Women Travelers: 2005
Is it safe for a woman to travel alone in Europe? What are some of the challenges you've faced and how have you dealt with them? Are there places women should not travel alone? How do you stay safe?
I traveled to Turkey 5 years ago and had no problems at all. My experiences were very similar to those of others who posted here. A wonderful place. Am looking for someone who has traveled to northeastern Turkey and along the Black Sea recently. Am planning to go there this year. Would like to ask questions.
USA Fri 12/30/2005
Red Hair &
As a red-headed long-time traveler through Europe, I've found my red hair serves as a great conversation starter. I've never felt discriminated against. In Italy it did give me the odd persistent gentleman admirer, but I found that a firm "Basta! (Enough!)" sent the right signal.
Englewood, CO USA Wed 12/28/2005
To Whitney re: red hair
Hi Whitney - I also have red hair and have traveled to Prague, London and Copenhagen this past year without any incidents or even any comments about my hair color. I think someone was probably pulling your leg. Happy Travels!
Rochester, NY USA Wed 12/28/2005
Are Red Heads Discriminated Against?
I don't really know if this is the right board to post this, but I wanted to try it anyway. I have heard from many people and also on some websites that people with red hair are discriminated against and treated really unfairly and rude in some European countries (IE France). As a 20 yr old female with red hair, I wanted to see if this was true. I visited the UK and found nothing but complements (and was often even mistaken for a local, especially in Ireland). If anyone knows anything about this please let me know!!
SLC, UT USA Tue 12/27/2005
Turkey is safe for single women
I spent two months in Istanbul this past summer; this was my third time in Turkey. I have blonde/red hair and blue eyes, am 21, and pretty (according to my mother). At no time while I was there did I feel physically in danger. The men are persistent, especially in the touristy areas (Sultanahmet, and Taksim to a certain extent). I found that the best method for dealing with the catcalls, etc. is to simply ignore it. Pretend you don't understand what they're saying. Don't make eye contact with males when you walk down the street (sunglasses are useful, because then you can look at whatever you want). Sultanahmet is actually a more conservative district of the city, so it may help to dress conservatively, but you will probably stand out as a foreigner anyway. Ignore the looks, noises, and offers to marry you for camels or carpets. Istanbul is an amazing city with an amazing history. Turkey in general is a beautiful country with a rich history, and in general, the people are very warm and kind. Just use common sense, and you should be fine. I loved Istanbul so much that I hope to move there when I graduate from university.
BC Canada Mon 12/19/2005
You Can Do It!
I was just surfing the site and stopped to read some of the advice from past travelers. I backpacked through Europe for 3 months this past summer, on my own and as a young female (recent college grad.) To be honest, any female can do it! Yes, you will be asked a hundred times if you speak the native language (the usual "pick-up line") or if you want to eat food with a group of men. Yes, every Italian on the planet will shout "Ciao Bella" at you. Yes, you will have at least one aggressive male approach you.
BUT.....these are the men that pray around the tourist sites. They are just trying to see if the 100th woman they ask will actually say yes. If you say no, 99.99% of the time the guy will walk away smiling. You grow used to it. If you take it all with a grain of salt, you will grow accustomed to it and actually enjoy the 2 minute conversations. Sometimes, I was just impressed at the number of languages these guys speak or the guts it took to go up to woman after woman and get rejected over and over again. MOST guys are harmless. Seriously, use your intution. If you are young, buddy up with people at your hostels. I rarely ate alone or went out at night alone. You make friends. Backpackers are great people.
Also, before I left on my trip, I armed myself with the fake wedding ring. However, I never used it once. If you can survive the men at "meat-market" city bars on a crowded Saturday night, Europe will be a piece of cake.
Plus....upon returning home, when I walk down the street in my city, every once and awhile I get nostaglic for a good "ciao bella" when I'm in my big sweats with no make-up during one my bloated days of the month. =)
Chicago, USA Mon 12/19/2005
dealing with foreign men
I've been reading a lot of these posts and have this to offer: As much as you may get harassed by men in foreign countries, you are ALMOST NEVER actually in danger, in my experience. I lived in Italy for 6 months and traveled many other places, and as an attractive, 21 year old blonde American, got lots of unwanted attention. I found, however, that it was almost always the men just to get a rise out of you, or joking with their buddies. Not once was I in a situation that was actually threatening-- I learned to just ignore or laugh off advances. Obviously, be careful as you would anywhere, but I definitely do not think that the "dangers" of dealing with foreign men should be a deterrent to going anywhere.
ps--from experience, blondes DO get harassed much more (dyed my hair brown partway through, big difference!) and Americans get more than other Europeans. Even the beautiful, platinum blonde scandinavian girls got harassed much less than we did. Many foreigners think Americans are easy!
USA Mon 12/12/2005
Although not pregnant, I am really careful about eating away from home. I was in Italy for 5 whole weeks with nary a problem. I always drank bottled water, although used the hotel/hostels' tap water for teeth brushing. I avoided raw foods, even salads, although others here might disagree. The pasta is of course divine and the pizza, too! And the gelato! Etc. The only difference I overtly noticed was food handling- in bakeries the counter people did not use those tissue squares, ditto with the ice cream cones from stores or carts, so I ordered cups of it instead. As a vegetarian, the seafood is a question hopefully another poster here can help you with. Have a fabulous trip!
Portland, USA Mon 12/12/2005
Traveling to Italy -6 months pregnant
My husband and I are exciting to be planning a trip to Italy in March 2006, but I'll be 6 months pregnant. Any advice for what to eat and avoid..and how to ask if it's safe in Italy?
Burbank, CA USA Sat 12/03/2005
Another helpful website for women travelling solo
I did some of my research for my July 2005 trip on the Journeywoman.com website. This site has excellent information about all aspects of women travelling, including appropriate clothing, helpful hints on accommodation, dining and sightseeing.
Ontario Canada Sat 11/19/2005
Young and Solo in France
I was on an overseas assignment for work in June 2005. While working in France (I am an auditor so I work about 10 hours a day or so) I get back to my hotel at night. Since I do not like room service, I always hopped on the M1 (I stayed in the La Defense area) and would get off at Franklin D. Roosevelt stop to get dinner on the Champs-Elysees. I would be out til 11PM alone and often walked the streets at night. I sometimes would go off to different stops and make changes in the metro stations, sometimes getting lost. I swear, someone must have been looking after me because I sometimes found myself in places that were not suitalble for women travellers alone.
I was not pickpocketed the whole time in France. I always carried a backpack and took the metro. What I find that is helpful is that I use a carabinger as a lock on my backpack. I have a JanSport backpack (I am a grad student so I used my daily backpack as a daypack) and would put my wallet in one of the zippered pockets and lock it with the carabinger. I figured that by the time someone would try to unlock the carabinger, I would find out and turn around.
