September 21, 2016

5 Cities In Europe Where Black Skin Color Is Welcomed

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Gloria Atanmo - Edinburgh, Scotland
Gloria Atanmo – Edinburgh, Scotland

So I’m not here to write another think piece on the recent events affecting the black community in America, because I’ve already said all I needed to say here, which by the 1K+ likes and 500+ shares, I’ll take it as a step in the right direction towards understanding the importance of this much needed dialogue within our divided United States.

But beyond that, I’m aware of the frustration, disgust, and utter numbness that’s getting harder to suppress by my fellow African-Americans when these events make international news.

But it’s extremely important for us to not only bind together in peace, but do what’s necessary to decompress and take a break from the madness if we find it to be consuming the better part of us.

I’ve heard every argument in the book as to why blacks are killed at a higher rate, with lazy excuses like if only he wasn’t so black reacted slower, put his hands up sooner, or obeyed more ‘obeyier’, implying he was a “yessa massa” away from having his life spared.

And it’s just tiring to hear from Confederate Flag Connor who’s already dead set on his ways.

We could argue and argue and argue, or we could take a break from the exhaustion of tip-toeing around people’s fears for our skin color in a country we helped build, and just go somewhere where we’re tolerated instead.

Even our beloved Bahamas, of which 90% of the population is black, issued a travel warning for those wanting to visit the U.S. soon. Not the first time either. A sign of the times.

And while travel is an absolute privilege for so many, I want to encourage my fellow black americans who’ve had their passport in hand just waiting for the opportune moment to take off temporarily, that the time is now.

While I’d love to include other continents in the mix, Europe is the one I’ve spent the last 3 years exploring the most. So it’s currently the only continent I can confidently offer suggestions for cities that not only welcome black skin color, but celebrate it as well.

1. Edinburgh, Scotland

Scottish people are some of the most hilarious and genuine people you’ll ever meet.

Not only will they feel comfortable opening up to you with their life story within seconds, but they’ll invite you for a beer, banter about how much they hate England (haha, sorry Brits), and find a way to make light of any negative situation.

Collectively, they have some of the best senses of humor and while you’ll only catch every third word or so due to their accents (God bless it), their charm, welcoming spirits, and laid back personalities are the exact type of people you need in your life.

Just don’t go in the winter. Because hashtag, brutal.

2. Berlin, Germany

Berlin is jokingly known as the “poor but sexy” cousin to Munich, but is always a millennial favorite for digital nomads, gap year students, and others just in between jobs and taking time off to travel.

Germany is a pretty liberal country in general, and whether it’s the crazy house parties, the endless selection of cuisines, nudist parks, or the hipster vibe dripping throughout the streets, it’s a city that has something for everybody.

It’s got an amazing international community, so you’ll be bumping elbows with people from all walks of life on a nightly basis.

It’s also without saying that due to the dark Nazi history of Germany, they really have no room to repeat or harbor negativity towards other cultures, and it seems like they make a deliberate effort not to do so.

3. Nice, France

Nice, which sits cozily along the French Riviera, is one of the most colorful, vivacious, and diverse cities in France.

You’re in a melting pot of cultures from around the world, which again means incredibly varied cuisines, and not to mention one of the most beautiful and unique architectural layouts in Europe, because of its mixed Italian and French influence in the past.

Nice is a city I’m always happy to go back to, and if you’re traveling for a longer period of time and you’re short on black hair care products, you’ll have NO problem finding everything you need here.

4. Krakow, Poland

I don’t know what took me so long to discover Poland, but I finally did (thanks, Busabout!) and loved every single minute.

Not only do the Polish people stop and smile at you as you pass them on the street, but you can can feel their warmth and genuine appreciation for you being there in their expressions.

Though the basic words of the Polish language are a challenge to master, they’ll smile at your attempts and will meet you more than halfway with their very high levels of English.

I mentioned it to a couple Aussies how cute it was when elderly people would see me, do a double-take, and look so amazed. And almost on cue, a lady passed by and did exactly what I described, and my Aussie friend couldn’t stop laughing about it.

A Polish friend told me the other day that she’d only met two black people in her life growing up, but assured me that I wouldn’t ever have a problem with not feeling welcomed, and she was right.

Everywhere I went, every restaurant I walked into alone, all eyes were on me.

But not in a terrifying way, but more so a “Wow, how cool to have a black person in our presence!” kind of way. And it’s both awesome and hilarious, and I think every black person needs to experience this and be spoiled forever, lol.

Also while on a bike tour with Cool Tour Company, our Polish guide ended his spiel with a very resounding speech about how much the Jewish community influenced the current state of Krakow, and how he’s so excited about the potential of the city and welcomes all other cultures to continue coming and contributing to what makes Krakow so great. I was moved by his words. Thanks, Wlodek!

5. Budva, Montenegro

Budva is a city that’s on the extreme end of how much black skin can be appreciated abroad — but not as extreme as Italy, which you could read exactly what I’m talking about here, LOL.

But in Budva, you’re not only welcomed, you’re practically celebrated, as you’re viewed as a celebrity as one restaurant owner confessed they get roughly two black tourists a year, and I’m sure that’s an overstatement, ha.

As you’re casually mistaken for a famous black celebrity or actress constantly, restaurant owners will invite you to try their main dishes, bar owners will spoil you with drinks on the house, and private beach clubs will let you lounge on their property for as long you’d like.

The red carpet is truly laid out and whether I was accepting rides on luxury yachts or signing Serena Williams’ autograph by the beach (true story, he was a kid and I couldn’t say no while his parents were watching), then your days are made quite nicely.

In Montenegro, they treat you like royalty, and got damn it, you are. You’re magical, divine, and every bit worthy of being appreciated and not judged prematurely as a threat.

While these experiences will come with its fair share of people asking for selfies, understand that it’ll still be far more enjoyable, because they’re people who feel honored by your existence, not threatened by it.

And that makes the world of a difference.

While I have two younger, but grown brothers back home, and a future family to raise one day, the idea of permanently living abroad is sounding more and more likely.

So I’ll continue scouting as many black-friendly cities as possible, and to the black community back in America, stay strong, stay safe, and stay ready to move, because sometimes, enough is enough.

Black friends, see you on the other side — where we matter, and stuff 😉

P.S. If you haven’t checked out my most-watched YouTube video about the 5 Most African-American Friendly Countries, it almost goes hand-in-hand with this, so check that out here! TC mark

Gloria Atanmo is a world traveler and the author of the book From Excuses to Excursions: How I Started Traveling the World.

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From Excuses to Excursions is available for pre-order as a physical and electronic book. You can buy it here

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