There's little doubt that Vera Playa is the best
seaside naturist place on the planet. But just because it's paradise
doesn't mean to say that there are no niggles - even paradise could
be improved no doubt!
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all this long page
too far? Is this Vera Council's Secret Weapon?
First there was Street View - Google's revolutionary system enabling
anyone anytime to tour distant places (or near) and see what they
would see if they went there. And when Google went to Vera Playa
in 2009 it was early in the morning and early in the year, so there
were no naked people to be seen (well, not quite actually - but
the two they did spot scuttled out of the way before the camera
car returned up Avenida Tortuga Boba [incidentally now called Calle
Tortuga Boba on Vera Council's map] past Vera Natura where they
had been enjoying breakfast on their terrace before Google's invasive
camera car came calling). When Google get around to updating their
Street View database they may well do so in July or August and then
there will be a lot of flesh around to pixellate out (or maybe leave
in? Street View usually seems only to pixellate faces - so Vera
Playa's streets could confront them with a policy decision about
Phase 2 of putting Vera Playa online is the arrival
of a live webcam (perhaps the first of many?). The location of this
first camera is at Antonio's chiringuito, near to Playa Baria 2.
It is fixed to a tall mast and seems to be wirelessly connected
and solar powered. The camera resolution is quite low so individuals
are very unlikely to be recognisable but webcams are getting better
and it will not be too long before definitions start getting better
and maybe equalling Street View's quality and other facilities such
as user controlled rotation and zooming could be introduced as has
happened with many other webcams. And live webcams will have no
pixellating out of faces to make individuals unrecognisable.
The location of this first webcam on the naturist
beach is in an area not greatly used by naturists and the definition
is low so there may not be much reaction to this world-wide surveillance?
But webcams on the beach, especially a naturist beach, do raise
all sorts of questions about privacy. Photographing naturists on
the beach without their permission is certainly verboten in the
naturist code of conduct and, at busy times, anyone doing so is
likel;y to get quite a hostile response. But there could be good
effects from the webcam in terms of spreading the word about naturism?
But what of unintended consequences? Does this live coverage of
naturism increase the risk of terrorism by religious zealots fundamentally
opposed to naturism?
What will naturists think about this? I
suggest you use the facilities of the Vera Playa Friends Forum to
make your views known. Will the webcam encourage or discourage visitors
to Vera Playa? In particular, will naturists make a point of ensuring
they are outside the field of view of the camera when they visit
the beach? And is this just the first of many? When Vera Council
erected signs illegally limiting the length of the naturist beach
the response of the more militant naturists was direct action -
so if you want to see what these webcams see don't delay too long
as they may not survive too long.
5 , 6 & 10 March 2012
To use the webcams - click
Or to go direct to the naturist beach webcam - click
To visit Vera Playa using Street View - click
Post your views on the Vera Playa Friends Forum - click
We'd just got used to car rental being really cheap again after
the post Credit Crunch hike in rates and shortage of cars when it
seems the underlying unviability of the car rental industry in Spain
is catching up with it. It seems that Auriga Crown had something
like 14,000 cars and I'm guessing they weren't the biggest. Now
in financial problems they seem likely to either scale right down
or maybe even stop operating. So suddenly, virtually overnight,
instead of a surplus of cars chasing too few renters, it will be
the other way round. There's no sign yet that availability of cars
will be as bad or prices as high as 3 or 4 years ago but if you
are booking flights you might well be sensible to get your car firmly
booked as well at the same time.
There's more and more evidence that the "headline"
rates you see on the web are only a part of the actual rental rates
you'll pay as more and more risks are being transferred out of the
"comprehensive insurance" into risks that you either have
to bear yourself or pay up to 3 to 5 per day for an
add-on insurance which the car rental company will high pressure
sell you at the collection desk. In the winter period which is just
finishing these extra charges could be as much as the actual hire
rates, which were admittedly unprecedentedly low (e.g. 60
for a fortnight).
Recently governments forced airlines to show
the bottom line prices on their websites - it's about time the car
rental firms were forced to do the same and also that the dodge
of charging your initial tank of petrol at an exorbitant cost was
also knocked on the head.
