Minority Travelers' Forum: 2005
Have any guidebooks been particularly helpful? Are there any places in Europe you'd discourage other minorities from visiting? How do you deal with stares or "special" treatment in areas that rarely see a minority or mixed-race couple? Please share your minority-related European travel tips and anecdotes here.
My wife and I went to Spain last spring and had an amazing time. I had read in the Minority Forum of African American travelers, of which I count myself, had experienced some form of discrimination and or racism while in Spain. Though Spanish soccer fans have used "mass" expressions of racism at soccer games my wife, who is Jewish, and I felt welcome in Spain. We flew into Bilbao, took a bus to San Sebastian, a train to Madrid, bus to Toledo and finally the high speed line to Seville.
To tell you the truth I didn't feel much different than I would in America. Now I do not know if that is good or bad, but whatever it is, it is the status quo: The black guy "nod" was in fullest effect from the North to the South The Spanish were inviting and friendly. I used Rick's Spain Guidebook and highly recommend it. The hotel, restaurant and travel recommendations were all right and exact. I loved Spain so much my wife and I are set to return this spring with our Rick Steve's paraphernalia in day bag.
Langhorne, Pa USA Mon 12/26/2005
I've been throughout Europe on several trips and lived in Italy in 2003. I'm an African-American female and can only think of a handful of times I've felt discriminated against or uncomfortable in Europe. I agree with other posters that bigotry is everywhere and you shouldn't act any differently than you would at home with regard to safety.
In Italy, I was never stared at frequently, but usually when I was in the company of blondes or white American females. Italian men love blondes and tend to think American girls are easy so you definitely get more attention.
Actually, in Italy I found a lot of hostility directed towards Africans. One of my Italians friends told me that it's because of immigration issues. I was so much as told that if you look mixed race black or African-American you would be treated differently from Africans. Usually, if I saw a person of color working in boutique or an office they were mixed race.
Though overall the biggest thing anyone would need to worry about when going to Italy are gypsies. They basically go after you if you look like a tourist doesn't matter if you're white, black, whatever. If you live in an area where you're use to people asking or acosting you for money, you know how to handle yourself and you'll be fine. The best advice is don't be afraid to get pushy. They're not going to hurt you, they just want your stuff. In Naples and some other southern parts, some people have been hurt because they're big on the motorcycle snatch, but that's rare.
Italy is a great place and there is a lot to see and do. If you're only there for a week or so, you're not likely to notice these things. Italians overall tend to be very hospitable and are great friends. Greece is another place where you will find equally, if not more so, friendly people.
Oakland, CA USA Tue 12/13/2005
Ciao fellow travelers! As an African-American female who lived in Italy for almost a year back in 1999/2000, I can say that stares from Italians are generally not out of hostility. It is a mistake to assume that something negative is happening. Sometimes they simply like what they see. You are different looking. Also, it is one thing to see a Black person on TV or videos, and quite another to see them walking down the street in your hometown.
Chicago, IL USA Sun 12/11/2005
Black in Tokyo
I am an african american man and i went to Tokyo a few months back with a group of primarily black people and we were not treated badly at all by the locals there. I found that the Japanese there were very eager to help with anyone who looked confused, i actually didnt get stared at that much; which surprised me. I did however see alot of blacks and africans working there, we dont hear much about blacks anywhere else but USA and Africa, so it was a treat to see them. Overall Tokyo was a wonderful city with lots of interesting shops and historical places, and if you respect their customs, they will respect you.
PS ive been followed in stores in America often, but never experienced any of that in Japan
Chicago, IL USA Thu 12/08/2005
UK, BELGIUM, HOLLAND
UK, BELGIUM, HOLLAND I am an African-Born American. I just came back from visiting UK (London), Belgium (Ghent,Brussels), Holland(Amsterdam).
UK- The UK is pretty much like the States. I enjoyed my stay there. I had no problems what so ever.
Belgium- To my surprise, I encountered no racial incidents. The people may not seem quiet friendly but they are extremely polite. I especially enjoyed my bike rides in Ghent. Brussels was beautiful as well. By the way, there are a lot of people of dark complexion in Belgium (especially in Brussels). One should not feel fearful of standing out.
Holland- Amsterdam was the most beautiful city I have ever seen. This is an extremely diverse city. People were friendly and I had a great time.
I should perhaps mention that British custom officials had racially profiled I and another African man when I was trying to catch a train from London to Brussels. They did search/interrogate me for more than an hour. They had no reason to do so as I have never been in trouble. I do have a US passport and that did not stop them. I would not want others to be discouraged by this, however. Like I menioned below, I had no other problems...We can not control the actions of racists and that should never stop us from traveling.
USA Wed 12/07/2005
I am Filipino American and this last summer, me and a group of friends, all of who are also Filipino American except for two girls, who are Caucasian, traveled through Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Croatia. Out of that whole trip, I only recall two incidents of racism, or it could have just been rude behavior.
When we were visiting the Vatican, we stopped for lunch at a small cafe. Everything went well, good service and all, until the end, when my friend asked one of the bus boys if we had to put the trays somewhere or if we could just leave them on the table. The bus boy responded by saying that he didn't care and that the table was cleaner than our filthy houses.
The other incident I recall was in Nice, France at an outdoor cafe. We sat down at a table and waited for a server to come around. The manager came out and asked us to leave, in a very rude manner I might add, because the remaining tables in the cafe had already been reserved for a tour group coming in. I'm not sure if that was the truth or if he was asking us to leave becase we weren't white. Either way, he could have been more polite.
Other than those two incidents, we never had any other bad encounters, even, surprisingly, in Spain where the people were actually very nice and helpful even after hearing we are Filipino. What surprised me even more was that most of the people we met actually knew some Tagalog words and phrases.
Las Vegas, NV USA Tue 12/06/2005
racial slurs in europe
Wow, I have live in the United States for over 20 years, and I have racial slurs directed at me only six times. In Europe, Shawn had already experienced racial slurs directed at her 3 times in 7 days!!! That is alot. No wonder many African Americans are afraid to travel to other countries.
Los angeles, ca USA Sun 12/04/2005
Thank you for your imput. I'm sorry you had a such a bad experience in Rome, I on the other hand had a great experience. As for London being so expecting, I was called a racial slur 3 times during my 7 day stay, so no place is perfect. Still tried to have a good time.
Shawn (Black Female)
USA Fri 12/02/2005
Stares and rudeness
I think that, although of course sadly there are racist people everywhere you go, you shouldn't automatically associate rudeness or staring with your colour. Im a white woman and I'm going to say the people in Rome are the rudest I've ever met. As a tourist I was treated with downright hostility on a couple of occasions, despite being polite myself. In one shop, a Roman behind me helped out and apologised for the attitude of the shop assistant. So some people just don't like tourists! Still had a great trip though and some people we met were nice, but there was an anti-tourist atmosphere at times. With regards to London, we are a very multicultural city and mixed relationships are also very common. I am in a relationship with an African man. In three years we have been stared at once. However, I've done a fair bit of staring at American tourists of all colours myself. I know it is rude but sometimes you just can't stop yourself! You guys do tend to stand out a bit and it is behaviour, not colour, that attracts attention.
London, UK Fri 12/02/2005
racism in europe?
I am quite surprised by all these comments. Either I am very lucky, or Americans are ultra-sensitive. I am an Arab Muslim man and I have travelled Europe extensively and never once encountered anything that smacked of overt racism. If anyone harbored any racist sentiment, they surely kept it to themselves. In fact, ironically enough, when I would tell people I am from the states I would get rude comments and stares. After a while I would tell them I am Palestinian and people were delighted! Go figure. I have certainly experienced more racism here in the country of my birth and upbringing, the country I was educated in, live in, and pay taxes in, the good ole U.S. of A.
