New season at Fort Tilden

With this miserable weather in NYC in the last couple of days, I can’t help sharing that we actually opened the beach season two weeks ago at Fort Tilden.

I already mentioned that we went there on an unusually warm day last November, so it was only more pleasant to come there on an unusually warm day in April and enjoy the first rays of sun and awakening nature.

Although it is autumn that is usually acclaimed for diversity of color palette, the spring forest of Fort Tilden looked very multicolored too.

We first hid from the wind behind the dune but then ventured to the beach itself, but didn’t really dare to enter water.

… there wasn’t only awakening nature, though. That dried horseshoe crab found its new identity as mask 😎

Kiev: central nudist beaches with landmark views

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Last summer I rediscovered the capital of my homeland, Ukraine. I’ve spent most of my adult life outside Ukraine, in Moscow, Berlin and now New York, all of which have accessible naturist beaches, so I was pleased to find that Kiev has its own beautiful naturist beaches in the very centre of the city! Kiev boasts the mighty Dnieper River with some forested islands, that are luckily protected and not used for mansions of the nouveau riche. A couple of neighboring clothing-optional beaches at Hydropark (Gidropark) are located most centrally and have pretty amazing views.

This is how it looks from the bridge on the way from Gidropark subway station.

You cannot really see if it is a nudist beach at the other bank of the river, but trust me, it is! So after the bridge you need to continue till one of the typical city style beaches and take a “canoe-ferry” for 5 hryvnias (approx. 50 cents); from there, you can already see where you should head to 😉

First time I went there on a weekday, so it was relatively empty, and I stayed at the part known as a local gay beach, as my friend advised (he was at work that day).

It was nice and relaxing, except that the music from the opposite beach bar was quite loud, but I actually liked it. It is also possible to go a little upstream and find some small secluded spots.

There is a shaded kiosk where you can buy beverages without having to put on clothes. In the afternoon, I decided to explore the area a little more and went to the southern tip of the island, and it turned out to be clothing-optional too!

I actually liked that part more, as it was more spacious and had a great view with some of Kiev’s landmarks: Motherland monument, Kiev Pechersk Lavra (monastery), and a restaurant styled as Noah’s Ark.

So when I went to Gidropark beach next time with my friends Sergey and Sveta, we headed directly to the tip part. I couldn’t resist mocking the Motherland monument by posing with a bottle of water instead of the sword and a frisbee instead of the shield 🙂

Although the day was going to be fabulous even with those regular attributes of naturist pastime, it turned to be even more fun as someone brought body paint and anyone willing was welcome to join the body art frenzy!

Since it actually was the Independence Day, main themes were quite patriotic and Ukraine-inspired. I had our coat of arms (trident) painted on my chest, but frankly, Sergey did not do a great job, so you can hardly see it on photos.

Sergey himself had sunflowers painted saying ‘Support homegrown’, which referred to Ukraine being the biggest exporter of sunflower oil.


Sveta had hearts colored as the national flag and altogether looked very artistic.

And Petya was arguably the most popular model with the watermelon painted on his buttocks :p The “price-tag” said that the watermelon was sold at 2 hryvnias per hour (whatever that meant!) and that it did not contain GMO 🙂


Having a real knife in the not-so-real watermelon, Petya was probably the most daring model too!

On the other (literally) side, the Independence Day was taken also ironically, as despite the patriotic spirits, it was clear that the country was facing too many troubles.

So instead of wishing a Happy Independence Day, it read ‘Happy Inability Day’, as Ukraine is hardly able to cope with its economic challenges (I could translate it as ‘impotence’ as well, but I assure that is not our problem).

But on such a day, it was hard to think of anything gloomy, so the optimistic side took over!

floating in the Dead Sea

Finally, after describing my adventures at Israel’s Mediterranean and Red Sea shores, I am getting to the third, and arguably most unusual sea on my trip (and in my experience in general), the Dead Sea! Being the lowest land spot on Earth and one of the three saltiest lakes, the Dead Sea is an obvious tourist attraction, topped with mythical healing properties. However, I had heard mixed opinions about it, some of which described it as just a place to hang out a couple of hours. And I bet it is so, if you come with a bunch of other tourists to a crowded beach on a planned excursion trip. But you may also experience the timelessness and peace, if you know the right places and look for relaxation.

My new friend who advised that nice relatively secluded spot at the Red Sea near Eilat again gave me an excellent recommendation for her favorite place at the Dead Sea, a wild beach near Metsoke Dragot.