It sometimes seems the world has gone bonkers - allegedly some of
the budget airlines rely on on-board catering sales to make any
profit and car rental companies seem to rely on overcharging you
for petrol and on selling you over-priced insurance in order to
make their profits.
4 March 2012
we get the publicity we deserve?
Almost invariably, it seems, whenever there is a
TV programme about naturism what is depicted is a travesty of the
reality of family naturism as I and most other naturists know it.
Take last week, when there was a programme called something like "I
was a teenage naturist" on Channel 4. The principal character
was not a naturist and said in the programme that she didn't regard
herself as a naturist. In fact the programme featured a number of
young people who were clearly too shy or embarassed to take their
clothes off and just a couple who did seem to be what you might call
"lifestyle naturists". In this particular film none of the
participants appeared to be weird, but so often those who feature
in such programmes do seem to be somewhere near the edges of normal
The reason for this, I guess, is that most normal
naturists shy away from any publicity, not wanting their families,
non-naturist friends, work colleagues and, particularly, bosses to
know they are naturists. Entirely understandable I think because society
at large has such double standards and hyocritical attitudes that
it is a brave person indeed who takes the risk of being identified
as a naturist not knowing what effects it could have on career prospects
There are exceptions, of course, naturists who don't
lead a double life and make known to friends and family, and work
colleagues, that they are naturists. Good on them for doing so and
hopefully they won't have suffered bad consequences from "coming
out". However, even such folk tend to be reluctant to appear
on television or in magazines - or on the internet. I know from experience
how difficult it is to find naturists who are willing to have photos
of themselves on this website - and many thanks to those who have
been willing as it would be very odd indeed to have a naturist website
with no photos of naturists on it.
Many of the residents and regulars at Vera Playa
are retired folk and no longer have to fear deleterious consequences
to their careers if they admit publicly to being naturists. Mind you,
I have been surprised to learn how many naturists still keep the secret
even from their own families - indeed that is one of the reasons why
many naturists at Vera Playa don't live within the naturit zone -
either because their families don't know they are naturists or that
they fear their families wouldn't come and visit them if they lived
in the naturist area.
Anyway, I'm pleased to see that a naturist who is
quite happy to stand up and be counted (though perhaps less willing
to have a naturist photo of herself published?) has written an article
on naturism at Vera Playa for the main local English language free
newspaper - the Euro Weekly News. Hopefully Maureen Berry's
article will help non-naturists to understand what a normal lot nearly
all naturists are - and maybe at least a few will give it a go by
at least visiting the naturist beach and enjoying swimming and sun-bathing
without the nonsense of bathing costumes. Maureen's article is a highly
positive piece of PR for us all as naturists - well done Maureen.
18 January 2012
Read Maureen's article in the online Euro Weekly News (12 - 18
January edition) - click
This website has now been running for over 10 years. When I started
it in December 2001, flush with the enthusiasm of being a new property
owner at Vera Playa, I can't say I gave a moment's thought as to whether
it would still be around 10 years later. But it is. It's had its ups
and downs. But it's still here and there is more content on it than
ever. It is difficult to keep everything up to date but every page
with date sensitive information does show the date the page was last
updated and if, as is the case for some pages, that is a couple of
years ago then obviously things could have changed since. The website
is still at the top of the rankings of most search engines for searches
on "Vera Playa" - and we don't pay the search engines for
"sponsored listings", we get that high ranking on the basis
of usage, popularity etc.
Whether this website will be around in another 10 years is anyone's
guess - back in 2001 it was still not certain that the internet would
become an integral part of most people's lives. Now it is, but the
rise of different forms of internet use may well mean than in 10 years
time this sort of information website may well be as much a part of
history as the paper and drawing pin parish notice board. We'll see.
27 December 2011
out when you rent a car now - you may not be fully covered unless
you pay more!
