the top (at 2,917m).

naturist 0001 Litochoron beach, Greece

We just checked out the beach right across the road from the Litochoro train station, and it was fantastic! Long beach edged with wooded cliffs and just a few people around. What could be better?

naturist 0002 Litochoron beach, Greece

Some fresh blackberries perhaps? We didn’t have too much time stay at the beach, however. After a brief swim, we were ready to walk up to the village of Litochoro.

view 0001 Litochoron beach, Greece

Almost immediately after we got on the road (not naked), we got offered a lift to the village on a pickup truck by three brothers from there. Since that would have been the least interesting part of our trek anyways – just some fields at the foothills of the mountains, we took on the offer, which saved us an hour or two of walking.

view 0000 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

We got some more food at the village and headed to the start of E4 trail (it’s a trail that crosses most of Southern Europe, and we’ve used it in Crete too).

view 0001 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

Shortly after the entrance into Olympus National Park (at ~400m above sea level), I felt comfortable to get naked again. As we started our hike quite late in the day, we didn’t expect to encounter many people on the way. Also, from what what we read online, it appeared that most hikers preferred to start much higher, driving up first to Prionia; to me, this part of the trail – from Litochoro to Prionia – seemed actually the most beautiful.

naturist 0000 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

On this trip, I mastered the technique of traveling really light. The only unnecessary weight was the clothes, though the weather in mountains is unpredictable… I liked the idea of carrying some stuff on the belt, which released a lot of weight from my back.

naturist 0001 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

My backpack was very small too, and I appreciated Deuter’s ‘aircomfort’ configuration: it leaves space between the backpack and back for airflow and distributes some weight from shoulders to lower back.

naturist 0002 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

Some parts of the trail are quite steep and aren’t very stable,

naturist 0014 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

but overall it’s a very pleasant hike of moderate difficulty.

view 0003 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

Views like these make any challenges on the way rewarding.

view 0018 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

As the trail got more comfortable, I even took of my sandals and hiked barefoot:

naturist 0004 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

I wanted to experience this legendary place with all senses.

view 0005 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

If you divert for any reason (like we did on a few occasions),

naturist 0015 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

make sure to go down to E4 trail, which is marked regularly.

view 0004 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

Even though it feels like summer in most of Greece till mid-October or so, at higher elevations autumn colors appear earlier.

naturist 0003 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

On the other hand, there were also a few pretty flowers along the trail as well.

flower 0000 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greeceflower 0001 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greeceflower 0002 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

The trail winds along the Enipeas river crossing it several times.

frog 0000 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

So, you’re likely to see some frogs and maybe even salamanders too (we weren’t lucky enough for the latter).

naturist 0005 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

After sunset, we decided to camp at the first place with flat surface, preferable by the river. We were lucky to find a spot like that pretty soon!

naturist 0007 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

It was a perfect quiet night only interrupted by the river murmur and occasional noise of falling rocks (somewhere far!)

naturist 0008 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

We woke up to see the sun shining over the mountain slopes already.

naturist 0009 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

After a brief refreshment in the river, we took off.

view 0019 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

The trail went through the woods for a while, opening to some more stunning (and now sunny) views.

view 0006 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

The next river crossing was via pretty wooden bridge.

naturist 0011 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

At this point, we realized we had lost our map. Although, it was pretty clear how to follow the trail without it, I decided to run back, as we looked at it not too long before that. I heard many voices approaching (it was the first big group of people on that hike), so I put on my shorts, but it turned out to be a bunch of Czech guys, who probably would have been only slightly amused if they’d seen me naked. Turned out they picked the map, so I didn’t even have to look for it. We let them pass ahead and enjoyed the trail to ourselves most of the time again.

view 0020 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

As the day was warming up, it was nice to refresh in the river again.

naturist 0012 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

The natural views were amazing,

view 0021 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

but it was also nice to see a bit of old (medieval) craft  – a tiny monastery Agio Spileo.