I do have some tips for using the Metro in Paris. During busy times where there are no seats, be careful of men who might stand so close to you and start rubbing themselves against you. This happened to me once. I was sitting on a seat and a guy came up next to me and held onto the pole. I then felt his weight against my leg and arm as he was rubbing up and down on me. I was shocked and ran out at the next stop.
Another incident I had was with two French guys. They turned out harmless, but you never know. They gave me a tour of the Eiffel Tower and then we departed. However, many times I would visit the Eiffel Tower at night alone and there would always be a guy grabbing my hand and wanting to take me on a tour. So be careful, some guys may take you on a different tour.
I think it is safe to travel alone as a woman in Europe. This was my first experience overseas and I am quite young (I just turned 24).
I used to shop alot on the weekends and my hands would be full of shopping bags from different upscale stores. I would take the Metro back to my hotel. Not a wise decision, but I think it is how you carry yourself. I walked confidently, and made eye contact with people.
Houston, TX USA Sat 11/19/2005
Paris and London travel solo
For my 50th birthday celebration, I travelled solo to France and England in July 2005, first alone, then with the RS Heart of France tour, then solo to London. I enjoyed every minute of it and would recommend it to anyone. I read the hints on the RS graffiti page, reserved recommended hotels ahead,as well as Eurostar train tickets in advance. When in London, I made theatre and tour reservations. I stayed at the Limetree Hotel in London, close to Victoria Train Station, near the West End theatre district. Last minute theatre tickets can be purchased at a reasonable prices,I saw Chicago and Saturday Night Live. I arranged a day tour of Stonehenge, Bath and Salisbury Cathedral which left from Victoria Station. Due to the attempted bombings in London at the time, the Underground lines were often closed, but many of the bus lines and the black taxis were always available.
Canada Fri 11/18/2005
Solo in Italy for two weeks
I was in Italy early September... Rome, Naples, Capri, Ischia. I felt safe and welcome everywhere I went in Rome. In Naples I stayed in at night as it is a bit rough around the edges. The place I felt the most uncomfortable was Capri. It is extremely beautiful but the people in the stores are rude and the waiters were not friendly to me in the main piazza restaurants. I was told that the men are very sexist and do not understand a woman travelling alone. Tough! I enjoyed Anacapri a lot more. Ischia is a great, mellow spa island... loved it! I loved the adventure of travelling alone and will do it again some day (skipping Capri).
San Francisco, CA USA Thu 11/17/2005
I usually travel alone, but found myself feeling a bit like a duck out of water (actually IN OVER MY HEAD) in Barcelona. Reason: constant rains and flooding during my entire stay. So I did what any woman would do in that situation and headed for the nearest "gay-friendly" bar. (Clarification: I'm a straight 50-ish woman.) I met so many friendly and wonderful people there...it became my place to hide out during the "pluges" or floods. Add note: on the night of my arrival the taxi driver actually went door to door in the street where I was to meet my "greeter" for the apt I had rented...for almost twenty minutes...until he found out where I needed to be, all with great concern for my welfare. (Rick, you were definitely right about the great taxi drivers of Barcelona.) So, my advice would be, when feeling lonely or a bit out of your element...check out that "gay friendly" bar. There are a lot of young and helpful "sons" and "daughters" there. MEA in OAK
Oakland, CA USA Sat 11/12/2005
Turkey - Solo woman traveler
I have been traveling to Europe on my own for years and I have always tried to blend in as much as possible using guidebooks as a source of information and learning some of the language. When I went to Turkey this past summer on my own, I did the same. I dressed modestly wearing long sleeved blouses and pants or jeans each day. (I tried to find the lightest fabrics possible!!) I ignored the persistent requests from men to have tea, to visit their carpet stores, catcalls, etc... Even if I was sitting in the arbor next to the Blue Mosque writing postcards, men still approached me and asked to be my boyfriend, have tea and visit the carpet shop. But if you are firm by telling them you are not interested and then walk away most will get it. I had one guy in Istanbul follow me so much that I bought a ticket to the underground cistern to get rid of him!! But I didn't let it affect the rest of my trip. Some of these men are persistent for economic reasons. They've even asked me "How can I help you spend your money?" You just have to prepare yourself for the possibility of men in the touristy areas to be very forward. If you do fall for a guy in Turkey, leave it as a holiday romance or inform yourself. Some have a rather biased view of women tourists. The following MSN boards will help you in that regard: email@example.com or www.egotm.com
Forewarned is forearmed.
Turkey is a wonderful place and it is safe. Use your common sense. I went with no expectations and came back educated (as much as I could within a three week period) about the culture and the people. As with all vacations, it was too short. I would definitely go back to visit other parts.
USA Fri 11/11/2005
Women travel in Italy
Information for women traveling to Italy. This company specializes in women and their travel needs:
like free roomservice, woman's magazines by arrival, slow food breakfast à la carte, free bikes, discount in our fitnesscentre etc.
USA Fri 11/11/2005
Safe with comment sense
I've traveled in Europe several times by myself. I felt the safest in the Scandinavian countries. I've also traveled in Spain, Italy, Czech Republic and Hungary alone. I tend to dress conservatively, so I had no problems. The tour guide in Budapest said it's very safe for women, even at night. I did learn the hard way in Rome when I was pickpocketed. It's not the poor people, it's the nice, well to do people that are the pickpockets. When I realized it, I was mad, but I was also amazed at how good they were since the purse was under my jacket. Hide your money, and good luck in getting rid of the persistent foreign men. The Italians I found to be very persistent when they approach women.
Seattle, WA USA Tue 11/08/2005
England is Safer than the US.
I spent three weeks alone in England in September and never had a problem. Even in London I never felt unsafe (my hotel was in the Kensington Gardens area). There were always so many people around, even in the Tube, until very late at night. Trust your gut, as a previous poster said.
Plainfield, VT USA Fri 11/04/2005
Turkey is safe for solo female travelers
Turkey was wonderful, safe even in the more rural areas. I went to Safranbalu alone(preserved site/village where Turks vacation). Hired my own interpreter (25 dollars US for all day) in that town via the hotel b/c NO one spoke english! Stayed in Istanbul (the Hotel Nena - fantastic!) and in Ankara. Took a day trip to the trogolodyte cities of Cappadocia. What a great country - will go back with my sister next year! Just use your head when traveling, no late nite wandering alone, ignore catcalls and carpetsellers... it is a lovely country with gracious, welcoming people.
Chicago, IL USA Thu 10/27/2005
I was in Turkey for two months during the summer of 2004. If you use common sense, follow your intuition and don't spend time in remote areas you don't have much to worry about. Some men may be forward/vocal, but if you ignore them and keep walking they'll pretty much leave you alone. Turkey is an absolutely amazing country with so much to see, do and eat and I would go back again alone in a heartbeat. If you want any info on places to go/shop/sleep/see I'd be happy to give some reccomendations.
