Minority Travelers' Forum: 2010
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.
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Asians Americans in Europe
It's unfortunate that C had the experience he had in the Czech Republic. There are ignorant people all over and hope these incidentss will not obscure the positive culture of the area and its people.
Because of his experience, I was apprehensive before travelling to Prague (5 days) and Budapest (4 days)a few weeks ago. We even took the student agency bus from Prague to Cresky Kromlov. Happy to report, no incidents.
Although I have travelled more than a dozen times in various countries throughout Europe, I have only experienced one minor "racial" experience. Taking a passeggiata at the Piazza Navona, I overhead some young kids making fun of us in some ridiculous sing-song gibberish fashion. However, this was overwhelmed by the tremendous amount of positive interactions we have had with Europeans (i.e., strolling in Lubeck and being invited by a relative of Thomas Mann to meet his family, a butcher in Dusseldorf who seemed unable to stop offering us enough samples. In fact, a couple of years ago, in Turkey, when we were having a very positive conversational interaction, the attitude changed completely when they found out we were Americans. Also, the comments by Jennifer were right on.
In spite of being in the USA for generations, even possibly speaking, spelling, and writing better English than some fellow Caucasian Americans, at first glance, how many Caucasians in American would look at an Asian first as an American? Comments anyone?
CA USA Thu 12/30/2010
I'm an Asian-American female (born and raised in NYC) and have travelled to London, Paris (9 times!!), Brugges, Amsterdam, Milan, and Barcelona. I've never encountered any problems as an Asian female (other than the usual scams discussed on RS's other boards - pickpockets, etc.).
The "worst" of it is the discussion about how it is possible I could be both Asian and American. Usually, the conversation would start with a police/interested/genuine "Ni hao?, " then move on to "Konichi-wa?" then finally an "Anhyoung?" A++ for the effort, but I always respond with "Hello (I'm an American)." If pushed (and depending on my mood), I might explain how my family got to the United States.
My sister and I realized after a couple of trips that none of this is designed to be offensive or obnoxious - it's simply a different understanding of the Asian diaspora. When they see my face, people immediately think "China" then "Japan" then "Korea." That a European (whether from the UK, France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, etc.) assumes I am not an "American" is not the worst thing in the world. In a way, it's Occum's Razor in effect? And, any surprise that when I'm in Europe, Asians from Asia will ask me for directons or information in their native language, only to be rejected by my frantic shaking of the head?
I am polite, I when possible, and then move on. No biggie.
New York, NY USA Wed 12/29/2010
Solo Chinese American in Europe
Hi, I'm Chinese American male planning to do some solo travel in Western Europe: London, Brussels, Amsterdam and Cologne. I see in your comment there are some racism, but most can be ignored and never confrontational. Outside of the basic common sense while traveling, is there anything else I need to be aware during my trip.
Colorado Springs, CO USA Sat 12/25/2010
African Americans Travel
I love to travel. I have traveled to London, Paris, Rome, and Barcelona. I have found many Africans through-out the U.K;. and even met an African African family touring Barcelona during my tour. I have experienced some racism: Paris, at the Sephora store, I was followed; at the Camden market in London, I saw swastikas and hate material being sold; and I was pick pocketed in Barcelona (not about race..ha Ha). I have had very few incidents of racism. In fact, when the U.K. people saw that I was an AA traveling, it sparked many conversations.
Atlanta, GA USA Fri 12/03/2010
Czechs hate Asians. Prague is not worth the racism.
