Minority Travelers' Forum
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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Worst experience in Prague
Your experience is not typical. I have visited Prague several times and was treated very well on the streets, in the stores, in the restaurants and cafés and in the hotel. My wife visited with me on one occasion and she was treated well too. I am black Caribbean-American and she is African-American. Is it possible that you are too sensitive since you were accompanied by your white boyfriend?
Be mindful that Africans live in Prague and have bee studying at the universities for a long time now.
Oxford, PA USA 12/02/2013
planning to visit Europe:)
Well I am 18 years old and my dream is to visit Europe next year I speak fluent Spanish, English, french, and manage to understand italian and russian. But I'm afraid of racism because I'm hispanic (mexican) I am white complected but, not european white so I was wandering wich places would be safer in Europe?
Chicago, Ill USA 11/27/2013
Visiting Tuscany while Black... :)
Hi everyone. I'd say that it's a bit exagerated to say that Italians are generally racist. The fact is, being upgraded at a certain point of history as "white people", they just learnt how to muster some racism in accordance with their new status. But the truth is, you certainly won't be shot in Italy because of the skin of your color as it happens in the USA, and you won't even meet a group of so-called "skinheads" chasing strangers as it still happens in a country like Russia. The only thing I'm sure you won't be able to escape from is the stares; Italians will stare at you without the least qualm, that's just how they are. But I believe they are the warmest people in Europe, and if you understand some Italian, you will just love their humour(exhilarating). In conclusion, for all those who are planning to visit Tuscany(especially black people), feel free to require my help if you any worry of any sort. I've been living there for 9 years, and I might be of help.... Cheers. sirdefotsing at yahoo dot co dot uk
Siena, Tuscan Italia 11/23/2013
Worst experience in Prague
My boyfriend and I decided to spend Christmas and New Year's visiting his family and friends in his country of Germany. We also visited Berlin and Dresden. As a black female, while I was shocked and very uncomfortable by the amount of stares I received, I found out from him that it was mainly looks of curiosity and interest. After awhile I did not bother and just enjoyed the experience and season, Germany was a beautiful place and the persons I met were friendly and tried to speak English and make sure I was comfortable, especially in Dresden. I even got complimentary service and free stuff from a nice lady in a Lacoste store.
On a spur of the moment, my boyfriend and I decided to visit Prague as my German boyfriend heard it was a wonderful place and metropolitan. The people in Prague were AWFUL!!! While he was completely ignored, I, on the other hand, was looked at up and down with sheer disgust and anger. As I was walking, many females shot me looks like daggers of hatred that I could not ignore. I was so rattled and my boyfriend was so shocked he kept apologising because he didn't expect this treatment. I was determined to just leave as I will not spend a cent in anyplace where I am mistreated. While I was there, I saw two other black women and three other black men who were lurking in the shadows in street corners. The hotel staff as well were rude and didn't even look at me when we spoke to them.
By day two I decided to give it another try and when I was met with rude staff, and intolerant stares I packed my bags and left. While the city was beautiful the people are rude, racist, ignorant and as a seemingly 'tourist and metropolitan' country left nothing to encourage any black tourist to visit. My boyfriend stated that a lot of Russians visit Prague so perhaps that's the answer to hatred. Let's just say I reminded my boyfriend that we shall do research before we travel and that's the challenges of non-whites travelling sometimes.
Blacks in Italy as tourists
Italians are amongst the warmest and inviting people on Earth. Italians as a whole are not racist and far more inviting to diverse races and cultures than their Northern European brothers, like the Germans, French, English or Dutch. Northern Italians can be colder and more like their Germanic neighbors to the North. Southern Italians are generally warmer, more jubilant and very family oriented. The old saying: "Familiarity does not breed contempt", holds true in Italy, as it does anywhere in the world !
NEW YORK, N.Y. USA 11/18/2013
Im an italian american(sicilian). My father & grandparents on mothers side were born there.i have spent a lot of summers and holidays n italy and what im hearing from you is accurate.i too have experienced racism in the large northern cities especially florence where it became physical. They dont like us southern italians either.i guess because we are darker and have some african heritage. An old italian saying "africa starts south of rome"
bronx, ny USA 11/13/2013
Spain, Paris and Scotland
I am a white female who lived in Valencia, Spain for one year. My boyfriend is black african from Gabon, and he came to visit me there. We had absolutely no problems at all, in fact, the people were very nice and even tried to speak French to my boyfriend and ask him where he was from etc. Having said that, Valencia is the N°1 ERASMUS city in Europe, and are so very used to receiving foreigners, and has a very young, studenty population. We were there for almost a month together and didn't even have any stares. BArcelona on the other hand, was a bit different. We went in the height of summer, where there were lots of BM/WF couples walking around. We either got treated really well, or we got really disgusted looks. Only from reeeeally old people though, with canes haha. I've heard from younger Spanish people that a lot of the older ones are scared of/hate everyone that isn't Spanish.
We currently live in Paris and have never had any problems whatsoever. For people saying that they're received rudeness or stares; it's probably not race related, Parisian people are just like that. I am a white female and sometimes I get people on the metro, buses etc. staring at me for no reason....
I'm originally from Scotland and have brought my partner back to Edinburgh to meet my family. Never had any problems or stares, even from old people, despite the lack of non-whites in Scotland. That said, I would really like to travel with him to the Highlands, but have NO idea how that will go. I've never heard anything bad, does anyone else have exeprience there?
Paris, IDF France 11/10/2013
Black female in Spain, Italy
I have read most of the comments on this forum and quite shocked at the negative comments on certain countries in Europe being racist. I am a black female that has been with an Italian male for 3 years, we met when we both lived in Antigua, which has a large Italian population. I have visited Italy, Florence, Venice, Milan, Rome and have never experienced any racism. Also my boyfriend's family are wonderful and have treated me with nothing but warmth and affection and they don't speak a word of English. My boyfriend and I are open enough, that if they didn't like me because of my colour, he would tell me. As for Spain, I visit Valencia twice a month, as my boyfriend owns a business there, and have always been treated well by the Valencians. Barcelona, I have visited and found the people a little cold, not sure if this is due to my colour or just their attitude. I'm planning to move to Valencia soon and don't envision any problems. It would be nice to see other women of colour, which I do not see at all. My advice is don't let isolated incidents or comments from others stopping you from traveling where you want to go. I have traveled all over the world and experienced more racism in Antigua as a British black person, where people perceived me as being 'white' because of the way I speak, my education and where I was born. What I do think is sad, that as black people, we have to conduct internet searches on how we will be treated before going on holiday to certain destinations, most other people are searching for restaurants, historic sites, hotels etc. It's very sad!
Hi All, I am a dark skin black american female and I will be traveling to the Cote d'azur tomorrow. I will post my experiences soon including guidebook for people of color in the south of france. Please pray that I have a safe and fun journey. I will keep you posted.
PS this is my second trip to Europe however this is much longer.
I am Chinese and I just came back from my honeymoon in Europe (Italy, Switzerland and France). I must say the first leg of my holiday really spoiled my mood as my husband and myself experienced hostility and racist behaviour in Italy. As Singaporean where we have a multi racial sociality, it was really a culture shock to me especially since this was the first time I went to a European country. We were rejected from a restuarant in Sorrento and getting racial slurs in Florence. Luckily things changed for the better in Switzerland and Paris where at least people there don't constantly give us the impression that they dislike us.
Just returned from a trip to Geneva, Switzerland and Lyon, France and I must say it was both pleasant and disappointing. In both countries I didn't experience any incidents of perceived racism. The locals in Geneva weren't the most outgoing people, but they were characteristically neutral. I've been practicing/studying my French for the past year and anxious to exercise my skills. To my disappointment, anytime I would try and speak the language they would immediately tell me they speak English. Now this could be the result of two things, the first being my French is so bad they couldn't suffer through it and the second is they wanted to practice their English. Moving on to France, it was very different and delightful because they wanted me to speak French and didn't give me an out. Only when the conversations became complicated and above my skill level did they oblige me in English. I found the residents in Lyon to be a little more relaxed. I would visit both places again, however if I only had time for one I'd choose Lyon.
