This weekend, my friend Ineke and I decided to head for the beach. I’ve been to the Poblenou strip many times since moving to Barcelona. It’s usually been in the evening with the sun about to set though – keeps my ghostly complexion in tact, you know (just kidding… well… sort of!).
On this particular occasion, however, we decided to go visit the beach on a Saturday. It was around 4pm, the sun was shining. We were pleasantly full after a hearty home-cooked lunch and headed to the ‘Platja de la Mar Bella’. It’s the beach just to the left off the Rambla del Poblenou.
Sunscreen applied, smiles on our faces and towel ready, we strolled towards the waterfront hoping to find a good spot to sit. The sun shining brighter than ever and the days getting warmer, it seems we weren’t alone with that thought. There were already a good number of other people camped out.
As we sidled our way through the masses, we started noticing something rather peculiar. Either an awful lot of people had lost their clothes in the waves… or we had landed on a nudist beach!
Walking in a nudist wonderland
Ineke and I were fascinated. There is no other way to describe us at that moment. Ineke being from a small village in the Netherlands, and myself having lived through a pretty strict and regimented childhood (where clothing was never ‘optional’), we were giggling like naughty schoolgirls!
Naked people were everywhere and in all shapes, sizes and colours. There was the naked old man lying spreadeagled in front of us. Then there was the group of young men looking ever so buff to our right. There were the two ladies lying topless to the left and then, of course, you still had the speedo, swim shorts, bikini, tankini and cut-out one piece wearing crowd sprinkled around.
We finally found a spot not too far away from a set of showers and laid our towel down. As we viewed our surroundings, another detail caught our eye. There seemed to be an awful lot of good looking and extremely well toned men around. In fact, down the entire strip nearby, I’d be surprised if there were more than 10 girls present. It turns out we had walked not only onto a nudist beach, but a gay nudist beach at that – que sorpresa!
Side note on Barcelona’s liberalism
I have to say I’ve been pleasantly surprised by see how liberal Barcelona city, in general, is. They have openly gay districts like L’Eixample and Gràcia. I’ve also seen plenty of open PDA (public displays of affection) from both same sex and opposite sex couples.
Add to that, the numerous political campaigns that take place on a regular basis, supporting the likes of the Women’s Rights and Catalonia Independence movements, and you have a dynamic city indeed!
I’ve lived in Amsterdam before, so really living in a liberal city shouldn’t come as a surprise to me. Yet somehow, I feel like this felt different. Perhaps it’s because Spain, as a whole, seems to have a reputation of still being somewhat traditional. I somehow expected rather antiquated views to come along with that as well. Just goes to show you really need to land in a place first, before you make up your mind on it!
Back to the beach…
Anyways, back to Platja de la Mar Bella (That name is Catalan by the way). I must say Ineke and I really enjoyed our time at the beach. We spent a good 4 hours there with many laughs ringing as we talked about everything under the moon, including work, life, what it’s like living overseas and, of course, a firm favourite – love! 😉
It wasn’t too packed yet, though I imagine at the peak of summer it will be. The sand was beautiful – not too rough on the feet and, due to the litter bins everywhere pretty, clean too.
The water seemed to still be a little bit cold, so we didn’t dare go in. However, we did see a couple of people take the plunge and come out without looking any worse for wear.
There were public toilets and showers available nearby, which I am sure will prove super useful once we take a dive ourselves. I didn’t see any water fountains or stands nearby, but there were a few beach bars present. They looked like they could great places to relax away from the sun another day.
One in particular, was called the Chiringuito BeGay beach bar and was located a little further down from where we were sitting. As we walked past it on the way home, Ineke and I started laughing.
I suppose if we had seen it on our way TO the beach, we would have known exactly what we were walking into from the beginning. Isn’t that half the fun of exploring a new place though? You just never know what you will run into on any given day, do you?! 😉