New York, NY USA Sun 10/23/2005
i went to turkey earlier this spring on a school trip. i know it's different circumstances but the men are definetely very foward, one of my classmates was offered camels in exchange for her. if you are traveling by yourself it will definitely be more dangerous and you will have to be way more cautious. follow common sense, stay in well lit areas and maybe stick to your hotel after dark. i would suggest maybe finding someone who can do things with so you aren't be yourself all the time(even though that does take out some of the alone experience). that would've had to have been an extreme experience if you had to stay in your hotel room for days. the turks just come on very strong compared to north american culture, most of them will be fine people, just like at home, it's just a cultural thing that they have been brought up with. but a little bit of forward men and "danger"(not really danger but just the need for caution) shouldn't keep you from traveling. i am always extremely disappointed if people tell me that. places are always going to be dangerous, we are never going to have a completely safe world where you can wonder freely from one country to another, it won't happen. be cautious, know your boundaries, and prepare yourself. a few forward men shouldn't keep you from traveling
pg, bc Canada Sun 10/16/2005
I am confused? I backpacked through Europe (UK,France, Italy, Spain etc..) alone a few years ago and totally felt safe. I will be going to Istanbul for 3/4 days alone. Is it safe or should I cancel this portion of my trip. Some women on this board say it is completely safe and others say they were trapped in their hotel rooms. Who do I believe.
Los Angeles, CA USA Sat 10/15/2005
Hello fellow women travelers. I just got back from Paris where I and another lady took on this beautiful city. We are both quite independent and took off in separate directions after our first day and then would meet up at night. Although I did turn a few heads (being an unacommpained woman) I think that it is becoming more frequent. I saw several women traveling alone and made a point of conversing with them. However, the same common sense rules apply about after hours and night time travel. Don't put yourself in harms way and stay in lighted sections. I would love to see more women heading out solo and having a grand time of it. By the way, my traveling companion frequently travels Europe alone and was very inspirational.
Lower Lake, CA USA Mon 10/03/2005
When in Rome...
I first went to Rome as a solo female traveler some 25 years ago, and I have to say, I didn't enjoy the experience at all. As it happened, Rome was sweltering in a heat wave and everywhere I went there were aggressive, bottom-pinching men. I couldn't wait to get out at the time, and the rest of my backpakcing-through-Europe experience was much easier and more pleasant.
Last summer I returned to Rome for the second time, this time with my 20 year old daughter. What a different experience--Rome was everything I had hoped it would be 25 years ago and the Roman men we met were charming and courteous. I told my daughter how much had changed in Rome since my last trip. "Actually, Mom," she said, "there were still plenty of pinchy guys. They just weren't pinching you!"
USA Sun 10/02/2005
No problems in Ireland
I am 21 (was 20 in June when I went) and I went to Ireland and felt very safe exploring by myself. In fact, I felt safer wandering around Dublin's south side than I do walking around San Francisco.
My cabbie did tell me to keep out of a lot of the northern side of Dublin. I did go up to the northern side of the Liffey for St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral, but follow his advice and didn't explore anymore of that side of the river.
Ireland does not seem to have the issues of men making advances like they do in Italy. I felt that men were just as respectful, if not more, to me as they are here in the States.
CA USA Tue 09/27/2005
Single Woman in Turkey
To the woman who didn't have a good time (alone) in Turkey regarding your posting on the log here... I traveled to Turkey, alone, last year, and then met up with Rick Steve's tour group, and I had a fabulous time. Went out after dark alone, and woke up early to see the first call to prayer at the mosque at dawn, and NEVER did I feel unsafe even around the Turkish men. They were very polite, and very helpful. Yes, you must be careful with whom you give your trust to, BUT, be smart, and DON'T stereotype "Turkish men" and how they behave towards Western single women. I travel alone, often, and always trust my gut, and luckily I haven't had any bad situations. I hope you make it back to Turkey someday and give the people a chance.
Seattle, WA USA Sun 09/18/2005
Random & Peggy
I must be getting crabby in my "old age"! My first reaction to Random was; get on the web and check it out lazy-bones! And, my first reaction to Peggy was: in the present political climate what female blithering idiot would even WANT to go to Istanbul? Hang on - I'm about to eat my words - I recalled my first trip to Europe over thirty years ago. My sister & I were out clubbing in London to the wee hours. Back then the tube shut down at like 9 or ten p.m Ridiculas!! Consequently, there we were, stranded, miles from our hotel and not enough $ for a cab. Lo and behold a cab pulled up with three "playboy" types who said; (I kid you not) "Can we save two beautiful damsels in distress"?!?! Of course, we said yes. (DUMB AS BUNNIES WE WERE!) God must have seen us, because the cab driver asked our hotel address, drove there first, made us get out, telling the "chaps" that they were paying for the privelage of having "two great looking birds" sitting on their laps! Waited to pull off until we were inside and then took off with the "chaps" howling about the fare!! What a sweetheart that cabbie was. I have a sneaking suspision he had a daughter or two at home. Moral of this epistle: think, be careful, stay aware of the world political clime, and don't expect others to do for you - do for yourself!! And Have FUN!!! Thanks for the memories!!
FL USA Sun 09/18/2005
I am a 22 yr old student studying in Cordoba, Spain and have been here for 2 weeks. In my first week, having to get to school on my own, I got lost during the first couple days. Whenever I got lost, I asked any local, and they were always very nice and willing to help me find my way. I guess this is because Cordoba's not a very big city. When I traveled to Seville ( a relatively bigger city) this past weekend, I realized that it is very true what they say about eye contact w/men. At the end of the day, my girlfriends and I were walking toward the train station when we saw a group of men dressed in costumes (superman, frog, etc...)on the other side of the street. We thought it was funny and looked at them and all of a sudden they crossed the street and started walking rapidly toward us. They continued to follow us which made us scared but they ended up flashing us their hairy pimply butts and their frontals. Even in Cordoba, my girlfriends and I have been mooned before in public by a group of Spanish guys. Guys seem to be way more aggressive in Spain than in the States. You shouldn't let these things bother you. I just laugh it off. They're so minor when compared to the awesome experiences that I have had so far had in Spain (or the places you'll travel in Europe).
Los Angeles, CA USA Sun 09/18/2005
women in the Middle East
For Peggy- your situation sounds really stressful and hopefully you will have moved on by now. But I think it emphasizes the importance of researching/remembering that when traveling in other countries part of the reason is to experience other cultures, both for good and for bad and bring that back with you. If nothing else when you come home you will have much greater sympathy for what women have to endure on a daily basis in some places in the world- at least you CAN leave! Not to sound critical, but just looking for a silver lining until you can get somewhere you feel more safe. Thanks for sharing! When I traveled to Sicily with my attractive blonde daughter I could tell that if she hadn't been with her old mom :) as a deterrent several times men would've been a lot more persistent. On a tour boat, it got cold at night and as my dark- haired daughter and I sat shivering SHE was offered all sorts of jackets by the crew!