Detroit, USA Thu 12/01/2005
Black Briton traveller
Hi having quickly glanced at this forum, it appears that most of you are Americans travelling in Europe. Well I'm an African Caribbean woman, born and brought up in Southampton, England and have lived in London for a number of years. I have travelled all over many European countries, sometimes on my own and I have had a great time. It helps if you learn the basic phrases in the languages of the countries you have visited. I can honestly say that I have experienced more racism in Southampton than I have experienced during my travelling. And I experienced a lot of racism in Southampton as there are not many black people, or other ethnic minorities. Believe me London and othe large metropolitan cities such as Manchester and Birmingham are completely different from other areas where there are not many black or asian people. So do not think that Lonodn is representative of the whole of the UK. I have also been to various African countries, countries in South East Asia and North and Central America. Most of the local people there have assumed that I am African American and cannot believe that I am British. The common perception of Britons are that they are caucasian. They find it very unusual to meet black Britons. When I went to North America- Canada and USA, they were fascinated by the fact that I am British and by my accent. When I went to Vietnam last year, I generally enjoyed the people, food and the culture, however I was stared at quite a lot and rude comments were made. The culture for women is to cover up exposed areas, arms, legs and faces during the day. I asked several Vietnamese women why and they said that they wanted to keep their skins fair, having dark(er) skin was not beautiful and also a showed your status i.e. that you worked on the land. Now please remember that Vietnam is a largely agrarian society. I guess this is a legacy of colonialism. Also remember that during the 17th and 18th century in England it was the fashion for women in the upper classes to have pale skin. Why? people with tanned skin were workers, it showed your status. And of course nowadays it is popular to have tanned skins to show off they have travelled and can afford to travel. Anyway I'm rambling but I would be interested to hear from more Black Britons on their experiences which may be different from african americans.
London, UK Tue 11/22/2005
Response regarding Greeks in France
Britain, yes there are Greeks in France and a street full of Greek restaurants on the rue de la Huchette near Notre Dame in Paris. I suppose whether Greeks are considered "white" might actually depend on one's skin tone but we are usually considered "European". My father and uncle had rather dark skin and here in California I am often mistaken for someone of Mexican origin. A friendly security guard in Paris in the late 1980s took several guesses as to my country of origin until I finally told him. He was curious but not rude in anyway. Yassou!
California USA Mon 11/07/2005
Travelling to Sicily
My wife and I are both Africans (Nigerians) that have lived in the UK from our teenage years and are considering buying a holiday home in any part of Europe where it's warm during the winter, which narrows our choices to the quite a few places (Greek Islands, Cyprus, Canary Islands, Sicily). We are going to explore Sicily - does anyone know how a black person might expect to be treated in Sicily, given that so many refugees from north and sub-saharan Africa are poring into the place at present. Uche
Southen, UK Fri 10/28/2005
We see couples that look just like us
When we are in Europe we see numerous couples that are just like us (the man is Caucasian and the woman is Asian) Being Chinese my wife can always find other Chinese especially in Paris. I speak French and some German so fitting is is easy for both of us. We feel more comfortable in Europe than in North America.
Bridgewater, NJ USA Mon 10/24/2005
Heading to Germany
I am finalizing plans to go to Germany where I hope to become an EFL teacher. I am a 36 year old african american woman who lives in New York City. I was wondering if anyone could share their experiences with me such as which towns and cities I should check out (I am thinking about East Germany).
Karen M. Fletcher
New York City, NY USA Sun 10/23/2005
No problems for us
We are an inter-racial couple (hubby is caucasian, I am Chinese) and not once did we experience any problems, no staring, rudeness, etc. pertaining to our races. We were in Rome, Sorrento, Capri, Siena and Florence (and using the buses, trains, etc.) There are many Chinese in Florence. We also attempted to use our basic Italian whenever possible.
Vancouver, BC Canada Sun 10/23/2005
Recently in Spain, Paris & London
I am recently back from Spain (Madrid and Salamanca) and London and Paris. I am African American and was traveling for three weeks with my husband and two friends, who are all African American as well.
For the most part, we were not ill-treated due to our race and found Spaniards in particular to be warm and friendly. This was in Madrid as well as a rural village near Salamanca. It was mainly the older generation in Spain who stared more and one older gentleman asked my husband where he was from, was he African, what was he? When my husband said "Americano" , the gentleman said "Ahhhh!" and went on his way. We didn't mind the stares we got there and in Paris. Big deal. If anything, all of us are 5'10" and taller, and our American accents always made people's heads turn no matter where we were. We realized it really is unusual to see a small group of African Americans traveling like that. Get out there, see the world, keep your wits about you, know at least a bit of the language and don't worry about what others will think.
Washington, DC USA Sat 10/22/2005
I just returned home from Italy, and I had a great time, and was treated like a princess by the people. Sometimes you get back what you give off, that may account from some treatment that a person receives. I was in Pisa, Florence, Rome, and Venice and noone treated me like a prostitute. Just really nice and welcomed.
USA Thu 10/20/2005
I'm a Black Canadian female and I spent a year living in central London and travelled throughout all of Western Europe, and not once did I experience any racism. The people I met were generally pleasant and if anything they saw me as Canadian first and a Black woman second. At the office I wasn't the Black girl (as I would be referred to here in Canada), but the Canadian girl. From my experience, it seems that nationality is an identifier first and foremost, followed by race. I did notice that my friends from African and Asian countries got treated badly compared to those of us from North America, Western Europe & Scandinavia, and the Antipodean countries (regardless of our race).
Canada Thu 10/13/2005
Racism in Pisa
I was in Pisa, Italy just to study for 2 months and ran into some racism. Racism is everywhere. I did not like the stares that I got in Italy, but they are not accustomed to seeing people of color that are actually tourists and not selling anything. Some Italians think that if you are a Black women then you are automatically a prostitute. I did not think that I am better than the Italians that have different hygiene pratices. I still like Europe and feel after reading these postings that I need to travel with someone to some of these places! I do not care if they do not who does not want me in Europe; I am going to go anywhere I please! Also, I was a little negative at first, but you have to laugh and go on. Some people are ignorant and will not change. That being said, I do feel that we should not post hateful posting, because that is just making it worse. You cannot fight hate with hate.
Orlando, Fl USA Sat 10/08/2005
Blacks & Jews in Central Europe
My husband and I are a biracial couple (he's african american, I am white)we had some uncomfortable moments in Berlin when we were there two years ago. Last year we were in Munich which was fine and Austria. In Vienna things were not pleasant at all - people were just mean. In fact we left Vienna early. We couldn't get served in a restaurant - we ended up in McDonalds for lunch as we were completely ignored. They wouldn't help us in the train station and the Austrian passport control on the train from Munich was trying to start of fight with my husband I believe to give him a reason to take us off the train (my husband wouldn't bite). However Salzburg and Innsbruck were great and people were very nice. There were stares of course but we were treated like anyone else. And in the end that's all you really want is to be treated like everyone else.
New York, NY USA Thu 10/06/2005
Munich, Prague, Salzburg
I've just returned from Europe, I spent most of my time in Munich and felt safe there. I did not feel uncomfortable even though a few people stared, I think mainly out of curiousity since I was alone. However, in Prague it was a little different . . . I met another black, American woman who lives in Prague and we walked around together, we were stared at quite a few times, in one case a man stopped right in front of me with his mouth open (older gentelman). I stared back, I'm from NYC, it was almost a reflex action on my part, I got a bit tired of the staring in Prague but I would still recommend the trip because the city itself is very beautiful and I had some of the best food ever. I enjoyed Salzburg a lot and people did not stare as much, merely glanced and they were very cordial. All in all it was a fantastic experience and I would recommend it to anyone.