I'm Chinese American and just returned from our Eastern Europe trip. I was travelling with my 2 siblings and we went to Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria and Croatia. We experienced the worst racism in Czech Republic. 1) A Czech man strove his bills in our face at the ATM. Laughing and making fun at us with his girlfriend. Another Czech man was standing next to us, but of course only we were picked on for no reason. We were too shocked to react and it just went downhill from here. 2) If there was a metro ticket inspector at the station, 99% of the time we were asked to show our tickets. Even if there were 100 local people in front of us, none of them would be asked. 3) A Czech man followed us at the old town. Saying "Ching Ching Ching, Jap Jap Jap" for almost a minute. He only stopped after I finally had enough of it and turned my back to look at him with my very angry face. 4) Customer representative Ms. Eliska Fritschova at the Karlovy Vary train station's Student Agency counter showed the ultimate racism to us. After we told Ms. Fritschova that we were looking for the bus schedule from Karlovy Vary to Prague, she pointed her fingers to the bus schedule fliers. She did not offer to help but we managed to figure out the schedule ourselves. While we were discussing among ourselves in Cantonese on which bus to take, she rudely shouted "Hello, Hello, Hello" many times in front of us. We were all quite shocked by her rude attitude and were all speechless for a second. She then shouted "Hello, Hello, Hello" again, rolled her eyes and made it very clear that she was disgusted by our presence there. There was no customer before us or after us. I complained to her manager and she told me Ms. Fritschova was reprimanded. Sorry but I don't really believe it. 5) The only places in Czech Republic that welcome Asians (at least on the surface) are LV, Gucci, Prada...you get the point. While not all Czechs we encounted were rude, we definitely do not plan on returning to Czech Republic anytime soon. Prague's not all that and it's just not worth the stress and anger.
Norfolk, VA USA Tue 10/05/2010
Another Perspective on Spain
I'm an African-American man who wanted to offer another perspective on Spain. I was there about a month ago for a week. I visited Madrid and Barcelona. While I do know people there, I wandered around quite a bit on my own. Honestly, I never experienced any trouble- a woman even helped me on the subway when I was confused about where to put my metro card in the machine to pay my fare. I had read about the advisory that the US State Department had on its website saying that we risk getting arrested by going there- but I walked past quite a few policemen and they didn't look twice at me. I do think that the more proficient in Spanish you are the better. I am not fluent but am conversational. I had such a great time that I am planning to go back early next year, this time to Granada, Segovia, and possibly Seville. I honestly think that politeness and a willingness to learn/speak the language goes a long way. And honestly, if you do come across a bigoted idiot, are you really going to let that person ruin a trip you paid good money to go on?
Boston, MA USA Mon 10/04/2010
Great time in Europe
I just got back (Weds, Sep 29) from 30 days in Europe and had no problems with my race - at least, not noticeably. I didn't travel to Spain or Italy, that could be why...? Never had problems with Italians in the past; not sure if they make differences between light skin and dark or not. Anyhow, I went to Berlin, Dresden, Prague, Cesky Krumlov, Vienna, Grunau im Almtal, Salzburg, Munich, Paris, Brugge and Amsterdam. I did feel uncomfortable at times in Berlin and Prague, but that is due to things I've read about Berlin (I saw no skinheads). People were very polite - more so than many Americans I have encountered here at home - and were pretty helpful on the whole. I really enjoyed my vacation, as I hadn't been to Europe in 9 years. And yes, I am glad Rick Steves amended his not-well-thought-out comment too. Many blacks here just aren't interested in Europe because it is not where we're from, our heritage lies in Africa and honestly, many blacks are afraid to travel there. But rest assured! There are a lot of blacks in Europe, Asians as well. More so now than 9 yrs ago.
Winston Salem, NC USA Fri 10/01/2010
Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner...
I am a single black female born and raised in London, England so I'm used to diversity and meeting Europeans from all over. I have travelled solo for several years due to some friends being less adventurous. Over time I have got used to the stares. Most have been out of curiosity and usually you can tell. Some are out of pure racism, but the best advice is just walk on by as these people are usually very ignorant. The weirdest experience was local people taking pictures of me in a small village in Poland and some young Italian male tourists taking pictures of me outside the gates of Auschwitz just because I was black. Yes it can be frustrating, but you do get used to it and sometimes can help to make friends with the locals as you have an advantage over the usual faces... Spain can be racist in places. I had no problems in Malaga, but met a black African guy who lived there who did have problems routinely. Seville was definitely a place I'd return to. The people were very friendly and helpful. Never been to Italy but would love to go despite being told by Italians that it is very racist in parts. My cousin who is an American citizen had a very bad experience with the police when someone crashed into the back of her car out there. I'm born and raised in London and feel at home, but outside of the major cities it can feel like you're in a different country. I've had people stare at me in the Lake District in Cumbria (Northern England), probably out of curiosity but I wasn't expecting it in my own country so now nothing surprises me. The more black people travel and get out there, the less stares we will get...