USA Tue 09/13/2005
Women traveling in Istanbul
I am sitting in Istanbul, Turkey right now and I am a prisoner to the hotel I am staying in. I tr?ed to leave, go down the street to brouse the area but there are at least 12 to 1 female out at 8 am and 8pm. They are intimidating, conning, and lustful. I have been traveling for about a month and have seen London, Rome, Athens, Santorini and have been fine by myself. I do not scare easily but this is not a safe place for women on their own. Tip: hire a large male to come with you, if you hire one here they will probably rob you, rape you and then want a tip. Sorry to be so negative but I am very angry about this situation. I will never come here again.
Tulsa, Oklahoma USA Mon 09/12/2005
Solo in London
I am a 20 year old college student, and I spent two days alone in London this summer a couple weeks after the attacks. I stayed in B & B Belgravia in Belgravia, a couple blocks from Victoria station. I felt safe the entire time I was there. There are plenty of people around, and a lot of people also on their own, so I didn't feel uncomfortable. Since I felt slightly awkward eating out on my own, I would pick up food from the Sainbury's located in Victoria station and bring it to my B & B to have for dinner. I spent the majority of my time walking around London and shopping. Buckingham Palace is close to this area, and it's a great place to go and see the changing of the guard. As someone who never traveled alone before, I had a wonderful time solo in London. Granted it was only two days, but it's great to have the sense of freedom and the chance to do whatever you want when you want without having to compromise and see what others want to see as well.
Chicago, IL USA Wed 09/07/2005
I've traveled alone throughout Europe and the US, and the biggest challenge for me in Europe has been eating in restaurants. I think it's because here is the US we eat to live, and in many parts of Europe they live to eat! The pace of meals (the three hour dinner) can be uncomfortable for a solo diner.I also found a few places (in France and Spain, mostly) where I felt unwelcome as a solo woman diner, and occasionally was told that there were not tables available when clearly there were. (Perhaps the profit margin on a single diner table is insufficient?)
I always try to eat early (when the restaurant is less busy and less likely to begrudge a table) and tip generously by local standards since waiting on one isn't really twice as easy as waiting on two. I also generally bring a book along for company. Italy and Ireland are the two places where I found other diners spontaneously were friendly and made contact with my when eating alone. Perhaps my experience is different than some because of my age--I'm nearing sixty, so flirtacious waiters are, regrettably, not part of my dining-alone experience.
USA Sun 09/04/2005
Women Traveling Alone
I traveled alone to England last November. I spent time in London and also in a small town near Bury St. Edmunds. I have to admit, when I first boarded the plane, all I could think was "oh, sh***. What am I doing?" But as soon as we flew over the Heathrow airport and I saw the cars driving on the left side of the road, my fear turned to excitement.
I am 21 (was 20 when this trip happened) and I have never been on any long distance trip without a companion or family member, so this was a gargantuan step for me.
I stayed in a bed and breakfast near the British Museum. An ideal location, I thought, because it was still a very active location and well-connected by bus lines, etc. to the main areas, but far enough away from the River Thames that it was less touristy and less expensive. I HIGHLY recommend staying in a bed and breakfast to a hotel - first, it's cheaper. Second, they are almost all familiy run, so you will get a nice atmosphere and feeling in the place, and third, the people who run them are friendly and offer the best suggestions and conversations you could ever wish for. (And the breakfasts are authentic and delicious, non of that hotel continental, individually-wrapped stuff.
Anyway, I did all the touristy stuff (visit the famous sites - British Museum, Tower of London, National Gallery, Big Ben, etc.) I was completely the country bumpkin in the big city - and loved every minute of it. Sure, I got hit on a few times, invited to the pubs after hours, and whistled at - that happens in the US, too, you know - and this was ENGLAND! I just played it smart and didn't let it get to me; if I didn't like the way a conversation was going, I ended it, or didn't even start it at all.
I think the major problem with Americans is we are a sheltered community - closed off to different ideas and ways of life. Because of this, we become frightened of what we do not know. We have heard all these awful stories of women traveling alone, and so we decide not to do it. I say research the place you are traveling first - some places are dangerous for anyone to travel. But then do it - after you have come to the conclusion that an area is safe for a woman to travel alone, just do it. I'm not saying let all your fears go, that's our way of staying safe. I think every woman should travel alone in her lifetime - it's an empowering and uplifting feeling.
I wish I had more time and more money to travel - I am trying to save for a European trip after my graduation; I'll start in the east and work my way west. For now, I have to watch all the public television travel shows and plot out everywhere I want to go (which will be far too many places and far too much money, but I can dream.)
Salt Lake City, UT USA Wed 08/31/2005
I felt that in Italian cities such as Florence, it is wise not to make prolonged eye contact with the men. If you need help with directions, it would be wise to ask a woman. This is just a bit of advice and I don't mean to offend anyone. :)
Seattle, wa USA Wed 08/24/2005
Question for Polly and comments on travel in Europe
First, Polly, I'm curious about what you mentioned in your post about Backpackers hotels. How can I find out about them and what is the average nightly cost? I'll be going to Ireland for a week in late September, staying with friends then in early October, I'm on my own for a week.
That brings me to my next question... I'm looking for suggestions on where to go - while on my own. I've traveled throughout England and Ireland already and have thought about going to either Scotland (though the US/pound exchange is not good right now) or the netherlands - but I'm open to other places. Any suggestions are appreciated.
And now for my opinion on travel in Europe. I've only traveled with friends - but I'd say overall, it's all been a great experience. Like some other posts have said, there is no need to be paranoid while traveling, but a little common sense goes a long way. I've mostly run into people that have truly gone out of their way to help and be kind. You run into some that are not so helpful, but that's just life. We in America have sometimes not been so kind to foreigners which is sad to me. It gives that person a long-lasting impression that is not accurate to all of us - and when you travel the same principal applies. As long as you are cordial, and understanding that not everyone speaks the ONLY lanuage you happen to know, you'll do fine. But try to fit into their way of life - who's ever country you are in, it can be fun and might just change your life. I know I've been changed by my travels. Have fun, be safe and happy travels to you all!
St. Louis, Mo USA Thu 08/18/2005
About female behaviour in Europe
I would like to say to all of you Americans who state that Europe is a place where women should not wear make up or sexy clothes, laugh out loud etc. so as to not attract attention. Europe is not one country. In scandinavia: Denmark, Norway, Sweden and also in Finland, people are more equal than in any state in America, which we (I´m from Sweden) consider quite conservative. Even in Germany, Netherlands, Great Britain, Austria and Switzerland a woman can feel as free as a man. Of course you have to watch out for the immigrants in these countries, if they come from countries where a women should cover herself up not be regardes as "loose". Southern europe and eastern europe are more conservative. You should dress conservative and not wear skimpy clothes for example. Don´t talk to or answer men back in southern europe as it is often considered as being an invitation for more intimate activities. Use common sense and good luck with your travels.
