Europe’s relaxed attitude toward nudity makes American travelers uncomfortable

While the image of a naked Rick Steves getting a rubdown in a Turkish bathhouse might be a bit TMI for many of us, the seasoned traveler, guidebook author, and travel show host makes some excellent points in a recent CNN article on Europe’s cultural tolerance for nudity.

According to Steves, who starts the piece with a flashback from a 1978 trip, “if you can leave your inhibitions at home, you can better appreciate some of the amazing experiences Europe has to offer.” Like, perhaps, ogling soapy boobies on a Belgian billboard, or admiring “sunbathing grandmothers [with] no tan lines,” in southern France. Or visiting museums.

Actually, Steves himself admits to being “uncomfortable” when confronted with all the nekkidness Europe has to offer, but he’s quick to point out that the trend is often rooted in a historical, sociological context. Turkish baths, for instance, were partly designed as a gathering place, where Muslim women could socialize, celebrate the birth of a child, or search for a suitable bride for their sons (and you think your mother-in-law is bad). And, he adds, he likes “a continent where the human body is considered a divine work of art worth admiring openly.” Cheers to that.

[Via Tribune Media Services]
[Photo credit: Flickr uses]