English Girl in Vienna

Cultural Commentator

Birthday Suit

Watching a bit of TV recently, I nearly dropped my cuppa. The main station was advertising its new nightly schedule and there was a fully naked woman on it. It was in the middle of the day and really, it left me agog to see a full frontal on TV at all, let alone before the ‘9pm watershed’, which is so engrained on my consciousness. Then I just kind of shrugged and thought about how the Austrians love nudity, as I have mentioned before, and it reminded me of an occasion a short time ago that’s worth recounting. I was cycling on the Donau Insel (the small island in the Danube, popular with walkers and cyclists) when who would be walking towards me but a man, dressed in a cap, sunglasses, with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, flip flops on and that was it; not a stitch of clothing on him; starkers! I nearly fell off my bike: it’s difficult to cycle when you’ve got your hand clasped firmly over your eyes.

It wasn’t really what I wanted to see on a Sunday afternoon cycle; I don’t know anyone who would. On looking all about me I saw lots more of these naked fiends; I saw one young guy who seemed be trying to get a sun tan on his bare bum. It reads like I was really having a good look at everyone, but I honestly wasn’t. I was trying to find anything other than them to focus on, like a nice tree or flower, but naked flesh has a habit of drawing the eye and there was vast amount of naked flesh on display because many of them, the older men in particular, had obviously eaten too many schnitzels and were proudly stroking their barrel-like bellies and letting what hung beneath enjoy the breeze.

They weren’t however, a bunch of naked deviants running around the Danube island, but had full rights to be there practising their nudity. I had unknowingly passed signs stating that I was entering the nudist zone. The signs contained three letters, FKK which I now know stand for Freikoerperkultur, in other words ‘Free Body Culture’, a naturist movement. Having just done a bit of internet research on it, not Google Images I hasten to add, I’ve found many other places in Austria for FKK followers. As well as beaches, there are campsites and hotels all complete with cafes and restaurants where you can dine in the nuddy. On some of these beaches, it is required that everyone goes naked; you can’t opt out and wear your swimsuit if you come over all shy. I’m not the only one who has found out about the FKK on the Donau Insel by accident. Most people in my German class have at some spoken about their experiences with raised eyebrows, and each time the teacher laughed in recognition of our reactions to it.

I can’t get away from naked people at the moment. At the swimming pool there have been lots of naked ladies; fair enough in the showers you might think, but the other day I was drying my hair under an over-head dryer and realised that the senior lady next to me was starkers and was drying her body under one instead of using a towel. She didn’t care that we were in a uni-sex changing room and lots of men, as well as women, as well as staff were walking about. So the last time I was there it was a welcome relief to share the showers with someone like me, still with her swimsuit on, but thinking about it now, she was probably English as well!

You now know what it means

The Donau Insel

 

 

 

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