Hello friends, and thank you for stopping by to read Solo Female Travelers Beware: Discrimination in Ávila, Spain. Even if you’re not traveling to this Spanish city, keep reading to see how one of the fears of solo females – dining alone – has come to life. Nothing terrifying happens. This is a tale of discrimination.

One of the fears solo women have when traveling is eating alone. Perhaps it’s a case of perceived awkwardness that they don’t have a dining companion.

The reality is most of the other diners barely notice a woman eating alone. They’re too busy checking their cell phones! Ha ha!

Really, nobody cares if a woman is dining solo.

An unfortunate reality that women dining alone face is being seated at an undesirable table location. I had this happen to me in Bristol, England at Pieminister when I was seated at the back of the room, close to where the toilets were located, and ignored. And there were plenty of empty tables.

Making the Most of my Time as a Housesitter in Bristol, England

Some women are more assertive and speak up about where they’d prefer to sit. And sure, sometimes I’ve done that too. Other times women just leave and find somewhere else to eat.

Ladies – don’t be afraid to walk out if you’re being seated at an undesirable location. Not all of us want a table in the back corner or near the kitchen or where the toilets are located.

Ávila, Spain

Ávila is a town northwest of Madrid that has a medieval walled city in the old town quarters, and is a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Very pretty place.

And one that I wished I stayed away from!

My bad luck began with getting train tickets for the 90 minute travel from Madrid. Now you see them, now you don’t. Eventually I got my ticket, and the train wasn’t even sold out. Crazy!

Next was finding a hotel. I used Booking.com (affiliate link – if you click on Booking and make a reservation, I will receive a small fee for the referral) and was interested in a hotel that was 60 Euros for two nights. But when I checked back in the afternoon, there were no rooms available. I also checked the hotel’s website and they were sold out.

I ended up booking my second choice, Hotel El Rastro, same price 60 Euros for two nights for a single room and private bath. So comparable. And located inside the walled city.

The following day the hotel sends me a message and says in Spanish, loosely translated: “oopsie, we screwed up and put the wrong price on Booking.com so you need to pay another 50 Euros.” I’m thinking holy fuck! If I was looking to pay in the 100 Euro range for two nights, then I would have chosen a hotel in that range to begin with, but I’m a budget traveler.

And the other thing. If YOU screw up and put an incorrect price on your product or service, the right thing to do is to honor it. Not jack the price up and turn it into a bait and switch scam.

There wasn’t much I could do. If I cancelled, I’d have lost my money, meaning the hotel would have charged Booking.com, who would have charged my credit card they have on file. This was a hotel where I paid on arrival, but they would have charged Booking if I didn’t show up. Maybe I should have contacted Booking right away to let them know I was a victim of a bait and switch scam.

I felt I had no option. Pay and stay. Or not stay and get charged and lose money.

I’d already paid for my train ticket, my bus ticket 2 days later from Ávila to Segovia, and two nights hotel in Segovia. Ironically also 60 Euros for two nights, so this seems a normal hotel price range.

End result, I disputed later with Booking.com over the bait and switch scam and got a 50 Euro credit.

Review of Hotel El Rastro – Palacio Duque de Tamames

This is my actual review from Booking.com:

Reviewed: 7 January 2024

Victim of a bait and switch scam

5.0

Scored 5.0

Pro: Location is excellent, inside the walled old town. Walking distance to restaurants and shopping. I was able to walk from the train station and then to the bus station when I left, but it’s over 2km walk. I recently finished the Camino de Santiago and was traveling with a backpack, so I was fit enough to do it. Most people would need a taxi. Small room with a bathroom. Adequate.

Con: I was the victim of a bait and switch scam. The hotel changed their price, increased by 50 Euros after I’d booked!!! I couldn’t cancel or I’d have been charged. I was traveling there in 2 days so there was nothing to do but go or lose my money. The room was hot when I arrived. There’s a thermostat but where the numbers should be, there was a hole covered in scotch tape. There were 2 settings: heat and air conditioning. It was on heat, so I pushed the lever down to air conditioning. The air conditioning didn’t work, but at least it turned off the heat. The next day when I arrived back at my room, either the cleaning staff or maintenance had put a space heater in the room. It seemed kind of complicated to operate so I left it alone. Wasn’t giving off heat. Unknown to me, it was plugged in and came on overnight. I had a very hot, uncomfortable sleep kicking off the covers. When I awoke in the morning I realized the space heater was churning out heat and I pulled the plug out. I guess I should have done that the night before, but I really thought I had to operate the controls to turn it on. So hot, uncomfortable, and pissed off about being charged a higher price didn’t make for a good stay.

