Minority Travelers' Forum: 2012
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.
- Please don't post questions here. Use our Travelers Helpline.
Racial Profiling - Switzerland
Black male - Canadian, but moved to Basel from California. I've been living in the Basel area for about 2 years now. Generally, no issues to report. People seem friendly enough...not unlike any city in the US or Canada.
The only exception....the Zoll.
I travel a lot. In and out of BSL and ZRH...and cross the border into Germany to buy groceries. Nine times out of 10, I am stopped by the border police. I could be leaving the airport, carrying only my briefcase, behind Swiss-looking people with 3 large bags....and I will be the one pulled aside. Racial profiling at its finest! Driving across the border...same thing. It seems like all the cars are waved thru, except for me. Always stopped.
You know what. It is annoying. It pisses me off. But I don't really know what to do about it. Laws here are not the same as in NA. They will just say, "Yes, we check many people."
I have come to learn to expect it. If I don't get stopped, it is a good day!
Basel, CH Sun 12/30/2012
Black Woman Traveling Solo
As a dark skinned, black woman, While visiting Madrid, Paris, Amsterdam and London, I had no problems. I found people to be extremely friendly and helpful.
Barcelona was different, though. I was solicited/catcalled at several times while exploring. Made it a point to stay in well-populated areas and to be in my hotel room before dark.
I'm looking to travel to Prague next year. Anyone have any tips for a black woman going solo?
Yorktown, VA USA Sun 12/23/2012
Black Group in Prague
I visited my brother and his family in Germany, winter 2010 and we went to Prague on an overnight trip (husband, brother, sister and I). The only other blacks besides ourselves, seemed to have been African. We had no trouble getting around and when we got lost people were very friendly in helping direct us. We went on a tour of the city and the locals were happy to practice there English on us. I would definitely travel there again.
Charlotte, NC USA Fri 12/21/2012
In eastern europe and the balkans i didnt notice hardly any blacks. But i think you will be ok. And no prague doesnt have a large black population.
stillwater, ok USA Mon 12/10/2012
Asian Male born in California
My name is Dion, Korean born and raised in Los Angeles, USA.
After my trip from many countries in Europe, I truly believe that Americans are the friendliest people on earth. The most educated and tolerant. This whole notion of all Europeans being open minded, well, so not true. Here is my sypnosis:
Athens: I was there last year, got stopped three times by angry looking police to see my passports, even when I looked and was a tourist. Angry white youth there working in bars, scary and I will not go back unless you are Caucasian.
Italy: It's ok, just rude and obnoxious people.
London: Loved it, friendly people and bars are safe. It was a surprise since I heard they are cold.
Madrid: Same as London
Paris: Same as London
Reality: You do not need to worry if you are Caucasian in Athens and Italy, but if you are non-white, travel smart and book big hotels so it is safer.
Los Angeles, CA USA Mon 12/03/2012
Black Women in Europe vs Asia
Here's what you need to know, as a black American woman who loves to travel, avoid some countries in Europe and Asia. Again, I said some, not all. Here is why:
Europe to avoid: All Eastern European countries like Serbia, Czech Republic, Georgia and Russia. They will stare plus awful customer service.
Go to: UK, Spain, Germany
Asia to avoid: China, South Korea
Go to: Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, Singapore.
Dallas, TX USA Mon 12/03/2012
Black woman in Prague
I am black and been to Prague several times. Traveled around and experienced no problems. African blacks have been living in the city and attending Charles University for decades. There are lots of black people there (obviously not like Paris and London), but mostly Africans. Quite a few are married to Czech women. Czechs are accustomed to seeing black faces in Prague. The countryside is a different matter!
New Castle County, DE USA Mon 12/03/2012
Black woman in Prague.
I find it absolutely ridiculous the amount of lies some people on this site come up with. I went to Prague (Czech Republic), and saw about 6 black people over the entire trip. And someone on this site said that there is a "large population" of blacks in Prague. -_- laughable. I don't easily get angered; but I don't understand why people state facts that are clearly misleading / false. But that being said you'll get a few stares; but only because they rarely see black people. It is a nice country though, and I probably would go again.
UK, USA Sun 11/11/2012
Racism in Switzerland
Hi everyone, I am a mixed race Kenyan/Scottich woman and just moved to Southern Germany after living in Zurich for the past 10 years. It was nighmarish living in Zurich as a black person. Actually, I did not realise it and it took me five years until everything became clear. It is because of racism that I told my German husband to get us out. Here in Ravensburg, we feel okay and are treated as human beings. I often think that after Zurich, I can handle any racist stares, comments etc. I basically decided to move out when my six year old started noticing the subtle discrimination and belittling - and it came from mothers. I would attend children events and my beloved kids would not get the same treatment - belive me, I tried. I have a list of incidents. Recently, my husband and I transited Zurich from Turkey on our way to Germany and we had left our car at the Zurich airport carpark. They racially profiled me and scuritinised my British passport and when my husband who had gone in front asked if there was, the immigration officer told him that it wasn't obvious that I was his wife. He was asking for my resident permit in Germany. He made it clear that he only let me in because of my husband and all this time he didnt even address me, etc... aggh.
We sent a letter of complaining of racial profiling and of how I was treated. It was belitteling and disrespectul because of my colour.
The head of the immigration police answered promptly, did not appologise, but said that he regrets the inicident. He also said that they do check foreign looking people because there are a lot of illegal immigrants coming into Europe. I think I will now write to him and tell him that being that is the case, I can't help it that I was born in this colour and I that he has to get used to the idea of blacks or mixed race people increasing in population in Europe and elsewhere and holding Eurpean passports. So, to all you people of colour travelling in Zurich or attending to settle in Switzerland, don't expect empathy if you are dark. However, I nocited that if one speaks English, the Swiss are friendly and suddenly treat you human. They probably think you are either an educated black person, a tourist and it's an opportunity to practice their English with you. Hope this is helpful.
