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So, having figured out the Belgian “Coast” Tram system, the next day I ate my 5 Euro breakfast of chocolate croissant, OJ, coffee, and brie cheese, grabbed my towel, had the front desk watch my luggage, and was off to Bredene!

Or so I thought.

You really do have to pay attention to the digital schedules posted at the tram stops.  My first tram took me all the way to Oostende station…and right back to Marie-Joseplein station again. Then I actually paid attention, caught the tram to Knokke and was on the right trail.  Once you get into Bredene there are signs posted that let you know that the Naturiste beach is coming up.  The stop you want to get off at is Bredene Rebaan. 

You will see a sign right across from the stop letting you know you are in the right place.

Bredene naturist sign

Bredene naturist sign

 Once you cross the way, there is a tunnel you go through that has some lively graffiti (or art?) along the walls:

wall art

wall art

For those of you who like to live vicariously…

Once out of the tunnel, you hike along a short trail toward the beach and see yet more signs:

And more signs:

And in case you missed the first 50…more signs:

One can only assume with the many signs and various translations, the Belgians really don’t want you to get lost…or maybe they just think nudists are dumb.

Since it had been raining all morning and, thankfully, just cleared up in time for my arrival, I was not surprised to find this:

Belgian nude beach

Belgian nude beach

Yes, I had the entire nude beach to myself.  But not for long!  No sooner had I stripped down to my birthday suit, when, not one, but two lifeguard trucks sped in to keep watch over me, lest I drown in the sand.  I also had the boys volleyball tournament in the next beach plot over to keep an eye on me.  All in all I felt very secure. 🙂

Stripping off!

Thankfully the Gods of Naturism blessed me with a few hours of sunshine, so I wouldn’t completely freeze my ass off. 

Bredene nude beach view

  One other person did later come to the beach as well but he never made a formal introduction. After a few hours the clouds decided to make an appearance again.  So I was off.  Fortunately I had a bakery full of mini eclairs, cream puffs, chocolate croissants, and crepes, and a bar with great Belgian beer to tide me over until my train for Paris left later in the day.

End note: Being Belgium’s only naturist beach, the beach I was at is usually so filled to capacity on nice days that they are thinking of expanding it.  I will admit that the nude portion is about the size of a football field. At least someone in the world is headed in the opposite direction of most places that want to lessen the amount of space people have to go nude…I’m looking directly at you America!

 Correction: I think you may need to replace all references to “Dutch” with “Flemmish”. 

After my very enjoyable 3-day stay in Amsterdam I caught the train to Oostende, via Antwerp.  This was my first train ride and because Amsterdam Centraal Station seems to be one of the few places in all of Europe with decent signage (more on that latter) I had no trouble finding my train.

After getting unsolicited* help in Antwerp I made the train to Oostende in no time.

Oostende Station

Oostende Station

It was most definitely a beach town and, had the weather been nicer during my stay, it would have been that much more obvious.  As it was, the clouds were heavy and the weather a tad nippy.  Things didn’t look good for nude sunbathing.   Instead I walked through town, enjoying the sites on the way to my hotel.

I got there and some sort of construction was going on outside the front door.  It was the Hotel Thevenet.  The proprietor didn’t speak English but assumed I spoke French.  We got by, and heck, the place was only 45 Euros a night so who was I to complain.  I signed up for the 5 Euro breakfast just because.  The next day the guy at the front desk did speak English…and was cute and flirty, but more French than Dutch so, eh.

My Hotel Room

My Hotel Room

My Hotel Room

My Hotel Room

 

The thing about Belgium is that it’s like a mix of French and Dutch. In fact they pull the best from both worlds.  They are not snooty like the French, but they do know how to make a damn fine pastry.  On the other hand, the men are just as “intensely observational” of someone like myself. And the beer is fucking awesome!  Belgium is definitely on my to-re-visit list.

Sites from around Oostende:

A gorgeous day for the beach...NOT!

A gorgeous day for the beach...NOT!

Statue near Oostende beach

Statue near Oostende beach

Leopold Park

Leopold Park

Leopold Park in Oostende. This is the front landscaping telling the date and time. Pretty darn cool.

Leopold Park in Oostende. This is the front landscaping telling the date and time. Pretty darn cool.