Charlotte, NC USA 10/17/2013
I'm going to have to agree that you should make an effort to learn the very basics of the local language and customs. I took German for my foreign language requirements while in college (I had a girlfriend who was fluent in German at the time). So five years later while going on a trip to Germany I was able to get by with saying hello, good morning, and ordering food etc, until I had to change my train ticket in Leipzig and for some reason I got really nervous and tried talking in English (whispering actually). People there at the scene knew I wasn't German and was a tourist and they kind of dropped back and watched (a man in three piece suit specifically) pointing out to other Germans that I was trying to talk in English and the woman at the counter spoke only her native tongue. Long story short, she continued to encourage me to speak in German (the Gentleman too in body language) until I was able to change my itinerary in German. They all applauded with a "Genau!" I was red in the face but very pleased with myself and laughed. But that fact alone makes me love the German language which I am even more horrible at for lack of practice.
On that same trip however, I also went to Belgium, Nederland, and the Czech Republik. In Belgium I had a travelling companion that spoke French so we were able to get by fine, in Nederland and Czech Republik I made it a point to plan my visits and stays where English was spoken. Although the local Police Captain on the train from Praha back into Germany did speak some English. I will never forget my experience while in Europe and I dig that Police Captain (they were armed with AK-47's and I did not feel the bit threatened).
I want to go back for a trip of course to Germany and maybe back to Praha but mainly to Ireland. I can get pretty fair in skin color but usually have a shade of brown, with black hair and brown eyes I never once felt that I was being discriminated against. I use to want to go to Italy and make my way north but think I will not until Italians as a whole cannot be so abusive with race and color. That is upsetting. Did I mention Sweden, Finland and Norway? Denmark! So many places and not enough dough.
Seattle, WA USA 10/13/2013
Spain and racism
Interesting topic to discuss.
I am an Asian-American female, who recently arrived from traveling thru Spain.
I had a really strange but interesting situation with the staring issue. I noticed an elder lady giving me a cold stare. I just decided to let out a happy, "Buenos dias." Her face changed dramatically from cold to friendly.
It was the strangest thing I've seen.
So smile a lot, try to speak the language, and not letting your guard down can help your trip go more smoothly.
And please if you speak english, DON'T assume they speak english. It's rude and frankly embarrassing. I helped out a British couple who were so loud and frustrated that no one could help them because no one spoke English.
By the way, I found it funny when the British husband asked me if I spoke english, after I already initially offered to help, in English.
So, not surprised they were in that predicament. Ignorance is "bliss."
CA USA 10/07/2013
Travel in Italy
I'm a naturalized American of Jamaican descent. I'm shocked at the comments regarding racism in Italy. I wonder if these incidents are a recent phenomena. I say this because when I was in the military, I lived in Italy for over 10 years. I liked it so much there that after my first tour I was determined to remain there as long as I could. In fact I ended up marrying an Italian woman, and my daughter was born in Naples and both my children have Italian names. I spent all but my working hours in the Italian community, and My daughter went to Italian school. In over 10 years I did not encounter even a single negative incident. I have traveled the length and breadth of Italy and experienced only curiosity and friendliness from Italians. In fact my female cousin also married an Italian and she currently lives in Bologna where she teaches English to Italians. I wonder if some people may have encountered some of the many Albanians and others from the former Soviet Bloc countries many of whom have become a nuisance in many European countries especially in tourist areas. It's been about 10 years since I last visited, but I find it difficult to believe this is the same Italy I lived in all those years. I still have Italian friends who have visited me since returning to the states.
Monterey, CA USA 10/05/2013
Caribbean woman in Spain and Italy
I am a Jamaican woman (mainly african descent) living in the Netherlands. I generally travel with my husband who is Dutch or with Caribbean family members.
I am really surprised about some of the feedback on Spain. I really enjoy vacationing there. Barcelona is one of my favourite cities in Europe. I have already been there three of four times. It's so lived in and it's really easy to get a idea of the people and life there. There is lots to do and the food it great. I love having breakfast in neighborhood cafes (where we are the only tourists). I have also been to Malaga, Cordoba, Granada, Seville and Madrid. My three favourite locations in Spain are Barcelona, Malaga and Cordoba in that order, although most people really love Seville. The architecture is great but it feels too much like big city for me. Granada is a must see for the history (including Alhambra) and the old centre in Cordoba is so cozy. Madrid was a bit cold. I did not have any negative experiences there, it's just not the type of that place I would go to for a relaxing weekend.
I am not a fan of Italy. I have been to Florence twice. During the first visit there was an overt racial incident, verbal. The second time was just uncomfortable. With that said, I had no problems in Venice and Verona. Earlier this year I was in a village close to Bassano del Grappa (in the mountains) and it was quite pleasant, residents were friendly. I still have not been to Rome and plan to go despite my reservations about Italians in big cities. Some places are just a must see.
Amsterdam, Netherlands 10/04/2013
Racism in Italy and elsewhere
Don't forgo Italy or any country because of comments here. Ignorance and prejudice can be found everywhere. Assume the best about people. Take the time to familiarize yourself with some of their customs and learn a little of their language, rather than barking at them in English, and smile a lot. Don't leave your street smarts at home and dare to venture away from the usual touristy stops. You will have a great time! Will you encounter one or two fools? Of course, but that would be true even if you never left your home town. Enjoy!
New York, NY USA 09/25/2013
Travel to Europe Is What You Make It
I am an AA female who traveled to Europe with my 5yo daughter in tow. We visited Berlin, Paris, and Amsterdam. Of all three destinations, the Dutch were the most polite and friendly. Extremely open-minded and didn't bat an eye at our skin color. The Germans stared, both men and women. I equate this to curiosity (and Germans are known for their famed stares). While in a Turkish deli in East Berlin, a very tall, tattooed, and pierced gentleman walked in looking a la skinhead and I immediately felt a bit of uneasy. He sat down right next to my daughter and I and to my surprise, he began making silly faces at her and engaging her! Not the response I was expecting, especially in East Berlin. My point is, if you travel with an open mind, you won't think every encounter is race related. There may be differences for black female travelers versus male ones, at least from reading some of these posts, but my experiences were very positive. In Paris, no trouble at all. I think people were more excited that we were American rather than African American. I can't wait to go on another trip!
Seattle, WA USA 09/16/2013
No problems in Italy for me
I am so surprised to hear that some of you have had some issues in Italy. My mother and I, both black, and my best friend who is white, traveled around Italy for 2 months - Ostia, Rome, Naples, Salerno, Sienna, Bologna, Venice - and we never had any problems. The people were fairly friendly. We even had this instance where we were sitting outside of a cafe drinking coffee, and this random older Italian man walked by and started talking about how beautiful our dark skin was, and how black is so beautiful, and that we should be proud to have such dark and lovely skin. Haha it was one of my highlights. I NEVER experienced any problems with the Italians. In Florence people stared a little more, but were still pretty friendly. We did have more of a problem with some of the African immigrants who got too handsy and aggressive about talking to us, dancing with us, walking with us - more in Florence than anywhere else, but we had more problems with immigrants than with Italians.
Berea, KY USA 09/15/2013
Black People Travelling in Europe or worldwide
I've been reading a lot of the comments here with interest. I consider myself a black-British-African woman and I've done a fair bit of travelling in the past. Thailand, Peru, Indonesia, Spain, Italy, Portugal, France, USA, Belgium, to name a few. The only place I felt a little uncomfortable the first time was Thailand. There was a lot of staring and touching when walking through a very large market, but it was just curiosity. They thought I was American. Over the last few years my travels have been to Turkey as my husband is Turkish. I have found Turkish people very loving and hospitable. My brother also loves to travel and has been to the Middle East, China and Russia and Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and as well as others. He has never had problems and has also been interviewed by a local Azberbaijan TV station. I would recommend these places to see to enrich your travels.
London, England 09/09/2013
Travelling the world as a black man and enjoying it
I do go to Europe every year for a duration of two to three months each year. My experience has been positive for most of my touring. I've heard about racism, and I've sometimes witnessed a type of discrimination toward others but I haven't had any personal tough encounter with it.
I've to admit that I have a tough skin, I know my rights, and I don't hesitate to bring people's actions to their attentions. I love to travel to places where I'm a minority; I like attention, I enjoy the stares; I like to be conspicuous because I find it to be a strategic deterrent against the "the fringe crazy." Deep inside of me I don't feel like I'm a racial person, I don't act nor interact on the basis of races - sometimes I'm reminded of my race through stares from either girls wanting to flirt or guys wanting to know who I was and where I came from.