London, USA Sun 09/12/2010
Is Madrid Safe?
Hi, I'm a single African American female who want to visit Spain for three weeks in the summer of 2011. My first choice would have been Barcelona but I heard that they, including policemen, really harrass black tourist because of the immigration tourist. I've heard Madrid is more tolerant. Would I be safe if I travel to Madrid for a few weeks or should I venture further south to maybe Malaga or Marbella? The last thing I would want on my vacation is to be threatened for my safety in a foreign country at that. Also, I'm very grateful that Rick Steves amended his comment on why African Americans do not go to Europe often. I've been attempting to get my friends to go with me and I hear the same response that they're afraid they will not be able to get back into the U.S. They also are afraid of racism abroad that it may be more intense than it is in the U.S. All of them can afford to travel there and spend very well. There is a growing middle class Black and I really dislike the stereotype that we're all poor. Thanks for the correction, Rick and I enjoy your books and television shows on PBS.
Dallas, Texas USA Sat 09/11/2010
Asian-American in Italy
I lived for two months in Italy one summer, mostly in Siena but also in Florence and Rome, and encountered no racism. In fact, most people seemed to be fascinated by me. Italian men in particular were very kind, usually in a gentle flirtatious way, and only occasionally in a manner that was unsettling. Italian men, however, are much more forward than most American men (or Asian-American men for that matter), so that takes some getting used to. It always helped to try to initiate a conversation with a local in Italian, even if my Italian was shaky. I also think they found me interesting in part because Italians tend to not realize that I could be both Asian and American, and that I could speak Chinese, English, and Italian. When I responded to the question "Where are you from?" with "I am American," they usually repeated "No no, where are you actually from?!" All in all my experience in Italy has been positive. I also had no problems on a recent trip to London.
CA USA Fri 08/20/2010
Dressing like a European
SM: I plan to keep the jeans at home this European jaunt - and I will dress as you suggest (only I will wear dressy pants and blouses as I don't do sun dresses and hardly wear skirts). I plan to leave the T-shirts home as well. I do believe that Europeans look at how one dresses with a more critical eye than do Americans, as we tend to be more casual about such things.
Winston Salem, NC USA Sat 07/31/2010
Plus Sized ladies can be a minority in London!
I made sure to take note of where I could find a plus sized clothing store in London in case my luggage got lost on the way there. I located "Evans" ladies shop which is a chain like Lane Bryant but more fashionable and less "career woman" oriented.
It isn't the cheapest but the quality is great and is pretty affordable (Jeans, 20 pounds a pair, etc).
Evans shops are in Westfield Mall near the White City tube stop across from BBC and Oxford Street near Marble Arch tube stop.
Luckily my luggage didn't get lost but I did need to buy tights and got some there. They also sell boots, etc.
Boulder, CO USA Wed 07/28/2010
I'm not sure if we are categorizing "plus-size" as a minority haha, because it's definately not but I can't find any other forum that would fit this topic. Besides, in Europe most people are slim. On that note, I wanted to comment on how hard it is to find clothing for a plus-size woman. I'm a size 16, and could only buy shoes, purses, and scarves :-) So if there are any stories about finding shops that sell a wider range of sizes, I'd love to hear them!
Pittsburgh, PA USA Tue 07/27/2010
Loving Italy, and They Were Loving Me
I am a young, black, female, plus-sized American, which in Anytown, USA could all be reasons why I might be discriminated again. Last year I spent a month in Italy, and we visited Milan, Venice, Florence, Naples, Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast, Rome, and Modena. I had a WONDERFUL time and I'm going back to Rome this September for a month as well. I'm not one to scream racism after every bad experience, so even if I did have some negative moments, I wouldn't necessarily contribute it to racism unless it was obvious. But I have never felt more "at home" than I did in Italy. Many Italian men commented that they loved "my color". When we went into stores, even expensive ones like Chanel, we were not followed or stared at. The employees would even encourage us to try on things and model for them. At most restaurants, we did get stared at, but not an "oh my what are THEY doing here?" stare, but more like a "wow I want to know who they are and where they come from" stare. When we were in Sorrento, the consierge played American hip-hop for us in the lobby (hahaha funny story - not at all offensive) and we bonded with families from Ireland, England and Rome. The Arabs and Indians were having a ball calling us "Obana" while many other Italians didn't realize we were even American (they would speak Italian to us or ask if we were from South America). I have a ton of stories which I won't bore you with here and I can't even remember if I posted to this forum already, but bottom line is this: Racism is indeed alive and thriving in many places around the world. However, that's never a reason to shy away from experiencing other people and cultures because there are still millions of people out there who love on an international level.
