All of the days – a little reflection

GRANDMA! Hi! I love you! But please don’t read this! It’s not very nice… And I’d really prefer it if you didn’t… I’ll be posting another entry tomorrow that will be full of the usual travel magic! xx

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Okay, a little detour before I wrap this trip up with the gushing, inspired post it deserves. There’s something else I want to share first, separate from the rest. A little truth bomb, if you will. So here goes…

Traveling as a single woman is hard. There have been times when I’ve felt nothing less than violated and objectified by men who seem to think I’m fair game, just because I’m on my own. Right from the get go, I had to develop a thick skin and strong diversion tactics. Some of you have heard the stories… There was the time in Amsterdam when a guy sat opposite me at Museumplein, stuck his tongue down my throat and promised he wouldn’t cum on my face if I gave him a blow job in the public toilet. There was the time at the Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland when the married middle-aged American guy yelled, “Christ, I wish I’d met you in high school,” before grabbing me around the waist, pulling me in towards him and asking his pal to take a photo of his “new girlfriend”. Or the time in Berlin when the barista had to interfere (three times) and ask the drunken, slurring German man to leave, when he kept getting a little too close for comfort, ignoring my far-from-subtle rebuffs as I was just trying to drink my coffee, read my book. (It was 11am on a Tuesday morning.)

I have stories like these from just about every city I’ve visited. I know I’ve joked before about wanting to be chased down the street by a gorgeous Italian man, but it’s actually not that fun when it really happens. There have been times over the last few months when I’ve found myself dressing down, making less of an effort, buying bigger coats to hide under. I hate that. I shouldn’t be made to feel responsible for the actions of men who can’t control themselves.

I don’t even know why I’m sharing this. I never wanted to use this blog as a platform for feminist rants. But I’m typing this into my phone as I walk through Paris after having just brushed off another handsy Frenchman, and it started writing itself in my head.

I’ve read a lot of articles and blogs about solo female travel, and while they all urge caution, they’re overwhelmingly about female empowerment and independence. Which, don’t get me wrong, is fantastic and wonderful and something I’m proud to say I’ve fully embraced. But I’ve never read anything like this. And I can’t be the only one experiencing it, as much as it angers me to acknowledge that.

It really, really bothers me that so many of my travel anecdotes are about my uncomfortable encounters with men. They’re not exactly the uplifting tales I’d been hoping for.

Of course, I’d be lying if I said the bad outweighed the good. I’ve met some incredible men on this trip, who I’ve made real connections and incredible memories with. But life isn’t Mills & Boon, and there’s no point pretending it is. That isn’t helping anyone. I’ve been called out by a few people for the way I sugarcoat things. For only sharing the highlights reel. I’m an optimist and a little idealistic, but I’m also an expert at pretending everything is fine, when really it’s not, and I’m trying to break that habit. So this is me sharing a little of the not-so-good. Writing it down and throwing it out there, for whatever it’s worth.

And now that’s out of the way, it’s time to celebrate and raise a glass of something French to this incredible adventure. It’s been nothing short of epic. More to come tomorrow…

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