Stockholm, Sweden Sun 08/07/2005
Women alone in Europe
I just returned from 3 weeks of solo traveling in Germany and had only pleasant experiences. I'm 62 years old and not especially attractive, so I didn't have to worry about "sexual advances," and I look healthy enough to deter anyone who'd like to try to mug me. People were very helpful when I asked for directions or advice, and when I was struggling with a heavy suitcase up the long, long stairs in the train station in Mainz, 2 young girls asked if they could help, and they were charming. I had a backpack when I was wandering around, or else slung it across my shoulder, keeping my hands free in case anyone was considering an assault. I ate alone in cafes and restaurants, with either a book to read or my journal to write in, or else I just sat back and did what everyone else was doing: watching the tourists go by! One difference I noticed was that the average German didn't respond to my polite/friendly smiles on trains or in shops, but those who were used to dealing with the public, i.e. shopkeepers, hotel clerks, even the Deutschebahn clerks! were very friendly and helpful. I dressed to "blend in" with German women my age...tailored slacks, modest necklines, a long skirt (I brought 2 of them along)and shoes designed more for walking than fashion. Incidently, I drove to Alabama a couple of weeks before I went to Germany, and brought along basically the same clothing. So it IS all about common sense, as people have mentioned before.
Old Bridge, NJ USA Wed 07/13/2005
Women traveling, not too many worries
I biked alone through England and Scotland and had no problems at all. I stayed in "Backpacker's Hotels" (NOT Youth Hostels) and had a marvelous time.
In fact, the most trouble I've had was last summer in Rome, outside of the train station. My partner and I were grabbing a cab back to our hotel and found ourselves in the 'gypsy-stand' line. The gypsy's would hail the taxi "for" you and then load your bag into the car - with no option from us, it seemed. We refused and the boy who'd "done us the favor" of hailing the cab (out of the LOOOONG line of them) demanded money, then viciously pinched my partner when we wouldn't give him any.
She was bruised for days where he hurt her, I was furious, but the cab pulled us away before we could address the issue.
So, my advice is that if you can, find a way to avoid the taxi line in Rome and get your own cab.
Good luck to all who are traveling, and remember to enjoy yourselves.
Simi Valley, CA USA Mon 07/11/2005
just so you know
excuse me silvio, but as the person who asked for advice in greece because im a redhead, i never once doubted that it was safe, in fact after being there i feel far more safe in downtown athens then my own downtown. most of the time people wouldn't travel someplace if they didn't feel safe. maybe i'm just generalizing when i say that but my bet is that most people wouldn't. and after hearing about the attacks on the london transportation system this moring and that i'm traveling there in just a few weeks i am not concerned more than i should be. most of these incidents are isolated, or at least hardly noticed by the western world.far worse things are happening in the world right now that most of the western community does not care about and does not inform themselves about(i.e. the conflict that is happening in the congo right where over 4 million people have died in the past couple of years). and i agree with you that europe is not "uncivilized" as some people see it but most of those people can't of traveled if they see it that way or if they have they have only see the tourist side of it. we also have stereotypes about you over the atlantic but you don't hear them do you? some people are narrowminded everywhere in the world and you can't change that by antagonizing a few people who need help with travel advice and voice it.
PG, BC Canada Thu 07/07/2005
Silvio, I have to agree with you. It is Europe, not Mars, and whatever safety tactics you use at home should work there too. Common sense is universal, I think.
USA Tue 07/05/2005
Give me a break
some of you are ridiculously unbelievable. U act as if europe is some uncivilized world where women do not exist. yes there are isolated incidents , but come on people, the violence in the states makes most european countries seem like disneyland. guess what? european countries have running water, we have laws, we are a modern society. all these silly questions like "if im a blond will i get hassled in italy" "is greece safe for redheads?" just paint u as a mindless fool. dont flatter urselves. There are blondes in europe 2 you know, beautiful ones that can put any tourist to shame..Most men will hassle u because ur a tourist and they can. many european youth hold stereotypes about americans and their promiscuity, they never act that way with locals, and its a few idiot men..ignore it, and they will stop. u act as if men never hit on women in the states. common sense goes a long way. to the women with common sense, we welcome to u europe with open arms, and please do not t ake offense to this post, i just dont understand some of these protestors and their ridiculous questions.
leeds, uk Mon 07/04/2005
Harrasment in Athens
Predator at the Athenian Acropolis
On the morning of Tuesday, June 14, 2005, I walked alone amidst a large throng of visitors at the Athenian Acropolis in Greece. My three-hour visit had featured a brief guided tour of the grounds. At about 1 pm I left the Acropolis, descending from the Propyla to a parking lot at the bottom of the path. I was planning to take another path uphill to the Filoppapos Monument from said parking lot. Upon setting foot on the blacktop, a small, red sports car rolled up to me and stopped, blocking my way.
The apparently lone driver was whistling loudly and hissing to get my attention. He appeared to be in his late twenties or early thirties, with a deep tan and short, dark hair. He wore a dark T-shirt. He repeatedly pointed to the passenger seat in an agitated manner, clearly indicating that I should get in his car. He continued calling out with insistent whistles and hisses without ever actually speaking. I turned, ignoring the car, and continued walking in a southerly direction past it. The man now drove around the paved loop and intercepted me again. He was now facing me from the driver's side of the car. He repeated his agitated sounds and gestures, demanding that I get in the car. I avoided the car again by turning to my right, now walking in a north-westerly direction towards a souvenir kiosk.
I saw another man attending the kiosk. I approached the kiosk and calmly asked the attendant to please call the police. He asked whether I had a problem. When I described the situation he glanced at the red car and said he could not call the police. I kept looking back at the red car, which now rolled in reverse towards my way again and past the kiosk. Since the kiosk had window openings in the round, I was able to face the kiosk attendant while still watching the predator park (or idle) the car just behind some olive bushes near the kiosk. I asked the kiosk attendant for directions to the Filoppapos Monument.
The predator in the car was now blocking the path that the attendant indicated I should take for the Filoppapos Monument. Noting that this would lead me straight towards the predator, I asked for directions to the Ancient Greek Agora. I promptly left the kiosk, heading away from the car towards the Agora in a more northerly direction. I reached the Agora without ever seeing the predator again. I left Greece early the next morning, Wednesday, June 15, 2005, for my return flight back to the USA, where I am a citizen and currently reside.