Ravensburg, USA Tue 11/06/2012
Travelling in Europe as a Black Woman
Found this site whilst researching a possible trip to Turkey or Portugal in 2013.
I'm a 45-year-old, English-born black woman of Jamaican parents. I've travelled a lot but mostly in Europe as it's on my doorstep. I've lived in England all my life.
Interesting to hear your experiences and thought I'd add my perspective on being black and living in Europe.
France and Belgium: been there many times from school trips 30 years ago to weekend breaks with friends. Haven't experienced any problems at all in Paris or other large cities. Experienced a few curious stares in the country-side areas of southern France. But nothing hostile. French people warm to you if you try to learn their language. The stereoytyped idea of French 'aloofness' isn't normally because of racism. My white travel mates had it worse than I did.
Spain: used to be great in 1990's but on my recent visits I found it very hostile to black people. There are major ecconomic problems. In last 20 years, Spain has seen lots of migration from Africa and many Spaniards scapegoat them as the cause. Personally I wouldn't go back which is a shame.
Italy: similar issues as Spain for economic reasons. I went two years ago and it was okay (Lake Garda, Venice, Rome). Not overtly hostile but not particularly friendly. Most negative attitudes seem to be towards recent immigrants. Sad to say, as a black person once they realise you are a tourist not an immigrant they treat you better.
London: My home town! Very friendly despite 'cold' reputation. English people are reserved, don't like to be brashy or loud. But once we get to know you we're very friendly and open. Most of the big cities are great to visit as there are often large ethnic populations and you'll feel welcome. The countryside areas are 99% white, more conservative and wealthier. My experience is that people are less welcoming not solely due to racism but because of insular attitudes to outsiders (even to other white English people because of class system). UK is on the whole a very safe place to visit for minorities.
Scotland/Wales/Ireland: same as England but much more friendly and relaxed. Never had any problems there. Just got back from a month in Scotland. They aren't so friendly to white English people (history & politics) but really welcoming to everyone else.
Eastern Europe: Serbia/Croatia/Latvia/Ukraine - as a black person I wouldn't travel there again. Lots of problems with right wing/ facist extremists. Friends went there a month ago for football matches had a rough time with open hostility. People making monkey noises towards them and a very unsafe feeling.
Greece: was my favourite destination until two years ago. Again, the rise of extremism due to ecconomic collpase. Seen black people attacked in the streets and no help from police. Verbal abuse, rude staff etc.
Egypt: about seven years ago it was fantastic. I met people of all colours. Locals really curious and friendly, especially to black people. The only racism I found was from the Aussies and Kiwis in the group I was travelling with. Not sure about things since the revolution.
Holland: surprisingly friendly and helpful. Had a great time as lots of black people & English speakers live there. Very safe no problems at all.
Well, that's all I can offer. Hope you enjoy your travels wherever you venture to.
London, USA Mon 11/05/2012
No two travelers meet the same people.
I can't discount anyone else's experiences. Some areas in my state that have very racist reputations are defended by some black people. Others have felt unwelcome in areas that are supposedly very liberal. I urge everyone who can to revisit some of the places that you have disliked. The experience may be different the second time. Friendly people exist everywhere.
Indianapolis, IN USA Mon 10/15/2012
Did not experience racism in Paris
This is in response to Sarah. I think it is odd that you experienced cold stares in Paris. On my recent visit, 9-25-12 to 10/1/12, I saw many white men with black women some with biracial children. I was surprised and ecstatic to see so many interracial couples! I definitely did not experience the racial hangups that people have here in the States.
Chicago, IL USA Fri 10/12/2012
Cold stares in Paris
I am a mixed race (half black half white) 17 year old female. The latest years I have been to Italy (Rome), France (Paris) and Spain (Malaga). When I was in Rome, I only had two experiences. The first one was in the airport in Rome, i had my hair out which is kind of big and curly. There were two men guarfing the door out. One of them suddenly points at my hair and starts laughing, then he starts holding his hands upside his head to gesture My big hair and the other one starts to laugh aswell. I do not know if that is classified as racism, but it sure wasn't nice, especially since I was only 14. Then there was à swastika drawed near our hotell. Other than that, people were really nice and helpful. Malaga was also Ok, people were nice. Paris on the other hand.. Oh oh. No one said anything but I got so many nasty/cold looks, especially from elderly like 40+ women. Also got a few from men but not nearly as much. I went With my father who is white. I noticed lots of cold stares from women towards him as well. Very strange, i have never experienced such mean stares when I have been travelling with my black mom.
USA Tue 09/25/2012
Re: Spain was the worst for us.
Have those of you who had bad experiences in Spain visited only the larger cities? I was there in '92, so things may have changed, but I found Toledo, Cordoba, and some of the small towns to be more welcoming. Then, my group visited Seville. Sunlight streaming onto beautiful, whitewashed buildings and very friendly people. All of us seemed to enjoy ourselves there, including those who didn't like Madrid. Returning to Seville is on my "bucket list."
Indianapolis, IN USA Mon 09/24/2012
Spain was the worse for us
My husband and I have traveled to Italy, Greece, France, Turkey, and Spain. The only area in which we ave experienced any racism is Spain. Madrid was really bad. We were ignored by hotel staff and alo given incorrect information. Not to say all of the people in Spain are racist because we met some helpful people and even some who told us they hoped President Obama would win re-election. We always greet others in their native language and attempt to communicate in their language as well. However, there was a marked difference in the way we were treated in Spain as opposed to Italy or even France, Greece or Turkey. I do know I'm not going to let anyone is going to keep me from seeing what I want to see in Europe.
