A well-traveled (read: used up) woman recently described how, while recently backpacking (read: fucking a lot of foreign dudes), “On a backpacking adventure through Eastern Europe, Anna Davies discovered a host of eager personal guides, thanks to a wildly popular dating app.”
Read the original story here, and let’s have some fun.
I stood outside a café within the ancient walls of Kotor, Montenegro, squinting at the tourists walking across St. Luke’s Square. I glanced down to my phone at a photo of Roman, the guy I was meeting: a broad-shouldered blond and my date for the evening, whom I’d met on Tinder just an hour and a half before.
Willing to meet after an hour of Tinder/text chat? If this dude’s first date bang alarm wasn’t going full bore, may the Gods of Game smile down on him someday. After he gets cheated on and dumped.
Tinder tourism, I call it. I’d gotten the idea from an American I met in Costa Rica last fall who always knew the best surf breaks and cheapest bars around, even though she’d been in the country for only two weeks. When she told me that she’d received a host of insider tips from locals she met online, I was skeptical. “What’s the point of meeting them if you don’t live here?” I asked. “Because I’m here now,” she replied. She shrugged, then headed out to meet a hot dreadlocked surf shop owner she’d found on the app to watch the sun set over the ocean.
Let’s be clear – there’s nothing better, or worse, about this than a man being a supposed “sex tourist”. Frankly, this is basically legal prostitution. She exchanges use of her vagina as a dumpster for semen in exchange for local “insider” information, free food, and being entertained.
Now, in the middle of a six-week solo backpacking trip through the Balkans this late spring, I was trying out her strategy myself. I’ve always loved the anything-can-happen thrill of foreign flings. I’d had a few: a makeout in a Galway pub, a weekend exploring Amsterdam perched on the handlebars of a local’s bike. But sitting at a bar waiting for opportunity to knock left too much to chance, wasted too much time, and often made me feel lonely and desperate.
If you can’t brave the solo trip, here’s a novel idea – don’t go. If you have to sit alone at a bar and hope that a foreigner can charm your panties off to enjoy your “solo backpacking trip”, I really have to question what the point of going on a solo trip is in the first place.
When I first sat down with Tone (pronounced “Tony”), I thought our date would be a bust. We were the only ones on the outdoor patio of the bar he recommended, which made every awkward silence that much more obvious. But I knew we’d had chemistry during our Tinder chats, and after 10 minutes of struggling in real-life conversation—and one shot of Rakia, the local 40-proof liquor—we discovered a mutual love of True Detective and a shared ambivalence about marriage. When he suggested we end the evening at his place, I hesitated long enough to find his LinkedIn profile and verify his identity while he was in the restroom before I agreed.
“We’re going on my motorbike.” He shot me a devilish grin as my heart hammered in my chest. I’d never been on a motorbike before. But I’m braver and bolder when I travel, more apt to shrug off bus delays and say yes to cliff diving and, apparently, motorbike rides, so I nodded and slipped on his extra helmet. I hugged him tightly, my chest pressed against his back, as we drove past the ancient walls (and Game of Thrones–esque backdrop) of Diocletian’s Palace and into a leafy neighborhood. By the time I hopped off, my knees were wobbly as I hungrily reached toward him. I left his apartment the next morning feeling indulgent, but not guilty.
I doubt she is truly braver and more bold while on this trip; she’s simply free from the judgment of friends and family.
BY THE END of six weeks, I’d gone on nearly 10 dates. In the shadow of the Old Bridge in Mostar, Bosnia, I learned how to drink Turkish coffee (suck on a sugar cube, sip, repeat) from Mehtab. In Albania, I walked around Tirana Park’s Artificial Lake with Erjion, a 30-something musician who told me how, as a kid, his dad tinkered with the television so his family could occasionally receive scratchy, blurry broadcasts from Western European stations—an act strictly forbidden in the formerly communist country. And on the Croatian island of Hvar, I was shown how to properly debone a fish by Mladen, a chef-in-training.
Like I said, a trade – sex for adventure.
I may have missed a few major monuments in favor of a drink with a virtual stranger, but I arrived home feeling like I’d truly experienced the Balkans. Even when you’re a solo traveler who loves nothing better than exploring on her own, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a lot out of a tour. Especially when it’s very personalized.
She experienced the Balkans both inside and out.
Check out my travel memoir, which is on Amazon!