The literal meaning of FKK or Freikörperkultur (nudism) is ‘free body culture.’ My wife Jane and I recently had the opportunity to visit Munich, Bavaria for a few days at the invitation of a friend who is working over there. His apartment overlooks the Olympic Stadium, the scene of one of Nottingham Forest’s greatest nights, so I was enthusiastic to return.
Having also visited several times on business 20-odd years ago, I knew how interesting the city was and wanted to return and experience the lovely beer gardens again. We also wanted to visit the Alps and take the opportunity for some nude relaxation. We needed to recharge after the buzz of Nudefest and were not disappointed.
In fact, the freedom and the acceptance of nudity as being completely appropriate was as refreshing as a long, lingering shower. Our experience re-calibrated our levels of well-being and it should provide us with a direction for all naturism in Britain to aspire to. Es war wunderbar, it was wonderful!
Before the visit, we had printed off a very useful piece of work that had been produced by the Naturist Action Group, following a fact-finding visit they made last year.
They were looking for examples of good practice that could possibly be used as a blueprint to develop city naturism in the UK. We used the paper (linked below) to try three different places amongst the many opportunities that they identified and described. They had not had time to visit these particular places, so, in part, I hope that this report can add to their good work.
Munich is a bustling, vibrant place and is well visited by tourists from all around the world. Our midsummer visit coincided with a Sommerfest street party in the food market, so all the breweries’ show horses and bands were out to impress. We had booked a hire car at the airport (city centre prices are crazy!) to complete a childhood fantasy and visit the incredible Neuschwanstein Castle, of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang fame, in its spectacular alpine setting. We went up the Tagleberg cable car and did the Bradbury Wanderlust walk down above the fairy-tale castle.
Back in Munich, the car made our naturist explorations quicker and easier, but all of them are possible by public transport and short walks.
After the drive back from Nudefest and a 3 a.m. alarm call, the chance of a couple of hours in one of the lakeside parks was just what was required. We set off to find Lake Feringasee and after a few navigational problems, we arrived at a tree-lined country park around a large former gravel pit lake on the north eastern edge of the city. The FKK section is on a large peninsula that juts out right into the centre of the lake. It has its own Biergarten (cover-up required), with no fences, no admission policies or charges...just freedom. It is open to the view of the rest of the park about 200m across the lake, but nobody takes any notice.
There are couples, families and unaccompanied males and females just enjoying the sun, water and air. Meerkats are extinct and to swim in the clear lake is bliss.
But the highlight was witnessing the joy on the face of a lady who cycled up on her way home from work. It was starting to rain and a storm was brewing. She lent the bike against a tree just two metres from the textile world, hastily threw off her clothes, and then ran into the lake with a huge smile on her face. This is how it should be! Could it ever be?
We returned to Feringasee on a sunny Saturday afternoon, when the FKK peninsula was busy with about 400 naturists. It was far more popular than the textile section.
This was also the case at the similar Feldmochinger See on the north-western edge of the city on Sunday morning. It’s so comfortable that you have to keep pinching yourself. Surely this cannot be impossible in Britain? If it is, why does it have to be so?
We need ‘free body culture’! We also had a day at Therme Erding, a huge commercial day spa, the largest in Europe, where nudity in the saunas and spa pools is obligatory. The best thing about the spa and our park experiences was the total acceptance that nude bathing is entirely sensible, practical, preferable and indeed encouraged. It is simply a personal freedom choice without stigma or shame.
Nudity is not only tolerated, but supported by both the authorities and commercial businesses. Is this Nirvana?
Well, I think it’s close. I would add the following observations. There was an excellent gender and orientation mix, including clear signs that women are in their comfort zone. However, from these experiences, the age profile was only a little younger than the UK naturist norm.
There were slightly more families, but few under-40’s adults and little ethnic diversity. Perhaps we are being too hard on ourselves when we consider that we are failing in these areas?
We stayed in the university accommodation area and saw plenty of young adults out in the hot weather. The conservative shift in the summer fashions of the young compared to that first visit for the football final in 1979 was approaching extreme.
So, there’s plenty of food for thought, some serious global and modern cultural obstacles, but lots that we should try to embrace in the quest for ‘free body culture.’