Greenville, SC USA Tue 09/11/2012
Re: Overt Racism in Barcelona
I had a similar experience with people thinking that I and a friend were prostitutes. Perhaps it was just wishful thinking on their parts but I was completely offended.
The worst incident was in front of the Barcelo Raval hotel and the perpetrator was a black African man. Unfortunately for us we didn't realize that people thought we were prostitutes and that we were in a "hot zone" for that sort of activity. People were either very friendly and helpful or extremely rude and dismissive. In most situations the only reason for believing we were prostitutes was our brown skin. It definitely wasn't for lack of modesty in January.
For the most part I had a great time. But being harassed and treated like a prostitute was mentally draining. Unfortunately, I've experienced some form of racism in many of the countries I've visited.
Blackisbeautiful, I'm sorry that you had to experience that as well.
Southeast, TX USA Tue 09/04/2012
Travels in Central Europe
Recently, my husband and I traveled for several weeks to Prague, Czech Republic; Vienna, Austria; Budapest, Hungary; Bratislava, Slovakia and a short visit to Dresden, Germany. Aside from a few stares, we did not encounter any discernible discrimination. We enjoyed Prague best of all for the restaurants and clubs. Everyone was nice and was surprised when we greeted them in their language. In Prague, we were attempting to locate a bank and a local man, seeing our confusion, walked up to us and gave very welcomed assistance. The other countries were nice as well. In Bratislava, a group of school children were struck when they saw us. I just assumed they had never seen a black person, so, I smiled and went on my way. We were the only AA among our travel companions and it was one of our best traveling experiences. I can easily overlook stares--curious or otherwise--but if any overt, direct discrimination occurs, I will post it and never visit that country again.
Several years ago, we traveled to Barcelona and we were met with cold, unfriendliness by hotel staff and the general population. Spain will never again appear on our travel list.
Columbus, NJ USA Mon 09/03/2012
Had a wonderful time
We just got back from our 24 days trip to France, Germany, Czech Republic, and Austria. Did small and large towns. People were extremely friendly and went above and beyond the call of duty, on Paris metro one French girl missed her train to work, while trying to help us find the right train, and went and got a better map for us from the ticket information folks. I've been travelling to Europe since I was 17, and go there for business and pleasure regularly. I've seen Italy, Spain and Greece becoming more rude and hostile in general and more so to the minorities ( Yes, there are exceptions), while Germany and France have become more friendly. It also reflects these countries own demographics, as Germany and France are very diverse countries now. This was our first trip to Czech Republic, and I was excited to travel there. I found this country on this trip to be the most friendly and welcoming, and not to mention the cheapest in Europe. Found a great Indian/Pakistani restaurant Beas in old town, popular with university studentsf or only $5 lunch and dinner. For lunch the lines were coming out of the door. Go figure. Italy, Spain and Greece are beautiful countries, and I've been there several times, but the attitude of the people and rip-off (most people can attest to it, minority or not) for me is not worth anymore, if you have not traveled to these countries I'll highly recommend them, but be prepared and relax and enjoy your time with the understanding that you will meet some nice folks there, but generally their bigot and racist attitude is part and parcel of that place now. I found this time the long distance train conductors to be more strict on the rail tickets dates and names. On an ICE train between Berlin and Munch, they fined 3 Japanese travelers , because they forgot to put the dates or on their passes. We had most wonderful times, D-day beaches at Normandy and Jewish Quarters and Prague and Kutna Hora in Czech are awesome places. A funny note, I had pulled my Rick Steves Paris book to recommend a restaurant to another fellow American traveler we had met on the train from Versailles, and as I was explaining this , his wife pulls their Rick Steve's France book, out of her back pack, to make doggy ear. Both families laughed. We had unlocked iPhone and iPad, and bought the local country SIMS (Lebara) and it made the trip and the communication back home a lot easier. Also, if it's your first trip, add more time to your trip and sight seeing than what Rick Steves recommend.
Johns Creek, GA USA Mon 08/20/2012
Black American male in London
I stayed for 2 weeks (layover) after completing a medical mission trip in Uganda. Ppl often compar London to NYC but I don't really feel the relation. The ppl are less verbal, little colder in their interaction, and they do breakfast much better. When I arrived by plane, a guy at the airport asked if I was a Brazilian soccer player. It shocked me but in no way was it rude. My most interesting interaction came with black locals. They seemed apprehensive towards me. As though they were unsure to view me as a fellow black guy or another American. I did engage in good conversation on everything from hip hop and clubs to how far a barbershop is. All ppl were nice really. The only rudeness I can speak of was from other tourists, particularly Spanish. I did get some dirty looks. Also, theirs was a Spanish festival going on near Picadilly circus and a black guy hosting a shooting competition singled me out and said "he looks like a ball player". It was funny but damn, the bball stereotype can over the ocean too? Lol. All in all, London was enjoyable. I avoided rural areas and only did the city. Nice clubs. Was weird at times with women (not local, but foreign). I wanted to mingle but also be cautious not to offend w/o realizing it.
Charleston, SC USA Sun 08/19/2012
Visit to Italy
Went to Italy for a week long vacation. The country is extremely beautiful, but many of the people there weren't too pleasant.
First of all, my visa was valid only for the exact duration between my arrival and departure dates. This wasn't exactly endearing. Normally I am used to seeing tourist visas that extend to at least a month, even if my trip wasn't that long. For example, Singapore, a first world country by all means, issues a 2 year long multiple entry visa, with a 30-day stay for each visit. Without me asking for it. So the Schengen visa given to me seemed especially petty. I didn't want a longer visa (since my visit was only a week long), but it tends to reveal the mentality of the people issuing it.