I carry myself differently even when I'm home in the state, and I'm quite likable for reasons that I'm not very sure of; however, I have to admit that some countries in Europe people may stereotype you because of the influx of African immigrants. In few occasions (5%) people stared at me because they had doubts of whether or not I was an American, and once they cleared their doubts, they just acted normal or with extra dose respects (I guess they felt that I wasn't a threat on their labor force).
In Europe there are countries racially divers from its core, countries such as France, Belgium, UK were being a minority is nothing new, and there are other countries do not have a high density of minorities - those are my favorites places to go. If you want to divide it between West and East, then my number one would be East for sure, but let discuss in general. The top countries in Europe to visit and feel extremely welcome as black westerner are: 10.Georgia 9.Serbia 8.Netherlands 7.Denmark 6.Finland 5.Luxemburg 4.Norway 3.Sweden 2.Slovakia 1.Romania
You'll find a lot of people speaking English in those countries as well, and if you are adaptable you'll have the best time of your life.
Again, I have enjoyed everywhere I went in Europe but if you have a thin skin, and if you want to avoid the racial indecencies, you should preempt the interaction by stating that you were a Westerner (Australian, American, Canadian, or Kiwis); this same thing is true when you go to Latin America.
I wish I could travel every countries in the globe and tell you all about it; I wish I was a billionaire so bad.
Miami, FL USA 09/08/2013
Newsflash: Italy is racist
We're an Indian couple and we've just come back from a holiday in Italy. We visited Rome, Florence and Venice. I can honestly say I have never felt discriminated against more in any place. Italians are out and out racist. In most places it's subtle, but not subtle enough to miss the intention, but the number of ugly experiences we had in Italy, particularly Rome and Venice, ruined our holiday. We followed the trip to Italy with a visit to London, and then travelled to Belgium (Brussels and Bruges) and then to Dubai before heading home. Nowhere else did we encounter such unpleasantness. I have advised friends planning holidays against going to Italy. If you're brown, Italy is best avoided. Your hard earned money will be better spent practically anywhere else.
Bangalore, Karnat India 09/08/2013
I live in Fondo Italy 6 months out of the year I have a Wonderful Italian man in my life there The town has gotten to know me and is warming up to the idea I will be around We have always been innovators of wherever we go as African Americans. I would love to inviie African Americans to my little town and rent a room from me bed and breakfast it is beautiful there in fondo
lombard, ill USA 08/25/2013
No thanks, I wouldn' t set foot in Italy even if I need a heart transplant
Thank you anonymous for your suggestion but Italy is definitively off my vacation list. The research I did was very accurate, I even translated from Italian to English what I saw in some Italian forums written by people who live in Italy and who are 100% Italian and what I discovered it shocked me and it scared me. What I understood from Italian people is that in Italy there is an anti-blacks hate that it' s not recent but it started many decades ago. Also my girlfriend is white and I've got the confirmation that Italians are against black/white couples . As I already wrote at the beginning me and my friends we planned to visit France, Spain and Italy but now we chose to visit Portugal instead of Italy because unlike Italy Portugal has always welcomed black people.
Boston, Ma USA 08/20/2013
France - good! Italy - not so good..
I am a half black and half white 22-year old girl. I can say this, I have been to both France and Italy multiple times. In Italy, I enjoy the beauty of the buildings, the food etc., but the people there don't really love coloured people, if you know what I mean. They probably won't be very mean to you... but not so nice either.
In France, I feel like it's completely different, especially in Paris. Men and women smile at me, everyone is friendly and nice, I feel like home. Many of my dark friends also enjoyed France a lot.
So disappointed of Italy
I' m an African-American man and I was planning a trip to Europe with some friends of mine, we thought to visit France, Spain and Italy. I knew about Italian racist past, the Fascism and Mussolini, but I thought that was something like 70 years ago and that now Italy is changed but after some research on the web I realized Fascism and racism are still alive and well in Italy, there plenty of reports of racist incidents towards blacks and blacks only, in everyday life and during sport events. This led me to think that Italians really don' t like blacks and that is better to avoid Italy, I will visit Portugal instead of Italy, I' ve heard great things about Portugal and Portuguese people. That' s very sad for me because I really would like to visit Italy but I don' t want my holiday to turn into a nightmare and I certainly don' t want to help the economy of an anti-blacks nation by giving them my money.
Boston, Ma USA 08/19/2013
I think you should go to Italy. Yes, racism does exist in Europe, but what I observed is that the people who were not to nice to me are the people who are not the natives of the land.
To Jake from Seattle
Just for the record the racist shop assistant who discriminated Oprah wasn' t a Swiss woman, she was an Italian woman working in Switzerland.
Lausanne, Switzerland 08/14/2013
Switzerland has Issues!!
What is going on in Europe? Even Oprah Winfrey can't travel without being racially victimized. Oprah in Switzerland, attending the wedding of her friend Tina Turner, decides to go out for a bit of shopping fun and finds her self being denied service by some idiotic lady that believes a woman of color couldn't possibly afford to purchase a $40K handbag. I'm realizing with every passing year after hearing about incidents like this that America really is far less racist than Europe. The continent of Europe might be older than the United States but it certainly is not as evolved in terms of race relations. I have now added Switzerland as another country in Europe to be thought of with a question mark. And not because of just the Oprah incident, but due to the many other incidents of racist acts that get reported on a regular basis about Switzerland.
Seattle, Wa USA 08/11/2013
No problems in Italy
I am in awe of those who say that are Italians are racist. My mother and I, both black females of Jamaican descent however Americanized, had nothing but pleasant experiences in Italy. In 2010 We traveled from Rome to Florence to Verona to Venice. When we would sit it the squares (piazzas) Italians would go out of their way (sometimes struggling) to carry on conversations with us. Very pleasant indeed. One shop owner in Florence stopped us in the street took us to his store gave us champagne and gave us tips to enrich our time in Florence. At restaurants and shops we had nothing but pleasant experiences. We could always count on stopping someone for assistance if we were lost. We plan to go back we are just enjoying a few other countries first.
Charlotte, NC USA 08/05/2013
Not racist experience as hispanic
Italy isn't racist. Everybody was kind to me, even if a few men were rude but they were like that to everyone.
I'm a college aged black female who is currently visiting Madrid for a short period of time.
I am enjoying myself. The people are very friendly. I had one rude cab driver, but there was no indication that that was race based. I speak some Spanish (not fluent, though), and they really appreciate that and treat me well.
I went to some cute little cafes, the people were nice there too. I went to a touristy restaurant in La Plaza Mayor, and they weren't overly nice there. Not sure why.
I've gotten a few stares that are not hostile, but are clearly curious.
But overall, I am loving the city. And I would come back for sure.
young black female
Atlanta, GA USA 08/01/2013
i read this with extreme sadness. I am making my first trip to Europe, and Italy was high on my list of places to visit. but now it looks like I have to avoid this historic country as a matter of conscience and out of concerns for my own safety. I would not want to be victim to random haters and stares by people who will see nothing but skin color, and not a fellow human being. it would be different if we were speaking of pockets, but from what I read the problem seems pervasive
My Tips for blacks who wants to visit Italy
I' m a half black Brazilian man who lived in Italy for about 2 years and having faced Italian racism during my stay I want to give some advice for black people who want to visit Italy.
1) If you are going to visit an artistic city like Rome, Florence, Venice always stay in the turistic area where there are tourists from all over the world and you will not have any problem.
2) Avoid the small towns and villages in the north of Italy, they are full of racists and the locals are very rude and inhospitable with black or brown people.
3) If you are a black man NEVER talk to an Italian woman not even if you just want to ask some informations because Italians can think that you are trying to approach her and Italians are against interracial black/white couples.
4) Avoid the crowded Italian pubs in the night because there you can easily found groups of fascist Italians who hate and molest black people and you can be in an unpleasant situation.
Italy is an interesting country but racism against black and brown people people is very high so you must be careful. If you will follow my advices nothing bad should happen to you and you can have a quiet stay in Italy.
Belo Horizonte, Brazil 07/21/2013
Every European country is safe for black tourists exept Italy
As a black man who live in Europe I can tell you that every European countries is safe for black and brown tourists with the only exception of Italy. In Italy you can find a lot of fascists and white supremacist organizations that hate black people and that molest and beat black people in the street so Italy is quite scary and dangerous for blacks. Apart from Italy blacks tourists will be fine in any other European countries.