West Orange, NJ USA Thu 10/06/2005
Blacks and Jews in Central Europe
I recently visited Austria for an extended period of time, I also visited Italy and Germany during part of my stay. I am mixed race,(Black, White, and Mexican), during most of my trip I was with my friend who is African American who darker than myself. He said there were several occasions where people would pass rude comments, stare, and he was almost attacked by a group of skinheads. They were isolated situations, but you have to be aware. I didn't experience any racism myself, just silly questions, sometimes stares. I have huge curly hair, green eyes, and light brown skin. People often asked me where I was from, or said stuff like you're very handsome because you're almost white, which was kinda offensive. Italy I felt like I fit in more, Germany was terrible, and Austria was great however there were many skinheads and racism against Jewish people was normal. There were some sticky situations I was faced with in Germany with skinheads but not major situations, I found that in Austria and Germany people were more curious than racist, and Italy was not out of my comfort zone.
Montclair, nj USA Mon 10/03/2005
I am thinking of traveling to France. I've heard that there is a large Southern European population in France mostly Itallian, Spanish and Portuguese.
Could anyone tell me if there are any people of Greek decent in France. Are the Southern Europeans there mostly of Itallian, Spanish and Portuguese decent.
Would Greeks be considered white in France?
I would appreciate any advice.
Britain. Sat 09/24/2005
Asian in Spain
I am a Korean-American studying in Spain. I've been here for 2 weeks and so far have been in 3 cities in Andalucia. There definitely is more of an overt racism here than America. More than it being malicious, I think it comes from curiosity and ignorance. They just aren't very familiar with asians here. They think that just because I'm asian, I'm Chinese. The next race they guess is Japanese. Frequently, I hear in a distance people calling me "china" or "chinita". Once, a man was rude enough to drive by me slowly and ask, "Como te llamas, China?" or "What's your name, Chinese girl?". Yes, it doesn't feel good to be blatantly mistaken for Chinese, but it happens so frequently that I'm becoming used to it. I know not to let these things get to me, because I am having the best time exploring Spain (so far southern Spain). I've been reading the previous posts, and it seems like people have had bad experiences in Madrid (I haven't been there yet). Is there anything I should be concerned about before traveling there?
USA Sun 09/18/2005
I just got back from Rome, with a day trip to Florence. It was beyond awesome!!!!!!! As an African-American, there were absolutely no problems with my experences in Italy.
Brooklyn, NY USA Mon 08/29/2005
German Travel: Change in Attitude
I am an native black american woman living and working in Europe. I travel quite often to Germany, about one trip per month. After a trip this past weekend through Bavaria, (Munich, Nuremberg, Ansbach, Frankfurt, up to Hannover), I've definitely noticed a change in treatment. It may have something to do with major social and political changes in Germany, the SPD is increasing in power among general population, but specific occurrences and attitudes of those I encounted are a concern.
Brussels, Belgium Fri 08/26/2005
I am an African-American traveler and the pickpockets I was warned about by hotel staff and that I encountered were Gypsy children. As we were making our way up the staircase from the Colosseum, they pounced on my family. And they almost succeeded in stealing from us. They used the ruse of trying to sell us newspapers, while the other two girls tried to unfasten my purse. I remember doing research before we left and was quite upset that people seemed to be "picking on" the gypsies of Rome. Too, as an African-American I thought well I will not prejudge these people. Naturally, I was saddened when these gypsies tried to steal from us. So I am warning all travelers that the people who tried to steal from me and several other hotel guests of non-African descent were gypsies. So I am not sure about what the person Scagnetti has mentioned, but from my own experiences, I was not accosted by any African pickpockets!
Boston, MA USA Wed 08/24/2005
I just got back from Italy, and don't worry, you will have an amazing time. I went through Tuscany and Rome. The people are nice, and there are a lot of black people living in Italy. Just be safe, and keep all your belongings on you because there are a lot of signs throughout metro stations and musuems that says "Beware of Pickpockets". And yes the eat tons of Gelato. It's the best I ever had.
St. Louis, MO USA Tue 08/23/2005
Im an african american male who's both visited and lived in Spain. I personally was treated very well by the locals, and I dont think you'll have any problems at all in Spain. However, my friend who is Saudi Arabian experienced a fair amount of discrimination in Barcelona. By not being allowed in certain bars and discos because of his nationality. But he said he had no problems like this when he visited the smaller cities. So go to Spain, enjoy. You shouldnt have any problems what so ever.
USA Wed 08/17/2005
Amber, I have been to Europe and Asia several times and trust me ignorant people and stupid people are everywhere. You can avoid them any more than you can avoid them at home. Yes people will stare but they are probably staring at you when you are at home you just do not notice it because you are in a comfort zone and know where you are going and just do not really pay too much attention.
Use common sense as I hope you would at home. If you go out at night know where you are going as to not get lost. When all else fails ask a native. Some may not understand you but most will especially the younger generation because they tend to be taught English at a very early age. If is helpful to try and say hi, thank you, please, etc. in the language of the people you will be around. It shows you are trying and most people really like that and will fall over themselves to help you.
Put aside all your fears because it will keep you from enjoying yourself while you are there. Ignor the rude people, mean people and move on. Be like a dry spoung and soak up the culture. Spend some time not running around and sit in a sidwalk cafe and people watch, drink a coffee and relax. You will appreciate that you did and probably meet some really nice and intresting people from the country you are going to. I have been all up and down Italy and only incountered one fool to which makes for a very funny story and memory.
Newport Beach, CA USA Wed 08/17/2005
To A Different Kind of Minority
I am not transgendered, so I have no direct experience with travel in that regard. But being abroad in general I think a bit of common sense (avoid skinheads, don't trust random strangers, get relevant information about prevailing attitudes in the places you're going) goes a long way for any minority. Be it racial or otherwise. In your case I would only add that its probably a good idea to have a private room in a safe and respectable hotel, as public toilets and changing rooms may be an issue if someone freaks out.
San Francisco, CA USA Tue 08/16/2005
Small world, I'm from VA Beach. Don't worry about your travels to Europe. Everyone has a different experience, just use your street smarts that you use at home and apply it over there. I've been to Europe only twice and had no problems. Most stares that you receive are only out of curiosity, esp. if you go to a small town or village. There is racism everywhere, but you should not have any problems at all on your trip. Just be who you are, be accepting of others and you will get along fine with others. And most of all, don't let someone else's bad experience worry you. Have a safe trip!
Los Angeles, CA USA Mon 08/15/2005
Hi Frank, My husband and I have done alot of traveling in Europe the past 3 years. We are an interracial couple (I am white my husband afro-latino). Our first trip was to Amsterdam and Brussels. Amsterdam is a very cool city. Brussels was fine, had no problems but my husband felt everyone was starring at him like he was the first black man they had ever seen. But aside from stares (which we get here in the US) there were no problems. Germany was a bit more tense. We were in Berlin and found people treated us quite rudely. When I approached someone by myself they were fine but with my husband they were always rude. In Munich people were a much nicer. What we did find was that German border control on the trains were very rude. Gave my husband the third degree. But you know don't let these things ruin your trip. We were in Barcelona, Spain earlier this year and people were not nice at all but yet my husband loved the city and would go back in a second. I also want to point out that with all the traveling we've done in the US and Europe, the city of Boston is where we experienced the strongest racisim and cruelest treatment. The city was pretty but we won't go back there again. Enjoy your first trip to Europe. Our trip to Amsterdam and Brussels was my husbands first trip to Europe too.