In a little Roman restaurant, the owner disappeared with our change from the bill. We waited almost thirty minutes for him to return it. Maybe he thought the brown folk weren't going to tip him. Shame, because I intended to leave a pretty good tip because I liked the Gin and Tonic.
Another waiter in a cafe outside the Vatican was all curt and brusque throughout our meal and was suddenly all smiles and cheerfully saying 'ciao' after we laid a big tip before leaving.
The hotel in Milan re-checked "who we were" when we walked in and started to head to our room one evening.
Another hotel in Milan where one of our friends had a single room stopped me from going upstairs to help with his luggage when he was checking out.
We had to pay 100 euros to two ticket-checkers in the train because we had forgotten to put the date on our rail pass. No amount of protesting about us only having arrived two days ago and not knowing when to put the date on the pass helped. Not to mention the pass isn't exactly cheap. The insinuation that we would buy the expensive passes and then try to sneak a free ride was just insulting, but there was no reasoning with them.
I was frisked each time before boarding the plane at Zurich airport. No one else in the line was. They even took away my shoes to check if something was hidden in them.
All this is not mentioning the stares and general coldness when talking to any locals. I come from a pretty heartless city myself, so the unfriendliness and staring doesn't bother me, but it's not particularly charming either. Certainly something I can do without.
Everything considered, I did like the place. It is very beautiful. But I don't think I want to return. And from the impression I got, the Europeans seem to be fine with that.
Bombay, MH India Mon 07/23/2012
Asian Indian's visit to Europe
Asian Indian couple visiting Italy, Germany and Austria. I am dark skinned while my wife has a light brown complexion.
We did not really detect any overt instances of racism specifically directed at us at any of these places at any time. Though I must say that we consciously put on an appearance of being as 'touristy' as possible and we stuck to tourist areas.
For non-whites, I do think appearing as short term visitors with tourist trappings make people more tolerant of them and serves notice that you are not a job threat to the local.
During our trip from Vienna to Salzburg, we were checked along with all other non-whites in our compartment by police for passports. They were courteous and brief. So we think it was a routine check.
The only unpleasant behavior, though not directed at us, was witnessed by us at the Vienna airport by an immigration officer. Two elderly Albanians, I think, approached the entry gates instead of departure. They appeared a bit confused and did not respond to the officer asking them to go to the departure point. Upon this the officer shouted at them most unpleasantly. I felt very bad, as any one outside his country needs help and shouting and humiliating people like that was not done.
Can't say if that was racism or just a case of a surly officer.
New Delhi, Delhi India Mon 07/09/2012
Traveling as an Asian Male
I am a young asian male (Chinese but Canadian born) and I've been to quite a few places aroun the world. Here is the treatment I get in these countries:
Bosnia: Lots of curious stares but no hostility.
Czech Republic: Not many stares as they are used to Asian tourists, but encountered mostly unfriendly people who never smile. (I don't think it's racist, just in their nature).
Kosovo: Lots of stares, some unfriendly, others friendly
Turkey: Friendly people all over, seem that they're very curious about Asians and ask many questions
Morocco: Very friendly
Serbia: Lots of curious stares, smiles, some of the young ones want to take a picture with me as if I'm a celebrity.
Croatia: Indifferent to friendly
Spain: Indifferent to borderline unfriendly
Italy: Lots of stares, encountered bothe friendly and unfriendly
Latvia: Some stares, overall indifferent
Generally speaking, Eastern Europeans are not the friendliest people. They don't smile much and they don't really make the first move. Some are racist, some aren't.
The friendliest people I encountered are in the Middle East. They seem to think very highly of Asians, and see us as very entrepreneurial, hard working people, so they look up to us. Service is much better here.
Toronto, ON Canada Sat 07/07/2012
no bad experiences up to date
I am a dominican dark skinned female and have done a bit of traveling in the backpacking fashion and I have had no major issues. I know some people had some nasty experiences in spain but people were nice to me in barcelona. I got some nasty stares but other than that nothing else. Let us not assume all spaniards are racist bc that is simply not the case. Also croatia for me nicest people ever nobody gave me any dirty looks(this was dubrovnik) and they were so kind to me. In Italy- there is the whole black women fetish. In bosnia,germany,switzerland,greece, morocco, indonesia and thailand only some stares no bad treatment.
My suggestion learn the language even if its a few words, smile even though others dont and respect local traditions and cultures.
I am traveling to Russia & Ukraine so if anyone has any advice that would be helpful.
New York, NY USA Mon 07/02/2012
Austria & Croatia
Wow, never will go to these two countries again. I was told to go back to France at a Vienna cafe and little children laughed at me in Zadar Croatia. Thank goodness for an English couple that helped me.
Chicago, il USA Fri 06/29/2012
Hello all My daughter and I just returned from Praque (thank you Rick your book on the country was all we needed) I did not feel any tension, stares, rudeness at all, most spoke english others were patient and humored when we attempted their language in fact I was think that Praque seems more tolerant than the sales associates on Michigan, if we had questions about directions, concerts, food etc. people were glad to oblige, staff at the airport in Praque we very happy to make suggestions if we deciced to return (next time Praque, Budahpest, Vienna) as were the staff in Dusseldorf and Amsterdam some of the stares could be curiosty I find a smile and a slight gets you past any situation, if you have opportunity to travel in this economy, short of endangering your safety I say fly, fly, fly!!!!
chicago, il USA Thu 06/28/2012
traveling in the countrysides
I am an Afro-Puerto Rican living here in South Florida.
Having traveled to major European capitals, they are just like any other cosmopolitan city anywhere in the world. London, Paris, Berlin. You see a wonderful mix of different groups. Native peoples are used to people of color and thus don't mind and even welcome you with open arms!