Marseille, France 07/15/2013
Racism and Travel
I just want to commend the participants on this site for providing a valuable service. I have traveled to Europe for years without incidents but perhaps because of immigration and the global economy I am aware that things change. As I intend to bring my daughter to Barcelona this month I find this discussion helpful. Thanks to all.
NC USA 07/07/2013
Netherlands and Belgium
I am an African-American woman recently returned from Amsterdam and Belgium. No problems in either country. Amsterdam, where I spent the most time, was probably my most positive European experience (I've also been to France and Spain). The people were polite and friendly, though not overly demonstrative. In fact, there wasn't the slightest hesitation before deciding to address me that I experienced in France (even though I speak French). The Dutch love American culture, particularly American R&B music, which I heard everywhere. The only stares/lukewarm treatment I got were from tourists from Asia and Eastern Europe.
New York, NY USA 07/06/2013
Racial discrimination in Spain by police
I hear there is an organization planning litigation in Spain to confront racial profiling/discrimination by police. If you experienced this or know of anyone you can send them to: email@example.com
Queens, NY USA 07/03/2013
I am a brown male and went to Italy. I was at first worried because of all the racist comments made by visible minorities. I actually had a great experience with one exception. I went to Pompeii just east of Naples and I encountered a group of teens making fun of me on my train ride to the tourist site. I later found out that Naples is full of drug gangs and a lot of these kids work for drug lords and that they were just being ignorant. Anyway, I was also in Venice, Rome, and Florence. Rome was actually a very multicultural city, full of diverse races. You just needed to be aware of immigrant gangs and gypsies that try to con you, but other than that it was quite enjoyable.
Hispanics going to italy
I think it's sad that racism can make us fear travelling somewhere. I will be going to Italy in a week with my friend, we are both originally South Americans (light brown) and I am worried now after reading all the warnings of Italy. I hope it will go well. Of course you wouldn't want to experience racism. I have experienced racism where I live and it was horrible.
My husband and I are a mixed-race older couple who traveled to Cuba as part of a tour group. We enjoyed being in the country and being amongst so many people of color. A notable experience for us was the number of Cubans who assumed that I was a returning Cuba who had done well in the states. My husband learned to say "my wife" in Spanish so that I would be left alone. That prompted one Cuban male to congratulate me on doing so well for myself (I am black). It is a country with many issues, but none that we Americans are not familiar with. I highly encourage any of you to travel there.
Seattle, WA USA 06/23/2013
Spain is NOT racist, Italy is racist
I'm a black man from Colombia who now lives in Spain and I want to say something in defense of Spain. As I previously wrote in a post I moved to Spain from Italy. I was a student in Italy and I had to leave the country because of the high level of racism against black people, now I live in Spain and I never had any problem of racism. I have Spanish friends and my girlfriend is Spanish and Spain is my new home.
Spain is very multicultural and you can see blacks and whites hanging out together. So if you are black don' t be afraid to visit Spain, you' ll not have any problem and the country is very beautiful. Spain is not a country that has an history or a tradition of racism against black people. Italy, that' s a very racist country. If you are black people don' t even want to talk to you and treat you very bad. In Italy racial segregation is alive and well and hate towards blacks and brown people is very strong.
Barcelona, Spain 06/23/2013
So far, we've been to Barcelona and Paris. We've had no real problems, minus an incident in a Claire's, of all places, in Paris. We were the only people in the store and the clerk totally ignored us. So we just left without buying anything.
My wife did an exchange program for a year and she said she didn't have any problems - she lived with families in Seville and Madrid. But she did say she was always told that the Basque region is where the real bad attitudes towards Blacks and foreigners, in general.
As far as 'USA's comment, you must not get around much. Many Black 'ghetto' neighborhoods have been gentrified from Harlem to Atlanta. Whites feel pretty safe coming into Black neighborhoods when it comes to either saving or making money.
Elizabeth, NJ USA 06/14/2013
Spain, is it worth the Risk?
Response to Roger
You and I are on the same page. I believe in using common sense when leaving the safety of our American shores.Travel is a passion of mine and visiting as many places as possible is one of the best educations a person can be expose to. And I think its especially important for Americans to step outside our nation in order to gain a greater knowledge of the world. But going somewhere that has a history of being a major trouble spot where people of color are sure to experience bigotry, might be a way of looking for trouble or disappointment. Don't get me wrong, everyone in Spain are not racist.A good many Spaniards will be polite and friendly toward a stranger. But the trend of bias against Blacks,Asians and other people of color by Spaniards should be weighed in a serious manner and not discarded outright because we want to see Spain. There are certain countries that are known to be high risk destinations where an incident could take place. What seperates a tough spot from an impossible one is lack of options.Not speaking the language,being among people that are insensitive toward you because of their narrow mindset can all be concerns to take serious.
We all can grow as individuals, and learn from one another's experience but letting yourself become a cautionary tale is not required in the act of traveling.I say be bold and do things that are daring.Go visit the off beaten track. I've done that very thing as far back as the 1980's. Went to Argentina and stayed half a year enjoying Buenos Aries, riding horses without saddles and later checking out Brazil and seeing the Rain Forest and staying at a beautiful 4 star hotel right next to the amazing Iguazu water falls.Traveling up to Recife Brazil and seeing the rich culture where Africans first came to the Americas, even before Africans came to the United States. And I also partied like a Rock Star in Rio de Janeiro for several months. So I certainly have and have had a sense of adventure in me for quite some time.Not afraid to go any place that is fun or might offer a great time.
But what I try not to experience is a place with people that can't get pass a limited base of knowledge and who have a tendency to not view you as just another human being. When traveling we are often time out in a public place sampling touristy locations. That is usually where we will encounter incidents of racism. That one person or a small group of people that behave like they receive poor parenting. Now, throw alcohol into the mix and suddenly the situation has become combustible. I'm not telling other people of color not to visit Spain.Just take the experiences of other travelers on this board serious. And if you go, stay in HUGE cities to avoid trouble. Be extremely careful because there is a reason why so many people of color on this board offer warnings about Spain.
Atlanta, Ga USA 06/12/2013
Yes Larry from Atlanta, I agree with you
An holiday trip means relaxation, peace and having fun so why do I have to go to Italy with the risk of being verbally abused or even beaten by some Mussolini lover just because I' m black. I much prefer to go to countries like France, Portugal, England, the Netherlands and other countries that don' t have an history of racism towards black people. Why do I have to put myself in an unpleasant situation and spoil my trip? It' s better to play it safe and enjoy your holidays.
Cincinnati, Ohio USA 06/09/2013
Use old Fashion Common sense
Response to earlier post: "then someone gives you a no-so-pleasant look, so what? You don't know them; they don't know you, so why should you care? If you're an African-American (like me) you should have a thicker skin"
Hi, Some of the points you made, under normal circumstances would fit right in with my philosophy about just getting on with it, and look past the difficulties in life.But the problem with that approach while visting a foreign country has to do with laws governing behavior.I can perfectly be with-in reasonable expectation concerning my response to someone's elses behavior yet I still could be put in a situation were defending myself could place me in a serious circumstance.If you are in a foreign country where you don't speak the language and you run into a racist that is intending to do you harm or set you up, there is a good chance you might not be aware of the danger until well past the chance to remove your self from that position. Now factor into the equation being somewhere that has a "known" history for racial profiling,racial bias, and that place doesn't have a popluation with a diverse mix.You don't speak the language,you are in a place where many people view you with suspicion, and if something happen like being attacked(happen to a group of Black tourist in the Costa Del Sol)and you more than likely will not receive the benefit of the doubt.Why put your self through that? Considering all those possibilities, and they are real, wouldn't it just make more sense to avoid places that have a large section of population that do not and will not welcome you? I personally hold the belief that going where you are not wanted is inviting trouble. Calling up the American Embassy once you've been violated will not erase the pain of being racially attacked nor having been fore warned, yet still used poor judgement. I say go to France go to the places that respect and want your business.I wouldn't marry a woman that doesn't want me, so why go to countries where you are at risk of being rejected and harmed.
Atlanta, Ga USA 06/02/2013
Racism in Italy
I see that there is a hot debate as to if Italy is a racist country or not. Based on what I have seen in this forum, people who are black male are more likely to encounter racism than a black female. I've noticed this phenomena in a few of my travels and also while living in parts of Asia. Of course men will be more tribal with other men when it comes to territory and seeing another man of a different color can make the losers overreact.