 

Leoppold Park

 

Stones in Leopold Park

Stones in Leopold Park

The day started to get better so I decided to figure out how to get to the other side of the bay to Bredene where the nude beach was.  My train the next day to Paris didn’t leave until around 3 so I’d have all morning to be a naturist.  I had looked up the Belgian Coast Tram online, and even mapped out exactly where my stop would be.  So I sat on a wall near the beach and waited….and waited…and waited.  The closest thing to a tram was a train looking contraption that was obviously made for tourists.

So to save you a lot of unnecessary, and embarrassing, grief I’ll point out….the Belgian Coast Tram isn’t literally on the coast.  The photo in Wikipedia is misleading. It does pass through coastal towns though.  Which is how I figured out that that “tram” running all through the center of town is in fact the Belgian Coast Tram. Doh!

Anyhoo, I was at a complete loss as to which ticket to get because all the info packets were in Dutch (?).  Fortunately there is a visitor’s center right smack in the middle of town near the BIG Casino.  The lovely woman I met there did her best with English for me.  Again I’ll save you unnecessary grief.  The line is called De Lijn (you’ll see it on the side).  Get a day pass for 5 Euros (you can get this at the Visitors Center).  If you want to go to Bredene, like I did, make sure you check the times listed on the info board and see when the train going to Knokke is.  Some of them only go as far as Oostende Station.  Then you have to get off and get back on again!

Anyway, once I had that figured out, it was too late to go to Bredene anyway, so I wandered around for a place to eat.  And what luck!  I passed by this bakery with delicious looking chocolate croissants in the window.   I don’t recall the name but wander around the Marie-Joseplein station downtown until you see this red sign.

Worlds Best Bakery

World's Best Bakery

The woman inside is slightly more French than Dutch but not enough to be a complete twat.  And she didn’t bat an eye when I asked if that was indeed chocolate in the croissants (note to readers, chocolate in croissants seems to be very popular in Europe…or at least Amsterdam/Oostende/Paris.  I fully plan on starting a campaign in America to get more chocolate in croissants!), or when I decided to order a crepe as well…oh and 2 of those mini eclairs, and, um, 2 cream puffs too!  I don’t even like the last two but they looked so cute and delicious…and I was not at all disappointed.

And wouldn’t you know it, there was a bar nearby to order a beer to go with them.  I’m labeling the following a typical Oostende diet of Belgian beer and French pastries:

Crepes and Stella Artois

Crepes and Stella Artois

Chocolate croissant and Luffe Blonde

Chocolate croissant and Leffe Blonde

 

More Stella Artois and mini eclairs and cream puffs

More Stella Artois and mini eclairs and cream puffs

Yes, I was just that sort of glutton.  Fortunately, wandering around trying to find my hotel earlier in the day, and figure out the tram system earned it for me.   Needless to say I went to be satisfied and quite ready for my day of nude sunbathing in Bredene the next day.

*Here’s the thing.  When I see someone with an obvious lost and wandering look on their face, I offer to help.  Parisians could give half a shit (see next post), but Belgians/Dutch are much nicer that way.

This is the hotel I stayed at in Amsterdam.  It’s called Chic and Basic and I originally picked it out from Priceline because it seemed Chic and Cheap.  I can’t plug this place enough.  My room was great, the staff was great, the free cappuccino machine was awesome, and they even have a (free) place to check the Internet.  The guests are young but not too young and hip but not too hip.  I knew I’d fit in when I was being shown to my room and the drunken couple on the stairs above me invited me to their room later that night (not that swinging is something that necessarily goes on at this hotel or anything). Seriously, it was only 90 euros a night, which considering the view and location is hella cheap.

My room, with canal view!

The next two days I spent wandering around on my own in Amsterdam, the greatest city on earth! 

First things first.  It happened first in the Houston airport at our terminal.  I kept getting stares.  Then while I was with The Guy it happened even more.  While we were drinking and eating he pointed it out to me.  I told him that I just assumed it was because I was black (this being the Dutch and all), or maybe because I was with him (he’s white).  But no, he pointed out it was because I was “quite attractive”.  I’ll take it.  I guess even in a city with nothing but tall gorgeous leggy blondes a short(er) curvy(er) average(er) brown girl’s attributes will stand out.  Even a raven has to be a refreshing change among peacocks, no? 

