Month 12: Travel Summary and Statistics


chefchaouen blue door

I started my 12th month of travel in Essaouira, a beach town in Morocco that I instantly fell in love with. It felt much more relaxed than Marrakech, the medina much smaller and the people friendlier. I planned on spending a week there because I loved it so much, but after a few days it really began to grate.

I had men approach me in the street and mumble and try and grab them at every opportunity (this was while I was completely covered from my neck to my wrists to my ankles. I had scarves around my head, over my face… It wasn’t like I was dressing inappropriately!) My friends even had rocks thrown at them when they ignored a vendor in the medina.

So whilst it is true that it was less intense than Marrakech, the hassle was still present and it was really beginning to wear me down…

blue boats port essaouira

But after planning to spend five weeks in Morocco, could I really leave after just two?

I decided to head to Chefchaouen to try and figure out what to do next.

house in chefchaouen

Chefchaouen was the place I was most looking forward to visiting and it ended up being the only place in Morocco that I truly loved.

It was stunning.

I think I took more photos in Chefchaouen than I have done in any other place in the world – it was just SO photogenic! Not only that, but it was incredibly peaceful too. Of course, there was still hassle, but it didn’t feel threatening here. If you said no, you were actually left alone!

I was sad to leave after five days of bliss but it was time for me to explore somewhere new. I was heading to Tangier.

This was a huge mistake.

Honestly, my one day in Tangier was spent mostly hiding in my hotel room. The one time I ventured outside, a guy started shouting at me, chasing me down a street and then he aggressively tried to grab my chest.

I was done.

beach in tangier

I am disappointed with my time in Morocco as, prior to my arrival, it was probably the country I was most desperate to see.

I left feeling torn and conflicted.

I absolutely adored the country itself – riding camels through the Sahara desert at sunset, experiencing the complete and utter chaos of Marrakech, the hippie town of Essaouira, the gorgeous colour of Chefchaouen, it’s a beautiful country. But the Moroccan men completely ruined my experience.

The stares I can cope with, the clicking, whispering, muttering and shouting as I walk past I can mostly deal with and pretend to ignore, but throwing rocks at me? The spitting at me, the running up and grabbing my boobs and calling me a whore when I freak out and run away? I don’t see how any woman could deal with that.

Perhaps it was worse because I travelled alone? Because of my age? Either way, I don’t plan on returning to Morocco for a very long time and I’d certainly never travel solo in Morocco again.

But at the same time, I found myself wrestling with feelings of guilt and doubt ever since deciding to flee the country earlier than planned and return back to London for a few weeks – I felt like a coward, that I was giving up and avoiding my fears, and I was angry that I was running back to my comfort zone when things got too hard for me. After all, I wouldn’t have been able to run back home if I’d have still been in Asia.

But it was the right thing for me to do.

I needed to get a ton of work done before embarking on my crazy Interrail adventure (more on that tomorrow!) and knowing that I’d have very little time to write over the next month meant that it was good for me to sit still, not spend any money, and get a load of work done.

However, I found myself spending most of my time at home anxiously counting down the days until I could leave and fly to Frankfurt, mostly because I’d be meeting up with Dave after spending 5 very long weeks apart!

It has been wonderful to be back travelling together and we spent the majority of our time in Frankfurt exploring the amazing cider district. Dave even introduced me to the Australian concept of a “Sunday session” (drinking on a Sunday afternoon). We went to Hooters for the first time! I know, we’re pretty classy.

And then my Interrail adventure began, with an eight hour train ride to Prague. Travelling in first class was a new experience for me and having power sockets and free cups of tea made the trip a LOT more enjoyable than I was expecting.

prague in the rain

Since arriving in Prague it has been raining constantly, which is disappointing. Hopefully, the weather will get better over the next few days.

I did, however, find a statue of two peeing men, which basically made the trip to Prague entirely worth it.

peeing men prague

Onto the statistics for the month!