view 0007 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

Here we saw more people, as it was already pretty close to Prionia, so some of the hikers who started/finished there might go down to see this cave.

view 0022 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

Still, the trail up from there was not crowded at all,

naturist 0013 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

and we took advantage of those small pools in the river for some more skinny-dipping.

naturist 0017 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

The last and best spot was at the Enipea waterfalls.

naturist 0022 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

We had just a brief return to civilization at Prionia (at 1100m), as we aimed to reach Spilios Agapitos Refuge aka simply Refuge A (at 2100m) by night.

view 0008 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

This part of the trail is probably the most visited,

view 0010 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

we didn’t dare to hike naked for the most part. I didn’t mark it on our map of naturist locations either, but this bit and other trails from Prionia are shown on google maps.

view 0024 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

The sign indicating that we were on the way to gods was encouraging,

view 0009 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

so as the views, that indicated that we were approaching the forest borderline.

view 0015 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

One of the meadows had plenty of raspberries that were in their prime ripeness and tasted divine!

raspberry 0000 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

Among the few animals that we saw around were a friendly robin

robin 0001 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

and a timid lizard.

lizard 0000 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

By nightfall, we reached the refuge, totally exhausted. It was really cool to be able to see our starting point – the sea and the town of Litochoro.

view 0011 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

In the morning I felt a bit mountain-sick, so I had a slight envy to those lazy hikers who trekked with/on donkeys :-)

donkeys 0000 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

However, we took off shortly after breakfast, as the gods were calling us :-)

view 0012 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

We knew they must have been somewhere close!

view 0013 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

Most hikers traveled in huge groups,

view 0023 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

so we decided to divert onto a side trail.

naturist 0023 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

Now we could see top of Mt Olympus and its base all the way down to the sea in one view!

view 0016 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

At this point though, the only way up to the top from this side trail was to climb up.

view 0017 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

We saw a couple of guys do that in the distance but decided not to follow: we still had to go down all the way to Litochoro on that day, and I felt pretty weak from mountain sickness at this altitude. We’ll have to return on another occasion to go all the way up and say hi to the Olympian gods.

naturist 0019 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

As we turned around,

naturist 0018 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

we saw the sunlit valley in mist, a view that could be appropriately described as divine.

naturist 0020 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

Now, if we only could fly!

naturist 00201 E4 trail, Mount Olympus, Greece

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theatre shows to watch this fall in NYC

Yesterday, I saw the premiere of Labyrinth at Abrons Arts Center, as my friend performed there. Even though it does refer to the Greek myth of Theseus, there isn’t much nudity in the play, but I thought I should mention it in my blog still (besides the fact that my friend plays there). Theseus in this play, is trying to understand himself while going through the labyrinth of his memories and emotions. While doing so, he touches more general issues from living in New York City as an artist to relationship with religion/s and global warming. When one of his alter egos talked about New York, he mocked the Naked Cowboy of Times Square, “who isn’t even naked”, so he briefly showed (flashed is probably a better word) what “really naked” was ;-)

After the show, I grabbed Abrons Arts Center‘s brochure and found that there were more upcoming shows that featured full nudity. So, I’m definitely coming back for at least two of these!

animalinside

2013 Bessie Award winner Jaro Vinarský returns to the Abrons with his newest duet, ANIMALINSIDE, a suite of poem-like stories, inspired by Hungarian novelist László Krasznahorkai and German painter Max Neumann’s book of the same title. This work for two dancers investigates the extreme states of a man’s relationship to his own body, to another man, and to viewers.

In Dawn, the latest production of Hodworks, the naked human body takes center stage.

HODWORKS: DAWN

A daring piece of radical research, the work demands an exceptionally high level of consciousness, strength, and sensitivity from the performers — just as is to be expected from the Hungarian choreographer Adrienn Hód. Watch trailer here.