Sincerely, A. Soto-Canino USA
Cc: AthensAmEmb@state.gov, firstname.lastname@example.org,
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Ana E. Soto-Canino
Highland Park, NJ USA Wed 06/22/2005
I am getting ready to head to Italy; it will be my second trip to the beautiful country. I absolutely love the country; however, my traveling partner and I had a bad experience when we first arrived in Naples. The directions to our hostel were brief, so we ended up getting lost. We walked around in circles with our map out. We must have caught the eye of this older gentleman who came up to us and asked if we needed help. Seeing that he was older (probably in his late 50's, early 60's) we figured it would be OK to trust him. MISTAKE.
As we followed him to where we needed to go, we realized he smelled of alcohol. When we arrived at the hostel, he demanded money. I took out my wallet and luckily I had no cash, but he cleaned out the change portion. He got about 5 euros from my friend. I think we were shocked and frightened (and in an alley), so we did not protest or fight back. Lesson learned: be wary of who tries to be your tour guide. You may be in for more than you bargained.
With that said, many of the locals are wonderful, just be careful!!
Philadelphia, Penn USA Thu 06/16/2005
Older women's dress
Regarding dress for Sicily. We spent about 2 wks in and around Enna and I am 63 and was uncomfortable in my dressy pants and nice layered tops. The women my age wore dark suits and heels of varying heights just to go to the outdoor market, even on cobblestone streets. (I had trouble even in my SAS sensible walking shoes.) I wish I had packed more skirts. The younger women wore a lot of tight jeans. My husband wore a flowered muted color shirt one day and stuck out like a sore thumb. They are very conservative there. The Italian family that we visited were incredibly hospitable, even the young marrieds toured us all over the Island on their days off from work. They took turns. I didn't think there would be enough to see to fill 2 wks but didn't have enough time to see it all. We had intended to take a train to Rome for a couple of days but did not find the time. That will have to be another trip.
Grants Pass, Ore USA Mon 06/13/2005
We recently traveled to Sicily and felt safe until we hired a guide to tour Palermo. The guide was British, married to an Italian. She brought her 6'4" husband along because there were 5 women and only 1 man along. She was the 6th woman and they said they had had a rash of muggings and they didn't only steal your purse but beat you up and put you in the hospital to boot, so her husband felt we needed extra protection and savvy concerning what areas were less safe.
grants Pass, Ore USA Mon 06/13/2005
Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar & Morocco
I spent a few months traveling through Iberia and Morocco around this time last year with my husband. I have received emails from dozens of Rick Steves fans asking for help in planning - and hopefully I have helped! More than happy to assist any other travelers with tips, advice and general info/comments on areas we visited. We used Rick's books for Spain and Portugal with much success. email@example.com
Helary D. Slist
Studio City, Ca USA Fri 06/10/2005
You do need a Visa for travel over 3 months. Just go to the conculate of the country you will be visiting. If you are travelling to multiple countries go to the one where you will be spending the most time or to your point of enrty. They all have websites where you can look up visa requirements. Basically you need a birth certificate, hotel reservations or a letter from the people you are staying with, bank statements showing you will have enough money to support your trip costs,airline tickets with a return date, etc...Just contact the consulate and they will answer your questions. Good Luck!
San Diego, CA USA Fri 06/10/2005
solo to Austria
Last year I did a tour of Europe from Amsterdam to Vienna with three other women and my dog....My dog and I had the most fun, while the others on the trip brought way, way too much baggage (despite my pleas to PAACK LIGHT) which slowed us down and made everybody crabby no matter what we tried to do. No fun. But my dog, on the other hand was GREAT! A highly intelligent miniature Dachshund, Schatzie was the perfect travel companion! This year in September, we're returning to Austria toghether. I have made all my dog-friendly reservations, and we will be going from Buchboden in Vorarlberg to the Vienna Woods, staying in bed and breakfasts. The Austrian tourist Office is a wonder to behold, they sent KILOS of free info about places to stay, things to do, etc, and the pensions I chose sent me rail and bus schedules when I asked how to get there. I have found that when making enquiries or arrangements, maintaining a friendly respectful attitude goes along way towards making friends who will be more than happy to help you with any questions or problems you may have. As a woman traveling alone (well, with a dachshund) I feel comfortable asking for help, and being friendly, but of course, sensible. Extensive planning is best.I have never traveled alone like this so far from home before, but I am really looking forward to it and don't anticipate any problems. And I'm sure Schatzie, my dog, will be a real ice-breaker. The Austrians love Dachshunds...He'll be returning to his homeland.
chicago, IL USA Thu 06/02/2005
When travelling and considering hitting a new place on my own, I just remember that there are plenty of women my age already living there and doing fine. As long as I make smart choices and apply the same common sense to things as I would back home, I'm usually a-ok.
USA Tue 05/31/2005
First of all I have to point out how ridiculous it is to talk about "Europe" as if it's just one big place with the same culture and norms. There's a big difference between Western and Eastern Europe and Northern and Southern Europe. Generally I would say that a woman traveller will have no problems travelling in western and Northern Europe, Britain, Netherlands, Germany and especially the Scandinavian countries, Denmark, Norway and Sweden as these countries are quite liberal and men and women are considered as equals. You are not likely to get any hassle no matter how much make up or reveiling outfits you wear. The crime rate is remarkably lower in the Scandinavian countries so a woman can walk alone in the streets at night and still be safe. In Southern Europa people are more religious and conservative, and so is the general view on women. Eastern Europe is still relatively poor, so anyone with money, men or women, will attract a lot of attention.
San Diego, ca USA Tue 05/31/2005
Women Traveling Solo
I just returned from a two week trip alone to London, Paris, and Rome. I had absolutely not problems at all. I used common sense and did not go out at night alone. I stayed away from dark back alleys etc. I also made all my reservations ahead of time so I didn't have to stress about finding a hotel when I arrived. I also took the Women traveling solo class from Rick Steves. Very good safety information. It can be done! YOu just need to use common sense. I would travel alone again.
Puyallup, WA USA Fri 05/27/2005
I have a huge Nalgene bottle I use at home and smaller ones for travel. I am the world's biggest clutz. My bottles have been dropped on concrete, bounced down the stairs,etc-you get the picture. I throw them in the dishwasher every few days, and I love the fact that they don't retain the smell or flavor of anything that's been in them.
WI USA Wed 05/25/2005
Stop with the liners, already!
BG, I'm with you on this: I don't enjoy reading, over and over and over (or AT ALL) about people's underwear habits.
Los Angeles, CA USA Mon 05/16/2005
The "panti-liner" thread is going on the "Tips for Packing Light" topic -- and I sincerely hope it ends soon! I am a woman, and to me it is gross to keep hearing seemingly intelligent women suggest this, unless you are going someplace that has no water or soap.Wash your underwear every evening! What is so hard or distasteful about doing this? Let's get back to more valuable suggestions, please.