Distance travelled: 3733km

Countries visited: Morocco, England, Germany, Czech Republic

Cities visited: Essaouira, Casablanca, Chefchaouen, Tangier, London, Frankfurt, Prague

Number of photos taken: 1092

Number of buses: 2

Number of trains: 4

Number of planes: 4

Money spent:

Morocco: £268.40 over 12 days = £22.33 per day (+ £192 for flights back to England).

England: £1,100. Yes, I bought a new Macbook Pro!

Germany: £72.50 over 3 days = £24.16 per day.

Czech Republic: £10 over 1 day = £10 per day.

Total amount spent: (Excluding my Macbook Pro) £542.90/$845.07

Number of times I was groped in Morocco: 4,491,735.

 

The next month:

I’ll be spending the next month exploring Eastern Europe with my 30 day Interrail pass! Dave and I recently finalised our itinerary and it involves visiting lots of new countries for both of us, which I am SO excited about! Our route will take us through the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria before we finish up in Turkey! I know I’m going to be absolutely exhausted after cramming so much travel into such a short space of time so I’m glad I’ll have over a month planned in Turkey to relax afterwards.

 

Looking to follow along with my travels through my monthly summaries? You can read the previous month’s summary here, the next month’s summary here, or head on over to the monthly summary page to read from the very beginning!

Previous My Packing List: One Year On
Next My Perfect Eurail Route Across Eastern Europe

35 Comments

  1. Jen
    July 19, 2012
    Reply

    oh my god the men sound disgusting – what gives them the right to treat women like that?! You definitely did the right thing heading to London, sometimes you just have to go with your gut instinct! So excited for you about your interrail adventures – I can’t wait to hear your stories! xx

    • Katie
      July 19, 2012
      Reply

      I totally agree with you Jen that from an American perspective that type of behavior is completely inappropriate and abhorrent! But if ALL the men were doing it and it wasn’t just a few creepers then it’s probably a cultural thing/social norm. I really want to visit Morocco and hearing things like this makes me nervous to go alone… i wonder if there’s something women who are visitors to the area can do to ward off these types of approaches. Anyone other women been to Morocco solo recently?

      • Lauren
        July 19, 2012
        Reply

        I was told by a few other travellers that as Moroccan women do not believe in sex before marriage, but Westerners often do, then a lot of the Moroccan men see us all as sluts, and easy, and desperate for sex.

        I tried everything. I didn’t speak a word of English or any other language, just held my hand up to my face and ignored them – but they would still follow me and eventually end up shouting at me for not talking to them: “stupid american whore”. I covered myself from head to toe in the baggiest clothes I could find, but it didn’t change a thing…

        Maria, who commented below, had a completely different experience in Morocco than I did :) Perhaps it didn’t help that I am super pale!

  2. Maria @Travel the Middle East
    July 19, 2012
    Reply

    I honestly can’t believe what I’m reading. If anything, I feel the men in Morocco were way more relaxed than those in Egypt! Maybe I looked too Moroccan…? I’m so saddened to hear this happened Lauren, I hold a special place for Morocco in my heart, having studied and lived there for a semester. I’m just in shock…

    “I did, however, find a statue of two peeing men, which basically made the trip to Prague entirely worth it.”

    ^^ AWESOME.

    -Maria Alexandra

    • Lauren
      July 20, 2012
      Reply

      I know, it makes me so sad! I know how much you adored Morocco and I was expecting to feel the same.

  3. Kristen
    July 19, 2012
    Reply

    Let me know if you need a place to stay in Toronto Canada, should your travels bring you to North America. Love the blog, happy to help.
    KL

    • Lauren
      July 20, 2012
      Reply

      Will do, Kristen! :) I’m hoping to head over to Canada next summer :)

  4. Sheila
    July 20, 2012
    Reply

    I’m really sorry to hear about this. What a disgusting behavior. I think you did the right thing by leaving. Safety is the number one issue when traveling and i following your instinct was the right thing. You can’t change the perception of an entire culture. All they know about the West is what they see on TV and the movies.