Now the Countrysides.................that's a whole, 'nother planet I'm afraid. When I was young, I took Rick Steve's advice and ventured out into the English Countryside leaving the comfy, safe confines of London to explore villages that had not changed in 150+ years.
Wow, it was like stepping back in time! We got lost in our rental car and asked a farmer on the road for directions. He just glared at me with eyes of fury! He looked at my two friends (who were white) and gladly gave them the directions. Got the old stink eye at a small pub we stopped off to eat too! I was the only AA in the place!
Another time, I was disrespected during a winery tour in the Burgundy region. The manager said something to the effect that "you people control the suburbs of Paris and Marseilles, well you ain't coming here!!" And I don't even want to tell you about a trip out to rural Bavaria!!!
My advice: stay in the sleek, elegant, tolerant cosmopolitan cities, and avoid the backward conservative countrysides. Sadly, that's for the white folks or go only if you're traveling with white travel mates. They'll see that you are part of a group and won't hassle you much.
Miami, FL USA Sun 06/24/2012
I am a black, 33 year old female, living in London. London is much the same as NY (which I have been to) and quite the melting pot. This is the same for most of the major UK cities, Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester, Luton, Leicester etc. Some of the smaller cities are less used to seeing blacks but you are very unlikely to experience overt racism. Ireland was great and Wales was a bit boring but fine.
I have travelled to Spain (Marbella, Majorca, tenerife, Costa Dorada, Malaga, Barcelona, Seville, Cadiz) many, many times and sometimes people stare but never in a negative way. I just smile, they smile back. It has started many a conversation. Most people are friendly. I have been to Portugal several times and love it. It is like a black version of Spain. Think of it as a European Cuba.
I have been to Turkey (lovely and welcoming, no stares although the men can be pests), Italy (they loooove black women), France (lots of blacks there already), Cyprus, Amsterdam (lots of fun and laid back), Morocco, Cuba (enjoyed the carnival).
I totally understand your concerns but it is generally just bad luck rather than racism which has accounted for most of the bad experiences. I am too chicken to be a solo traveller and usually travel with a group (raising hell wherever we go, lol). In my experience, you are more likely to be treated like a superstar because you are different. Having said that, I won't be travelling to Eastern European countries just yet as my friends have had some sad, racial experiences in places like Croatia. Soon enough, they will change due to economic pressures, until then, not for me.
My next trip will, hopefully be to Thailand or Japan.
Hope this helps!
BTW, USA is classed as a country, but the UK isn't. England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales are the countries that make up the United Kingdom.
London, England, UK Wed 06/13/2012
Overt racism in Barcelona
I'm a single black female of West African descent but I'm a born and bred Londoner. I've travelled Europe fairly extensively both with friends and also solo. I recently returned from a solo trip to Barcelona and I've never witnessed and received such appalling racism.
From the jump off, I got alot of cold and unfriendly stares largely from middle aged women despite not dressing like an obvious tourist. However, that may have been the biggest problem. To be frank, anyone who says there isn't a problem with racism in Spain is seriously deluded.
The Spanish think very lowly of black people (this is supported by the only black people I encountered during my 4 day stay was the maid and a few road maintenance workers!!) particularly black females. The spanish regard all fully black (chocolate-brown) females as prostitutes plain and simple. There's been a recent explosion of black females from West Africa largely from Senegal working as prostitutes concentrating around the Las Ramblas area but surely this shouldn't equate with all black females being treated as potential prostitutes.
Anyway, everywhere I went, men (including elderly men) stared at me, cat calling and whistling to get my attention and the older women made me feel like crap. Some women walked by me and called me a "puta" despite the fact that I was dressed very modestly in jeans and dark clothing. The poor treatment only eased off when I walked around carrying a guide book or a map - they seemed to be less aggressive towards me when they realised I was a tourist, and therefore would be leaving their country at some point! During my visit there, I was deliberately barged several times mainly by middle aged females, the staff at the hotel I was staying in literally ignored me, I accidentally brushed past a local girl touching her arm and she shrieked wiping her arm as though my skin tone had rubbed off her.
My advice for any black female considering travel to Barcelona as a solo traveller, is think very carefully before you travel. I was very disappointed and angry at my treatment in Barcelona. The local Spanish people came across as very ignorant, racist and unfriendly which was a shame as the Spanish economy is very troubled at the moment so if they continue to drive away ethnic minority tourists with such poor treatment, I can't see things improving for them.
London, UK Sat 06/02/2012
Questionable Travel Destinations for Blacks
I'm 21 (german-haitian) and have been living in Germany almost half my life. I know Europe pretty well... You'll encounter racism everywhere (just take a look at the US), but generally Spain, France, Portugal, Beglium, The Netherlands and all of the western European countries are safe for blacks. Also, the scandinavian countries are quite safe. Probably the safest in Europe.
Most parts of Germany are safe as well, although I would advise staying out of former "eastern Germany". That means: "Brandenburg, Leipzig, Dresden, etc..." Everything else is fine, I live in Munich and have no problems at all.
Different for eastern European countries, and by that I mean: Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Hungary, Belarus, Slovakia, Slowenia, Russia... You will feel uneasy and get stares...
Munich, Germany Tue 05/29/2012
I am a black male, 46-year-old college professor who just got back from Greece, Croatia, and France. Europe is not the same place anymore. I have been there a total of six times in my life usually for study and work. Far right parties have made election gains and be careful after dark. I saw fights in Greece with nazis and immigrants and in Croatia there was a full blown swastika mural on a wall in Split. In France I had a National Front sticker placed on my rentals windshield.