This is how the bus stop (next to a military post) looks like where you need to stop for this beach (I put this photo, because the stops are not announced and you have to ask the driver in advance and  watch out).

Unfortunately my friend couldn’t join me on that occasion.


So what was it like? Well, the video below probably shows how much I was excited with the idea of floating freely in the waters of the Dead Sea, but it is impossible to describe the feeling, it must be experienced… by everybody! As there is nothing like it 🙂 In few words, I felt fantastic: on the one hand, the deserted landscape and lifeless hyper-saline waters created an almost extraterrestrial ambience,

but on the other, the feeling of loss of gravity and soothingly warm water created an almost womb-like environment of comfort and peace. This feeling was even stronger at night, when the vision faded away and other senses became more apparent. Such careless floating in combination with stargazing made me feel as if I was drifting in the starry sky itself…

(I must mention in relation to this video that due to increased density of water in the Dead Sea, it actually was particularly pleasant for the genitals: my balls felt as relaxed and liberated as it gets, floating freely and kind of weightless, and this feeling spread to the rest of my body; in combination with perfectly warm water temperature, it provided a feeling of ultimate relaxation. This is something that non-nudist visitors may be missing out because of restricting clothes.)

Well, now back to the Earth: the sad truth is that one should not spend too much time in the Dead Sea’s waters because of risk of dehydration. As it often happens, many healing procedures should be done in moderation; mineral-rich waters of the Dead Sea may have amazing effects on your skin and health in general, but you have to be cautious… When you get out of the water, again you feel somewhat unusual, as there is no typical cooling effect from evaporation of water from the skin, because such hyper-saline water does not evaporate easily. But I imagine when it does, you’ll be covered with a layer of salt (also be careful if you have any open wounds, I still have a little scar on my foot as I had a scratch while I was swimming there).

For this reason, you should pick up a spot where it is possible to wash in a fresh water after swimming in the Dead Sea. Public beaches at the Dead Sea usually have showers, as, for example, at the Ein Gedi oasis, where I swam for the first time (also naked, but away from the main crowd – the first part of the video, at dusk and night, is from there). But in a wild place like this, you have to make sure that there are some fresh water springs. Actually this was something I didn’t expect to find at the Dead Sea at all, but obviously this stretch of the shore was quite luscious and plants needed fresh water…

And indeed, there were not only underground fresh water sources, but some springs and pools as well!

Not all springs are filled with fresh water though, so you will need to ask around or simply observe which one to use. This pool looked really inviting, and the water was very refreshing.


And this is the view from the pool itself.

One time when I went to refresh in the pool, it was full of British tourists, none of whom was naked. They were trying to wash their clothes from the mud and apparently they got sand and small stones in their shorts, so I noted jokingly that was the reason why I didn’t wear any clothes (I even forgot about this problem with bathing clothed)… One guy seemed to be especially moved by this notion and he started smiling to me and I smiled back, but soon it became too obvious that he wanted a bit more than exchange of smiles. Then, his friends were leaving, but he said he needed to wash his boxers still, and as soon as they disappeared, he didn’t waste any moment and started approaching to me until I had to tell him that I was not interested. I was quite annoyed that he took my nudity as a signal that I was ready for a quickie ‘right here right now’. I found it ironic as well, because my local friend who told me about this place, also said that sometimes she got irritated by men from conservative religious background who sometimes come here and sit next to the pool and wait for naked girls to wash there, while their wives sit somewhere in the shade (fully covered, of course) playing with children; but obviously, some more secular western men are not any more tactful…

And speaking of mud, of course the Dead Sea is known for its mud with healing and rejuvenating properties, which is sold worldwide by cosmetic companies. Unfortunately, some of the methods that they use to get the minerals, salts and mud from the Dead Sea are among the reasons why it dries out (another major factor is diverting water from the Jordan River and smaller water sources for irrigation). So, probably the best way to use the precious mud with minimal impact on this unique place is to go there, apply it directly all over your body (don’t miss any spot ;-)) and then wash it off back in the sea.

I spent most of the day alone, quiet and relaxed, sitting under those bushes and enjoying amazing colors between the floating/bathing sessions.

But in the late afternoon, I got to know this nice fellow, one of the rare nowadays kind of true hippies. He said he came there regularly for a few weeks and stayed in this self-made tent. Well, with the summer weather in Israel you don’t really need much.