Pittsburgh, PA USA Mon 07/26/2010
it's all in how you dress
Hello, I'm an Black (mixed race) female married to a white Spaniard. We live in the US, but spend a lot of time in his home country on holidays. We travel around Europe together and sometimes when he's busy working, I travel by myself. On those solo trips, I have noticed a COMPLETE difference in the way people treat me simply based on the way that I dress! I have always been a fan of European style over American style, so this simply gives me an excuse to shop while I'm here! If I dress in jeans (or the infamous demin skirt as my white counterparts) and tee shirt, I'm treated as I see Europeans treating the minority immigrants living over there. When I dress nicely (a sun dress, nice shoes,scarf, designer sunglasses and handbag) it's a completely different experience!! I've tried to explain this to my husband, but unfortunately he can't "see" it..... Try it on your next European trip and let us know if it worked for you.
Western Europe, Thu 07/15/2010
Berlin, Germany travel
I posted here years ago when I went to Berlin (in 2003). This is in response to Michelle Smith from another African American Michelle. When I went to Berlin I went alone and I had a fine time. It was way more diverse than I expected (I was in Mitte/Prenzlauer Berg)and I would definitely stay there again. Maybe things have changed since I was there but I was told not to go to those parts of town before I went. I think that it's the far reaches of those areas that are problematic but for the most part they are residential and not interesting to travelers. I strongly recommend Berlin to any and all travelers.
Wilmington , DE USA Thu 07/08/2010
In the heart of Germany
Hello travelers. Yesterday I just got back from spending one month in Kassel, a mid sized city in the heart of Germany and I've got to say it was the best time I've had in years. I stayed with a host family, who did everything to make me feel at home. I come from NYC so this may be the reason why the excitment of being in kassel(a very green and clean place despite its lack of garbage cans and its many smokers but there's not much to do) wore off really quickly for me. However the best thing about kassel is its location. From this city you're only 2-3 hours from major cities like Berlin and Cologne. Now about kassel, despite it not being the most well known Germany city it still has its share of minorities, mostly turkish and african. I didn't have any racist encounters here(as well as the other cites I went to which was frankfurt, marburg, and heidelburg), but did get stared at a lot especially by alders and children. Nethertheless being in Germany was the best experience I've had and I most certainly recommend it to other minority travelers and will be returning soon!
NYC, USA Sun 07/04/2010
Let's Go is pretty helpful - they list, under the Health & Safety section of each country's guide, whether or not minorities should be careful of certain countries, areas, etc. Just based upon what I've read there, and here in this forum, as well as other sites, that I wouldn't care to visit most Eastern European nations, and will need to be vigilant while touring Berlin again (last time I was with Contiki), and during my first visit of the Czech Republic. I'll also be spending some time in the Austrian mtns and will be in Munich during Oktoberfest (not because I like beer, I don't - it just turned out that way).
Winston Salem, NC USA Mon 06/28/2010
I have just returned from Greece where I married my Ugandan born wife. Several of her family came for the ceremony. Our experiences where mostly positive, my 3 year old twin nephews where very popular amongst the locals. One taxi driver did try to refuse to take my African relatives to a restaurant, the other drivers fortunately came to our defence, argued with him and were happy to take them. We did an excursion across the border to Albania that was not so positive, my wife was stared at, laughed at, and not made to feel welcome. Albania has been closed off from the rest of the world for most of the last 60 years so an ethnic face is a great rarity. Black faces and mixed race couples are not a rarity in the England, we have not experienced much negativity due to race while traveling in our homeland.
London, UK Tue 06/08/2010
Europe and Italy alone
I've been to Europe three times. Last year I went to Italy [Florence] alone. I had a great time! The only problem I had was with a staff member at the hotel I stayed at, she was partial towards me but the others in the Hotel were very nice to me. I was able to ignore her ignorance. I didn't have any problems in restaurants or on the tours I went on. I do plan to take a Rick Steves tour next year, one of the France tours, I hope I'm treated well!