Later on I could see that it wasn’t so much hard glaring as intense observation….and it happened A LOT! At least 90% of men gave me the once over.  Of course they weren’t nearly as bold as black men and Arabic (Persian? Middle Eastern?) men who will boldly call at you from their cars.   But white men are always so much more repressed reserved ;).  Before you get the wrong idea about my ego (which is quite healthy thank you very much) I don’t consider myself all that special so I’m assuming it will happen to any half way attractive black female (or non-black female)…so soak it up ladies!  It is a nice little massage to the ego.   It certainly altered my views on blond men…even if it only applies to Dutch blond men. Now if only one of them had been bold enough to ask me to marry him and forget my life in America to come live with him in Amsterdam forever.  But I’ll take what I can get. 🙂 

And so I went through  the days soaking up all the attention, stopping every now and then at various bars to drink beer and watch people ride their bikes.  Bike riding is a BIG DEAL there; It’s far more ubiquitous than driving, and walkers beware about getting in the way of bike paths.  I was planning to rent a bike my second day but it rained all morning.

I started off with the public library which is located on the right of Centraal Station:

Amsterdam Public Library

Amsterdam Public Library

There was a lot of construction going on around the station so it ruined the view of the building

Public Library

Public Library

I wandered through the library was was quite nice. Unfortunately all my photos came out blurry.  But there was a rooftop terrace with a cafe where I had a latte.

Library Cafe

Library Cafe

It was also the perfect place to take a photo (see facebook for those).  

Then, because you know how much I hate planning and touristy crap, I just wandered the city.

Amsterdam street view

Amsterdam street view

Mostly that second day I just drank (good) beer and people watched.  

The third day it rained all morning, thwarting my plans to rent a bike and hit the museums.  So I hit the hotel capp’ machine and lay in bed all day watching the canal and people braving the rain on their bikes and by foot.   Then it miraculously cleared up so I headed out.  Since I’d been lazy all morning and wasn’t sure when the rain would return I didn’t want to spend the money on a bike or public transport.  See, this is why I could stuff my face the whole trip and not gain an ounce!

Anne Frank House:

anne frank house

anne frank house

The thing about the Anne Frank House is, like most of the buildings in Amsterdam, it’s a tall convoluted series of steep stairs, tiny rooms, an odd lay-out, and twists and turns…even more so because it was a hide out with secret places.  Apparently after the Nazis discovered the place they emptied out all the rooms.  For some reason Anne’s father decided to keep it that way for the museum.  I guess I understand the rationale, but it doesn’t do any favors for visitors.  I had no idea what room was what and it would have had so much more meaning to see things as they had been when they were hiding from the Germans.  So the whole thing was confusing and slightly disappointing. 

Then I stepped into Vondelpark for a second before realizing I had more places to visit.  So I snapped a photo and left:

Vondelpark

Vondelpark

Frankly I liked the museum district, which was close by, much better:

Museum District

Museum District

This is where this sign is:

I Amsterdam

I Amsterdam

Now I didn’t actually go into the museums.  I’m not a fan of non-modern art. And even modern art has to be something interesting to get me to fork over my time and money.  I was thisclose to going into the Van Gogh museum but they wanted a certain amount for credit card use.  As for the  Rijksmuseum,  I wish I had because I heard a girl talking about the dollhouse exhibit inside.  So it isn’t just art after all!  Either way, more beer money for me on both accounts.  But I did snap photos of the outside!

Van Gogh Museum

Van Gogh Museum

 

Rijksmuseum

Rijksmuseum

I found a really great pizza place that night and came back to watch the Michael Jackson Concert that the hotel was airing in the lounge for the guests.  This, before the snafu with RailEurope.  Note to readers, if your ticket doesn’t automatically have a reservation…you don’t necessarily need one.  There will be a seat for you.  It took me 2.5 hours and 5 back and forth trips to the ticket counter at Centraal Station and the hotel internet computer to figure this one out.  Last night in Amsterdam: ruined! 

Then it was off to Oostende!

Final tips:

1. The ticket machines for the Amsterdam trains/metro do NOT like ATM/Debit cards.  They rejected mine every time.  And you have to know your PIN in order to use your credit card.  So cash it was at the in-person ticket counters.

2. ATMs for some reason spit out 50 euro bills. You think we hate $20 bills in America? Try buying a 3 Euro beer with a 50.  I sympathized.

3. Bring an umbrella…yeah, even in the middle of summer.

My WTF moment:

WTF!

WTF!