What really surprised me was that he didn’t even have much food, as he ate mostly what other people shared with him (as did I as well). Later on, another ‘crazy’ guy joined us; he was an American tourist traveling around with a huge Australian aborigine instrument. The hippy guy suggested to show me some other pools along the shore, but I was worried that I might miss the last bus. However, there were two guys with a dog who looked very friendly, and I asked them, if they could give me a lift, to which they agreed! BTW their dog made an unfortunate attempt to dive into the Dead Sea waters, ouch! It took her two times to realize that it wasn’t a good idea to get mouth and eyes in contact with the water… So, I went with the hippy to explore the pools; some of them had very strange colors, bright green or grayish-white, and the soil around them seemed quite unstable and soft like flour; it all looked unearthly, and I probably would have felt very insecure, if I had come there alone…

As we returned, it was getting dark quickly and I was happy to find that the two guys with the dog were still there… It turned out that in the best traditions of Eytan Fox’ movies they were a couple, a Palestinian arab and a jew (from Ireland) living in Jerusalem, but it sounded like there was no big drama in their lives unlike in the movies, and it was really touching to see it real. So in the end, not only did they bring me to a kibbutz where my friend lived, but they also took me from there to Jerusalem, let me stay at their place for few hours and helped me to get to a communal taxi that is much cheaper than the usual private one (which I hadn’t known existed), as I had my flight back early next morning. What a great trip it was, both in terms of places I saw and people I met!

Hiking near oasis at the Dead Sea in Israel

After spending 2 days of snorkeling at the Red Sea, I had to move further, and the next stop on my trip through Israel was the Dead Sea. I stayed at a friend of my new friend who brought me to Ga’ash beach in Tel Aviv. He lived in Ein Gedi kibbutz, which is a part of luscious Ein Gedi oasis off the shores of the Dead Sea. The sea-lake itself is of course the major attraction in the area, and I will talk about it in my next post, but there is also a nice opportunity to see local flora and fauna on a daily hiking trip. Ein Gedi nature reserve has two spring-fed streams with flowing water year-round: Nahal David and Nahal Arugot. The former is much more popular, and I was advised not to go there, as tourists pour in big portions coming with organized bus tours.

view 0001 Nahal Arugot, Dead Sea, Israel

So, I went alone to Nahal Arugot and for most of the time I wasn’t disturbed by anyone and even found some moments to enjoy the refreshing waters in the buff!

view 0000 Nahal Arugot, Dead Sea, Israel

Right after entrance, it did feel like it was a desert, but then it got quite green along the stream and at some points I walked right on its banks or even in its shallow waters.

view 0002 Nahal Arugot, Dead Sea, Israel

When it got deeper and wider, I couldn’t resist dipping in the water. Skinny-dipping, of course!

naturist 0001 Nahal Arugot, Dead Sea, Israel

But I heard some loud voices of american teenage tourists and had to cover fast. In any case I had to hurry, because the trail closes very early and I had to return to the entry point by 5pm.

Then I saw the first pool with waterfalls. That is what the trail is known for, but this one was quickly occupied by some American tourists and I continued further.

view 0003 Nahal Arugot, Dead Sea, Israel

I noted another pool but decided to stop there on the way back, if I didn’t find anything else.

view 0004 Nahal Arugot, Dead Sea, Israel

So, I continued hiking partially on the trail, partially through in the stream, in hope to find a more secluded spot. I found one pool that seemed to be somewhat hidden by the trees and bushes and refreshed again.

naturist 0003 Nahal Arugot, Dead Sea, Israel

It also seemed like a nice spot for having a lunch. While I was eating my sandwich, a couple of birds came very close to me.

bird 0001 Nahal Arugot, Dead Sea, Israel

They did not beg for food like their urban relatives, and it was nice to imagine that they were as curious about me as I was about them.

bird 0000 Nahal Arugot, Dead Sea, Israel

After food I went for another dip

naturist 0002 Nahal Arugot, Dead Sea, Israel

and encountered another creature that didn’t mind me taking a close-up photo.
dragonfly 0000 Nahal Arugot, Dead Sea, Israel

Then I finally continued hiking. I reached the tallest waterfall

view waterfall 0005 Nahal Arugot, Dead Sea, Israel

but didn’t stay there for too long as I wanted to go till the end of the trail.

view waterfall 0006 Nahal Arugot, Dead Sea, Israel

Unfortunately, just a little further above the waterfalls I was called by a guard, who told me it was too late to continue further. It sounded strange to me, as it was early still, but I didn’t bother arguing and started my way back in the direction of the Dead Sea.

view 0007 Nahal Arugot, Dead Sea, Israel

I was passing by the high waterfall again, but it was then full of VERY noisy teenagers, orthodox Jews this time. I was wondering why they needed to shout so much, as the place looked so peaceful and perfect for listening to the sounds of nature, but for them it was more of an attraction park, which is also understandable, given that they might not have too much access to natural freshwater pools if they lived in that area. But then I raised my head and right above the gorge saw a group of nubian ibexes.

nubian ibex 0000 Nahal Arugot, Dead Sea, Israel

Apparently, they were thinking about the same issues, as they were staring from above at the noisy tourists fooling around at the waterfall. The good part about their noisiness, I thought, was that in case I would do skinny-dipping, I could hear them approaching.