Teaneck, NJ USA Tue 05/15/2012
Living in Northern Italy
I live in Northern Italy and have grown to love the town I live in its small the church bells ring throughout the day and the views of the mountains help me to write I am of mixed decent American married to a Italian who retires from Government next year He will visit the States exoeriencing situation is not always bad
Chicago Tretino, ill USA Wed 05/09/2012
Re: discrimination towards Asians
Could you please clarify which Asian, I had noticed that when in UK, the reference to Asian meant, folks of South Asia ancestry (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh etc), while here in the US when we usually refer to Asians, that is of some origin of China, Japan Korea etc. That will help to clarify, not to say that racist mind is any different, but I found it interesting, that how across the pond, Asian meant totally different than what I term Asian is generally used in the USA
Atlanta, GA USA Tue 05/08/2012
discrimination towards Asians
My husband and I were both born in Asia but I grew up in Europe (and my husband was also raised in Europe).
We wanted to go to Prague for a few days but after reading that Asians are facing racism there, I have decided not to go, which is a disappointment for my husband. In fact, I myself have been to Prague 18 years ago and did not face any discrimination at all, but that was 18 years ago.
We have traveled a lot through Europe in the past and did not have much problem then, our experiences were more positive than negative, but times have changed and there seems to be more animosity towards Asians now.
Although this forum is about Europe, I am wondering if Asians are also despised/ discriminated in Marrakech, as I'm less keen on visiting more European cities if Asians are not welcome.
My travel experience as an American- Black Female
I have traveled to Egypt, Rio de Janiera, Costa Rica, Paris. Milan and Argentina. I am happy to report I have felt uncomfortable only on one occasion and that was in Argentina. In Argentina we were met with a lot of stares as if they had seen a ghost. One person told us through an interpreter that he had never seen black people before. I am going to Africa this year (no problem expected:))
Next year I will travel to Spain, Italy, Ireland and maybe the Netherlands. I would love to know the experiences of minorities in Ireland and the Netherlands.
Phoenix, AZ USA Tue 04/10/2012
Racism in Cyprus
Asma, i have lived in Cyprus for quite a while so i can tell you people are racist in cities but tourist areas like portras and ayia napa are better in racism. i Have spent 5 years there so if you need any kind info so u can email me on email@example.com
Karachi, Pakistan Thu 04/05/2012
My experience with Europe..fabulous so far
For last three years we( me & husband) have travelled to some exotic & very beautiful locations of Europe, & the experience has been wonderful. Both of us are Indians settled in New Delhi. I am 5'3 feet & he is 6, he has a brown complexion but(me fair by Indian standards!!) , and we have not faced any explicit racial abuse or discrimination or uncomfortable stare so far(touch wood).
London: Have been there twice for 15 days each, and had time of my life. Since my husband went on business on our second visit, I mostly travelled alone in the city & never faced an iota of a glitch. The people were friendly & helpful, and the 'COLD' image of Londoner faded.Plus, I found it pretty safe to travel in most of the areas in London.Overall, a very satisfactory trip.
Edinburgh:We got whatever help we required with directions & general queries, people were simple & generous. Again a safe & convinient place for Asian Tourists.
Italy: On our 15 day trip we visited Rome, Florence,Venice & Lake Garda.Well, I woudn't call the people to be very warm,but we definately were helped whenever we asked for.The tour guides, immigration officers,staff at railway stations, all of them were polite & decent in general.I was a bit cautious about Rome, as stories of pickpockets are common about this marvellos city, but nothing untoward occured. And we didn't speak or understand Italian. A gem of a vecation...
France: My first tryst with a bit of discrimination(racism would be too harsh) occured at the Eurostar rail, where the French immigration officer allowed the other passengers to pass on quickly, but held my husband's passport for a relatively longer duration. Whereas all our documents(like visa, train tickets,hotel confirmation in Paris) were in order.He was satisfied only at quater to 7 & our train left at 7.Once in Paris, the experience was fabulous. Again, the French weren't very cordial or ready to converse(language is an issue), but then there wasn't any time that we felt discriminated against.Except for the entry at Opera House, where the staff(especially the guards) could use some manners. But it wasn't exactly racist, they behaved the same with almost all the tourists.
Spain:We had some problem at the airport in Madrid, & my husband went to talk to the police deployed there. They were very casual in approach, showed their inability to understand the language, then said they can't do anything , the matter needs to be resolved by the Airport police. Overall, their attitude was to avoid us. Can't say that was racist or they behave normally this way to everybody.Other than that, we didn't have much issues during out trips to Seville, Granada, Nerja & Malaga. I particularly remember one tour we took in Albycin in Granada, it was a walking tour, & other than us everybody was from Spain. But they made us fell so comfortable, the guide & our fellow members. At the end of the tour, we sat in a Tapas bar for casual chat, & they bid each other goodbye the traditional Spanish way, kiss on cheeks(both). Now if you are from India, you would know that this is far too informal for us, normally we would just shake hands, or still better, just say goodbye. So I didn't expect to be given the same farewell, also because I thought I was not one of them. But to my pleasant surprise, all of them kiss us goodbye the same way. That was an awesome experience.
At times, you would feel that people aren't being very friendly, but then you have to understand that its you who is on vacation, not the entire city. They may be quite engaged in their daily routine to take note of anybody. That doesn't mean people are tough or unwelcoming.There is some apprehension for Asian tourists due to matters better left untalked about, but then who isn't a little wary about new people ? My mantra, which I derived after these trips, is that don't barge upon people(fellow travellers or locals), ask very politely,try not to look bizzare(by clothing etc), & mind your own business. Your vacation would rock!!
We are planning next to visit Germany in August, hope this one would be equally good.. Any relevant experiences anyone that we can use???