Chicago, IL USA Fri 06/04/2010
I'm going to college next year and I'm thinking about traveling to Europe within the next few years. While I do want to travel to the major cities, I am much more interested in the villages and countryside. Could any Asian-American talk about their experiences in Europe away from the major cities?
USA Sat 05/08/2010
black american in rome
im a black american that visited rome, italy twice, in 2009 and 2010. i notice that a lot of the indians and arabs that worked at the internet cafes are racist,and the chinese are racist, but i dont care i not trying to be friends with them big deal , the white italians were so nice and kind to me, i was freaked out, i thought that they where going to be racist towards me, the africans in rome just stare at me at look at me funny. i made sure i dressed like an american wearing every ncaa hoodie and nfl jacket that i could stuff in my suitcase.i really like rome, italy
stone mountain, georgi USA Wed 04/28/2010
Brief Visit to Spain's Basque Country
A few weeks ago, I spent a week visiting friends in northern Spain, the Basque Country. I am an African-American female. This was my first trip to Europe. I loved it. I spent most of the time in Bilbao, San Sebastian, and Portugalete. The people were friendly and I felt very comfortable and safe. I noticed a few people staring; but, the people staring were mainly elderly people and I felt they were staring more out of curiosity than racisim. I also noticed that while shopping in the old part of Bilbao that a few shopkeepers kept a close eye on us while my friends and I were in their store. Overall, it was an awesome trip. The people were actually quite friendly. I was walking in one small town and an elderly Spanish women started conversing with me. I didn't understand everything that she said, but I think she was giving me directions on how to get around the construction area that was blocking the sidewalk. Also, an elderly Spanish women walked up to me, said something in Spanish, touched my face, and then said "bonita". I understood that word..pretty. So, don't let a few ignorant peoople stop you from seeing the world. Go and enjoy.
Boston, MA USA Mon 04/26/2010
Black American in Eastern Europe
I took the trip of a lifetime to Eastern Europe last year and it was AMAZING! I am a single, African-American woman who is plus-sized(size 24)and got treated like a Queen. Being a true southerner only helped my cause. I traveled to Bulgaria, Serbia and Turkey and it was wonderful. I landed in the Sofia(BG)airport and could feel and see the shock on peoples' faces, when I came through the main terminal. I was met by friends and from that point on went all over that country. Everywhere I went, from the market to the discos, I was met with friendly curiosity, conversations and extreme politeness. That area of the world I wasnt sure, but they are eager to practice their english and the men were very flirty. I feel that at every disco I attended, I danced with every man in the bar and toasted with everyone at least 3times..What fun,..in Serbia, it was the same thing. I traveled by train and people, especially kids were very excited about meeting me and seeing me. They felt that my size had to do with being rich..lol..lol..i explained to them that Black americans come in all sizes. shapes, and colors. In Instanbul, it was a bit more reserved, but after a couple of days they opened up and I even got a few marriage proposals..i smoked hooka, tried to belly dance and used one of the "turkish toilets". I tried so many different foods. Visited Topkapi Palaace and some of the Grand Bizaare! So I plan to return to Europe this year and this year visit Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. I have friends there too and so I may take them up on their offer for me to come and visit a few weeks this fall.. Thanks for listening and happy traveling.
Fuquay-Varina, NC USA Thu 04/08/2010
Spain mentality is European or third world?
I recently spent 5 weeks in Spain with my girl friend,family and friends.I was taken aback by all the attention my girl friend and I recieved in public places.It never rose to the level of being violent or overly rude behavior. But the tention in the air was very thick in regard to racial issues and how that mind set of theirs effected our stay in Spain.You could tell that many Spaniards are not use to racial diversity.My girl friend is German American and I'm African American. Several of the male Spaniards (for lack of a better word) showed jealousy and some anger that my woman was so touchie feelie with me.I don't know if public displays of affection is frowned upon in Spain but they sure didn't like seeing it from us.When walking arm in arm on a avenue(like other couples that day) and my baby would lean over and give me a smack on the lips,you would not believe the reaction some of the spaniards had. It was like they just witness a moon landing. To be fair not everyone's behavior was as questionable. There were a few spaniards in those 5 weeks who went out of their way to comment that as a couple we looked perfect together. What I'm saying is, spain does have some very ignorant ideals about race but given time it can evolve into a better society and a place which is more modern in its thinking.Spain is not my favorite country to visit but I do believe Americans of all colors,religions ect ect should go and experience what spanish culture has to offer. Just possibly your time there will include the better representations of Spain and not their ignorant ilk.