Car rental rates during 2011 decreased from the high levels they went
up to following the Credit Crunch and winter "headline" rates this
year appear at first sight to be as low as they have been for 10 years
or so, but this is misleading. Car rental charges used to cover most
insurance risks but recently the Spanish car rental market has become
more like the American one with the car rental price only giving you
basic legal cover (3rd party, fire and theft) - and you could be lumbered
with a big bill for car repairs if things go pear-shaped. This seems
a ruse for the car rental companies to bung up the charges compared
with the advertised rate - to be sure you are fully covered will cost
you a surcharge of something like €2 to €3 per day on top of the advertised
rate. Some of the companies have a maximum of €30 or €40 for this
surcharge for longer rentals but others don't. You can take out an
annual excess policy in the UK but these policies were designed to
cover exclusions (such as glass, wheels and tyres and underside) and
there are increasing doubts as to whether an excess policy would really
cover all eventualities now that the insurance companies only build
in the legal minimum third party, fire and theft cover within the
actual rental charge. You may feel that to be on the safe side there
is little alternative than to pay the rental company's insurance surcharge.
Unfortunately, yet another added cost. And if you have a one way rental
(picking up at one airport and leaving at another - often necessary
for out of summer visits when there is less choice of flights and
airports) most companies will now charge you extra (typically 35)
- prior to 2011 one way rentals often cost no more than ordinary rentals.
27 December 2011
the new Murcia Corvera airport open in 2012?
It says quite a bit about the state of planning in Spain that one
airport which has just had a lot of money spent on it is in serious
decline in terms of flights and passenger numbers (Almeria - see below)
and another, which has recently had many millions spent on development
and passenger terminal facilities should be about to close completely
and be replaced by an entirely new airport only a matter of a few
dozen kilometres away (Murcia, San Javier).
It seems an Agreement has been signed by which the owners of Murcia,
San Javier will be compensated for their losses resulting from its
closure and the optimistic scenario is that the new Murcia, Corvera
airport will open in March 2012. The likelihood of the new airport
opening so early seems to be widely questioned and UK airline Jet2
has publicly stated that the opening should be delayed until the end
of the 2012 holiday season as it fears chaos if it opens part way
through the main busy season. Indeed you can easily imagine people
turning up at the wrong site and failing to make their flights, etc.
27 December 2011
thinks that using the new Alicante terminal is an improvement?
Anyone who has flown out of Alicante since about April 2011 will have
found themselves in what must be one of the biggest roofed spaces
in Europe - certainly the size of several mediaeval cathedrals side
by side and end on end*. The space is so vast that even with all the
technology available these days the public address system is almost
impossible to understand. The signposting is also difficult to understand
(where else do you see the numbers of check-in desks or departure
gates described in descending order - such as 50 to 20?) and in some
cases just plain wrong, meaning you end up on the wrong level or place
or on vast trecks around the seemingly never ending building. Indeed
the distances are so great that you'd better be fit to use the airport,
especially as it seems to be laid out so as to take you as far as
possible in one direction to check-in, then all the way back to go
through security, then all the way back and even a bit more to find
your departure gate (which won't be signposted at all most of that
distance). And, as at most airports these days, you are forced to
walk through a vast "Duty Free" shop (which really means
"Duty Paid" and expensive for internal EU passengers) before
you get to the departure lounges and gates. The walls of the toilets
have been beautifully clad in stunning marble (as have most of the
immense terminal building's floors) but the hand dryers are surface
mounted with exposed plugs and electrical leads going into sockets
on the wall surfaces - many of the dryers and soap dispensers have
already broken and last time I used the airport a few days ago, replacement
dryers were hung loosely at a crazy angle by just one screw.
The old Alicante terminal was large by normal reckoning, but convenient
to use and didn't require a route march either to reach the check-in
desks or to get to the departure gates (though the distances to the
gates were far enough in all conscience, but only a fraction of the
distances in the new terminal). The old terminal now stands empty
and boarded up. What the future holds for it I do not know, but I
suspect it may be planned to be demolished and replaced with something
even grander than the new terminal in 10 years time. I've read somewhere
that there is a new airport somewhere in Spain which opened some months
ago but has yet to receive a single flight. Little surprise that the
Spanish economy has some significant problems. In Britain our tendency
has been to build on bits and pieces to existing terminals at airports.