NEW DELHI, DELHI INDIA Wed 04/04/2012
The Czech Republic is beautiful. Prague is great. Been there several times. Love it there. Great food, excellent beer, wonderful A Black/Latin American academic
Newark, De USA Sun 03/25/2012
I have traveled in all continents of the world and many European countries. Ireland and Dublin are the friendliest areas the visit. The people are very embracing, polite and inviting. A Black/Latin American academic
Newark, De USA Sun 03/25/2012
I appreciate this forum and everyone's comments regarding their experiences. I have always had fun traveling within Europe and plan to return in 2013, only this time I intend to get to Greece. I also would like to visit Denmark, tried to find some comments here about Scandinavia; maybe I didn't scroll down far enough but if anyone has been there, let me know how you were received, thx!
Winston Salem, NORTH USA Sat 03/24/2012
Black American female in Prague
Black American in Prague- I just got back from Prague and I don't know what you guys are talking about but in Prague, I got stared at everyday. No one was rude or aggressive, they were much more curious to fact that I appeared exotic, but Africans and black Americans are not the same people. Africans are from Africa. Black Americans are simply Americans with ancestorial history from the continent of Africa.
New York, NY USA Thu 03/08/2012
I am an AA woman and have traveled to Zurich(3days), Rome(3days), Milan(2days) alone. I have also traveled to Rome(another 5days), London(5days), Barcelona(5days), Figueres(1day)and Madrid(4days) with my mid 60's mother. In Zurich people tend to be reserved, polite but not really friendly. All the others I found people were very kind, friendly and helpful. I understand a quite a bit of Spanish and in Spain never heard anything bad. Actually, my mother who likes to travel, but loves her home wants to go back to Spain for a month, when she retires next year. That's a long time for her to want to be away from home, so that says a lot about how much she enjoyed Spain. When traveling I tend to spend 12-14 hours a day out and about, so I'm in contact with locals all the time without problems. My only suggestions to people travelling is try to blend in as much as possible in action, clothing, volume etc... and you should be fine.
USA Fri 03/02/2012
Of course it's safe for Hispanics to go to Ireland. Non-Whites are far safer in "White" countries than Whites are in non-White countries with the exception of a few Asian countries, like Japan.
USA Fri 02/10/2012
We want to go to Dublin,Ireland and was wondering if it's safe for hispanics
Houston, Tx USA Thu 02/09/2012
Racism in Cyprus?
I am a British Asian (pakistani) female looking to travel to Cyprus Paphos and Nicosia.
Has anyone experienced any racism there??
Edinburgh, USA Sat 02/04/2012
TWB - Traveling While Black
We're a multi-racial family and our travels in Italy have been nothing less than a complete delight. I think it helps that my children are naturally very out-going and friendly so Romans, Florentines and Venetians seemed to adore them. We were treated like royalty. (I thought it was cute how many people went out of their way to tell us many times how much they love President Obama, btw.)
My kids had a couple of months of Italian lessons so they could chat with people a bit. My favorite part of our last trip was watching my 11-y.o. daughter interview a group of transfixed gondoliers in Venice in her mix of Italian and English: "Tell the truth...do you ever get tired of tourists? Don't worry...you can tell ME!" (They admitted that they did, sometimes!)
KANSAS USA Wed 01/25/2012
Friendliness Helps, but don't be so naive either
I am Asian-American, mid thirties (but often mistaken for being in my 20s;), my Mother - my main partner is crime - is Asian-American by way of Thailand and in her mid-sixties. With the exception of one trip, we have visited western Europe independently half a dozen times. We have also traveled extensively through India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, SE Asia and bits of Latin America.
We love to shop, are very out-going, goof around allot and most significantly, are courteous. We greet folks in their language. My Mother is not a native English speaker, so her attempts at French, German, Italian, Spanish, etc. are always warmly reciprocated. We have experienced incredible kindness from strangers while traveling, as well some unpleasantness, but never any hostility.
1. Never travel without your calculator (you'll avert scams, merchants will take you seriously as a shopper, and no matter what anyone tells you, bargaining is a battle of wills);
2. Dress nicely, its a way of conveying respect to your hosts. You wouldn't show up to your boss' dinner party in jeans, then why would you visit your hosts' most venerated churches in them?
3. Learn the freaking language. If my elderly Asian immigrant mother can make the effort, so can American-borns; and
4. Believe in the kindness of strangers. For every stare and ignorant remark, there are twice as many kind and decent folks.
Lastly, leave the diet at home!
Albany, CA USA Mon 01/23/2012
If your black go to china
If your a minorty black, hispanic, what ever you will love China, i am from the Alaska, USA which is really diverse, but sometimes depending where i am fell out of place, but in China i felt at homehave been to Europe and travled in the US and has never felt like more at home in china than anywhere i have, you will bring attention but the chinesse people are so nice travel to china you will love it
Anchorae, Ak USA Thu 01/19/2012
I'm a 32 year old AA woman who just spent a week in Poland with my mother. I was a little apprehensive before leaving since I'm from Chicago and have caught occasional racial friction on the Polish side of Chi-town, but I'm happy to report that Poland was awesome.
We visited Krakow and Warsaw and everyone was delightful. We were the only people of color I saw during our tour of the country, but everyone was friendly and polite.
Chicago, IL USA Wed 01/18/2012
My travel experience
I'm a single AA women who has done some traveling. Here's my take. I lived in Scotland for 6 months and found them to be very warm people. Down to earth. Had no trouble in England or in Wales. Finland was wonderful. Kind, shy but hospitable people. I was treated like a queen! Italy was a big disappointment although I am willing to give it another chance. Not as friendly as I thought they would be and sales people and waiters feel free to be as rude and racist as they want to be. I did have SOME nice experiences there but overall, a disappointment. In Japan I found the people to be very nice and proud to show off their country. Very helpful. I would go back to any of these places in a heartbeat. If I could choose a place to live outside of the USA it would be England. I've been back and gone down to the south of England. I just love the place. I think that everyone needs to take into consideration that many of these countries are experiencing immigration problems so that may contribute to tensions that would not ordinarily be there. Also, I don't have a thin skin...not every bad experience is the result of racist attitudes. People are basically people. I go with an open heart and willingness to experience life the way the natives do. Learning something of the language and/or customs goes a long way. I have traveled alone. Use commons sense, be open to new experiences and you'll be fine. LOVE this forum btw.