NY, NY USA Fri 08/12/2005
I am glad to see all of the great advice given through this forum. My wife and I are an interracial couple (Me Afr Am 47, she Cauc 48). We are planning to visit Belgium (My wife is of Walloon descent) and Amsterdam with a possible side trip to Zukspitz (sp) in Germany. We are leaving the first week of September. It will be my first European trip and her second (first to Belgium/Amsterdam) and we are extremely excited about it. We are particularly interested in the experiences of other interracial couples who have traveled and stayed in this region. Best places to enjoy good folks, where not to go, etc. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
Minneapolis, MN USA Fri 08/12/2005
My husband and I just returned from a wonderful 2 1/2 weeks in Germany, Prague, and Amsterdam, and had no problems at all as a mixed-race couple (I am Chinese, he is Caucasian). We saw quite a few other mixed-raced couples along the way of all ages, and no one really seemed to care. Treatment that could be perceived as prejudice can easily be overcome by extreme politeness and learning phrases in the local language to show that you are a sincere traveler.
Canada Sun 08/07/2005
A different kind of minority
Well, this seems to be the forum for this question. Though we're both caucasian, my travelling partner for next summer is transgender. Biologically male, lives as a female. As such I know that our travel styles will have to be a bit different (last time I stayed at hostels the whole time, need private rooms now, etc). All of her ID is as her male persona. Anyone else experienced travel as transgender before? She'd like to travel as her true self but is wondering if she can.
USA Fri 08/05/2005
Don't Fret It
My husband (Chinese from NYC) tells two stories from his visit to Italy about 40 years ago. While eating in a restaurant he looked up to see Italians with their noses pressed to the window watching him eat. At another town people wanted to stand next to him while a relative took pictures. He was not offended at all. It is just a nice memeory now. We recently returned from Europe including Italy. Maybe there are more minority tourists about now. No such problems. We are a mixed couple since I am Caucasian. We have never had any incidents anywhere in the USA or overseas. If something were to happen, we would just ignore it and go on our way.
Exton, Pa USA Fri 08/05/2005
One isolated incident in Paris
I'm an African American teenage girl. I travelled with my white female friend and another African American female friend. We lived in the south of France for 2 weeks. The French people treated us very nicely. We didn't encounter any racist remarks. The only racist remark that we received was when we went shopping in Paris. In Paris a French-African man yelled at my African American friend, "Je suis black". We immediately got away from the man and avoided the same route when we returned from shopping.
USA Thu 08/04/2005
I would like to take a tour in about 3 weeks to Eastern Europe. The tour begins in Berlin and goes to Prague, Budapest, Vienna, Krakow, Warsaw and through Slovakia. Has anyone traveled to those countries recently and if so how were you received? I am mostly worried about Hungary. I am a black female who has traveled to mostly Western Europe and Asia.
chicago, il USA Sun 07/31/2005
43 Year black female living in Europe
Well, Iīve actually done it!! After seven years of teaching elementary school children in the inner city of Los Angeles, and feeling burned out, I have made the big move to Europe and I donīt regret it one bit. Right now, I am staying in Germany with my German boyfriend. In about two weeks, I will move to the Czech Republic to attend TEFL training. Afterwards, I will look for a ESL teaching job. If anyone would like to e-mail me with inquiries about Germany, the Czech Republic, or Europe in general, I would be more than happy to try and answer your questions.
Marburg, Germany, Wed 07/20/2005
Spain-Madrid and Barcelona
I spent time in Madrid and Barcelona in March and did not experience any prejudice or discrimination. As a Chicana(Mexican-American) graduate student traveling with my Italian American school mate and friend we did not have any negative experiences. I think that what helped was that I speak Spanish and while my friend did not, the only trouble we had was being understood in Barcelona as most people we encountered in the restaurants and museums speak Catalan, not Spanish. The only incident that made me very aware of my Mexican appearance was when I greeted an artist in front of the Prado Museum in Madrid with "Hola, como esta?(Hello, how are you)" He looked at me surprised and asked me in Spanish "Where are you from that you know MY language so well". I politely explained that my parents were from Mexico and he smiled and told me it was good that I spoke the language. While I was a bit offended at his comment as it seemed that he was being possesive with a language that represents my culture as well, I think that this is just a small indicator of the effects of Spanish conquest. I WOULD ENCOURAGE ANYONE TO GO TO SPAIN! THIS WAS THE FIRST TIME IN MY 24 YEARS THAT I EVER NEEDED A PASSPORT AND DON'T PLAN ON LETTING IT BE MY ONLY TIME. THE TRAVEL BUG GETS YOU AND YOU CAN'T HELP BUT THINK ABOUT THE NEXT TIME YOU WILL TRAVEL.
USA Tue 07/19/2005
I live in Britain where there is a large South Asian population. They are visible in the UK. I would like to know if its rare to see South Asian people in America.
I would be interested to know what how British South Asians are treated when visiting the USA and their experiences.
Britain Tue 07/19/2005
A Roman Holiday
I am a Black woman who traveled alone to Rome in April 2005 and encountered no real problems. On my first day there, after leaving my hotel,I pulled out my map from the hotel and an elderly couple stopped to inquire if I was lost. They then proceeded to give me their recommendations on where to have lunch,but with the caveat that it would be barbaric to have lunch at 11:00 am as I was seeking to do ! In fact, there was not one night when I was in a cafe or trattoria that some Roman man didn't either try to buy my dinner or send me over wine. After this occurred a few times, I even asked a local woman if perhaps they thought I was an African prostitute( because I'd done some research before I left). She just died laughing and said no way, Italians can always tell the difference and for me to just take the compliment as such. Anyway, I eventually did and met a nice man who was my personal tour guide while I was there and really made my trip that much more special and enjoyable.
Houston, TX USA Wed 07/13/2005
France and Spain
I spent 7 months in France teaching English in a small town just south of Limoges. I found the French to be nicer the further south that I went.
The racism that I experienced was mostly sly, even though I did have people muttering slurs as I passed them, students and fellow teachers who were angry and uncooperative because their teacher was black, and passing motorists yell taunts as I walked down the road. I found that Black Americans were treated better than Africans or Caribbean nationals and that an English-influenced French accent made people assume that I was American (I'm West Indian).
I'm really glad tohave found this forum as I've only recently come across some interesting internship and language programmes in Spain (Barcelona, Salamanca). But honestly, I'm scared and hesitant. Before leaving for France, I heard wonderful things about it from people who had gone as tourists. While there, I realised that it's one thing to visit and another to actually live and work there.
West Indies Sat 07/09/2005
hey, i'm just replying to greatnpowerfuloz's apprehension about paris. i'm chinese-american and have been studying in paris for the past 7 weeks. i certainly have not encountered anyone discriminating against me. men are very assertive here, and during one encounter, one man asked what my ethnicity was. i told him i was chinese, so he then went on to ask how the weather was in china!! i told him i was american, actually. he was so taken aback. i guess he has this huge vision of america as completely white-washed. other than that, people are very nice and i've never felt threatened b/c i was asian.
as for not knowing french, almost everyone here (at least the younger ones) have a working knowledge of french. i suggest that u attempt to ask them in french if they speak english, just out of respect, and most of them will be glad to switch over for you.
since ur traveling alone, expect to be hit on by random men who ask for ur phone number. other than that, just have lots of fun. it's such a beautiful city!