It was only after confession my history of sins and dropping several blatant hints about wanting to go to the Red District, but alas! I’m but a vulnerable little female, that The Guy finally offered to take me.  So, after taking the train back into Amsterdam, The Guy and I headed out for a night on the town…or at least a specific part of it. We started in a bar that we thought served food. By this time it was 8pm, and still bright as day out (northern hemisphere), and they stopped serving food by then.  We shrugged and ordered two beers.  Then we both had Jagermeister shots.  Then we had two more!    This at least kept us going for the rest of the night.

We then hopped across the street to a little place that served something called Shoarmas.  Since we were already on a sinful track (and on a Sunday of all days!) this was the least of our offenses:

Shoarma

Shoarma

Then the fun got started. 

Even if you never venture inside a show, walking through the Red Light District is a show in and of itself.  There are sex shops galore, catering to just about every taste and fetish. The same goes for the *ahem* live offerings.   The first “lady of the night” we passed was obviously no lady, biologically speaking.  She was sitting in a window sill, happy as you please, and didn’t bat an eye at our puerile giggling.  Everywhere you go there are women on display behind glass doors.  Those with curtains covering them are “in service.”   I will say this, some of them were drop dead gorgeous.  If I were a man and so inclined, I don’t see how I could resist.  In fact, I don’t even switch hit and I was tempted.

Living in England, Amsterdam is to The Guy what Vegas is to Americans…but like 100 times more wicked (and thus 100 times better).  So he’d been to many “Buck parties” (Stag/Bachelor parties) and knew exactly where to go.  There were three places within a block of each other and they varied according price, quality, entertainment, and how close you are to the stage.  I naturally opted for the one closest to the stage.

I forget the name of the first place we went to but once inside I realized my poor choice of dress.  I had been wearing an innocuous summery jumpsuit that day and kept it on that evening. In retrospect it only makes sense that they would have black lighting in these places and I might as well have been a strobe light for how much I stood out.  Being a female to boot, it made me an easy target the rest of the night (not that I minded 🙂 ).  This theater had a stage that was indeed quite close to the action.  It was a small semi-circle get up with a corny backdrop and curtains that closed after each act.   The murals on the wall were quite something else though.  They were of varous sex slave type themes and fun to look at in between sets.

[Warning: Graphic Content]

The acts went as follows:

  1. A woman dancing and stripping, finishing off with a dildo (penetration)
  2. A woman dancing and stripping, finishing off with magical ribbon act (think of those magic acts where the magician pulls the handkerchiefs out of his sleeve in a seemingly never ending stream…now change the originating location)
  3. A couple dancing and stripping, oral foreplay, then sex (this one was fun because she seemed to really be enjoying it)
  4. Two women dancing and stripping, then finishing each other off with a dildo (the weird part about this was the fact that they used a condom on it…the same condom!) 
  5. A couple dancing and stripping, oral foreplay, then sex (this wasn’t as good as the first, reasons for which I’ll point out on MS)
  6. The first woman pulling two boys from the audience (see below) and doing a banana trick…they got their comeuppance.  (it was minor embarrassment. Lucky for them as according to The Guy, they used to actually pull your pants down on stage).

It was during the fourth act that a group of boys came in.  They were young and rowdy and loud and obnoxious and sat in the first row by the stage.  The bouncer had to come and tell them to behave more than once.  They eyed us and asked about where we were from.  Apparently they were riding high on the credit card of the obvious ring leader’s dad because they’d been all over the place.  The Guy rightfully called him out on that and he had the good sense to be embarrassed about it.  Still, getting into a sex club and drinking till you’re smashed on someone else’s dime has to be worth something in life.

During the last set a guy in a Gorilla suit made and appearance.  He freaked me out by grabbing my boob as he passed, not so much from the grab, which all agreed was funny, but from the surprise.  Later he yelled at me to “show [my] tits!”  Don’t worry mom, I didn’t.   Then he sprayed the audience with his “penis” .  It was water.  And that was the show!

We then went to a place called Moulin Rouge…which I’m absolutely positive is decidedly different from the famous Paris venue.  I offered to pay this time around, which worked out well because the guy out front liked me and gave us four free drink tokens.  I was surprised it was cheaper than the first place because it was much nicer inside.  It was packed but we found a place in the first row close to the stage.  Looking at the audience it was quite obvious that there was no ID check at the door, since some of the guys across the stage couldn’t have been more than 16 years old.  This would turn out to be very entertaining later on.