The pool that I noted previously was still unoccupied so I decided to enjoy it for myself.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xghfk2_skinny-dipping-in-the-desert_travel

As you can see, I also found it to be quite an attraction to slide down the stream bed into the pool.

It was also amazing to see ferns growing on the walls above the stream given that few meters away a rocky desert was starting.

fern 0000 Nahal Arugot, Dead Sea, Israel

But then even more amazing was it to see two animals side by side that you would never expect to see in the desert: a frog and a crab!

frog & crab 0000 Nahal Arugot, Dead Sea, Israel

After I had enough fun at the pool, I followed till the exit quickly and just stopped to take pictures of another group of ibexes, which came even closer.

nubian ibex 0001 Nahal Arugot, Dead Sea, Israel

I never thought I could spend such a refreshing day and seeing so much wildlife at the Dead Sea.

Nu York, Nu York! (now you can see it!)

Well, I clearly underestimated New York’s naturist capacity! It’s pretty clear that it won’t beat Berlin (unless legislation changes), but still, thanks to my new nudie friend Christian, I’ve found another unofficial nudist spot, and he will show me even more, but probably I’ll have to wait for the next season… But I didn’t suspect that during this autumn I would find two beaches and even fulfill my fantasy of taking a nude pic with Manhattan skyline on the background!

So on the same shore where I visited a gay and partially nudist beach of Jacob Riis park (on the right photo above, you can see those towers of Jacob Riis Park), there is quite a long stretch of sandy beach to the South, which is surrounded by forested dunes in the area of Fort Tilden, an abandoned military fort. According to Christian, this beach gets crowded only on weekends during hot season, otherwise it’s rather empty and you can find quite a few people enjoying its quietness without any clothes.

But besides having a nice long beach, this area is also good for a stroll through a forest and visiting some abandoned bunkers. It may get quite spooky, actually! But one of the bunkers has a observation platform on top. Since the place is not frequented by too many visitors, we felt quite comfortable to disrobe and take some shots. But we had to be quite careful listening if any other visitor were getting closer. In any case, for at about an hour, there was no one around, and we totally enjoyed the view of Manhattan skyline

and surrounding forest up to the beach.

Although the city appears very far on the photos,

I actually felt like I could just fly there.

No, in the end we had to travel back by bikes and subway, and in the late afternoon it got really chilly too (it’s the end of October after all).

But it was a great and unique experience. For the lack of a better phrase, I felt as if New York was at my feet 😀

Naturist beach and park in Moscow, Serebryany Bor

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naturist 0000 Serebryany Bor, Moscow, Russia

Serebryany Bor (Silver Pinery) is a unique place in Moscow where you can enjoy nature without having to leave the city, and even in your birthday suite. The only thing that will remind you of the hustle and bustle of the metropolis are the skyscrapers of Moscow-City and, unfortunately, some noise from a highway.

naturist 0001 Serebryany Bor, Moscow, Russia

Otherwise, you’ll be surrounded by the forest and river. The Moscow River is very quiet there, with hardly any current noticeable, so it’s nice for swimming (and even nicer, since you can do it naked). If you swim from one edge of the nudist beach to the other, it’s approximately 2500 feet, so swimming forth and back would give a decent distance of 1.5 km. Just keep closer to the shore, as there may come speedy jet-skiers.

The park is dominated by willows, traditional Russian birches and, as you could guess from the name of the place, pines. It makes it easy to find a secluded place to your liking – with sun or some shade, grass or sand.

naturist 0001 Serebryany Bor, Moscow, Russia

If you’re lucky, a nightingale may provide you a pleasant acoustic background. I was lucky to see such a singing nightingale, although usually they are hard to spot even when you hear them.

nightingale 0000 Serebryany Bor, Moscow, Russia

Speaking of music, if you do want to hear some, stay in the beginning of the beach (closer to the mini-bus station) – there is a cafe with a radio.

naturist 0002 Serebryany Bor, Moscow, Russia

You can buy snacks, beer and other beverages, as well as ice-cream in the cafe without having to dress, so Serebryany Bor is turning into fully functional nudist resort.