    • Lauren
      July 20, 2012
      Reply

      It’s true. Honestly, it was so stressful that if I think if I’d stayed I would have ended up having a complete breakdown or trying to attack someone! I’m glad I left :)

  5. Juliann
    July 20, 2012
    Reply

    What a horrible experience. It reminded me of when I took my son to to Paris years ago and was sitting on a park bench while he played, when all of a sudden, an Egyptian man came up to me and just started kissing me and fondling me as though that’s what I was there for. It was very creepy and royally pissed me off. It was the first time I questioned whether it was safe for me to be a woman traveling alone (with a child). I think that made me madder than anything.

    • Lauren
      July 21, 2012
      Reply

      Wow, that’s horrible!! I find it especially shocking that he did it in Paris too – you’d expect it at lot more in Egypt.

  6. Jen
    July 20, 2012
    Reply

    It is sad how often I have heard this about Morocco, I still really want to go, but I guess I will need to go after I get married and have him with me. lol.

    Sorry that happened, but at least it sounds like it got better.

    Can’t believe it has been 12 months, considering I found your blog like a week before you left!

    Jen

    • Lauren
      July 21, 2012
      Reply

      I know, it’s gone by so quickly!

  7. Sabina
    July 19, 2012
    Reply

    Oh, I’m so sorry to hear about what happened to you in Morocco! I’ve never been, but am planning to go. I’m older than you, so I wonder if that won’t alleviate a lot of the harrassment. I’ve traveled and lived in various Middle East countries for quite a while, and while there is some harrassment, it’s not THAT bad. Horrible.

    Plus, it rained in Prague while I was there too several years ago. Flooded, in fact, and was freezing – in June. Oh, well.

    • Lauren
      July 20, 2012
      Reply

      I did wonder if it was an age issue too, Sabina! Hopefully it won’t be as bad for you when you manage to get there :)

  8. Kieu ~ GQ trippin
    July 20, 2012
    Reply

    How is it that you have “American tits” and I, an American, have none?! I am loving your Eastern Europe itinerary and will be living vicariously. PLEASE stay safe. :)

    • Lauren
      July 21, 2012
      Reply

      Hahahahahaha!!! It’s ok, I’m back with Dave now so he can protect me!

  9. Escaping Abroad
    July 20, 2012
    Reply

    Awesome photos, but wow.. sounds like you needed a bodyguard in Morocco! Wink Wink :)

    • Lauren
      July 21, 2012
      Reply

      It certainly felt like it at times!

  10. Naomi
    July 20, 2012
    Reply

    I hear you on Morocco. Part of me loved it, and part of me was so horrified and emotionally taxed afterwards because of the sexual harrassment. My experience was thankfully balanced by meeting a number of people (mostly men) who never harassed or degraded me in anyway, but (gasp!) treated me like a guest and human being, but I did still leave the country with a bit of a black cloud over my head.

    Chefchaouen, however, totally saved me. I agree that it’s so easy to fall in love with, especially after the madness of the cities! I think it’s a must to visit after somewhere like Fes or Marrakesh, just to unwind….!

    • Lauren
      July 21, 2012
      Reply

      Chefchaouen is definitely a place to visit at the end of your time in Morocco. I actually feel like most of the people who I met had good intentions but that I was so suspicious that I put up my guard and refused to talk to them, which makes me sad.

  11. Hassan
    July 20, 2012
    Reply

    As a resident of Marrakesh, I’m sorry to hear what happed to you from this category of men who give a bad vision of Moroccans! In fact, we call this category of men “bouzbal”; they are men who spend all their time harassing roughly the girls they meet in the street (not just tourists) to take their telephone number, and in most cases these are people who are unemployed and not well educated! Personally, I hate these people, and I advise you to come next time with someone in order to avoid these bad adventures. Apart from this, I think it’s great to be around four countries with only $ 845.07 !!!
    good luck

    • Lauren
      July 27, 2012
      Reply

      Thanks for the comment, Hassan. I don’t think I’ll be returning as a solo traveller, so hopefully I’ll have a better experience next time! :)

  12. Waegook Tom
    July 20, 2012
    Reply

    Lauren, you are SO not a coward for leaving Morocco early. I don’t get how any man could think that that behaviour is acceptable, regardless of what their culture dictates. Would they behave that way to a Moroccan woman in public, I wonder?