Providence, RI USA Sat 01/14/2012
Travels as an British-Indian
I am of Indian heritage, but born and brought up in the UK. First thing, is that its refreshing to have a forum like this as it is clear that sometimes a non-white traveller/tourist will have a different experience from the white tourist because of the colour of their skin. I have travelled across Europe, worked in Basel, Switzerland for almost a year and can offer a few thoughts.
UK- My home and still IMO by far the most welcoming and tolerant place in Europe. This is due to the long history of black and Asian (in the UK- that means South-Asian) communities being settled here and the strong contribution to British culture they have made- sports, arts, media, finance, transport. Most people in any major city in the UK would likely not bat an eyelid at seeing someone of a different ethnicity.
Thats not to say that in some places, more rural areas in the main, you won't get an odd look but this will be rare as well. This is not to say that racism does not exist here, but that Britain is far more comfortable with multiculturalism than other European countries and it shows for an average visitor because of our shared history.
SWITZERLAND- Worked and travelled here for over 9 months. The Swiss are reserved with everyone, and can come across as a bit cold. This is not racism by and large but the just how man people are. Of course many younger people are not like that and quite happy to chat and engage. It is highly unlikely you will experience any open or even indirect racism here- most cities are used to tourists and business people of all backgrounds as are the major mountain resorts.
GERMANY- Similar to Switzerland, but as it is a far bigger country and more diverse I can't generalise. I have never had any issues on my trip to Berlin- which is a young, arty city anyways. Not sure what it would be like in Munich for example?
SPAIN - Only went on one trip with 5 other guys (all Brit-Indians) to Palma Majorca. Were a few comments about us going to the mosque by waiter in a restaurant (none of us are Muslim incidentally). Someone in our hotel obviously thought we were local Moroccan youth and we were asked to leave the swimming pool, to which we clearly stated that we were paying guests of the hotel. Sporadic incidents certainly, but two in a few days.
POLAND- I only went to Warsaw, and did get a lot of funny looks, more from curiosity then any racism. My friend- an African-American guy got a lot more looks and felt pretty aggrieved. I genuinely don't think this was racism either but to be aware you may feel uncomfortable at times.
HOLLAND- Was stared at by a guy on the train from the airport to the city centre constantly. Again i was surprised as Holland probably approaches Britain in having a well-settled minorities.
BELGIUM- In Antwerp, me and my friend were lost near the city centre but obviously in a slightly run-down part of town. As it was the middle of the afternoon I approached a lady to ask for directions- who promptly looked at us and almost ran away !! I was shocked and offended that anyone would do that. A friendly local gentleman saw this and came over and showed us the right way. I have found that being of Indian-origin and fairly light-skinned has meant being confused for being a local Moroccan/Tunisians, who unfortunately don't have the best reputation in many Continental European cities.
My conclusion is that if you look for racism in many places you will find it, that being said if you are open-minded and visit in a spirit of learning then you will have a great time. There WILL BE incidents you dont like and that will be racially motivated, but you will meet many people that are quite the opposite and welcome you to their country seeing past your colour/background and that is what redeems my faith in travel.
London, Surrey UK Fri 01/13/2012
Re: Black male in Prgaue
So there are Africans being hosted in the Czech Republic....Its the same in most European Countries....That doesn't mean that you aren't still considered exotic as a Black American and draw stares.
Comprehend this.....I lived in Prague for a year and visited places in Prague and on the outskirts of Prague that were off the beaten path, and not tourist traps like the city center as seen by tourists much like yourself on your visits.
I was simply sharing my experiences for others who may have an interest in visiting Prague for whatever reason, and if you have yours to share, kindly do so.
MD USA Sat 01/07/2012
Black American male in Prague
I find the basic thrust of your comments difficult to comprehend. The Czechs are not unaccustomed to seeing black people. The country has had a long history of hosting blacks from the African continent in their universities. As a matter of fact, I visited Prague in 2004 and 2006 and there were quite a few blacks from Africa who were peddling tourist products on the streets. I am an African American.
New Castle, DE USA Fri 01/06/2012
Black American Male in Prague
I spent the entire year of 2006 in Prague, Czech Republic on a Study Abroad program through my University. I found the experience to be overwhelmingly positive.
I would admit that it was rather uncomfortable with the stares and pointing in the beginning, but as Rick Steves pointed out in one of his posts, it is mostly out of curiosity and the rarity of African American Males in Eastern Europe. I will also add that you get used to it.
I would point out that the Czechs may come off as rude or uninterested but that's just the way it is....doesn't always mean racism.
I lived in Prague 3, away from the tourist areas (Prague 1) as I wanted to immerse myself in the Czech culture. I learnt the language, although pretty bad now and made a ton of friends with the locals. The fact that I was a Black American male who was also in school made me very popular....they simply will love that you are Black and American....I took my classes at Charles University....and I ended up traveling on the weekends and on school trips to Poland, Germany, Holland, England, France, Italy, Slovakia, Austria and Ukraine..
I was going to cut the trip short at first because I didn't fully understand that I wasn't in the US anymore, but I am glad that I stuck to it.
It is sad that not that many African American males will venture to experience Eastern Europe. Yes, it is challenging to venture out of your comfort zone, but speaking from my experience...what I gained was truly life changing.
Baltimore, MD USA Tue 01/03/2012