It ends up looking like a dog's breakfast but arguably it is more
27 December 2011
* Aena, operator of Alicante airport , say that in 2005 the suface
area of the terminal building was 45,800 square metres, in 2007 when
the old terminal was extended, the area became 54,800 square metres
and in 2011 when the new terminal was opened (and the old extended
terminal was completely closed down, only 4 years after the major
extension) the floor area became 335,500 square metres - more than
6 times as large. Aena say that the new terminal is designed for "more
than 20m passengers by 2010" (it didn't actually open until 2011
and the passenger numbers in 2011 were 9.9m (5.7% up on 2010). So,
a building 6 times larger than the old extended terminal but passenger
numbers up by only 5.7%. How did this project ever get authorised
to go ahead? Madness.
25 January 2012
is Almeria Airport in decline?
Despite its new departures hall which opened in 2009, Almeria airport
seems to have a steadily reducing number of flights and passenger
numbers (1.2m passengers in 2007 declining to 0.8m in 2010). BA pulled
out several years ago, Ryanair has reduced the number of airports
from which it flies to Almeria and cut out winter flights, and Monarch,
which was flying there from Luton, Manchester & Birmingham has
now axed services from two of these three places. And, in the winter,
from UK regional airports, no flights at all to Almeria. Contrast
this with 5 or 6 years ago when several airlines were flying there,
some daily, all year round. OK, yes, there has been the economic crisis,
but there are still lots of people wanting to fly to Almeria province
which has many seaside resorts and huge numbers of apartments and
villas owned by or rented for holidays by Brits. Is the airport too
expensive for the airlines to use? Does no-one really want to fly
there? A mystery! As far as we can see at present, these are the routes
from the UK to Almeria which will be operating in 2012: Easyjet
- London Gatwick to Almeria (three times per week, incl winter),
Ryanair - London Stansted to Almeria (twice weekly, no flights
in winter period), Monarch - Birmingham to Almeria (Twice a
week - April to October).
26 November 2011
8 or 9 new routes announced by Ryanair from to/from Almeria airport
could see the airline becoming the main operator at Almeria. UK visitors
will now be able to fly from both East Midlands and Liverpool airports
twice a week from late March 2012. If all the new Ryanair routes prove
successful the airline could single-handedly reverse the decline in
passenger numbers using Almeria in recent years.
4 March 2012
Idyll Continues . . .
Spring 2011 was by no means typical at Vera Playa, with unusually
unsettled weather, some rain and storms and more cloud than normal.
At least it was a good bit better than most of Spain which for 2 or
3 months seemed to be getting the weather that the British Isles normally
gets, whilst the UK was itself unusually warm and dry.
Now, however, and better late than never, the Levante area of Almeria
is enjoying the more stable weather which one expects - dawn to dusk
sun, blue skies, warm mornings, balmy evenings. Daytime highs are
in the low to middle 30s and nightime lows are in the low to middle
The beach is in great condition, most seem to agree it is the cleanest
and sandiest that anyone can remember, the sand from the north end
of the bay has built out the main length of the naturist beach to
be even deeper and the sea is now shallow for the first 30m or so,
great for kids and the olders - and the sea is wonderfuly warm at
25C and outdoor pools are as warm or warmer. Magic!
And, final bonus, this paradise is naturist. My typical start to a
day here is a 2 kms run along the promenade to Puerto Rey, a swim
in the sea , a 2 kms return walk along the seashore (with a few more
swims along the way), a chat or two on the beach and back home for
breakfast, and naturist every metre of the way. Perfection - what
could possibly be better? And that's just the start of the day. Yet
to come today: more swims in sea and pools, more walks along the seashore,
cycle rides, good food, wine and company. All followed by the sound
sleep of the virtuous (OK, the last bit might be exagerrating just
a wee bit).
(22 June 2011)
The Iceland Phenomenon - will
it melt away?
It is said that many ex-pats living in Spain are strapped for cash
these days, and UK owned businesses of every sort have felt the
draught since the property bubble burst - and many have gone to
the wall. Intermarche closed its Vera store, presumably because
it was loss-making (which will have surprised few who visited it
in its last couple of years).