Mass USA Tue 03/16/2010
Europe step up your advertising game
african Americans do travel to europe just like their white,asian,hispanic counters but just like those same ethnicities African Americans prefer to travel in their own continent first.Safety,cost of travel and terrorism all are factors to explain why a African American would rather go to Hawaii instead of England. If europe would like the spending dollar of the African American community it must do a far better job of advertising the beauty of europe to appeal to that community. I often see advertising for Hawaii and the carribean that include people of color.I never see advertising to europe that targets people of color. Consumers can only know what you sell if you make the effort to inform them.
Ny USA Thu 03/11/2010
Why black people don't visit Europe. According to Rick.
I could hardly believe my ears today when Rick Steves (on a Georgia Public Broadcasting show) said that the main reason he believes that African Americans do not visit Europe as much as White Americans is because of money. WHAT?! In his infinite wisdom "Its not so much of a race thing, as a class thing".
Rick, please keep dumb, misinformed opinions like this to yourself. According to Report Buyer, the online destination for business intelligence for major industry sectors, "the buying power of 39 million African Americans will hit $1.1 trillion by 2012." I think we can afford a trip to Europe as well as anyone else. Also, as an African American who has been to 23 countries and am far from rich, I KNOW firsthand that you are wrong. Just like any American, regardless of race, we African Americans plan and save for trips that are within our budget. There are MANY reasons why an African American might not choose Europe as much as others, from fear of racism to lack of interest. Ironically these are the same reasons ANY American might not choose Europe.
The hostess was simply asking you if you felt (from your observation) that an African American would be safe traveling in Europe. The nonsense that you spewed out before answering her question was offensive and that hostess should have set your behind straight. I don't believe that you meant to be offensive, but your comment showed an elitism in your make up that I would have preferred not to know about.
----- Response below added by Rick -----
Ooops. You're right. That was not a smart thing for me to say. When I talk talk talk all over the country I occasionally say things that are regrettable. My comment on TV came off sounding like I was implying that Black Americans don't have money to enjoy Europe. That's not the impression I meant to leave. Giving a simplistic answer for the sake of brevity came out sounding like a stereotype. It was wrong, and unfair for me to generalize. I'm sorry for the sloppiness. Rick
----- End Webmaster Edit -----
Atlanta, GA USA Sun 03/07/2010
Spain, Germany, Iceland, Netherlands, Scotland
I am a 40 y/o black female with a medium skin tone. Fwiw, I make a point to smile and try to at least have the basic words down wherever I go. “Hi, bye, excuse me, thank you” with a big smile and sheepish look will get you far with people being willing to help you and tolerant that you don’t speak their language/understand their customs imo. I also never forget I’m in their country to experience and enjoy it so, to be fair, it’s probably hard to offend me, lol.
GERMANY— Frankfurt/Bielefeld/lots of other small cities…
I had a great time and experienced no racism in the streets. Yet one of my friend’s relatives was part of the Nazi party in the past and referred to blacks as “darkies”. He ended up being the sweetest old man ever and honestly didn’t know “darkie” was rather insulting. We ended up having a great time together, eating, drinking and talking history. Weird. Outside of that people were super fascinated to meet a black female American and guys were being super flirty. (they like black Americans) Keep in mind, I did stay with white friends who lived there and hung out with them a lot.