San Francisco, CA USA Mon 05/16/2005
Over on the Travelers' Helpline in this web-site there is a lively discussion about using panty liners while traveling. I've used the really thin ones (not a pad) on long plane trips. It allows me to change liners to freshen up during the flight. They are not quite as comfortable as panties alone. Occasionally I have used a liner when in situations where I wouldn't be able to do hand washing. I've started taking 4 pairs of panties with me to extend the time between wash days.
USA Fri 05/13/2005
Ladies traveling alone in Europe
I just returned from 17 days in Italy (Florence, Assisi, Rome) and had little trouble. Common sense is the rule of thumb. I use a purse with a long strap crossing my body and a coin purse (no wallet) deep in the purse under a small makeup case and umbrella. The coin purse holds one credit card and enough currency for the day. ALL ELSE IS IN A MONEY BELT ON MY BACK. I don't take pictures but a small camera would also fit in the purse.
I met a lady who had purchased a bag with "ITALIA" emblazoned on the side...dead give-away. The bag was slit with a razor when she was on a crowded bus, and she lost her camera.
Twice in Rome, I was stopped by folks taking surveys. They thought I was a local. I think it was because I was toting a plastic bag!
The only problems I had was, once, with the gypsies at the Baptistry in Florence when I finally had to yell "NO!" with good results, and then I found train station employees in Rome less than helpful. Other than those times, my trip was marvelous!
Houston, TX USA Wed 05/11/2005
Advice for Ladies
For the women I have a great tip, they have these great little blood catchers (for menstruation) they are called keepers. Anyways, the blood catchers contain the menstruation and theres rarely ever leakage. One time I did have a little leakage and I was wearing white pants, but thats a whole nother story. So, this catcher is great, you no longer have to use blood plugs (tampons) or diapers (pads). I hope this information is useful, theres many brands of the catcher so I would just look around if I were you! Karen
Detroit, MI USA Wed 05/11/2005
Just reiterating some great wisdom
After reading all these posts it's clear to me... that my lifetime philosophy is just as right for travel in Europe (whether male, female, solo or accompanied)as it is for travel in the US. You should act as if you belong there (even if you are lost and in the worst part of town), stay alert, use common sense, don't draw attention with money, jewelry or other items of value... and when challenged put on your bad attitude.
Albany, NY USA Sun 04/24/2005
Eastern Europe Views
I agree with many of the comments about going light with the makeup or using none at all when traveling through Europe. Especially in Central or Eastern Europe. You will be hit on no matter your age or body type. Trust me on this one! I've been there as anywhere between size 10 petite & a size 16, with just as many men flirting with me at either end of the scale. Just consider the space & time saved not bringing the whole vanity drawer of stuff along a real plus. Also consider a "wash & go" haircut or style before going. Its all about being your natural, beautiful self without screaming "Hollywood". Dressing in a comfortable, but conservative style is a must.
Being an American married to a Czech national has really opened my eyes to how they view this subject. Up until recently most people could not afford the luxury of things like cosmetics or sexy clothes. People who wore makeup or dressed in anything other than conservative clothes there were either "loose" women or actresses, which many of the over 40 set still think are the same thing. Teenage girls & women in their early twenties in the bigger cities are now buying into the cosmetic marketing & fashion, but not in the smaller towns. Still today a woman wearing obvious makeup like lipstick(red especially), eyeshadow, & eyeliner will be stared at & talked about by everyone(men and women)in my husband's home town. Red hair, dyed or natural, will also cause quite a stir. Their views & how we view things in America are definately not even close. These people are facinated with the West, but are still living by their own standards for now.
CA USA Thu 04/07/2005
Sexual Assualt in Italy
On March 9th,2005, my daughter was staying at the Hotel Bussola Di Hermes in Anacapri, on the Isle of Capri, Italy. The owner's husband attempted to sexually assualt her. Fortunately my daughter still maintained her college athletic conditioning and was able to fight the assualter off. We have filed an affidavit with our Congressman's office and are pursuing this matter through the State Department. I would strongly suggest you avoid this property if visiting Capri.
Camano Island, WA USA Mon 04/04/2005
advice awesome-europe rocks
thanks for all your help guys
USA Mon 03/28/2005
Convents, Female-only lodging in ITALY
www.casainternazionaledelledonne.org - hostel for women only
I traveled all over Germany by myself and had no problems. However, I did my best to blend in. My wardrobe was black and white (easy to mix and match). My shoes SAS black suede VERY comfortable and european looking. No fanny pack, a black day pack. Very little if any makeup. Most of the time the people started speaking to me in German. Also when I was asking for directions I tended to ask a female so it wouldn't look like I was trying to pick-up some guy.
IL USA Mon 03/21/2005
I think women travelers will enjoy reading "Without Reservations" by Alice Steinbach.She writes about discovering self as she travels,thoughtful and insightfu lwriting. She describes how she decides to take a break from the routine of her daily life to see more clearly who she is when separated from the labels that are defining her-mother,journalist,etc.Traveling-especially alone,forces you to be spontaneous and take chances.
Lihue, HI USA Thu 03/17/2005
When it comes to gender, it depends upon what part of Europe you are in. Europe can be vastly different depending on the country. In southern and parts of eastern Europe ie. Italy, Greece, Turkey etc., they do think of gender quite differently. However, in western or northern Europe ie. the UK, Scandinavia etc., they are modern in regards to gender and often the women aren't shy about looking "sexy".
USA Mon 03/14/2005
I hope it doesn't make anyone angry, but I don't see the point in carrying an ugly tote or a backpack around European cities. From what I've seen, many American women travellers are well-dressed and fashionable, but they carry these bit ugly bags that ruin their outfits and scream "tourist." By all means, take a backpack if you are under 21, or hiking, or strangely compelled to carry all your personal posessions on your back at all times... but for site seeing in towns and cities, shopping or a night out, carry a nice handbag - you'll blend in much better.
USA Sun 03/13/2005
American's don't realize that they think about gender differently than most Europeans. In Europe, they tend to be a little more old-fashioned (sexist, you might say). If you are even the least bit attractive, you will get a lot of attention. If it's unwanted, adopt the attitude of European girls. They display a cool attitude with men, like they are way too good for them. Don't be afraid of being rude to them - they're used to it. Also, you may want to observe some old-fashioned protocol... like, don't strike up conversations with men (they will think you're interested), and always move away from men who stand too close. Also, don't put on lipstick or play with your hair in public (you shouldn't do that anyway). Also, as it is in the U.S., the fashion in Europe is heading toward looser, more concealing styles. You will not only be out-of-place in tight midriff-exposing clothing, but you will come off as "easy." Leave the sexy clothes at home, ladies. Women who don't observe lady-like behavior come off as easy, like they are trying to get attention. If you are a loud talker or laugher, try to tone it down. If you can help it, don't go to pubs alone. If you are alone in a pub, sit at a table, not at the bar.