Tokyo, Ibarak Japan 06/01/2013
Racism in Europe
What surprises me about some of the previous post I read from this blog and others on this subject is a sense of naiveté about racism in Europe. When I read a blog like "Don't go to Italy, because it's racist", or "Stay away from Spain if you're black", I'm thinking: Was there a time when these countries weren't racist? Unfortunately racism is everywhere and it doesn't go away because you're vacationing in Europe! But also remember not everyone is racist.
I traveled to several countries in Europe, and I must say overall, I did not have any problems. I did come across a few "not so friendly" Europeans, but then again, I'm on vacation and cannot be bothered with some else's "personal problems." I'm going to let a brief unpleasant snit ruin my vacation. I treat every encounter differently. Sometimes you get what you give; sometimes a smile is returned with a smile, a kind gesture followed by a lovely encounter; sometime a smile is returned with a snarl and stares; but don't lose sleep over it. Europeans as a group are a little more reserve, and I respect that, so I set the hospitality bar real low when dealing with them.
You need to remind yourself the reason why you are visiting a particular country in Europe. If you are there to see the historical sites, visit museums, take advantage of the great outdoors, and then someone gives you a no-so-pleasant look, so what? You don't know them; they don't know you, so why should you care? If you're an African-American (like me) you should have a thicker skin; after all, you live in the US and you know what racism is like...the only difference in Europe is that it comes in many languages.
If you see racist graffiti written somewhere, so what? As long as your name is not written on the wall, you're fine. If someone stares at you, stare back they will eventually stop. You think you're not getting good service at a restaurant? Ask for the check and leave. Think you're not welcome in a store, leave (trust me; there are other shops eager to take your money!) If someone call you a name and you understand their language, learn the phrase "Now, that's not very polite, I don't know you" it will probably freak them out!
Before you put a down payment on your trip to Europe, do extensive research; forget the "touristy" things (that will come later), but learn as much as you can about the people, culture and what are the current economic and social events a particular country is experiencing. Also, seek out information on minority populations (African ancestry) in the country you're visiting, how many minorities are in the local or national government is a pretty good indication as how a particular country view its minority population. And taking the time to learn language (at least some key terms and phrases) will help tremendously.
Traveling to Europe is quite expensive, you need to be informed enlighten and prepared for any and all experiences you might encounter-both the good, the bad and hopefully, not the ugly.
And if Europe doesn't float your boat there is always the Caribbean!
Washington, DC USA 05/31/2013
Spain Racism - Marbella area
Hello All, Just to say, I recently was in Marbella for a few days and I was surprised at the racist graffiti that was visible in the streets. It was clear that the paint was not new but nothing had been done to remove the white power symbols, there were even references to the SS in places as well as swastikas. In day to day contact I had no problems but the spanish were not overly welcoming either, it seemed that we were given sub-standard hotel rooms on the premise that the hotel was full and it was difficult to change us around. Did not encounter any outright hostility but I am a tall well-built black guy - it's not pleasant walking in a city centre seeing outright racist painting on walls and knowing that no-one deems it important enough to remove. The only blacks there are selling dvd's and tourist souvenirs by the promenade so I guess that's probably why...
London, UK 05/30/2013
Spain is quite racist.
I wonder just how accepting Spain might be toward Black people.The whole racist Sergio Garcia incident reminded me of how often Blacks are insulted and mistreated while visiting Spain.The culture is so backward and closed to people of color that it is no wonder that people like Garcia would think its ok to say distasteful remarks in an effort to try and dehumanize Blacks.I do not feel comfortable spending my money in any country where monkey chants and the throwing of bananas at professional soccer players is done without a second thought.
Tampa, Fl USA 05/26/2013
Italy is not a good place for black people, sad but true
I' m a black man originally from Colombia, who studied architecture in Italy, In Venice for one year and I left the country because of the racism. Unfortunately what people say about Italians not liking black people is 100% true. Most of the Italians I met have a strong dislike from blacks and in Italy there are still many white supremacist Benito Mussolini admirers. I have received so many racial abuses during my year in Italy that you can' t immagine. An Italian friend of mine told me that it's just their culture and that Italians will never change. Now I study in Spain, in Barcelona and I never encounter any racism problem, I' ve also have spanish friends and my girlfriend is Spanish.
Barcelona, Spain 05/22/2013
African American Europe travel
I am planning my fourth trip to Europe next month and I just stumbled upon this forum. I always like to be aware of the cultural and racial climate when I am traveling. I am a little surprised to hear so many reviews about racism in Europe, especially Spain and Italy. The first time I went about 10 years ago with my older brother and we had no problems. That trip was to London, Paris, Italy, Spain, Germany, and Hungary. The only time we got stares was in Budapest, as we were the only black people around. It seemed that people were more curious than hostile. My friend also experienced this in Turkey ( many people would touch her skin and her hair out of curiosity).
My second trip was w/ my mom, and brother. That was to Brussels, Italy, Spain, Paris, and South of France. We only encountered one rude cab driver ( pretty good considering I live in NYC and many cab drivers are rude).This was around the time Barcelona won a huge soccer match n 2009 and people kept running up to my brother and chant "Thierry Henry", taking pictures with him and some guys actually tried to kiss him on the cheek. People seemed to love me in Italy and France. I got a lot of warm looks and smiles from both men and women. They also seemed to admire my long hair. My third trip was to the Greek Islands last summer. This was probably my favorite European trip. The friendliness and hospitality was really great. A family with children saw us waiting for a bus in Santorini and offered to give us a ride to town. The only time we experienced anything unpleasant was on the subway in Athens when people stared a lot and people not in the hospitality industry were a bit rough around the edges.
My motto on travel is the same as my general outlook on life. I never want to put myself in a dangerous situation, but I am not going to let some unfriendly or racist attitudes keep me from living life to the fullest. Just like when Im at home I carry myself well, dress well and am respectful and pleasant when on vacation. In return, I am usually treated well, but when I encounter unpleasant attitudes I dont let that kill my vibe. (I wont give a random rude shop keeper, cab driver, waiter, ect. the power to treat me poorly b/c my self worth is too high) . I make it my business to have a good time when I spend good money on a vacation. So my advice is to do your research, be smart and go enjoy yourself.
New York, New Yo USA 05/17/2013
Portugal right wing???! (veronica)
I am surprised at Veronica's assertion that Portugal is right wing and that she suffered racist treatment over there. I am mixed race and Portuguese (in fact if there was a country that brought mixing of races to Europe was Portugal), if anything Portugal is among the countries that best receives blacks particularly if you are a tourist. Number 2 (maybe should have been number 1) where have you seen or read that Portugal is right wing, boggles me. I have been to Cyprus and yes, there I felt racism and most greeks and eastern Europeans I deal with in London are very racist too, but Portugal? It's the first time I hear this. Not to say that there isn't racism, there's racism everywhere but I have never had any of my black friends complaining about Portugal.
London, USA 05/14/2013
Italy is still full of fascists like in the Mussolini era, be careful if you' re black
As someone who have lived in Italy for 7 years I have to warn blacks that Italy is not that changed since the 30s and 40s era of the fascist and white supremacist dictator Benito Mussolini. In Italy there are a lot of fascist nostalgics and a lot of fascist-white supremacists groups and when I say a lot I really mean a lot! Many Italians still hold negative and hateful view towards black people so if you' re black pay attention where you go. If you decide to go to Italy as a tourist if you pay attention you shouldn' t have any problem, just stay in the touristic part of the cities. If you' re black and you' re thinking about living in Italy I strongly not raccomend you to do it.
Lisbon, Portugal 05/12/2013
Not too fond of Spain
I'm mixed race, half black and half white, 18 and female. I have travelled to France a few times, England, Spain and Italy. England was lovely. Kind and open people. In France I've been to southern France and Paris. Southern France was lovely. Paris was OK, I did notice some people (mostly older 40+ women) giving me mean stares. But this never happened with younger people. People were generally friendly. Italy was great for the most part, people were really kind to us, with a few exceptions. The guardians at the airport pointed at my hair (at the time very curly and a bit big) and laughed, making moves with their hands over their hands to demonstrate how big my hair was. It was also a few swastikas painted around the city. Nasty, I have never seen anything like it. But in general people were friendly.