Making their American debut, Radio Ballet presents The Nature of Love, a choreographed fictionalization of the private and shared experiences of the performers. Avoiding worn clichés of movements and gestures, their intimate duet is lyrical, unashamedly shy, and a wry commentary on the demented state called love.

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Red Beach, Crete

Red Beach near Matala, Crete, has a perfect combo of picturesque location and laid-back atmosphere. As the rumor goes, it was first discovered by hippies, and luckily it hasn’t been discovered by mass tourism yet. Perhaps it helps that you need to walk up and down a trail to reach the beach, but it’s worth every step. Thanks to it, you also get a bird-eye view of the beach itself and surroundings.

view 0000 Red Beach, Crete, Greece

You can see that its sand isn’t exactly red, rather dark orange, and it changes its shade when wet.

view 0002 Red Beach, Crete, Greece

I enjoyed lying in that warm big-grain sand without a towel.

naturist 0000 Red Beach, Crete, Greece

Mr Sandman and the purple rock :-)

naturist 0001 Red Beach, Crete, Greece

The water was perfect for swimming and snorkeling: clear, calm and balmy.

view 0003 Red Beach, Crete, Greece

We took a different trail on the way back, which provided yet another great view. We stayed there for a day, but there is a campground nearby, if you want to stay longer.

view 0001 Red Beach, Crete, Greece

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A palm grove and a cove near Tsoutsouros, Crete

This place is kind of lost in time and feels as remote as it gets on Crete. This island is quite populated  and visited by millions of tourists, but if you want to stay in the middle of [beautiful] nowhere, camp here for a night or two.

view 0000 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

I don’t even know what this place is called: if you look at Google maps, it says ‘Kefalovrisi’ above this spot, but this name is not mentioned anywhere else. The nearest village is Tsoutsouros. The sign was very welcoming ;-)

Crete, Greece

We got an idea to visit it, because we read it was one of only a handful of places with natural palm tree growth in Crete (and in Greece, and actually Europe overall). Cretan date palm is only one of the two palm species native to European continent (the other one being dwarf fan palm that I saw near Sitges). There is a couple of bigger palm forests in Crete, but they seem to be located in more heavily visited parts of the island. This grove was mentioned on some websites though, and we decided to check it out.

view 0001 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

On the way from a small village called Tsoutsouros, we hardly saw any cars/people, but we were welcomed by numerous goats.

goat 0000 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

The goats seemed to be curious about such rare visitors, but they were neither afraid of us nor did they bother us.

view 0006 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

The palm grove provided a very picturesque view giving the place Middle-Eastern touch.

naturist 0008 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

While such a palm grove would be easier to find somewhere in North Africa or Middle East, it would be difficult to find one where we could walk around naked, so we had to put to good use the fact that we could do it there in Crete.

naturist 0006 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

I was certainly in a posing mood, of which Joe gladly took advantage.

naturist 0007 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

I tried to climb one of the palm trees (I often do, as you may know), naturist 0003 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

but it was more difficult than it seemed.

naturist 0004 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

So I resorted to some classical poses :-)

naturist 0005 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

While we were busy with nude photography, two hoopoes sat on the shrub nearby, but unfortunately we didn’t have a tele-lens handy, so these are the best pictures we could snatch.

hoopoe 0000 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greecehoopoe 0001 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

After having spent quite a bit of time at the palm grove, we decided to go down and check access to the sea.

naturist 0012 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

We saw a lonely palm-tree hidden between the cliffs by the water and thought it should be a nice place to hang out. I couldn’t help thinking of a poem by Mikhail Lermontov about a lonely pine-tree covered by snow somewhere in the North and dreaming of similarly lonely palm-tree on a sunburnt rock somewhere in the South.

date palm 0000 Crete, Greece

When we came down, we were certain to keep the lonely palm-tree a company for the evening and night:

naturist 0002 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

there was a cozy cave under the rock with a nice view,

view 0005 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

and a cove with easy access to the sea on the other side.

