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A Married Woman Travelling Alone in Amsterdam

May 20, 2011

I have no problem travelling alone as a woman. It just means that I tend to be more cautious. With that said I have no difficulty approaching a table full of people to strike up a conversation and if we mesh well invite myself along to join in the day’s activities. It’s one of the things that I love about hostels – most people are really friendly. Plus we have something in common already, a love of travel. I just hope that years of online dating have strengthened my creep detector.

I have travelled alone before, even as a married woman, but I suppose there is something about Amsterdam and its reputation that raises a few eyebrows when people find out I’m married. It’s not like I’m trying to hide it – I mean the big sparkly rings should really give it away. And I’ve always disliked the women that go on and on “my husband this, my husband that” so I don’t drone on about Dave. There were more than a few people this week to ask “where is your husband?” with almost an accusatory and shocked tone. Oddly enough this happens not right away but even after over an hour of conversation. What is it with men? I admit when I meet a new person I check out the face, scan their body, and then check out their hand. Force of habit. Are you trying to pick me up? Please do the same.

So what did this mean for staying at a hostel in Amsterdam? First, I got hit on a lot. The hostel was mostly men. Or the women were just hiding away in their rooms. Some people would notice my rings or I would mention Dave and they would back right off. Others it seems decided that this information equated a challenge. Sigh. There were two such individuals that set off the creep-alarm. So much so that I tried to bribe a nice Scottish guy with beer to walk me find something to eat at midnight. An action that Jen later described as a shenanigan (though I tend to disagree). Unfortunately my efforts didn’t pay off and I lost Mr. Creep and ventured off in the night alone. Which I admit was a little stupid, but the resulting 4-hour conversation with a (nice) American I met at the Burger Bar (also the amazing Portobello goat cheese burger) was an unexpected and interesting twist on an already great trip.

I suppose there is an element of risk talking up some strangers and following them around the city by day or wandering the streets alone at night. But it is meeting people and the resulting unplanned twists that make any trip memorable.

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