The only country I disliked a bit was Spain. People were just a bit cold to us and a bit unfriendly. Too bad since it's so beautiful.
Northern Europe 05/10/2013
Black people traveling in Europe
I am black-british-caribbean, I was born in the UK and live in Southeast London. Having read some of the posts here I have decided to re-think my holiday plans for this year. I was thinking of going to Moroco, Tunisa or Turkey so I am very glad for the information you have provided. Living in Europe we see a lot of the news on other european countries and we have known for years to avoid anywhere east of France because they are still living with 1930's mentality. Remember these countries were invaded by and often supprted the Nazis in WW2 and are still ant-semitic and racially backward. Then they were cut off from the world by the Cold War for decades. They are very, very poor economies and we have a big problem in UK with a mass of Eastern European immigrants bringing organised crime and drugs to the UK. They are mainly from Hungary, Czech Republic, Estonia, Romania, Poland, Croatia and by next year they will start coming here from Bulgaria. They are very racist to the black people here in the UK, and we see the UK as our home so there is lots of tension between us. Even alot of white brits have big problem with them. Be cautious of Greece and Cyprus, Portugal, etc they are right wing countries under financial crisis. I will have to save really hard and go to the Caribbean where I will feel more at home. If a country is so uncivilized to make me unwelcome because of my colour they don't deserve my hard earned money. I suggest any non white person wishing to come to Europe get on the internet and check out the news for the country you want to visit or at least check the UK papers, like the Gaurdian Online, or the Dail Mail websites for an insight on Eastern Europe. The BBC News and Channel 4 News are all availble on line and will be a mine of info about racism in Europe. If you'd like to come to the UK you won't have any major problems as long as you are friendly... we kinda have a soft spot for Americans. Also check out Wales, Southern Ireland and Scotland, I'm sure you won't have many, if any problems.
london, UK 05/05/2013
Todd P from Pittsburgh, I was in Italy several months myself and not as a student. I go to help English speaking foreigners learn about the Bible. It is like missionary work. The last time, I was in Florence. I was there long enough to notice if I was treated with racism or not. As I stated in my other comment, there is racism anywhere you go but I have not experienced it in Europe and if I did, I still would not want to discourage other minorities from traveling there. I think everyone should have their own experience to determine for themselves. As you yourself stated Todd, the Italians are friendly and approachable. I am returning in June. I will let you know how things go.
Pittsburgh, PA USA 04/26/2013
Ashly from Pittsburgh, if you traveled to Italy as a student chances are you weren't there long enough to pick up on the subtle racism which is surprising but understandable when you have a country effected by the economic crisis consequent to the austerity. In short, when you return, not to say that one should be looking for racism - that's no way to travel, one will see mark difference in treatment. As an African-American male from Pittsburgh (originally from the Hill) who stayed there for six month recently, I found the majority of Italians as kind, friendly and approachable.
Pittsburgh, PA USA 04/22/2013
Im a black American and I spent a week in Prague over the Christmas holiday and didn't experience one lick of trouble. Talked to girls in the pubs with no problems, even on the fringes away from the tourist areas. People in one bar were kinda aloof (more aloof that most Czechs that is, haha) but I wasn't uncomfortable. One older gentleman in Cesky Krumlov even bought me a beer and we sat in a beer garden talking blues and jazz music.
pittsburgh, USA 04/22/2013
Spain & Italy
Spain and Italy were full of racist grafitti when I was there last week. People there will not look you in the eye. The racist tension is very thick in those two countries. They have no interst in being multi-cultural.
Atlanta, GA USA 04/19/2013
Spain might be evolving!!
Not that many years ago this forum quite often warned travelers of color to be careful when traveling in Spain. That doesn't seem to be the case now. It would seem that Spain is slowly evolving into a country that accepts tourist regardless of ethnicity. You can travel to the main metro cities in Spain and be greeted as a paying customer that deserves to be catered to with all underlined and appropiate good service. Do any of you also feel that Spain is evolving?
Raleigh, NC USA 04/12/2013
Architect in Sevilla
Hello all im new to blogging but I'm a british born of Caribbean heritage black female working as an architect in Sevilla. I have discovered alot of interesting things both visiting and working in and around Andalusia. I will share some thoughts with yourselves soon. Not to scary most of the time.
Sevilla, none USA 04/10/2013
Racism in Europe--hit and miss
I am a Black woman married to a Czech citizen and have traveled to Europe sevaeral times with our two children. Every time we go, we spend some weeks in Western countries and then stay 3 weeks at my in-laws in the Czech Rep. We get looks everywhere we go,even in the states so I am used to being on the receiving end of curiosity looks frompeople. Imust say the most rude stares have been in Slovakia and CZ Rep. where I was told to get out of here in a public park walking with my mother-in-law. The most welcoming to me and my family have been the French,Austrians, Germans,Swiss,Dutch and Belgians. I truly enjoy travel and attempt a few phrases in each country I visit.I find that when I try tocommunicate in the customary language, I earn good will. I am fortunate to be able to travel to Europe as frequently as I do so I just use all my years of Spanish to translate as best I can in the romance language countries.
SF Bay Area, CA USA 04/06/2013
It' s not a problem of immigration in Italy
As a black man who lived in Italy for 3 years, I want to answer to the johnmacklorry post who said that racism against blacks in Italy is because the mass immigration from Africa and crime. That' s not true, Italy is the Western European country with the lowest number of black population. In country like England, France, Holland, Belgium, Spain there are much more blacks than in Italy but there is not as much anti blacks racism as in Italy and blacks are well integrated in those countries not like in Italy. Most of the immigrants in Italy are White immigrants from Eastern Europeans countries (former USSR countries) and some of them are criminals but there is not racism against them. Immigration is just a pathetic excuse. The problem with Italy is that in Italian society there are still the signs of the massive racist propaganda made during the fascist period of Mussolini. Try to walk down the streets of Rome and Florence and than try to walk down the streets of Paris, London, Madrid, Amsterdam, Bruxelles, Barcelona and than you will see there is no one black invasion in Italy. That' s just a problem of culture.
Caracas, Venezuela 03/31/2013
Traveling to Europe
Gee I am reading all the comments and I am really amazed at what is happening in this world. Negativity towards people of color has risen in few European countries since the financial crisis. That is a fact. Racism, left wings unemployment etc are all contributors to more acts of aggression and behavioral nastiness. I have been living in Ireland then France where you feel the tension in the air. I am traveling to Croatia and Russia in a month and being a brown person I am ready to deal with issues like that. There will always be stupid narrow minded people and that comes up in times of crisis and instabilities. Hope it will pass and we are all humans regardless of our skin color. Happy travels, Maria
Dublin, Ireland 03/27/2013
I was recently in Madrid Spain for an overnite stay prior to my departure back to the USA and had no problems being an African American female. People tried to help me find my hotel which was not far from Atocha train station. Navigating Atocha was difficult since it is so large and there are so many exits.
San Diego, CA USA 03/26/2013
Italy is suffering immigration woes that's why
I went to Italy along with several friends who were African American and witnessed on countless occasions a stark disparity between how I was treated, being blue eyes and dirty blond haired Caucasian and my African American friends. This held true from Florence, to Rome, to Naples and Bari. Italy is experiencing surges and surges of Nationalism based on a perceived tidle wave of African on Italian crime. The result was the black members of our group being looked at like literal dogs and white members being treated extremely well. I would not want to be African-American traveling at night in a place like Naples that is for sure. Italy is probably the most majestic place on earth in terms if food, art, language, architecture, but its immigration woes have polarized its populace and I watched 3 out of 4 of my friends when I was there leave prematurely as it just was not a comfortable experience.
New York, NY USA 03/26/2013
Italy and Spain are NOT RACIST!
I am a black american female. I have been to both Italy and Spain twice and I have not experienced racism once. Yes people do stare espceially the men, but it is one of curiosity and awe, not one of hate or prejudice. I know what those stares are like, and I dont get them in Italy or Spain.
In Italy I have been all over the country. From North to South all of the Italians I have encounterd have been very sweet to me. I get smiles and a sweet "ciao!" from both the men and women. They are helpful when you ask them for directions and they are happy to offer their help. I even get playful yet respectful flirtations from the men. Back home, I work with an Italian woman and everytime I return home and tell her how much I enjoyed Italy she just gets a big smile on her face. I even tell her how I feel very welcomed and comfortable there as a black American even more than I do in my own home city.