We sat next to a couple from Canada and talked to them between sets.  Once again I was on display with my all white outfit, but felt better because the Canadian woman had made a similar mistake in dressing.  I ordered vodka and jagermeister because the “boys” next to me had it and it looked cool because it glowed green in the lighting.  This show was run by two women which was a refreshing scene, especialy since they were very no-nonsense and pulled a boy out for having the nerve to pull out his cell phone during an act.  Photos are a big no-no.

The acts went as follows:

  1. A woman dancing and stripping, then doing a very skilled act with a lit candle
  2. A woman dancing and stripping, then doing the same act with the ribbon as above. The only difference was her pulling a boy out of the audience and having him pull the ribbon out.  He was entranced.
  3. A woman doing an acrobatic set around a stripper pole, then pulling a boy out of the audience, taking off his shirt and spelling “Dirty Boy” on his chest…without hands…if you know what I mean.
  4. A couple doing the same sex routine as above but with a preist/prostitute theme.
  5. Another banana act.  This one pulled 5 guys and yours truly on stage to eat peices of banana from various body parts.  Mine was fortunately only from her right breast. 🙂

The final guy ended up in a headlock between her legs in what was supposed to be a joke but turned bad when he panicked and grabbed her hair.  After that the show was OVER. 

For more…you know where to go. 🙂

On July 4th, I celebrated the birth of our nation…by leaving!  I headed off on a long awaited trip to Europe to, in part, taste the delights of naturist beaches on foriegn territory. 

Bye bye Houston!

Let me start off by saying that my Continental international flight did not disappoint.  OK, well the fee based booze is kind of a downer but it’s more than made up for by the 300+ movie options available for viewing so you don’t get thoroughly bored during the 9-10 hour flight across the pond, which is in and of itself boring, being mostly over water and then mostly over clouds.   Food was quite tasty too.

But you didn’t come here for a critique of Continental airlines, so on with the full report.  I met up with The Guy in the Centraal Station as agreed. We both agreed that we look much better in person (blast my unphotogenic genes!).  I left it up to him to guide me to Zandvoort, which is one of three nude beaches I’d learned about in the Netherlands. Basically you take the train to Zandvoort, exit and head North (or go left when facing the beach). The town itself is rather blah and looked almost like a ghost town.  I guess when your country spends most of the year in gloomy rain beach towns have no reason to stay pretty and exciting.  But the weather was halfway decent so there was a good amount of people around.

If you are headed to the naturist section of the beach, wear comfortable shoes.  I had on these snazzy flip flops and ended up with a nice little blister on my first day of vacation!  The walk is a good 30-45 minutes total, part of that over sand filled with sea shells.  This is the pathway that leads towards the nude section, which is a good 20 minutes onward from here:

Walk to Zandvoort nude beach

Walk to Zandvoort nude beach

As per the rules of naturism I couldn’t take too many photos on the actual beach itself.  There were lounge chairs to lie on that supposedly cost 6 Euros to rent.  The Guy  and I opted to lie on our towels on a little dune above the others.  It was an interesting mix of obvious veterans and definite long-time-no-nudism-ers.  I’m happy to report that not everyone was gorgeous and fit. The Guy  had spent the prior week in Cape d’Agde and pointed out that the women there were.  Damn the French and their secret to looking good!  Though I can’t complain, I ate richly and still came back weighing less than I did going…they’re good for something I guess.  But more on that later.

One thing that was a new experience was seeing naked children mixed among the adults. Naturally America would never allow this sort of Abomination but looking at it in action it seemed perfectly natural.  Actually it was rather sweet and enjoyable.  Should my rigorous birth control regime fail me I would happily bring my kids with me to frolic nude on the beach.

There was, conveniently enough, a cafe where you could eat in the nude as well, appropriately titled Adam and Eva. It was too far out for regular beach goers so everyone there was either nude or partially nude (some put on clothes to sit down and because it got rather chilly occasionally).  I snuck a surreptitious photo of it:

Adam and Eva

Adam and Eva

We ordered hamburgers and they were….different.  The meat was odd but not in an untasty sort of way.  They put carrots and cucumbers on their burgers there, and, disgustingly, lots of mayo and ketchup.  No mustard.   While I was there one man kept staring and smiling.  It got so blatant I felt almost as though I should invite him over or something!  It’s good to know people are at least friendly, or at best think I look A-OK when nude.  Any boost to the ego helps.  More on this later as well.