USA Wed 07/06/2005
Asians in Holland
My husband & I travelled as part of a Canadian veterans tour group to the 60th Anniversary of the Liberation of Holland in May. The people travelling with this tour billeted with families in various towns in Holland. Our group stayed with families in Goor, which is near the German border. I was a bit apprehensive because the Dutch were hosting "Canadians", many of whom were war vets. We are third generation "Chinese" Canadians (too young to be war vets) and I was worried that our host family would be disappointed & not consider us Canadian because of our Asian ethnicity. My concerns were groundless as we were very warmly welcomed by the family & the other people in the town and our ethnicity never came up.
I had travelled in Europe 35 years ago when I was a university student and at that time people always assumed I was from China & could not accept my Canadian status because I didn't look "Canadian". Times have changed because when we were in Bruges, Belgium, having dinner, the waiter was guessing where we were from and asked "America?", "England?", before we answered Canada. China never came up.
We found people in Holland & Belgium very friendly and helpful and were especially pleased to meet Canadians.
Burnaby, BC Canada Wed 07/06/2005
Bought the ticket , now I have to go!
I sure am glad I found this forum. I'd love to hear from anyone who has some good advice for me.
Ethnically I am Mexican but my family has been in America since before it was America (they just moved the borders on us). Almost everyday I get mistaken for an Asian, Hawaiian, Latin American native. My friends say I should be a spy for the FBI as I seem to pass for everything!
I am wondering what to expect in Paris. This will be my first trip as a solo female. I was very excited when I bought my ticket but now I'm getting nervous. I speak a little Spanish and some German but no French. I plan on taking a phrase book though.
I'm just wondering what to expect since I look like I belong to just about every country where people have black hair, brown eyes and light brown skin. Do the French have any beefs with people of color I should know about?
I'll be spending almost two weeks in Paris and can't wait to see all the history and art and culture. Just wondering what the French might make of me as a single female of color.
Portland, OR USA Sun 07/03/2005
Good luck with your trip Heather! I'm a 27 year old from California & I went to London, Kent & Liverpool on my own last year. I'm Filipina & I too had some worries about not blending in. All of my worries diminished once I was there. The main cities are way more diverse than I thought and everyone that I interacted with was friendly. The people that ask questions are usually just curious :) I'm planning a trip to Paris, Amsterdam & Brussels next April, so we'll see how things go there!
CA USA Fri 07/01/2005
Heather, Hope you have a great time. I've been to Paris, London, Rome and Florence and you will love each and every place.
I am white but my husband is Black Latino. We were never treated badly in these cities. I would say Vienna and Barcelona were the only places we were treated badly. Paris is very diverse, I am not going to stay they don't racial problems but cities here do to. London is just about as diverse as Paris. Rome and Florence are less diverse but you shouldn't have any kind of racial problems. You will get stared at alot but most women in Italy do.
Go and enjoy and don't let yourself get caught up in any thing negative
New York, NY USA Wed 06/22/2005
Being a young minority who has traveled to Spain, France, London, Scandanavia, Hungary and Austria, I have come to appreciate when you are friendly and go out of your way to find out about cultures and customs, your trip will be a great success. Everybody has "bad days" or are "rude", (American's included) Don't let racism/stares stop you from seeing all the great people, places as well as history, the world has to offer. Keep Traveling!!!
Chicago, IL USA Fri 06/17/2005
Travel to Chile or Scotland
Hello, My husband and I are of Asian Indian origin. We are planning an overseas trip and are considering Chile or Scotland in September. Has anyone experienced any problems in these countries? Thanks for the help. Also to Ingrid- Spain and France were wonderful; we experienced no problems whatsoever. If this is your first time out of the country, I would recommend France as it is very cosmopolitan and many people understand English.
Tampa, FL USA Sun 06/12/2005
I read a lot about Germany xenophobia and had some concerns during my visit May 2005. I knew that the German economy wasn't doing well and that neo-Nazi political parties won seats in the eastern German states. However I'm happy to report that in the areas I visited (Frankfurt, Cologne, Hamburg, Berlin, Dresden) there weren't any incidents stares etc. On the contrary the people were keen to help confused tourists. A man helped me purchase S Bahn tickets at the Frankfurt airport and showed me the track when I first arrived. The ticket agent at Cologne was very helpful and showed me how to fold a ticket in half to fit the slot of the ticket validator machine when I thought it wouldn't fit. I also witnessed a man helping a Muslim women carry a baby carriage off the train. I sat next to a young man dressed in the Goth style ( dark ripped shirt, pierced eyebrows etc) in a restaurant and he asked if he could smoke. He spoke German first and after noticing I couldn't understand appologized and spoke English. Germany is dealing with changes to its social composition and with unrealized expectations arising from reunification and you will hear about demonstations against "auslanders". Your reception as a minority tourist will depend more on your respect for the host country than your pigmentation and doing your homework( some language and local customs) as Rick suggests will allow you to enjoy the best of people and countries.
My worst moment as a tourist came when I witnessed a young women rudely ask the staff at the Imperial palace in Tokyo if she could wander through the palace on her own and when she was told no, she muttered " it wasn't a convenient attraction". As a tourist you need to understand not everything is an attraction built for you like a theme park. It's someone's home.
Burnaby, BC CANADA Wed 06/08/2005
Ingrid!! Get to packing and go!
Go, Go, Go. Don't get overwhelmed with the choices, just make one and go. Allow me to share a few things about my first solo trip abroad; 1) release all of your inhibitions 2) think safety 3) know that mishaps will sometimes happen 4) you don't really appreciate a trip until you've returned home 5) pictures are worth 1000 words but a fully immersed EXPERIENCE abroad is priceless 6)Don't allow unexposed, inexperienced family and friends with a "glass half empty" attitude prevent you from going. Enough said. Here's what I did. I picked Paris and took and 8-week language course (I met the best travel friends at the course)and went. What I found is that I used (remembered) a fraction of what I learned in the course and that being polite, open-minded, respectful of others cultures, and practicing proper etiquette took me farther than the language course. What's more I fell in love with Paris. I'd never been more subdued by a city. Also,you'll find out lots about yourself and what a great person you really are.
Austin, TX USA Thu 06/02/2005
Just came back from a trip to amsterdam and bruges a few months ago. as a filipino-american i did not feel any rascism in amsterdam, in fact most people were friendly. now bruges was an entirely different story - a lot (not all) of the people were rude and unfriendly. i got in to a chocolate shop that r. steves recommended, but the girl in the store totally ignored me and started talking french to a couple who came in after i did. the curator at one of the museums at burg square was also very rude, did not speak to me at all. and one morning, as i got out of the hotel in the bitter cold and had a coughing fit, an old lady riding a bike was mocking me- as if she was coughing also! i am not sure if it was the color of my skin or my appearance but it's a shame that a very beautiful city ( a photographer's paradise)has very unfriendly people...
USA Tue 05/31/2005
I just came back froma wonderful trip to Italy and Athens. It was the best. Do not worry you will be fine. No problems at all. SpecialK is right you will get a few starres but it is pretty funny. I have been all ove Italy and never had any problems. In fact I have never had any problems any where I travel. I once had a a young girl in Xian, China look at me and say, "Oh wow" I just fell out laughing. You have to remember that depending on where you are from people do not see other nationalities even here in the US.Happy Travels!!!!
