Kiev Commonwealth of Naturists

"Naturally"   # 40


   Peter H. Dietrich

After a long wet winter spent mostly dreaming of last summer’s great odyssey with Andrii and his friends from Kiev, it was finally time to get going again after so many last-minute setbacks and dashed hopes. Andrii’s final e-mail confirmed they’d meet me at Piroska Camping on the Lake Balaton in Hungary, en route for Croatia. Our saga was about to continue.

I arrived to a very warm welcome at Piroska, with Kristina, the director, very pleased to see me again after the 2 years since the making of my Piroska video. We had a pleasant lunch catching up on each other’s news, then she showed me around the site, pointing out the new shower-block, which also has a shower for dogs, although as she told me with a laugh, it proved more popular with the kids than the dogs! 

The only thing a little worrying was the fact that Andrii and his group hadn’t shown up yet, although Kristina confirmed she was expecting them, but had no idea of what time they would arrive. So, there was nothing else to do but lie in the sun and wait. Hardly an unpleasant prospect as the Balaton waters lapped the shore and the children’s cries flew up on the light breeze.

The evening fell and I was beginning to worry seriously, as Andrii was bringing all my camping gear from Kiev, and I had nowhere to sleep. “We must wait,” said Kristina over and over, telling me how far Kiev was from Piroska, especially in a slow bus. So we waited, drank coffee, talked, and then around 8 p.m. a bus pulled up before the gates, and a beaming Andrii and 20 tired Russians and Ukrainians poured out to greet us. All was well, they had arrived, worn out and late but happy to be there and see me again as we pitched a hasty camp by the lake as darkness fell. 

It seemed nothing had changed then since our farewell last September in Kiev, and we were all soon sharing an impromptu supper and some good Hungarian wine while introducing ourselves to the new participants and renewing old contacts: Andrii, Sergei Mityushin, president of the Moscow group, Yuri and Tanya, Misha and Olga, Irena, Sonya and her son Vladik, the crab-catcher from last year’s film, another Olga and her daughter Anna, soon to become the star of this year’s film, and so many more, all so happy when Kristina lit the huge bonfire before the lake as night fell, and we all gazed at the flames and sang and dreamt of the happy times ahead of us.

We were up very early the next morning, packing up and eating a hasty breakfast before the camp was awake, as we had a long road ahead into Croatia and its many islands we hoped to visit. A hasty farewell to Kristina, who made us feel so welcome even for such a short stay, and who made us promise to return soon for a longer stay, and we were off along the lake-shore road heading towards Croatia. The bus was old but pretty solid, and if it had come all the way from Ukraine with no problems, it would surely take us through Croatia, wouldn’t it? 

The first engine troubles began just after crossing the border. Losing speed on the motorway, we just sort of crept to an ominous halt, and Vasili, our driver, buried his head under the bonnet. The first of many such stops, unfortunately, and our planned itinerary was seriously compromised then as we crawled towards our first overnight stop, planned for the naturist camp of Bunculuka on the island of Krk.  

The Croatian islands are pretty mountainous affairs, and as we wheezed and struggled up and down winding roads, someone suddenly announced they could distinctly smell burning! We all spilled out rapidly onto the roadside, and as the driver opened the bonnet a huge cloud of steam gushed out, rather as in those old Hollywood movies when cars broke down, and we all realized this was serious. Luckily, we’d stopped close to a wood-yard and a café, so we began a relay to fetch bottles of cold water, which our poor engine urgently needed to quench its seemingly unquenchable thirst. Our driver diagnosed turbine-cooling problems. Nothing serious! Well, we waited until the engine cooled down, and crept ever onwards into the rapidly falling night. Our goal was still some distance away, and all our hopes rested on the ailing bus. Would we ever get there? 

We did, but at around 1 a.m.! The reception at Bunculuka camp was closed of course, but the night watchman kindly let us pitch camp behind the offices on some waste ground, and it was good to relax at last under a clear sky and count the stars to sleep, to dream, no more nightmares of broken-down buses and hissing dragons hidden in antique engines…  

Quite a few curious holidaymakers stared at us next morning, looking as we did like some squatters’ camp! But a shower and breakfast soon got us back on form, and we spent the morning on the beach and filming a little on the rocks surrounding the camp, which is placed in a sheltered bay and was pretty busy already. It seems very popular, and caters for campers and caravans, with all amenities. We couldn’t stay long however, and we soon set off once more in our revived bus to the town of Punat, where we hired a small taxi-boat to take us to the naturist camp of Konobe. 

The boat was steered by the owner’s young son of about 12, Ivan, who seemed very pleased to show off his prowess on the boat, and also at seeing our pretty girls as they slipped out of their clothes! A nice bonus for him, perhaps? We landed at one of the camp’s jetties, and spent a pleasant hour on the beach continuing our filming and photo shoot. Again it was a pleasant campsite, catering for tents and caravans, and was pretty popular with German families. We sailed back to Punat harbor then, again under the skillful steering of our little “Captain” Ivan, and rejoined our bus to carry on our trek. 