Hungry

The time came when I was ready to eat. I headed outside the walled city where there were several restaurants located in a nearby plaza.

Including Burger King. I should have just gone there.

But I do like to try local cuisine and support local businesses when I travel.

First stop was a frozen yogurt shop.

Yeah, that kept me full for awhile!

Bar Cafeteria Buenos Aires

My first attempt to get a meal was at the Bar Cafeteria Buenos Aires. They have some tables inside and more tables outside. Three tables were occupied. I sat at one table, leaving several unoccupied tables available.

The waiter walks by and says in Spanish “We don’t serve single women here.” And bustles off.

I’m thinking – what the fuck? Did I just hear that correctly? I remained seated. Him and another male waiter went to the other tables, taking orders, and bringing out food and drinks. Both of them avoided eye contact with me.

After being ignored for 15 minutes, I left.

Barbacana restaurant

A few shops down is the Barbacana restaurant. Here you have to go inside and wait to be seated. The male wait staff ignored me and seated people behind me. And did so a couple of times before I walked out.

Cruzcampo Cruzial

My next attempt to get food was at a restaurant that is either called Cruzcampo Cruzial or perhaps Colonial La Muralla. I saw both titles.

Looked like some good sandwich choices. I came in and sat at a table and was again ignored by the staff, though they were serving other tables.

Solo woman discrimination

I am now trying to find out what the hell is going on with Ávila, Spain that single women dining alone are not being served at restaurants.

I would call it misogyny based on the first two restaurants that had male wait staff. But the third restaurant had female staff.

I got on Facebook and posted a message to a group I follow about senior women traveling solo and asked if anyone had ideas why Ávila is the only place in Spain where a solo woman can’t get served in restaurants.

If it was just the first place, I could call it misogyny and that would annoy me, but I’d move on to another restaurant that would be happy to take my money. Except no restaurant would serve me.

Let’s include misogyny anyway when it comes to women dining solo in Ávila, Spain.

The next logical reason is fiscal. A restaurant can make more money if more people are seated at a table. What I don’t know is if men dining solo would also be denied service.

Maybe that’s the reason. Service refused if there’s not a group seated at a table.

The other reason that some of the women on Facebook came up with, after an online search, is that Ávila has a prostitution problem. A solo woman dining alone could be perceived as potentially soliciting customers for prostitution.

Let’s call it like it is. I do not look like I’m a Spanish woman. And I sure hope that I don’t look like a prostitute, but maybe a few decades ago…. Hmmmm, no! I have fair skin, blue eyes, red hair, and I’m wearing blue jeans, long sleeved shirt, sunglasses, and a Tilley hat. I look every bit the part of a senior tourist.

Scrounging up food

By now you must be wondering where I scrounged up food. I’m hungry!

There was a nice bakery inside the walled city where one orders at the counter and then you take your tray of food and drink to a table. That worked out well. Oh, the calories!

Then there was another bakery where I got the nun cookie hoping it might be like a gingerbread man cookie.

It was not.

There was a candy shop where they made sandwiches at the counter. And had outside seating. Yippee! I got a sandwich, pop, and snacks there.

There was a Christmas market inside the walled city so I found snacks.

I had roasted chestnuts for the first time.

I had a chocolate coated apple that unfortunately was not very good.

Carnival like food.

Beats going hungry.

Ávila, Spain

Suffice it to say, I have no interest in returning to Ávila, Spain due to discrimination against single women dining alone in restaurants.

Us solo female travelers get hungry too, you know!

This city is the exception in all of Spain. I had no problem dining alone everywhere else in Spain.

Between the hotel rip off and inability to eat alone at a table in full serve restaurant, Ávila ended up being a really a bad choice for me.

My recommendation to all solo women travelers is to avoid Ávila, Spain. Especially if you’re planning to eat!

Published by Cheryl @ The Lifestyle Digs on March 20, 2024.

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