Newport Beach, Ca USA Tue 05/31/2005
Welcome to the forum! Congratulations on deciding to venture out and explore the world! All of the places that you mentioned sound great! Trying to narrow the choices down is very difficult! If this is your first time outside of the country, maybe you might want to do London first just to get your feet wet. If you do not speak any other languages, the fact that English is spoken will make adjusting to a foreign environment a lot easier. How much time do you have? What are your interests? Do you like walking tours? If so, London has tons of them! Do you enjoy going to museums? If so, London has some very good ones. Do you like beautiful countrysides? If so, you could take day trips out to the Cotswolds, Bath, Stonehenge, Oxford, Cambridge...and the list goes on and on. I found Londoners (and the English, in general, to be very friendly). Do you have an outgoing personality? If so, that helps a lot. Don't worry about traveling alone. I've been doing it for years and have found that it's the best way to meet people. If you are by yourself, the locals feel more comfortable coming up to you and talking than if you were with a companion. In the evenings, when dining alone, take a journal, or postcards to send back home. While having dinner in a London restaurant, people started asking me questions when they saw me writing my postcards! I met people on the train, on bus tours, walking tours...it was great!! If you need help planning your trip, e-mail me and I'll be more than happy to give you advice.
I have also been to Italy and Paris. So if you would like any suggestions, tips, or recommendations on those places, just send me an e-mail.
Take care and happy travels!
Los Angeles, CA USA Tue 05/31/2005
Go Travel!! You will not regret it.
I backpacked through europe with my friend with my best friend who is of Peruvian descent. However, she always is mistaken as a Cuacasian female. I am an African American female.
London: I felt completely at home in London. There is quite a big black population there... so I didn't receive any stares.
France: Ditto for France. I actually learned quite a bit of the language and found it to be a nice place.
Amsterdam: My friend and I were both actually mistaken for locals! That was really fun.
Italy: The men were definitely staring at me. Even my friend commented about it. But she said jokingly, sheesh I feel like chopped liver in comparison to you. I also got mistaken for Lauren Hill which was not a bad thing in my book! hee hee
Spain: I majored in Spanish and had held Spain in high esteem. And I was not dissapointed. I was stared at by children and some adults. But overall my expererience was really wonderful. And I am going back with a different friend who happens to be African American as well.
I say, take this as an opportunity to educate others and enjoy yourself. My trip was fantastic. I would definitely go back to Europe. I also just want to reiterate that I found Italian people to be very warm, and friendly. In fact my friend and I boarded a water taxi and a young man was sitting with his Mom and she grabbed me to make room for me to sit. My experience of Spaniards and Italians was really wonderful.
Walnut Creek, Ca USA Fri 05/27/2005
Just got back from Europe
I took my 12 year old daughter to Paris, Switzerland (Nyon) and Venice. We had a great time!!!We met wonderful folks-both from the places we visited and many from the USA on vacation. I saw lots of people clutching their Rick Steves books! We were treated very nicely in all the places that we visited. We did get a lot of stares in Venice-mainly on the Lido-where we stayed. I think it was more of a curious look than racism. My daughter and I are very polite and respectful of other peole and cultures. My French is very good but I was new to Italian. But you know what-I tried and people seemed appreceative of my effort! I will say that I had to throw generalities / steriotypes out the window. The people in Paris were warm,funny and very friendly, the folks in Switzerland were reserved but genuine and the people in Italy were talkative,expressive and curious. I dealt with stares depending on the look-if they looked quizzical-I just smiled and said buon giorno. If I got what may have been a dirty look-I just made eye contact (I am originally from New York-we don't back down!)All in all,both myself and my daughter would go back to all these places. We are planning another Europe trip for next year. I will work on my Italian so that I can communicate better. Rick's books were on the money-I would like to take a trip on one of his tours-we met several people who really got to see parts of the places we visited more intimately. I would also travel even lighter next time! Of course-I would bring more money!!
Cockesyville, MD USA Wed 05/25/2005
Don't Skip Spain
I'm an American Black male, and I have to say with all honesty that before my trip to Spain in 2002, I had no idea that so many Spaniards were racist - and in a way I'm glad I didn't or I might not have gone. I had the BEST time in Barcelona - especially, and didn't experience any subtle or overt racism while there. I went into shops, dance clubs, the beach, museums, etc..., and was treated with kindness - I even bought a brand new camera while there. I also went to Madrid, and although the people in Madrid weren't overly friendly - I didn't have any problems. I asked for directions in my broken Spanish, went to the public library to use the internet (for free by-the-way), ate at a restuarant - all without incident. Also, my BEST friend from my 3 month tour of Europe (14 countries - to include all of Scandinavia, and several parts of the UK) is a Spaniard. We still write regularly to this day, and are both planning visits to one another's city. Please, please, please don't let these stories of isolated incidents discourage you, because YOU can make a difference as to how Blacks are perceived, and received. Best of luck to all who travel there! I'm sure you'll have a good time.
Washington, DC USA Tue 05/24/2005
Sorrento and Capri
I've been to Sorrento and Capri and did not have any negative experiences. I echo the comments about the flirting. The looks were more out of curiousity. It's the most beautiful place I've ever been. Make sure you pronounce Capri with the emphasis on the first syllable. By the way, I'm in Austin, TX as well!
Austin, TX USA Mon 05/23/2005
Go! I 2nd it
Please, do go to Spain. It has some wonderful sites. Think of it as nuisance to deal with, the overt racism there. I?ve met some wonderful and helpful people there, and, overall had a great time. Every country has its bad apples but, unfortunately Spain has much higher instances of overt racism, and I?ve heard lots of ?excuses? for this, from the locals. They don?t even spare their own professional soccer players.
But, unless your personal safety is in danger, avoid that area, other than that you just go on enjoying the place, the good people you meet, local and travelers, and, that?s the best answer to the bigots and close minded.
It would be nice if influential people in travel industry, such as Rick Steves, let the local Tourist Office know, that what the perception and experience of the people is, and, the money brought in by tourism. That would be helpful.
SF, CA USA Mon 05/23/2005
Hey Globetrotterdiva,I have been to all the places in Italy you mentioned and experienced NO problems at all. The only thing you may experience are stares and men constantly flirting with you. Other than that, enjoy Italy and take in all that she has to offer--which is a lot!
Inglewood, CA USA Sun 05/22/2005
Black Female Traveling to Naples
HelloI'm October 2005 I'll be embarking on a trip to the Amalfi coast. I'd appreciate any info anyone can give me on their travel experiences (particularly as a black female) to Naples, Sorrento, and Capri. I'll be spending a week in the area. I've read one disturbing experience in this forum, the others seem make me regret not going to Rome or the Tuscany region. If it safe? Racism? I've traveled to Europe(Paris) and extensivly in Asia but never to Naples.
Austin, Tx USA Sun 05/22/2005
If I receive curious stares, I tend to ignore it because I understand that many people are not use to seeing a person of color. However, if people are gawking/staring at me as though I just flew in from Mars, I stare back at them. When I do this, they become embarrassed and uncomfortable. Then they look away.
Since I cannot speak their language, by physically demonstrating/imitating to them how they are behaving towards me, they are able to see and truly understand how they come across (and make me feel) when they act that way.
Last summer while visiting Germany, after a long day of sightseeing, my German friends and I were hungry. On our way back home, we decided to stop at an outdoor cookout being held by the owner of a local farmhouse. When I walked into the dining area, everyone stopped eating, talking, drinking and stared at me with their mouths and eyes wide open as though I had just landed from Mars. Tired from a long day of sightseeing, I was annoyed by their behavior. So I froze and stared back at them in the exact same manner (my mouth was hanging open, and my eyes were wide and glaring at them). Did you know that they became embarrassed, immediately stopped staring, put their heads down, and resumed what they were doing? For the rest of the evening, no one in that restaurant gave me a second look.