In Spain I have been to Madrid, Seville, and Barcelona. I can say that in everyone of those cities the Spanish were very friendly like the Italians. In Madrid they would call us "chicas bonitas" (beautiful girls). When my sister and I took the train to the airport we forgot to buy the right ticket, the inpsector forgave us by letting us off with a warning. She understood even though we tried to explain in our broken Spanish. If she was one bit racist she would've fined us big time! In Seville I gave up my seat on the tram for an old Spanish woman and her husband. She was so happy she gave us her beautiful vintage Spanish fan as a gift. In Barcelona when we ate in a small cafe the waiter was so kind. And everyone who would walk past us to go to the bathroom would smile and say "Hola!"
Yes there are racist people in the world but you will find them in every country. And yes I am sure some of you had some bad experinces but please do not down grade a whole country and its people becasue of your experience. Every person should have the right to check out the country for themselves and not to be discouraged by someone elses comments.
I believe if you go to Europe with an open mind and be willing to emmerse yourself in that country's culture (you don't have to be a fluent speaker of the language, just a few words shows them you are trying) than you will have an awsome experience regardless of what color you are.
Hope this helps some people :-)
Pittsburgh, PA USA 03/20/2013
Italy was by far the racist capitial of my trip and Croatia is no better. Very closed and nationlistic people. Stay away if person of color.
NYC, NY USA 03/18/2013
"It's all an experience. But why does there seem to be more racial bias issues in Eastern Europe ?"
That is true and very odd. Usually, people who have no experience with those of another group, race etc. tend to have no opinion of said group, good or bad, as they have no experience with them. It is only AFTER being around large numbers of people of a different race, nationality or group and having a lot of experience with them, that people will have an opinion on them, good or bad, based on experience with them.
Eastern Europe travel
Been reading a lot of the posts. I definitely more of a get out and see it type of traveler. Whether a grand city like Rome or merely a back alley on the other side of the world. It's all an experience. But why does there seem to be more racial bias issues in Eastern Europe ? I'm not speaking from experience, I'm reflecting the sentiments of the posts I've read. Is this a cause for fret or simply an odd stare to expect should I choose to travel to these regions. I guess it's not so weird. I'm sure there are plenty of places where Caucasians stand out too. But again, are these don't not travel here signs or simply be prepared for a cold welcome signs?
Los Angeles, Ca USA 03/11/2013
Rome and Paris
I have been to both Paris and Rome. I am a black American female. I did not enjoy Paris very much. It was not about racism. Me and the city just did not mesh. Americans are open and will have a conversation with anyone. I did not find that to be true with the Parisians I encountered. I had to visit a local store three times before the owner admitted she spoke English and understood me every time I went to purchase chicken from her store,but just was not comfortable speaking English. Too uptight. Rome is my spot. Loved every second of it. Took the train from Rome to Venice. No problems at all. You need to plan your trips, know where you are going and be civilized. Speak the language! Just a few words. Become a part of the scene. Let their culture become yours even if it is only for a few day. Supplement Rick's books with you own research. I googled my hotel in Rome and Venice and was able to virtually walk the streets nearby. I knew where I was going by familiarizing myself with the area. There are places I will not travel to, but not out of fear, but because I have no interest in being there. Go, Go, Go. The world awaits you!
Summerville, Sc USA 03/09/2013
Paris and Rome
Forgot to add that regardless of the comments about Spain, I am going to the Running of the Bulls next July. See you there!!
Summerville, Sc USA 03/09/2013
Non Europeans hitchhikers guide to euro galaxy
First of all thanks for making this forum, I'm a Panamanian Afro Hispanic with mixed west African, Amerindian and Jewish Sephardic, living in Amsterdam for 15 years and still loving the vibe of this great city. As an artist I been around the world and there is lot to say about Europe. I'm not writing an academic paper or a long paper in here, so I just go to the point , and this is for all of you traveling this summer to Europe .
Little towns all over Europe can be a hassle but since you will be doing the grand cities tour I will advise the following:
If you go to spain limit yourself to madrid and the great city of barcelona and the Catalonian province. However I travel all spain and encounter different reactions all over. Granada and Sevilla was fine. Valencia the same. But bare in mind spain still is divided with right and left wing, Franco isolated spain for decades. So they are lots of fascist around like in italy.
Portugal is definitely amazing all from South to north the only problem encounter was with Spanish tourists.
Greece: don't go there. The north use to be cool but with the crisis maybe change . Still to say that I really like Thessaloniki and the islands.
Italy : I did not encounter trouble. I made friends who gimme tours in Rome And milan was amazing. Still due to the crisis there is nationalism around, bare that in mind.
France is worth every penny of your trip, same as England and the Netherlands .
In germany is all good except in the old east and south, I will never go there but I have artists friends that live there and like it. Not for me do.
Sweden is good if you are in Stockholm . Norway is fine. In Norway the norther u go the friendly the people.
Denmark will not be your cup of thee if you are color, first place I saw rascists hipsters. Still They sponsor my projects for a while, so I do have my connection to the country but I will not travel around there so much.
Austria: just don't go there. If you are mad about architecture and old euro glory and Klimt or schiele go but just for a limited time , no one will be friendly, only in museums and some bars. But you will feel the hostility specially from other east Europeans living there and east European tourists.
The rest of east Europe I haven't visit and I'm not planning to visit so I hope you don't go that direction. Is just not done. ( Maybe sarajevo) If you are looking for trouble and you are a bit of a masochist go. still to say that I have friends that went to Prague and love it.
Geneva Switzerland was fine, no troubles.
Well that's it folks ! Happy travels and keep fighting for equal rights.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands 03/07/2013
Horrible racist experience in Italy
I was in Europe during my holidays and I' ve been in France, Spain, England and Italy. I can only say good things about France, Spain and England, wonderful countries and wonderful kind people, unfortunately I can' t say the same things about Italy where I had an absolutely horrible experience. I was in Rome with my husband, I' m white and he is black we were walking down a street when two young men and a young women approached us, they stopped in front of us then one of the men spat in my husband' s face, the woman loooked at me then she pointed at my husband and she said to me in Italian "non ti vergogni?" Then they left. I didn't understand what she told me because I don' t speak Italian so when we came back to our hotel I asked to the receptionist what was the meaning of the phrase the woman said to me, the receptionist told me that the meaning in english was "aren' t you ashamed of that?" and of course it was refered to the fact that my husband is black. That was the worst experience I had during my lifetime
Orlando, FL USA 03/03/2013
Please Stop Saying Italians Do Not Like Blacks
It saddens me to hear that some people make blanket statements about Italians not liking blacks. I don't doubt that some people have been treated badly, and I don't doubt that it could have been racist, but to sterotype an entire country of people based on one's personal experiences is beyond me.
As a black female (and NOT a light skin one either), I have found Italy to be nothing but my second home. I have spent a total of 5-6 months there over the past few years, being everywhere from Milan to Salerno, in major cities and small countrysides. And I have never, ever, not once encountered rascism. In fact, just the opposite for me. People grab my hands and pinch my cheeks (the face cheeks), old men tell me "they like my color" and old ladies tell me "they want to be black" (in broken English). Shop owners encourage me to try on items and model for them. Market sellers love to give me a "chocolate discount". It is always so refreshing to be among them, and a bit of an ego boost. I don't consider myself as pretty and in fact I am short and rather pudgy, so I am positive it's not the body lol. I don't know...
But I have 2 wishes: that those who were racist in Italy stop giving their countrymen a bad name, and also that those who were victims of racism not dampen the zeal of anyone who wants to travel to Italy. Do it! You will not regret it, but if you go with the mentality that "Italians are racists" then every little incident you will intepret as racist when in reality, color wasn't even a factor.
Pittsburgh, PA USA 03/01/2013
Minority Travelers' Forum
Wow! Really surprised to hear about the racist attitudes in Spain and Italy. Glad to know of it beforehand as an African American female planning to visit Paris and its surrounding territories in February 2014 or earlier.