We spent the afternoon varying between freezing, when the sun went behind clouds and the wind got stronger, and burning, when the wind died down and the sun came out.  I think that makes for the best day really, you never get too anything and feel the need to leave.  We spent the time talking, during which I laid bare my past…something which I’m 100% certain had an impact on him later offering to take me to the Red Light District.

It was the perfect lead in to my vacation and a perfect day at the beach.  One thing to note: the seagulls sound like cats getting strangled. That was a new one on me.

This week my coworkers have been all aflutter about my trip to Amsterdam next week.  Most of them are surprised I’m going alone.  One in particular proclaimed she would never travel that far alone.  Even my mom keeps hinting that maybe I might want to think about a group tour for some of my upcoming jaunts.

But I’m a loner and I always have been.  I pop in and out of relationships (if you can even call them that) at the speed of light.  Most of my friends are virtual (which makes them no less dear, mind you). Even my family is best kept in touch with via phone (save for mom).   So traveling alone is pretty much ideal for me. Plus, traveling as a single female has it’s bonuses.  Setting aside the fact that I get to do exactly what I want to, when I want to (morning person here), I usually have no problem meeting someone along the way.  Already I have plans to meet someone on my first day for a trip to the nude beach in Amsterdam.   And who knows who I’ll hook up with meet during the rest of the trip?

I’ll be the first to admit that there are some definite benefits to traveling with a buddy or group.  You’re less of a target. You often get better rates (so many places rip you off by charging a half room rate, meaning double if you are alone).  You also have someone to go along to places you might otherwise be a bit timid about going to.  Like say…a coffeehouse in Amsterdam! I have no significant experience with such fare (even college doesn’t count) but you can’t go to Amsterdam and not take advantage of it’s quasi legal status.  But I’m a novice and it will be quite clear.  And I’ve had…strange…experiences with pot.  So a partner in crime (so to speak) would come in handy.

Perhaps this is one I might save for future trips.  After all, if Amsterdam is as awesome as I think it will be, it will be worth it to get into a relationship and come back.

Emerald Lake

Emerald Lake

In preparation for my trip next week to Amsterdam/Oostende/Paris I decided to try out a local nudist “resort” called Emerald Lake here in Houston.  Since I’m meeting someone at the nude beach in the Netherlands I wanted to arrive with a uniform body color.  It just wouldn’t do to have him think I’m some sort of novice at this.

Why it never occurred to me to try out Emerald Lake before is beyond me.  I like Austin and do have a sort of love for Hippie Hollow, but gosh it’s so much better to drive 30-45 minutes to a local lake than it is 3 hours to Austin.   But everyone who does this had always pointed to Hippie Hollow so that was the “in” place to be.  After going this past weekend to Emerald Lake I think that’s my new local nudist hang out.

The website didn’t mention anything about hours and had something there about introducing yourself so people don’t think you’re some sort of perv (my words).  So I sent an e-mail asking about hours and introducing myself as a fellow nudist!  Just so you know, the office hours are from 10-6.  This gave me time to dilly dally around Saturday morning, as opposed to my usual break of dawn take-off for Hippie Hollow to score the best spots.

Around 9:30 I headed north to Emerald Lake from midtown.  Being Saturday morning the traffic was mild. When I got on 494 loop searching out the place I finally passed what looked like a steel fenced warehouse with one sign that said Emerald Lake.  I guess I was sort of expecting something resembling  the entrance to a campground or national park or something.  In retrospect it makes since to have corrugated fencing because heaven knows the lookie-loos would congregate in force if they didn’t.  Also in retrospect I should have taken a photo to show you what the outside looks like so you’ll know what to look for should you decide to take a visit.

There is a buzzer on the outside which you press and hold and the gate opens for you. It’s not so much a resort as it is a campground.   There is an office/clubhouse/boardinghouse, a lot of picnic tables, places to pitch a tent, and several campers further out.  As it turns out the lake is the permanent residence of several members.  Oh what a life…. The owner recognized me from my e-mail when I stopped to pay my $30 (non-AANR fee) and sign the drowning waiver and show my ID.  Only 18 and up there.   Then I got the grand tour from a regular female member.