Keep in mind that most of the time, I write off the staring simply as curious looks. However, when it gets to the point of being intense, my solution is to either ignore it or stare back with the same degree intensity.
Los Angeles, CA USA Sat 05/21/2005
Ahh Europe. I am planning a trip to Spain & Ireland. I have a friend that is Irish and am visitng her, and another friend who is living in Spain for the summer. I completley forget about the stares. I visited Europe a few years back Italy, Switzerland and go stared at in Italy, Venic in particular. I will not be detered from going back, but I do dread the stares. When I was in Venice(I am an African-American woman my traveling buddy a Chinese-American woman) got stared at relentlesly). I don't know if the excessivness was the sight of us both together or just me or what. I wish I could speak Italian so as to bridge the gap. Some German family went so far as to film us on their home video. The experience was outrageous and extremley annoying. But I refused to let them hamper my trip, I had a fun time regardless (That's why I am going back) and will just have to prepare myself for the experience. The stares wouldn't be so bad if it was followed up by people actually speaking to me, wanting to know where I from and so forth. The constant staring and pointing gets old quickly. Before we got off of the tour bus in Venice the guide warned us about the Africans selling purses and such on the street, which was extremly insulting. Not every African is a thief nor every Italian is a model citizen. I wil just have to prepare myself for any staring that may occur in Spain. I am not worried about Ireland since my friend is Irish and will be my guide.
Sacramento, ca USA Fri 05/20/2005
SpecialK: Everyone's experiences are different
It's hard to say if you will encounter racism in Spain or not. I have spoken to blacks who've had a wonderful time while visiting Spain. On the other hand, others have experienced racism.
I would suggest that you check out the website below and talk directly to the people who are living there. Perhaps they can suggest placess that may be more accepting towards people of color, as well as, recommend places to stay away from.
I, too, want to visit Spain and decided to talk to friends of a friend who live in Barcelona. They told me that I should not worry, and when I did decide to visit, I could stay with them in their home. When I move to Eastern Europe this summer, I plan on taking them up on their offer.
Also, keep in mind that everyone's experiences are different. One person may encounter racism, and another one may not. The only way that you will know for sure is if you go and find out. That's what I'm going to do. If I don't like it, I'll just take my black behind, and my tourist dollars somewhere where my skin color doesn't matter.
Los Angeles, CA USA Thu 05/19/2005
On the subject of stares
On the subject of stares ? don?t read too much into them. While staring is generally considered rude in the US, this does not seem to be the case in Europe. Europeans will stare at you, they also stare at each other. It has been my experience that Italians, in particular, really enjoy beauty, and will stare at you if they think that you are nice to look at (this was explained to me by Italian friends.) I?m not talking about leering, this could be coming from young men, old women, children, anyone really. When you find yourself being stared at in Europe (and if you go, it will happen, regardless of race), meet the person?s eyes, give them a warm smile, and take it as a complement. They may just like your looks.
USA Thu 05/19/2005
I just got back from a 2 week trip to Madrid and surrounding areas. I experienced some very bad and uncomfortable moments...especially in bars. I realize it is a spanish thing to stare, but with me, it got out of hand. I am a black male and older women would hold their purse when i walked by and look me up and down. But that wasnt the worst problem. The worst experience was at a bar...and YOUNG university students mocked me...although of course, not directly. I won't be going back to Spain...and a good thing to do is to talk to non white immigrants there...it is an UNFriendly place.
USA Sun 05/15/2005
Mark: "Where are you from"
Mark, your contention that the question "where are you from" is thoughtless, is, itself, thoughtless. This is a perfectly reasonable question. People ask it as a conversation starter, to be friendly. We ask it of people we think are from somewhere else because we are interested. Being mistaken about that doesn't make us rude. How would we know unless we ask? The same question is asked of Americans when they travel. Does that make the Frenchman or German or Italian thoughtless because they asked? By your reasoning, it would, because they should assume we are natives who also happen to speak colloquial English.
Los Angeles, CA USA Thu 05/12/2005
Re: European Experience of a Mixed-Race American Female
Interesting that you mentioned, about ?Where you from? and ?What is your race?. Unfortunately, these kinds of mostly thoughtless comments are common in our country, right here in the USA. During my college days, we had a friend who was 3rd generation American of Japanese decent, she was asked frequently at the University where she was from and where her parents were from etc., which was annoying While we had another friend (white) who grew up in Midwest but was born in Germany, and held the German citizenship, no one asked her race or background, and we are a very multi cultural and fairly integrated country. The great thing about traveling is that it broadens our horizons and, hopefully will make us a little more considerate, understanding and accepting.
IN USA Thu 05/12/2005
European Experience of a Mixed-Race American Female
I'm a 30-year-old mixed race woman who has traveled to Europe every year since my first visit in 2000. I have visited France (Paris, the French Riviera), Spain (Barcelona, the Costa Brava), Italy (Venice, the Veneto, the Cinque Terre, the Italian Riviera), and Holland (Amsterdam, Haarlem, Lisse).
Being mixed (Black, White, Native American, and a Ukranian Jewish grandfather - just to keep it interesting!), I do not appear to be one race or another. Stateside and overseas, I'm used to the question "Where are you from? (The U.S.) No. I mean, where are your parents from? (The U.S.) No. I mean, what race are you?" Often taken for Native American, Hawaiian, Samoan, Mexican (specific), Latin American (general), North African, etc., I am accustomed to this line of questioning and curiousity. That said, I get plenty of stares that are not followed up by questions. The staring annoys me and I find it to be rude, but it's particularly commonplace in Italy (of the places I've been). No one has ever said or done anything rude or harmful to me, but there was a time in Chioggia (near Venice) that the staring was so awful as to be frightening, and I quickly left (went back to Venice).
In Paris it is quite common to see the police rounding up teenagers and young adults of African descent to ask for their "papers".
I think so long as you're polite and kind, you'll generally be just fine traveling in Europe. Don't let a few stares or rude people deter you from visiting Europe and experiencing it for yourself.
San Francisco, CA USA Tue 05/10/2005
Berliners are ignorant
I was in Berlin, I am black, my girlfriend blonde, and I got a continuous BARRAGE of stares, mutters, grumblings, gawking from ignorant Berliners everywhere I went.
It got to the point where I started to wonder if I needed to come to blows with some of the guys.
For what it's worth, it seemed like they were East Germans or Eastern Europeans who were the most hostile. The West Germans didn't even give it a second glance.
Skip Berlin if you're an interracial couple, this town is provincial like Arkansas.
Chicago, IL USA Sat 05/07/2005
Italy! She is indeed beautiful! I'm an African American female and I traveled there in 2003. It was the best vacation I have ever had. I did not experience any racism or mistreatment. When walking into a shop or business, a simple "ciao" or "buon giorno" will be appriciated. You cannot go wrong in any city in this beautiful country, whether it be the major cities or the countyside. I am still trying to come down from my high! I'm in awe of Italy. I just love the culture, the food, the language, the romance, and the history. When I finish up my masters, I am going there to teach English. Italians love life, so GET ON to Italy and enjoy it with them. Ciao!
Inglewood, CA USA Thu 05/05/2005
London, Paris, Zurich, Italy
I am a 21 year old Asian-Canadian female and I travelled with my family and boyfriend to these places in Europe.
London: I found Londoners a bit rude. I'm not sure if it was because we were asians or because that's just the way they are. But there was no overt racism. There were just a lot of stares in restaurants and trains.
Paris: Wonderful. No bad experiences at all.