SPAIN— Madrid, Avila, and lots of other small cities…
Wow. I am shocked at so many bad experiences. I LOVE Spain and Madrid. I traveled and walked all over by myself and had a wonderful time with the people, food, etc. One thing to keep in mind, they don’t speak English as well as other European countries. So if they appear rude it may be because they seriously just don’t understand you. I don’t think they’re the most patient culture so that doesn’t help a tourist either. I ended up hanging with a random group of Madrid natives and they thought the biggest issue is that Americans speak very fast (even when we talk normal), use slang, and (per them) East coasters like me have a very hard to understand accent. And I’m from Maryland! To an American I have zero inflection or accent, ala Boston or something. I’m not discounting anyone else’s experience but I love Madrid so much I’m thinking of living there in the future. It’s always on my trip list.
The only “bad” experience as a female is the men can be very aggressive. But if you’re from any big city in the USA (or have been to a nightclub here!) you can handle it. Just don’t get rude, you’ll lose. Ignore and move on.
Keep in mind I was only there for about two days but in two days they seemed to have little humor that I didn’t speak their language but were friendly enough. I would definitely go back.
SCOTLAND—Edinburgh and lots of other cities…
I saw a little more blatant racism here and actually got offended a few times, but I just moved on. It’s not the friendliest place I’ve ever been but I would go back because it’s beautiful. If you’ve been to some southern states with indirect racism, welcome to Scotland. Basically it’s mostly easy to ignore and still have fun.
ICELAND— Reykjavik and a few other cities…
Fun, fun, and more fun! I think I was the only black in the city though. My friends and I made a game of looking for other minorities. I felt zero discrimination. Even being literally 1 of maybe 4 blacks I saw I didn’t even get stared at. It was a blast. (omg expensive country though)
Washington, DC USA Mon 02/15/2010
Re:Racism in the UK?
Re:Uk has major racial problems?
Do you recommend that the safest treks when in the UK are best ventured in the major cities(London,Birmingham,Manchester) and not the south coast or places like Wales,and northwest Uk? Also have you heard of major racial problems in Scotland? Thank you
P.S. I want to visit more than the normal traveled stops but I do hear from other African American travelers how they have experienced racism in the uk and when there was no racism involve some AA's have said that Brits sometime hold low regard for Americans in general.
Wi USA Sun 02/07/2010
AFAM Travel in Wales
I was in Wales for two weeks in 2004, and I must say that is was the MOST welcoming place I have ever been as an African American male. Everywhere I went, people were keen to speak with me--even after the initial "curiosity", they were still extremely warm, often talking with me for hours! It became a joke amongst my (white) travel companions--they knew that if they sent me up to the bar for some pints that I would be gone for an hour, having made another new friend.
(I must say, too, that Welsh women were extremely interested in talking to me...much to my wife's chagrin!!)
Seriously, though, it was a great time--I can't wait to go back!
Middletown, DE USA Sun 02/07/2010
RE: UK has racial problems?
Major cities like London are pretty diverse. You won't get any looks or stares. My only problem was entering the country. With the economy the way it is, a lot of people from all over the world (Europe, Asia, Africa, etc) have swarm into the UK posing as students or travelers, overstaying their visas and working illegally. So the border patrols are pretty suspicious when you're a minority.
CA USA Fri 01/29/2010
Re: Black Males Traveling to Eastern Europe
I am a Black American male, and I have been to most countries in Western Europe (including Scandinavia) going back to 2002. My experiences have been overwhelmingly positive.
I have yet to venture to Eastern Europe, but I will definitely get my chance this summer beginning with the Baltic states. I have a very good friend who will host me in Tallinn, Estonia. And after exploring Estonia she will take me to Riga, Latvia. From there I will leave her and go to Lithuania to visit a friend I met this past summer. I haven't outright asked my friend yet if I will have any issues - because I don't anticpate it, but I do wonder. The fact that she hasn't warned me about any potential issues makes me believe it should be a mostly positive experience. I will certainly let you know. I have no set dates yet, but should be June, July, or August of 2010.
Washington, DC USA Wed 01/27/2010
UK has racial problems?
You should have great time in London, its a big city and lots of stuff to do, and UK has some other large cities which have lesser racial problems too. Unfortunately, UK (London is an exception) has institutionalized racism. Its not just against Blacks, Asian, Muslims, Hindus, but also against Irish and Scottish. Its not as bad as Spain or Southern Italy though. I hope that, unless your personal safety is at risk, few bigots shouldn't stop anyone from traveling and exploring the world. After all its full of good and wonderful people.