Next to the cafe, there a horizontal bar, but I didn’t take pictures there with too many people around. Another horizontal bar is in the woods in the eastern part of the park. I’ve already posted a gifs of me doing pull-ups on this blog, so I think I have to promise to learn something more interesting by the next time 😉

naturist-pull-ups-0000-Serebryany-Bor,-Moscow,-Russia

There are few short trails that are nice to stroll or jog on, and some people even ride bicycles in the buff.

naturist 0005 Serebryany Bor, Moscow, Russia

Of course it wouldn’t be a proper naturist beach without a volleyball field! There are two volleyball nets installed, one near the cafe and another in the center, but unfortunately they are usually taken by the local regulars and it’s hard to join them.

naturist 0006 Serebryany Bor, Moscow, Russia

Already after my last visit to Moscow, a friend of mine found an outdoor gym next to the nudist beach; I’ll have to check it out next time. But even without the gym and volleyball net, we didn’t just sit lazily 🙂 We also did some yoga.

naturist 0003 Serebryany Bor, Moscow, Russia

I found that Moscow-city skyline fit pretty well to the otherwise natural landscape there, and it even inspired me to keep some yoga poses longer, while the photographer looked for the best angle 😉

naturist 0004 Serebryany Bor, Moscow, Russia

I noticed that many muscovites do not appreciate Serebryany Bor too much, with a sentiment that there are much better resorts abroad. However, after having travelled to numerous naturist destinations around the world, I can assure that there are very few urban parks like this, where a beach and a forest are intermingled, and you can swim, play volleyball or sit in a cafe, and all naked! And it’s a nice place to visit even in winter, as there is a banya with an ice-hole! But let’s not talk about cold, the weather is very hot right now in Moscow, so enjoy the summer at Serebryany Bor 😎

PS Google maps is the choice throughout the website, by Yandex provides better service than Google in Russian-speaking domain, so better check out Yandex maps for directions.

on a coral reef beach at the Red Sea (Egypt)

عَرَبيْ

Coral Beach Resort in Hurghada, Egypt, is an ideal place where naturists can enjoy one of the richest marine ecosystems – coral reefs of the Red Sea – without having to wear swimsuits. It is the right place to feel unity with the nature: fishes there are not only immensely diverse but are also quite tame! And since life in the coral reef is concentrated in 2-5 upper meters of the sea, it is easy to observe it without much of equipment: snorkeling is perfect.  Just dip into the water, and you will see a world utterly different from the surrounding desert, and quite like nowhere else!

naturist 0003 Rotana Resort Coral Beach, Hurghada, Egypt

I wish I had my underwater camera that time…

It is also a unique place in the entire North Africa and Near East region, besides Israel, where nudists are officially tolerated, including the Egyptian staff of the hotel. However, the web site of the hotel does not include information about the beach, probably to avoid problems with authorities who might not like it. The nudist part of the beach is about several hundreds meters long,

naturist 0000 Rotana Resort Coral Beach, Hurghada, Egypt

but only the first 50 or so are equipped (this area is exactly shown on the map).naturist 0001 Rotana Resort Coral Beach, Hurghada, Egypt

There are wind- and sun-protecting shields and huts at your disposal.

view 0001 Rotana Resort, Hurghada, Egypt

You could of course hang out naked in your bungalow too, but it’s not why you would go there, right?

The best thing about this resort, is that you can swim as you like all along the vast coral reefs.

naturist 0004 Rotana Resort Coral Beach, Hurghada, Egypt

I think we are pretty clear on this website that swimsuits are a nuisance 😉 Given the warmth of the Red Sea waters, you won’t need a wetsuit for snorkeling either!

naturist 0005 Rotana Resort Coral Beach, Hurghada, Egypt

Besides hours of swimming (the water is so warm that you can really stay for a few hours in the sea), other water activities are available at the resort as well.

osprey 0000 Rotana Resort, Hurghada, Egypt

I saw several ospreys there; it was quite a show when they went on fishing spree!

But even without all this, just looking at those crystal clear waters can be mesmarizing. naturist 0002 Rotana Resort Coral Beach, Hurghada, Egypt

You can also observe the sunrise over the sea

view 0000 Rotana Resort, Hurghada, Egypt

and sunset over the desert.

view 0002 Rotana Resort, Hurghada, Egypt

There won’t be a shortage of sun in Hurghada, you needn’t worry about the weather to get your all-over tan!)

naturist 0006 Rotana Resort Coral Beach, Hurghada, Egypt