To bare or not to bare?

So here’s the deal: Whenever I go to a spa in a different country, I am reminded that the most essential things are never mentioned in travel guides. We all know there is a spa etiquette – but that’s something nobody talks about, it is considered common knowledge.

Yield to nudists
Please note: It’s not a German sign! (Photo credit: mag3737)

But come on, I am German! We are famous for our habit of getting naked everywhere and constantly. Which is why when I was little, I started to undress the minute I entered the tube. When I got married, I had to promise to Mr. R. though, that I would stop this.

When you go to a German spa, everybody is naked. We sit in the sauna – naked (on our towels, of course!). We sweat in the steam room – naked. We take a dip in the pool – naked. Which can lead to peculiar situations. Like when you bump into a superior there. Next time you meet, you can always picture his weeny. Or you know that your colleague is not too keen on bikini waxes.

English: A Finnish savusauna ("smoke saun...

Yes, that’s how beautiful Scandinavian saunas are! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I mean, we are not as crazy as the Scandinavians who like to whip each other with birch bunches and run around outside after a trip to the sauna before jumping into the nearest lake. Yeah, how is that for weird?

But especially my fellow Germans from the “new German Laender”. (Funny thing, we still call the Eastern German states “new”. The wall came down in 1989. If anyone still owns a car from that year, I am pretty sure that he or she doesn’t call it new anymore.) But that’s beside the point. People in Eastern Germany like to go to nudist beaches. Maybe because that was where they actually felt free. I personally don’t see any advantage in playing beach volleyball naked. (Not that I would know how to play.) Or in preparing dinner naked. I like to wear bikinis on the beach, and I prefer to see other people wearing swimwear, too, because let’s face it: Not all Germans look like Heidi Klum or… Is there a sexy German male??? There must be, but I cannot think of any.


(photo credit: Kaptain Kobold)

Well, so there I am. A child of naked culture. In the US I learned very fast that you better don’t get naked. All those movies must be pure propaganda, I have never met so many prudes as in the States. In Croatia my dear friend Miss K. and I encountered a whole nudist society which totally freaked me out. In Canada I saw nude bikers – not a pretty sight, but I don’t think (nor hope) they are representative for Canadians. People seemed to keep the clothes on most of the times, thank heavens.


So how about Mexico? Ever since I went to the spa the first time, I was mostly either alone or surrounded by swimsuits wearing Americans. I have no idea about Mexican spa culture. And our travel guides cover everything from “business hours” to “water”, but nothing about spas. Even online I couldn’t find anything apart from the fact that in Guatemala “everything goes”. It’s time somebody sheds light on the dark to help us poor confused naked Germans!



13 thoughts on “To bare or not to bare?

  1. I can’t comment on spa culture but at the gyms/health clubs in China, Chinese women will get naked immediately – it took me by surprise at the openness of locker rooms coming from the “prudish American side” but I think I’m a little more open now.

    • I guess that the guidelines in a gym are the same as in a spa. I remember the locker rooms in German gyms, and they seem as open as the Chinese ones. But I had no idea that the Chinese like to get naked so quickly! That’s interesting! Would have surprised me, too. 🙂 Thanks for your comment!

  2. Pingback: Getting naked with the Germans « scottishnomad

  3. Pingback: Expat Adventures: A Visit to the Doctor | Expatially Mexico

  4. LOL! I’m German and I’ve NEVER gotten naked in any kind of communal situation in the 20 years that I spent living there. Nor do I have friends or acquaintances who were/are into that kind of thing. The first time I took all my clothes off in public was in the US, in a thermal springs resort at the foot of the Sangre de Christo Mountains in southern Colorado. Go figure 😉

    • Are you sure, you are German? 😉
      Somebody had told me that Mexicans are more open-minded than Americans, so I took it all off and went under the shower – not knowing that there would be a site inspection that day. I did feel kind of awkward standing there bare naked in front of all those (dressed) people… No more naked showers in public for me unless I am in Germany or Scandinavia!

  5. Pingback: Getting naked with the Germans |

  6. Really funny! We lived in Germany 14 years ago and I have heard about your spas! I stayed away. Guess since I grew up American and ran around barefoot as a child. (Germans probably do not do that, but probably because it is so cold there). An American guy we knew had a German girlfriend and when they went to the pool he said every time he thought someone was looking at his girlfriend he wanted to punch them!

    • Yeah, a lot of women like to hang out by the pool topless. I’m not a big fan of that… Which makes it even weirder that I don’t mind running around naked when I am at a spa!
      And yes, we do run around barefoot in summer in the country. Nothing like the feeling of soft grass against your soles, is there? (Now I am a flip flop girl in Mexico who gets blisters every time I try to put on decent shoes…)
      Thanks for stopping by! Love your blog!

      • Your welcome, it was a pleasure reading your post! My husband was born and raised in Tapachula, Mexico. He is a US citizen now and we live in Doha, Qatar. You would be shocked to know how big the Mexican community is here along with other Latin cultures. Enjoy your time in Mexico.

      • In Tapachula, Chiapas? We spent our one week vacation in Chiapas, and I loved it! This part of Mexico, Riviera Maya, is beautiful for a holiday, but living here is a bit dull…
        Ha, so at least your husband still gets to talk Spanish then from time to time! 🙂

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