And then, apparently bucking the trend, along comes Iceland (or
to be pedantic, Overseas Supermarkets, which has rights to
use the Iceland branding and sell its goods in Spain as some sort
of franchisee). And on opening day Brits (and perhaps even some
others) had come from far and wide - from Almeria and Roquetas and
beyond - a 250 kms road trip, in order to buy British frozen meals
and groceries at an inevitable mark-up (given the transportation
costs) of 25 - 40% on UK prices and where like for like comparisons
can be made, at what appears to be a substantial premium over local
Spanish supermarkets such as Mercadona (eg. 500g Flora original,
3.24 Iceland, 2.64 Mercadona)
As a phenomenon this must rank alongside Jaguar/Land Rover's ability
to raise the sales of its up-market vehicles to record levels and
make £1bn profit at a time when job security, incomes and
fuel prices are having a depressing effect on the rest of the car
industry. In other words, both phenomena are not only counter-intuitive
but are also counter to the general trends in the economy.
But when people get over the novelty will they still take 250 kms
road trips in order to pay 30% more than they could buy comparable
goods for from a Spanish supermarket? My guess is no - they may
occasionally visit to get those "can't do without" British
things (like Marmite - but does anyone actually eat Marmite? The
Danes have actually banned its sale recently). And Intermarche was
actually pretty well stocked on British foods and comforts and it
didn't save them.
Only time will tell, of course. It will be interesting to observe
(22 June 2011)
Footnote: There seems to be a significant street-crime problem
around the Iceland store - distraction thefts, muggings etc. Take
care if you decide to sample the delights of Iceland (19 July 2011)
knows the mystery of the seaweed?
Years ago, from memory, it was rare for there to be any seaweed floating
in the sea at Vera Playa. These days, there often is sea-weed and
other marine vegetation floating in the sea in the first few metres
out from the shore. Why? But before you answer, the mystery deepens:
in the mornings the sea is pretty well always weed-free but the afternoons
aren't. Why is this?
Before someone says it's down to the tides, it's worth remembering
that the small Mediterranean tides vary through the 24 hours according
to the moon's attraction - two high tides each day being an hour or
so later than the day before. So if it is due to the tides you'd expect
it to vary through the days and sometimes for there to be more seaweed
in the morning than in the afternoon. But there isn't. So why's that?
Some say that before the Tuna farms were established a few kilometres
off-shore there was never any sea-weed or other vegetation in the
sea at Vera Playa but if so how does that work?
I've yet to hear a convincing explanation, but I'd like to do so.
Do you have one? If so let us know - click here
(22 June 2011)
It is a common cry in bird-watching circles in the UK that the numbers
of song birds are decreasing, due, apparently, mainly to all sorts
of nasties which are sprayed on British fields. Sparrows, once the
commonest of birds in England have become distinctly rare.
Well I can tell those bird watchers where at least some of those birds
seem to have relocated - Vera Playa. There have been sparrows in profusion
for many years but in the past 3 or 4 years that seemingly archetypal
English songbird, the Blackbird (Turdus merula) , has not only
arrived but seems to be doing remarkably well. Three or four years
ago the evocative song of a Blackbird perched on a tv aerial or palm
tree was a surprising reminder of cooler climes. Now, in 2011, there
seems scarcely enough aerial perches for all the blackbirds seeking
to proclaim their territories and seek out a Mrs Blackbird.
Whether these immigrants hitched a ride on Ryanair or Easyjet or winged
it themselves all the way down from England to Spain is far from clear.
I'm guessing that in fact it will have been a slow southward movement
of the Blackbird's territory, so the Vera Playa Blackbirds are probably
Spanish born and bred and might even sing in Blackbird Spanish with
a Spanish accent. What is beyond doubt is that the dawn chorus at
Vera Playa is beginning to sound like the one in the Home Counties
of England, especially if you overlook the distinctly non-English
sound of the local Hoopoe (Upupa epops)
(21 June 2011)
|Latest update : 6 March 2012