    It is a shame in a sense as you mention the country itself was beautiful but if you’re feeling uncomfortable in a place, it’s best to leave, no matter how photogenic or wonderful it may be.

  13. Memographer
    July 20, 2012
    Reply

    Prague is beautiful! However, a “statue of two peeing men” doesn’t look like a real life scene… I can’t understand what the sculptor wanted to tell :)

  14. Skott and Shawna - Get Up & Globe
    July 20, 2012
    Reply

    We were in Morocco for 7 weeks, and although Shawna’s impressions and experiences were not nearly as harsh, it is a very different society. When she walked on the street on her own she was treated very differently from when she walked with me. There was a lot of discomfort to deal with for sure. And yes, the men-only cafes were super weird. But yes, super sorry to hear about your experience, that is beyond brutal…. yikes!

  15. Gerard ~ GQ trippin
    July 20, 2012
    Reply

    10 pounds in Czech Rep? What did that get you? A round of beers?

  16. Sunee
    July 20, 2012
    Reply

    I spent a day in Tangier and it had me exhausted, so I can just imagine how horrible this must have been for you. Good thing it wasn’t your first destination as you had originally planned! Enjoy the rail trip, I’m just green with envy and would love to take an extended rail trip like that!

  17. Chrystal McKay
    July 21, 2012
    Reply

    I was living in Morocco for 2 months as a solo traveller and never encountered such disgusting actions from the men. The whistling, hooting, kissing noises, blah blah that is common place almost every where, so I can deal with that. But never once did a man try to grab my chest or chase me. sorry you had that experience, because Morocco truly is a wonderful country.

  18. Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)
    July 21, 2012
    Reply

    Yikes! Your time in Morocco sounds pretty horrifying. I can’t see anyone blaming you for leaving early, since I think any woman in your situation would do the same. There are always little frustrations when you travel, but if you are fearing for your safety, that’s certainly not worth it! Anyway, I found your report on Morocco really interesting and I will be curious to see what it is like when I visit some time in 2013… we’ll see if traveling in the company of a man affects the kind of experience one has there!

  19. Shaun
    July 23, 2012
    Reply

    I would feel confrontational if I saw that being done to a women. I’d restrain myself from any wrong-doing but in my books this is sexual assault and should have zero tolerance. I’m sorry you had to go through that but props for keeping your chin up.

    Anyway, the feet on those peeing statues looks yellow too, lol.

  20. Katelin
    July 24, 2012
    Reply

    I’m heading to Morocco as a solo girl next year, and I was wondering if you could give me an idea of how you got around? I’m planning on flying into Casablanca then maybe taking the train to Marrakech, then somehow getting to Essaouira, then to Chefchaouen, and from there going into Spain.

    My issue is the best way to get from Essaouira to Chefchaouen. Do you have any advice?

  21. Lynne OHalloran
    August 12, 2012
    Reply

    Hey Lauren
    Big congrats on hitting a year on the road. I hit 6 months next week and that feels like a life time.

    Sorry to hear you had such a hard time in Morocco. I’d been warned by many travelers not to go on my own and after reading your post am pleased I’ve booked a trip with intrepid.

    I arrived in Istanbul from Jordan a couple of days ago and am in love with turkey already. This will be there perfect place to chill after so much time on the road.

    Cheers
    Lynne

  22. George
    August 13, 2012
    Reply

    I was not a fan of Morocco either the men were a big part of that, the scams played another big roll. I can’t believe you were in Frankfurt – I used to live there and LOVED it!! I could have given you some tips! xx

  23. Agness (@Agnesstramp)
    October 10, 2012
    Reply

    Sorry to hear about what happened to you in Morocco, but bad things sometimes happen when travelling. I always have the same Prague experience when I am in Czech Republic it rains, rains and keep raining all the time. Such a bad luck! Happy travels and stay positive girl!

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