Another week, another inspiring solo female travel story. For those who don’t know, Women Who Wander is a travel series I have on my blog where other bloggers can share their stories of Solo Female Travel. It’s something I personally have not done enough of but reading all these incredible stories inspires me to no end! This week Kareemah shares her story of, after a friend bailing on their trip, heading off to The Basque Country solo. Sometimes, when travel alone, it is inevitable that you will feel lonely. But that doesn’t mean you should let it ruin your experience. There will always be a way to feel better, be it a good coffee, a nice Airbnb host, or finding yourself lost with a stranger and finding your way together!

Meet Kareemah:

Basque

Hello! I’m Kareemah, an American traveler. I spent two joy-filled and crazy years in Spain which I wouldn’t trade for anything. I created Hijabiglobetrotter to showcase travel through an Islamic lens. You can find out more about my journey on my blog Hijabi Globetrotter
You Can Also Find Her:

 

Don’t Let It Stop You

“Hey girl! can you still make it to Pais Vasco this weekend?” I waited patiently for an answer.  *Beep*, an hour later I got a response, “Sorry Kareemah, I’m gonna have to stay in Madrid. I’m broke”.  I stared at the message for a good 5 minutes, “Oh, well!” I shrugged it off.

Solo traveling and  people bailing out last-minute was something I was getting used to. Always telling myself, that if I was that girl who moved to Spain without knowing a soul and survived, then I could do anything.

Although I had mentally planned how my friend and I would take pictures together, and even the places we would eat, go, etc. I wasn’t going to cancel my already booked bus ride.

The Basque are not friendly

My journey finally began to the north of Spain. “The Basque are not the friendliest people in Spain” my Spanish roommate told me after mentioning how amazing the Basque country was. I noted what she said but took it with a grain of salt. I got on the Alsa bus and sat by a Basque lady who smiled warmly at me. It was a 5 hour journey which I thoroughly enjoyed. I gazed at the gorgeous mountains on my way there, caught up on movies I never had the time to watch and had a great time getting to know my sitting partner.

“Where is the train station to Getxo” I asked the Basque lady once we finally arrived our destination.  She pointed the direction to me which didn’t seem hard to find. Even though I found my way around the station, it was hard to understand what the signs meant because everything was in Basque.  I asked the officer at the station who was very helpful and patient with me. She directed me to my train and waited till I got on. “I’m on my way” I texted my Airbnb host.

My Airbnb host was a kind Basque woman with a lovely daughter. She welcomed me in her beautiful home.  “This is where the supermarket is, over there are the beaches, and you can get the best pintxos (tapas) in these restaurants.” She said, pointing to the pocket map she had given me. I had three days in the Basque Country and I was going to take full advantage of them.

Basque

The Unshakeable feeling

It was day 2 and I was on my way to San Sebastian, a city with the best pintxos and beaches in Spain. The previous day, I had spent my time walking alone and exploring all Bilbao had to offer; now it was time to go to another city. In San Sebastian everything seemed perfect. I got to devour more pintxos and stared at the gorgeous Concha beach. Everything changed when I decided to get on top of a hill to see the view of the entire city. Upon arriving, a fog had formed, making it hard to see anything.

I immediately became upset. I got down the hill and walked around. It was only 5pm on a warm October evening and my mood started to imitate the dull foggy weather. “Wow I’m alone” I whispered to myself as I saw couples walking hand in hand, families laughing together.  Despite my sour mood, I kept walking until I found a hidden gem, the peine del veinto.

Basque

The peine del viento (Comb of the wind) was an area by the beach. It had 4 Tetris shaped platforms with tiny holes which allowed the wind from the waves to blow up, like an artificial geyser. I watched as every one of all ages, attempted to have their Marilyn Monroe moment. This got me slightly excited.  I tried asking someone to capture me having this moment as well but they were so engaged with capturing the moments of their loved ones, friends or significant others. Or maybe I wasn’t asking loud enough.  Regardless, I left feeling more upset. It was a weird feeling because I had been traveling around Europe for a year and didn’t understand why I was suddenly feeling lonely. I went back to Getxo, hoping to sleep my sadness away.

A silver lining.

On the third day, I felt much better than day two.  With the help of my Airbnb host, I took an impromptu trip to San Juan Gatzelugatxe, for a quick hike. “Is this the bus to San Juan?” I asked the bus driver to confirm. “Yes, that’s 2.50 euros” he replied. I paid my fare, took a seat and waited while other locals got on.  The bus dropped me off in the middle of what seemed like nowhere. I noticed two other people come down too. “Um, this doesn’t seem like the image google showed me of San Juan” I thought.

Basque

The two people, a guy and a girl looked confused as well. We all side eyed each other, waiting for someone to approach the other. The girl smiled at me which gave me some courage. I walked up to them and found out that we were going to the same place and that we were all lost too. They were a French couple. We did some brainstorming and found the place. We ended up hiking together and shared some long-lasting memories.

Despite the unexpected beginnings during my trip to the Basque Country, it ended up being one of the best trips I had taken.  I learnt a lot about myself and life. Here are some key take a ways from the Basque trip:

  • Give people the benefit of doubt; stereotypes aren’t facts.
  • As a solo traveler, you will sometimes feel lonely. Don’t dwell on it so much and think of the benefit. If you feel still feel lonely, call a friend or loved one for a chat.
  • Get a selfie stick or tripod for your pictures.
  • Smiling opens up doors to new friendships.
Find more Women Who Wander entries here

Finally, If you are interested in writing for Women Who Wander, you can contact me at youngandundecidedblog@gmail.com. Can’t wait to share your stories

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Women Who Wander: Kareemah shares her story of, after a friend bailing on their trip, heading off to The Basque Country solo

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14 thoughts on “Women Who Wander: Feeling Lonely in The Basque Country”

  1. The best part of traveling solo is meeting nice people and share unforgettable moments with them. After all, it seems you had a nice adventure 🙂

  2. Well, the experience of traveling always involves ups and downs. We just welcome them and learn/enjoy the experience. We would like to visit Spain, considering our country was colonized by Spaniards for 300 years. It would be like re-learning the past. Oh, and one more thing: her freckles are so cute!

  3. Not letting stereotypes guide you is very important. We enjoy learning how different cultures are and adapt once we arrive. A smile really is a golden ticket at times. When you smile it can open up doors and start friendships and save your day. Even though we don’t solo travel the selfie stick has helped a lot. Great post!

  4. Loved reading about Kareemahs adventures in Basque. The Basque country looks amazing and the Basque people come across as warm and helpful, busting many a myth. People are actually the same everywhere. I was fascinated by peine del viento and would love to have my own Marilyn Monroe moment there some day.

  5. Basque Country sounds like an interesting part of Spain to explore. I’m glad to hear Kareemah found the people there to be friendly. You can’t always trust the stereotypes or other people’s experience. Using buses in a foreign country is always an adventure. Glad you found your way.

  6. I love this! Taking the initial leap into solo travel is so hard! My travel partner had to cancel on a trip this year and it was hard wrap my head around really going alone, but I ended up having a great time.

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