Dubrovnik, Croatia - (map)
Dubrovnik distinguished itself on my visit for two reasons, the first being the spectacular two kilometer walk around the old town along its protective walls. The view from 25 meters high couldn't be better, with blue Adriatic water on one side and a skyline full of red tiled roofs, chimneys, and church spires on the other.
The second reason was Dubrovnik's availability of nude beaches. I decided soon after I read of Croatia's famed nude beaches that I'd have to go to one - visiting, of course, in the spirit of taking another new experience home from my trip.
Plus, I admit, I thought it would be fun to write about.
So I started with the best of intentions, but spent yesterday with a woman from my hostel who I didn't want to strip down in front of. But we did go to a beach adjacent to the nude one and I had a chance to see first hand what to expect out of a visit.
A naked man stood proudly upright a few feet from us on the regular beach with body language that screamed, "I'm free! Look at me!" He walked along the rocky coast with his hands on his hips. I thought to myself, "I guess that is where you put them when you don't have pockets."
Twenty other men and women on the beach went about business as usual, just without clothes on. They called themselves naturalists and they looked natural, so natural in fact that I kept seeing a family of primates on the rocks instead of vacationing Europeans. Forget the use of tools, I thought, the use of clothing really distinguishes us from the apes.
I walked to a different nude beach the following day in full anonymity, unhampered by the company of any people I didn't want to see me nude. I wondered along the way if I could go through with it. Getting naked seemed so natural, but yet, I seldom even walk through a gym locker room without a towel on. And hell, I'd hate to be caught in a Speedo.
I spotted the beach from the cliff above and noted that everyone seemed to have the same "Look at me!" attitude exuding from their body language. Hand painted signs along the threshold of the gate warned visitors that they were about to enter a clothing prohibited area and featured icons of bathing suits with slashes through them.
I didn't know if I had to take my clothes off as soon as I entered or if I could break in slowly once unpacked on the beach. I envisioned "swinging freely" across a crowded beach full of people. My heart pounded nervously and, even though I knew in my head that nobody on the beach cared, I reached the door and chickened out, instead deciding to swim at the beach next door.
Maybe I'll start out slowly. I wonder, can I buy a Speedo around here?
Dubrovnik, Croatia - (map)
I missed the whole American election while travelling - the campaign, the debates, the rhetoric, the vote, the talking heads, the post election fighting, the swearing in, and as of tomorrow, the first six months of Bush's presidency. But I have kept up on political events through the internet and discussed political affairs with both locals and travelling Asians, Europeans, and Americans.
After more than fifty conversations, I've met only two people who like our new president - one of whom was sorry he voted for him. Come to think of it, the other supporter wasn¦t much better. He was just a 12 year old boy in India who liked Bush simply because his older brother liked Gore.
I'm obviously working with a flawed statistical sample, but even so, how did our new president get elected? Perhaps the rest of the world isn't too pleased with our choice and Americans who travel are more likely to vote for democrats. Hmm... there is probably a strong correlation between U.S. passport holders and Gore voters.
I'll have to return home before I can get the real story!