New York, NY USA 02/23/2013
Living in Spain
I recently came back to the US from 4 months of study abroad in Granada, Spain as a hispanic/indian mixed race female. While I was in Spain, I traveled extensively throughout the country, especially the region of Andalucia, and also had the fortune of traveling on shorter trips to Portugal and Morocco - both extremely welcoming countries. Portugal especially surprised me with the diversity of its residents - though I was in Lisbon, the major city. After reading this forum, I am surprised to hear that so many minority travelers have had problems in Spain. Granada, the city that I spent most of my time in, is a very conservative Spanish city, and I did not have any serious problems. I did attract attention from young men as well as elderly men, but nothing more than the usual cat-calling. Oftentimes people (mainly young men) would address me as "Morena" because of my dark skin tone, but I learned from locals that while it may seem offensive to American travelers, the word does not have a negative connotation - it is more affectionate.
I walked home at late hours of the night and felt safe in this city, and never had any serious problems traveling throughout other parts of Spain. However, I do think that an argument can be made that if you are a young male of color, especially of a brown/black skin color, you may receive more negative attention than a female of a similar background. I did notice that the young African men who stood on the corners selling contraband items did receive negative attention, especially when they walked into bars and tried to sell their merchandise. I also had a friend who was black who lived in Granada, and had an incident at a soccer game where a young spanish man spit on his head after arguing with them for taking our seats at the game (long story, but we were sitting in a section that was unofficially reserved for the "die-hard" fans). It was a confusing moment, but race unquestionably had something to play in the matter.
This being said, Spain is not an enlightened country on race by far, but I do not see it as being an unsafe destination for minority travelers. If you are ok with being stared at, I would not skip this country for fear of racism. Unfortunately, our burden is that there are people in the world who are not comfortable with people of color - but to have this as a reason to avoid places in the world seems wrong to me. I believe that you will regret not going to a dream destination like Spain or Italy more than the regret of going and perhaps experiencing a little bit of uncomfortableness.
Prove them wrong by dispelling the negative stereotypes and popular media assumptions of people of color, and get out the door.
(Note: I am only speaking from my first-hand experience, and do not mean to diminish or undermine the severity of the few who have had serious problems with racism in these countries.)
Seattle, WA USA 02/13/2013
I travelled to Paris, Rome, Frankfurt, the Hague and Amsterdam with a 3 of my female friends. Paris and the Netherlands were the worst when it came to being harassed for being coloured people. Certainly have no desire to ever go back there again, people's attitude ruined perfectly nice cities which surely should be more used to seeing all kinds of travellers.
so lonely in italy.......
I live in italy with my husband who is italian. Im a different race and a foreigner. Italy is not an easy place to live in. There are also problems of unemployment, poverty, corruption. Italians love people that are loud and give a senseless conversation just for the sake of hot air. Most italians like other races, they are very friendly but also can be quite nasty if they sense you have lack of confidence or dont speak their language. Italians are only used to seeing indians, africans and other non-white races as immigrants in their country struggling to survive on their streets. They are very large hearted but also very closed minded because of lack of exposure to other races being seen as a normal humanbeing with their own sense of character and personality. There are alot of racist italians-its more the older generation, especially the older woman. Personally i have to live with the odd stares everyday of my life over here. I miss my home country so much. Italy is a beautiful country. You just have to be very strong and believe in yourself. Dont show them that you are afraid or ashamed of your skin or race. Be proud of who you-and to hell with racists, we all know that theyr going to burn in hell anyway.
No problem even in Iceland!
I've lived in Italy, Iceland, England and Japan. I've never experienced anymore racism than what I usually experience in the U.S. I vacationed in Belgium and people would come up to me and speak French thinking I was from Congo. I've traveled with my sister and by myself as well. We've been to China and was a little nervous after hearing how they dislike blacks, but we had no problem. My sister who is 6'4 was mistaken for WNBA so people kept coming up to her asking for photos and autographs. I guess it just depends on individual cases.
LaDawn J White
Mather, CA USA 01/27/2013
Minority Travelers' Forum
Been to Croatia. Hotel and cafe service was good. However, I was told that if I am seen talking to Croat Girl I will be sorry. I also saw a small group of skinheads but they did not bother me. Country is pretty but you need to be careful.
Atlanta, ga USA 01/22/2013
I know this is about Europe but I'll taking this world wide - I'm a Black African-British Woman with a high profile job in the USA and this is the most racist, bigoted, ignorant country I've had the misfortune to be in. I can't wait until my contract ends so I can leave this nasty country. Apart from the fear of being shot dead because a lot of people carry guns especially racists, I'm also stressed by the high level of racism I've experienced in the USA. I've world travelled and my best experiences apart from my lovely City of London have been in Berlin, Zurich, parts of Austria. Hate Italy, Spain, Romania - nasty, uncivilized people in these parts of the world. The warmest in terms of welcome and cultures have been to many parts of Africa. They warmly treat people as people. I can understand why Caucasians got away with invading Africa because they're very welcoming people. I would suggest to Blacks to stay away from Italy, Spain and the uncivilized part of Europe (especially Eastern Europe), Stay away from China (very uncivilized people but they will kiss your butt if you're White). I love travelling and experiencing culture but I will stick with places where people act in humanely manner not like bunch of animals who want to kill you because you're a different skin color to them.
NY, NY USA 01/15/2013
Spain, Italy, UK
In Spain, it depends on the city. I lived in Madrid for a few years while "studying abroad" and as a very mixed race woman I never experienced anything truly horrifying. I was mistaken for a prostitute fairly often when I would go out at night (in spite of relatively conservative dress), often approached by elderly Spanish men, wanting to buy me a drink. My black male friends were stopped by the police every so often when walking at night in groups, so that's another thing.
In Cordoba, I felt some hostility at a couple cafes and shops, which was surprising. In general, customer service in Spain is pretty bad, particularly when compared to the US, but these instances were seething with some sort of extreme dislike.
Barcelona was fine, as was Granada, but when I travelled to Toledo with my girlfriend (who is Mexican-American) we were treated badly and followed around the shops in a very obvious way.
Overall, Spain wasn't bad - Spaniards are sometimes overtaken by the need to stare - this would also happen to my white classmates.
Italy was somewhat different. I was constantly harassed by Italian men while I was there. While I am not 100% sure that this was because of my "ethnicity", other brown girlfriends of mine have reported similar treatment, while my white friends did not have as dramatic of a problem. At one point, a man was following me around, and I had to hop into a taxi to avoid him. On another occasion, I was felt up on the train. It is a beautiful country, but I do not advise brown/black women to travel there alone.
The UK has always been extremely safe and pleasant and I've never consciously experienced any form of racism.
Minneapolis, MN USA 01/11/2013
I am Han majority living in London and went to Tunisia for 1 week holiday around 2003. I found it VERY racist in Tunisia for orientals and a lot of catcalls to white women. I heard of friends who had the same experience!! Not sure for the rest of North Africa. Most of UK is great and London is friendly. I be very weary of Eastern Europe, Italy, Russia and Grease. Any EU country with high Right wing votes!
London, UK 01/10/2013
Italians don' t like blacks
Dear Solange, I can understand how you feel because I' ve been in Italy and I had the same terrible experience as you had during your journey. I' m an african-american man and I' ve been in France, Spain and Italy with my girlfriend, I had a wonderful time in France and Spain, those countries are marvelous and people were very kind and helpful but I had an horrible time in Italy. Italians were extremely rude to me and to my girlfriend but they were very nice and warm to other white tourists. They were very rude to a couple of Indian tourist too. Rome is where I met the worst people. Maybe we must say Italy is perfect and Italians are wonderful people even if that' s not the true? I tought this was a site were minority can share their REAL experiences. I will go back to Europe because I really enjoyed France and Spain, I' d like to visit England and the Netherlands but I will never go back to Italy, NO MORE. Bella Italia? Yes....if you' re not black.
Cleveland, Ohio USA 01/08/2013
Anti-blacks racism in Italy
I' m a black woman from Brazil, I' ve been in England, Italy, Spain, France, Holland and Russia. I really enjoy all of this countries with the only exception of Italy, that' s the only country where I faced problems for beeing black. I could see how different they treated White, Japanese and Chinese tourists and how they treated black tourists. Italians where warm and kind with Whites and Asians (China, Japan) but they were extremely rude with me and my husband. I speak a little of Italian so I could understand what they were saying to me when they spoke in Italian because they didn' t suspect I spoke Italian. In the Italian language we got called monkeys couple of times and they use maybe 5 or 6 times the N word for us. I reall enjoy my trip in Europe and I will go back, but I will never go back to Italy.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 01/05/2013