A fellow traveller
Atlanta, GA USA Tue 01/26/2010
UK has racial problems?
I have been told that the UK is extremely racist toward Blacks and Asians.That the only areas save to visit are the larger cities like London,Manchester,Birmingham.But the south coast from Plymouth to Portsmouth to Hastings, and up north from Liverpool to near the lake district are no go zones for Blacks,Asians and Muslims.Have any of you had similar knowledge or experience to this information? Would like to visit the UK but not sure how safe it would be to venture away from the big cities.
Wi USA Wed 01/20/2010
In response to AY. As a black male living in Tokyo I'd say Japan is very safe and enjoyable. I've been to Germany too and I can say that the atmosphere was even more welcoming than than when I lived in the US. I figured I'd respond to your post because I noticed that even on many black travel websites there are mostly females. They seem to have a good network of travelers represented. I don't know if there are just a small amount of black males traveling, but online it would appear so. Good luck on your travels.
APO, AP USA Mon 01/18/2010
A few of the worst encounters I've had during my years of traveling in Europe were (starting with the worst): 1. The desk manager of Hotel Cravat in Luxembourg mistakenly assuming I was using their bathroom, when in fact I was checking to see if their 2nd floor restaurant was open. Even with guests in front of him checking in, he yelled at us saying, "This is the kind of thing you people do..." - "you people" meaning Asians. I angrily told him he was wrong, while some other employee of the hotel tried to usher us into their other restaurant, but I walked away. 2. Some guy coming out of a pub while we were walking around in Zurich, screaming at us not to come into the establishment he was just in, that we go to "Chopsticks" a Chinese restaurant nearby. He kept screaming and pointing in that direction. No one seemed to care or do anything. 3. In Italy, the endless - not inviting and friendly, but rude and menacing - konnichiwas yelled at us, mostly by waiters at touristy restaurants (a konnichiwa meant they didn't get my business, which actually helped me choose where I ate), but also by xenophobic students and locals. Mostly in Rome, but also Venice and Pisa especially. Of course, with that came the obligatory short changing.
I'm surprised to read about so much racism in Spain, since that was not my experience at all. For me, it was the constant harassment in Italy that puts it at the top of my list but I'm going back this year and am optimistic it's a different place from 10 years ago.
NY, NY USA Sat 01/16/2010
Black Male Traveling Europe, Africa & Asia
I am a 24 year old Black Male born and raised in the UK (My Heritage is Guyanese (25%), Bajan (25%) and Jamacain (50%)). I have always wondered what it would be like to go travelling around the world to other parts of Europe, South America, Asia, Middle East, Africa and Australia. My primary concern is would it be safe to go back packing/travelling through these places as a black male? Would I experience any racisim or descrimination because of my colour and heritage? Is there any Black Males on this forum who have been travelling to these places? If so could you please share your experiences? I know that no matter what your background is you need to take precautions whereever you go but I cant help but think how other cultures would treat you when your a black male? Also in the UK I have exeperienced indirect and sometimes direct racism from people who come from Africa (and yes they are black also) because of being of carribean decent. So my question also applies to going to Africa travelling as well? I belive that your experiences travelling as a non-black person would vary considerably as opposed to a black person travelling. Whats your thoughts and advice?
Buckinghamshire, UK Thu 01/14/2010
The last time I was in Europe was right after 9/11. My experiences, combined with what I've read here, were mostly positive. I found the non-whites more rude, especially those of Muslim descent but that may have been because of 9/11 (I went in October and left in early November). Also, if you look at things in gift shops and make a very small purchase, the clerks are offended (I guess they think Americans are all rich and should spend gobs of money). I haven't been East beyond Vienna yet, but plan to go to the Czech Republic (among other countries) this coming September. By far, my most positive travel has been within Germany. Ciao!
Winston Salem, NC USA Sun 01/10/2010
Eastern Europe safe for Black Americans
I'm trying to figure out which countries in Europe are more multi-ethnic friendly,places where a African American male would encounter the least "issues".I want to check out places like the Czech Republic,Slovenia and Serbia and Russia but not sure if they would be safe to visit for a Black American.If anyone has experience going to places in eastern europe,please post your experience.Thank You
NJ USA Sun 01/03/2010