The clubhouse has a TV and a pool table.  Supposedly at night they have a lot of fun because there is also a dance floor, complete with disco ball and DJ table. Although I’m only in this for the swimming and all-over tan I may hang around one day just for the experience.  They also have sodas for a dollar if you forget drinks (a must have for any nude beach experience).  Someone there came up with a really neat idea for towels that hang over the back of your chair and have pockets for all your change, sunscreen, etc.  Towels are another must have, especially at a resort where you’d rather not want to sit where someone’s bare ass has been before, anymore than they want to sit where yours has been.  There are also basic, but neat and clean, rooms to stay in if you decide you want to spend the night.  Washing machines, showers, bathrooms, yadda yadda yadda.

Here’s where Emerald Lake and Hippie Hollow are different.   Hippie Hollow certainly gets more crowds, especially during certain times of year.  So by default it’s also more diverse.  Not racially…nudism is still pretty darn white (despite the tans 🙂 ).    Not a problem for me if it’s not a problem for them.  But at Hippie Hollow you’ll find young and old (though the standard, as in most places, seems to be middle aged). You’ll find people who are obviously well educated and upper class and people who obviously aren’t and everyone in between.  Swingers abound.  Single men into the scene and single men looking to “see.”  LOTS of gay men, a sprinkling of female couples, a rare single female.  It’s always something new.

BUT the following are the reasons why I like Emerald Lake better (and it will give you a nice tidy summary of the place:

  • Lounge chairs.  They have a good number of them there for you to sit or lie on, either on the beach by the lake or on the grass.  Anyone who’s been to Hippie Hollow will see this alone as a HUGE bonus.  IF you can find a flat space at HH to lie/sit on, you still have to bring a chair or (thick) yoga mat to pad your ass.  Towels alone don’t cut it.  There are also umbrellas to shade you when the sun starts to get to you.
  • Floaty stuff.  They have scads of stuff from those floating tube things to those floating bed things.  I stuck with the tubes so I could at least get wet.  At HH you bring your own.  They also have canoes and one of those zip sliders for jumping off of into the lake.
  • Amenities.  It is nice to not have to hike to get to the bathroom or, as in the case of my lazy ass, use the lake (1 not 2!).   Plus they have drinks when you find out you haven’t brought enough (trust me you will) and face the idea of cozying up to some questionable man/couple who think you’ll join him/them later on.  Hot tub. Check. Place to cool off inside. Check
  • Cool People.  In retrospect I have not been very kind here on my blog to some members of the nudist community.  I’ve learned that just because someone is missing their front teeth and talks with verrry southern accent it doesn’t mean they can’t be friendly. Having lived in Texas long enough I’m not instantly put off by an accent from round these parts.  And at Emerald Creek they were quite heavy.  And lots of tattoos.  And a fair amount  of smoking. For the most part the clientele is pretty monolithic group.  But they most certainly were friendly to me.  But then again, the nudist life is rather sweet for single females.  The owner even mentioned giving me a discount on the year-membership because I was one.

Things I didn’t like:

  • Smoking.   The beach is rather small and when someone lights up the smoke is bound to get to you.  And at least a few people did. But I’m sensitive to that.
  • Warm Water.  In all fairness Houston has been breaking records all week.  But the water was quite warm, offering little in the way of relief from the sun. There were pockets of cool water near my feet.  I’m guessing when the weather isn’t so unbearable it’s better. 
  • Dirty Water. The water at Hippie Hollow is not exactly spring clean, but here there were bits of floating fauna.  Apparently one of the members does usually clean it up  on a regular basis and since so many people were complaining about it this is unusual.
  • Lake animals.  I did see a turtle or two pop it’s head up.  But everyone kept talking about how the turtles snap and the fish nibble and when you’re naked that’s not something you want to hear. Watch your goodies!

In sum Emerald Lake is a great alternative to Hippie Hollow, especially if you live in Houston.   One I certainly plan on visiting often. It’s slightly less anonymous as everyone seems to know everyone else.  But if you want to be left alone, people will respect that.   There is less opportunity for the sorts of shenanigans that go on at Hippie Hollow, which may or may not be a good thing depending on your point of view.  You won’t have to worry about some asshole snapping your photo with his cell phone.  Guys and couples will be more hesitant about making advances.  In fact they seemed to be fairly wary of single men who arrived, polite but watchful.