Before leaving Krk Island for the next island of Cres, we stopped at a small naturist camp called Politin for a quick visit and to stretch our legs a little. They didn’t seem too keen on our visit, however, so we left after 10 minutes and headed to the ferry that took us across to the island of Cres. Here we drove to a campsite that was, according to Andrii, part naturist and part textile, close to the town of Cres, called Kovacine. We registered at reception and quickly commandeered a spacious site just in front of the sea, putting up our tents just in time to watch a glorious sunset – the first of many – before going off for a pizza in one of the camp’s restaurants. 

But as soon as we’d settled on the terrace, a mighty gust of wind shot in from a very turbulent sea, and it wasn’t going to cease until the following morning.  “The sirocco,” our waiter beamed, “All the way from Italy!” Well, it certainly huffed and puffed and no doubt would have blown our tents away, had we not anchored them with large stones! And then, as our waiter brought out one of our pizzas – very delicious by the way – held aloft on his tray, it suddenly took off to become a kind of tomato and mushroom bedecked flying saucer, much to everyone’s amusement, and even the poor waiter smiled while telling us in a lamenting tone: “Sorry, no pizza. It fly away!” So there we were, in the land where the pizzas fly, amused and amazed and pretty tired as the wind howled all through the night around our tents. 

Next morning, our bus and driver went off to get repaired – the bus that is, not the driver – and the bad news came back that it was impossible to do locally, so he’d had to go back to the mainland to a garage in Rijeka, and couldn’t say how long it was going to take. In other words, we were stuck there in Cres until…? Not such a bad thing really, as we all needed a rest, although the actual naturist part of the camp was rather a small section, making us an isolated group, along with a few German families, that was the object of many a curious stare as the “textiles” strolled by, giving us the feeling of being exhibits in a zoo! I soon discovered the solution: stare right back at them, making them feel very uncomfortable, and this became quite an amusing game. I can understand the kids sneaking by to have a peek at the nudes, but when it comes to adults, well, it really is a pretty sorry situation I suppose. I even toyed with the idea of filming them as they passed, but preferred to continue my naturist film of our happy group, film that advanced slowly as the days passed. 

And the days did pass, until the day dawned when we were expected in the Monsena naturist camp to participate in the 29th Alp-Adria meeting, and still our bus was out of service. Andrii decided we’d have to make our own way there using local transport, which meant an early start to catch the 6 a.m. bus to Rijeka from the town of Cres, then another bus to Rovinj in Istria, from where the camp’s minibus would collect us, baggage and all. Quite an epic voyage, loaded as we were with tents etc., but we made it all right, and got to Monsena in the early evening, where it was pretty good to move into bungalows and have a good shower and dinner, meeting up with old friends from all over Eastern Europe who’d come for this annual meeting, which I wrote about last year. 

So I won’t repeat this year what I wrote last year about this INF meeting, and about the difficulties of filming in Monsena itself, made impossible this year by the presence of hefty security men in dark glasses who pounce at the mere sight of any camera, as if making naturist films and videos really is a criminal activity not to be tolerated any longer. Why, I ask myself again? What is the problem? I still can’t see an answer, if people are truly naturists and have no hang-ups about being naked and being seen. But it is difficult to accept for professional photographers and filmmakers, and it is a question we must ask, and answer, and fight against. 

Whatever, it was good just to relax in the sun while the different delegations competed in the various sports events, even though Ukraine lost its long-coveted chess trophy this year. I still feel they all take it a little too seriously for my taste, but that’s how some people are I suppose. 

All in all, we had a great and interesting trip, despite all the mishaps, or perhaps because of them, as they helped bond us as a team, and I shan’t easily forget the pleasant days and nights spent in the company of my Russian and Ukrainian friends as we went through this saga, this adventure, together. Our bus came back the day before we were due to leave, fully repaired, and so we prepared for the journey back home. 

It poured with rain as we left, as if Croatia was shedding tears for our parting, and we drove back to Budapest in torrential rain, getting lost again as we searched for our last night’s resting place, a horse hostel on the outskirts of Budapest. We drove round in circles for a couple of hours, until at last we stumbled across it, falling into bed again at a late hour, worn out but still happy as a team. The next morning saw us part ways again, as I remained in Budapest to get my Ukrainian visa, and the others drove off without me. A few days later Andrii met me at the station in Kiev, and we began our plans for this summer’s Crimean trip, where our Odyssey will continue, but that will be another article, another adventure, another saga, and a later film, telling more of our fabulous adventures in this land where time stands still, and where beauty is a daily occurrence, so far from the rest of the madly dashing world. This saga is over, the next is yet to come…. 

Join in the fun as 21 Ukrainian and Russian naturists, along with 1 English videographer, set off from Kiev in an old bus to trek across Hungary to Croatia, visiting 6 different naturist camps on the way. Andrii, president of the KCN, leads his group through different adventures, while the unreliable bus ends up in a garage, leaving our naturists stranded at Kovacine camp. 10-year-old Anna from Moscow keeps them all smiling with her games and antics, and they eventually reach Monsena naturist camp to join in the 29th Alp-Adria sports meeting, with competitors from all over Eastern Europe. But what do they do when the camp’s security guards decree “No filming!”? Find out in this truly enjoyable film of a fascinating saga, made by the people who brought you the best-selling video-film  “CRIMEAN ODYSSEY”.
The video film of this Croatian trip is now available, one hour of beautiful impressions captured on digital video tape, so you can live with us the trip we all enjoyed so much!


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