Zurich: I was surprised that most of the locals knew how to speak english. They were very helpful and never hesitated to answer any of my questions.
Italy(Milan, Florence, Pisa): I felt like I fit in perfectly here. I guess it's because there are so many filipinos working in Italy, that they were used to it.
It's sad to hear so many negative experiences from Spain and Germany though. However, I'm so glad I stumbled upon this forum. It's really helpful and important.Also, keep in mind that you are a visitor in THEIR country. Please do not be loud and obnoxious and expect everything done for you. You also have to make the effort to fit in and DO NOT exhibit the 'ugly american' behaviors that have given us such bad reputations in Europe.
Vancouver, CANADA Sun 04/24/2005
Hello from the Czech Republic
Dobry denor Good day,
I am a 43 year old black American female who is writing this mail from the Czech Republic. At the moment, I am in a beautiful village called Cesky Krumlov. It is about one hour outside of Prague. I am planning on moving over here in July to teach English, and thought that I should come and check it out before I made the big move. Aside from a few stares, I have not encountered any problems. Many Czechs are not used to seeing black people, so I expect to be noticed. As long as they do not cause me any bodily harm, I do not mind. Speaking a little Czech when entering stores or meeting people certainly helps break the ice and makes the locals more receptive towards me.
Well, I have gotta run now...lots of places to see and not enough time to see them all.
Cesky Krumlov, CR Mon 04/18/2005
I was in Amsterdam 18 month ago, can;t say I felt uncomfortable at all. In fact it's got to be one of the most laid back countries I've ever been to.
I was at the Oktoberfest (Munich) last year and although many germans came off as "cold" I didn't sense any overt racism. Now ofcourse this was west Germany....
Just wondering if anybody could post more about positive travel experiences?
I've heard Australia and Iceland are cool places for "minorites"...
USA Sat 04/16/2005
I am British Asian M I went to E. Europe last summer with my Ukrainian-American F friend. I thought Warsaw would be more cosmopolitan since it's in the EU etc. But I was surprised, I hardly saw any non-white people. And the locals mostly stared at us, esp when checking into a hostel/hotel. Surprisingly in former USSR, Ukraine, I received virtually no stares at all. The first thing I saw when I got off Kyiv train station were some AM with WF. My friend told me there were probably Russian-speaking -stanis (e.g. Kazakhs, Uzbeks, Kirghiz), in fact people even came up to me in the street speaking Russian assuming I was local. We were speaking English on the local bus and this old lady ask my friend "Where did you learn to speak Chinese?" But younger people who were more "astute" would think we were Americans! Well it goes to show, stereotypes can go both ways.
UK Thu 04/14/2005
Racism in Amsterdam
We just returned from Europe, and the only place we ran into any negative attitude was in Amsterdam. I thought they would be super open minded given the way they live and what is legal over there. Instead we saw several groups of skinheads, on several occasions, yelling the most horrible things to blacks. It was terrible. If it had been once I would say it was just a bad apple, but it was several times in several different parts of the city. I loved Europe, and can't wait to go back, but I would think long and hard before returning to Amsterdam.
Locust Grove, GA USA Tue 04/12/2005
Hello Minority Defender,
Thank you very much for your response to my post. Of course I am not saying that people should travel to foreign countries without doing their homework first! To keep abreast of countries that may be questionable, I subscribe to the U.S. Travel Advisory Report. I also visit the forums of the countries that I plan to visit and speak to the locals. Also, keep in mind that everyone's experiences are different! I recall reading that one person of color went to Rothenburg, Germany and experienced blatant racism. I, too, have been there and did not experience any problems whatsoever. My experience was completely different! I simply want people to understand that, in spite of racism, they should not be afraid to venture out and see this wonderful world that we live in. Caution should be exercised in any situation! Regardless if you are a person of color, or a woman traveling alone.
Los Angeles, CA USA Tue 04/05/2005
Stop being afraid to see the world!
I am an black American female, age 43, who is planning on moving to the Czech Republic, in August, for a year to teach English. During the last seven years, I have traveled to four of the seven continents met many wonderful people, and had many wonderful experiences.
Does racism exist? Of course! I have seen skinheads in Germany. Heck, I don't even have to leave home to find 'em! My neighbor (who lives two doors down) is a member of the Aryan Nation! In my old neighborhood, I ran into one wearing a WHITE POWER T-shirt in the supermarket! If I let the fear of running into these people stop me from seeing the world, I would never leave the house!! Life is meant to be lived! Why not live it to the fullest?? If you are blessed with the time and money to travel, then do it! Please stop living in fear and get your butts out there and see the world NOW!!!
Los Angeles, CA USA Tue 04/05/2005
portugal and greece
Hello traveller, I am black dark skinned from New York , I went to both Greece and Portugal. I did a back packing trip in 2004 and those were the only two places in Western Europe that I experience low level racism. However, the incidents were isolated and they were more annoying than upsetting. In Portugal when I went into two different restaurants and they both told me they were closed even though they were packed with people and in Greece I was questioned by police had to show my passport, they weren't rude or anything however, they only stopped me and it felt a little like harassment. Those were the only problems I had in my month long trip in western Europe.
Brooklyn, ny USA Wed 03/30/2005
Racism in Spain
I'm Asian living for almost 5 years in Spain. I have exprienced the friendliness and hostility of its people. Some people are trying to be nice and friendly and the others just want to keep a distance. I've heard a lot of racist comments that non-white foreigners are not welcome here. I have faced some "bad" treats such as insulting laughs just because I'm Asian ("too exotic" for them and because most of us speak poor Spanish), women usually hold their handbags tightly when I pass through as if I would rob them and some stupid youngsters were trying to hit me by their car while I was doing jogging and a lot more. Nevertheless, I have found some nice and helpful people making a living in Spain a little bit comfortable. But anyway, I don't recommend Spain for Asians to live in (it's fine if you only want to visit it), but if you are Argentinian, American or another European, you are very welcome here and will be received with open arms.
Madrid, Spain Sun 03/13/2005
We just returned from a trip to Barcelona. My husband is black latino but often mistaken for African (including here in the US) and I am white american. I read this site all the time and love to hear about others experiences. The comments on this board regarding Spain and racisism is in our experience very true unfortunately.
Barcelona is an assume city and my husband wants to go back regardless of the treatment there but make not mistake, they will treat people of color badly. My husband speaks spanish which made things a bit different but the Spaniards have no love for all the Latin Americans that are there either so treatment wasn't that much better.
Women would not sit next to my husband on the subway. Clerks in stores wouldn't help us, people made rude comments which we would understand and of course all the stares (but those aren't really a big deal.)
Previous to going to Spain, Vienna was the place outside of the US we thought we were treated the worst.
New York, NY USA Thu 01/20/2005
I am a Filipino-American and I travelled to Spain last year with a Filipina friend. We did not encounter any rascism at all in Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia. In fact, a teen-age girl at the Montserrat train station asked if we were headed back to Barcelona, when we were about to board another train for the wrong town - she then directed us to the right train. I wish I could thank her more, as we could have had to stay in another town that night as that was the last train. When I went to Segovia from Madrid I met a Korean guy and a Chinese/English-Canadian girl at the bus stop - we ended up touring Segovia together and were amazed at the friendly people there especially at the BBB bar where we had lunch and the waiters were extremely friendly and gave us complimentary appetizers and drinks!
The only rude people I encountered were the ones at the Madrid train station, but i don't think that was due to my skin color or appearance. Barcelona to me is a "friendlier" city than Madrid. But that's just me..
Texarkana, TX USA Sat 01/15/2005