view 0007 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

Some rock formations around had quite peculiar shapes, especially at dusk.

view 0002 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

We left for another walk

naturist 0010 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

and saw the full moon rise above the sea.

view 0003 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

 

naturist 0009 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

We found some dried bases of palm leaves scattered around that we thought would make a perfect firewood.

naturist 0011 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

The night was very warm, as it usually happens in September in Crete, but you cannot spoil the night with a bit of fire.

naturist 0001 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

We also ventured for a night swim under the starry sky, and that was where I saw the brightest bioluminescence ever! Unfortunately, my underwater camera still wouldn’t be able to catch it. But we were mesmerized by the phenomenon: the water in the cove was very calm and clear, and the bioluminescent plankton would react to any movement in water; it was especially spectacular to see another person swimming underwater.

view 0008 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

We woke up quite late in the morning, as we were protected from the sun by the rock.

naturist 0000 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

Cretan pastry was a perfect energy-rich addition to our breakfast!

cretan pastry 0000 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

So we went for another swim in the morning, all the way around the cliffs, where we saw some other people sunbathing and swimming (also naked). This time we didn’t see anything spectacular in the water… until the very end, when I spotted a bearded fireworm. Well, at that moment I didn’t know the exact name, I only knew it was a representative of polychaete, a distant relative of earth worms… Neither did I know that it was a very dangerous animal actually! According to Wikipedia, the bearded fireworm “is not considered a threat to humans unless touched by a careless swimmer. The bristles, when flared, can penetrate human skin, injecting a powerful neurotoxin and producing intense irritation and a painful burning sensation around the area of contact. The sting can also lead to nausea and dizziness. This sensation lasts up to a few hours, but a painful tingling can continue to be felt around the area of contact. In a case of accidental contact, application and removal of adhesive tape will help remove the spines; applying alcohol to the area will also help alleviate the pain.”

bearded fireworm 0000 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

Luckily, at that moment I was just happy observing how that fireworm was moving graciously through the algae on the rocks…

goats 0000 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

As we were leaving, again only goats were around to say good-bye.

goats 0001 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

goats 0000 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

It was quite a dangerous ride uphill on a dirt road, but it gave us another chance for a glance over the cove.

view 0004 Kefalovrisi, Crete, Greece

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Krumme Lanke, Berlin

naturist 0004 Krumme Lanke, Berlin, Germany

Krumme Lanke is probably the easiest lake to reach by public transport in Berlin – just a few minutes away from U3 station with the same name. It is is excellent for swimming, and its length proved to be perfect for long-distance swimming sessions for my friends an me. There’s a lawn in the southern corner of the lake that’s commonly used as an FKK location, clothing-optional that is. I have a great personal memory from this spot, as that’s where I had an informal lunch with my future colleagues when I came to Berlin for an interview for my PhD training; we kept our clothes on, but the choice of location made me feel like Berlin would be the perfect city for me to live ;-)

fish 0000 Krumme Lanke, Berlin, Germany

Krumme Lanke has remained one of my favorite  places for swimming since then thanks to easy access and clean water.

naturist 0000 Krumme Lanke, Berlin, Germany

That’s where I would go to brave cold waters on warm-ish days even in early spring.

naturist 0003 Krumme Lanke, Berlin, Germany

It took me a couple of years to discover this tree tilted above the water, but better later than never. It doesn’t look that high, but it was scary enough for me to sit up there.

naturist 0001 Krumme Lanke, Berlin, Germany

Jumping with feet down was easy though.

naturist 0000 Schlachtensee, Berlin, Germany

Schlachtensee is another lake with very clean water; it’s right next to Krumme Lanke to the south but has no beach. It does not matter at night, however :)

naturist 0002 Schlachtensee, Berlin, Germany

On a very warm midsummer night with full moon, we were lucky to find this amazing oak tree with a branch stretching above the water. I even managed to lie down on it and enjoy the view!

naturist 0001 Schlachtensee, Berlin, Germany

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