USA Sun 03/13/2005
Driver in Sorrento
I just returned from a visit to the Amalfi Coast with two woman friends. We stayed in Sorrento - a beautiful location. We wanted to tour the Amalfi Coast but didn't want a tour group so I found a driver service (http://www.cuomonet.it/ ). Renato, the owner and driver, took us to Pompei and up and down the whole Amalfi Coast. He was wonderful. He drove carefully, and stopped whenever we asked - he even jumped out and took pictures for us. His van was clean, comfortable and in excellent condition. The last day he drove us to the Naples Airport. We all highly recommend Renato and his service. He made our stay a real trip to remember.
Northern Virginia, VA USA Thu 03/10/2005
In Europe alone
I have been reading several of the previous entries. They are interesting to me because I am the father of a daughter who 12 years ago went off for a term to the American University in Avignon. She boarded in a French home that was a bus ride and a 10 minute walk away from the university in the city center. She travelled a bit--to Germany, Switzerland, other areas of France, often, but not always with a fellow student. In the years since, she has mention her experiences,( and how she avoided some) and her impressions. The impression most significant to her is how nice the French were to her (except for her money-digging landlady). Her second most prominent impression is how clueless some of her then classmates (as well as a few other travellers) were and how naive and deliberately helpless some were simply because they were on their own. She once commented that she could tell that a few seemed to want to be victims, and some did become victims. Since then, my wife and/or I have been to France with her three times. She points out them to us---these potential victims. They are not only young students. They are 60 and they are 19 years old and they are all the years in between. Twice, I or my wife was figuratively among them. Some walk about with money in their fists, a purse left ajar. They gawk. They stand in mid-sidwalk or street checking a guide book. They giggle to a girlfriend at a passing male, They sit in the Place Vosages in inviting postures. They go to Montmartre at night to check out rue Pigalle. They do all the things to invite problems and wonder afterwards why the scam, why the fraud, why them and not someone else. While my experience in spotting these souls is limited to France, I am sure they go to Italy, and Norway, and Turkey, etc. I am proud of my daughter for aside of formal schooling, she learned to go through her travels, though life, with her eyes open. Perhaps it would help some of those concerned about what could happen to them during their trips abroad if they merely looked in a mirror to see if their eyes are closed or open. If they are open, I promise, you will travel comfortably. We wish you well, and aware of the messages you send, perhaps unknowingly,to predators nor matter how charming.
Chicago, ILL USA Thu 03/10/2005
Females are doing there own thing
this is to the last comment about traveling alone as a female...I have travel to London England alone.Yes! you do feel a bit nervouse but that will settle down in time.I suggest that you first get to know the surrounds that you are going to ( In your home state there should be travel Authorities around that can give u info on where you need to go )You will enjoy yourself. Best travelsK
USA Tue 03/08/2005
Alone in Europe
I have travelled to England and France twice with my young niece. Both trips were wonderful and my niece still raves about it. In France, she was treated like the belle of the ball which allowed me to fade into the background. I was not bothered in anyway by guys but I feel that my niece was a big deterrent in that regard. However this did not stop flirty behavior which I found amusing.
When travelling, like other posters have stated before, dress conservatively and don't hold eye contact. Here in the US, it is not considered a big deal if you hold eye contact with a guy. But in Europe it can be considered a come-on. I have heard stories of american gals being followed back to their hotels so always travel with a group or take a taxi. For whatever reason, we american girls have a reputation for being loose, party animals. If you go to France, take a page from the french girls book, watch them, they walk as if they own the whole street and look so regal, forbidding. Absolutely no-one hassles them.
Just follow your own street smarts, always be careful and watchful and you should have no problems.Happy Travels!
Brooklyn, NY USA Fri 03/04/2005
Redheads in Greece
You will attract attention being a redhead in Greece, sometimes more so than being blonde. Do not over-react to the "clicking" noises or the calls in Greek. Walk with your head proud and like they are not bothering you. If you show any reaction, positive or negative, it will continue. I have not been to Athens in a few years, but the National Garden was not a place to be alone as a female. They will most likely not approach you, but the male actions will be disgusting. Also, if you are walking near the any Traditionally dressed Greek Guards, don't be surprised to hear them "click". They aren't supposed to make noise, talk, but they do. Stick to the main roads, tourists paths, etc. Greece is beautiful. I studied there and loved it. If you get nervous at some unwanted attention, go into a business, like a hotel and ask for help. But, overall, you should be fine. Enjoy your trip.
mpls, mn USA Tue 03/01/2005
I agree with the posters that there is less danger than some might imply. As long as women are alert and aware, they should do well. It's the same for cities here, as well.
I do want to share an experience in Paris, however. I was not traveling alone, but with my husband, and I was very much aware of the possibility of pickpockets and nevertheless, we were targeted twice. The first time, someone managed to unzip a large backpack while it rested on a luggage cart, about to be loaded onto a shuttle at the airport. It was in our sight at all times, so we are baffled as to how someone managed to get it unzipped without our knowing it. We must have moved to the shuttle before anything was stolen, and it was as we were to load it onto the shuttle that we saw it was opened. The second time, we were coming out of a metro in Paris. A woman was struggling with a stroller and my husband went to lift it up the steps for her, and at precisely that same moment, a woman in front of me spilled the contents of her backpack. I saw that the contents were things like circuit boards, possibly throw-aways, and felt the crush behind me and realized that it was probably a pickpocket ploy in process, so I spun around and saw someone take off against the flow of traffic. The young woman had opened my backpack, but I turned around before she could do anything more than that.
I found two solutions to the problem. One was that I started to use an across the body messenger bag, which put it in front of me, and, when using a back pack, i inserted twist ties in the zippers to make them harder to open. That, coupled with being alert, and moving the backpack around to the front while on the metro foiled all future attempts.
HB, CA USA Wed 02/23/2005
Heather, you probably will attract attention, but you have a good deal of control. In many countries, things like looking directly at a man, showing much skin, talking ot strange men, and responding are considered invitations. Just use your good judgement and you should be fine. Dress modestly and don't respond to comments. Ask the hotel or tourist info office about which areas you sould stay away from. Know where you are going (or at least look like you do). Ifyou have trouble or are lost, go into a nearby hotel or shop, or ask for help from nuns or families. And mostly, have a good time; there are lots of wonderful people out there
USA Sun 02/20/2005
i have no idea what to expect!!!!!!!! help
i am i fifthteen old girl travelling first time overseas in mid-march to italy and greece. is there anything i should know about or expect to happen when i'm there. i'm a redhead with bluye eyes and worry if this will attract as much attention as the blondes do.
Prince George, BC Canada Fri 02/18/2005
Just follow the same basic safety precautions in Europe that you do back home and you'll likely be fine.
USA Sun 01/23/2005