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Black Travels was created for Black travelers interested in traveling abroad for business, education,and leisure. Our goal is to create a fun and informative collection of personal stories and photos submitted by travelers like you, who want to share in



Updated: 2017-12-25T04:08:24.889-09:00

 



Montreal-The Paris of North America by Eden June

2012-10-19T13:57:00.882-08:00

(image) Montreal, the second largest city in Canada and the largest city in the rogue French-speaking province of Quebec, is often referred to as the Paris of North America. This reputation is well-earned: it is the second largest French speaking city in the Western world after Paris. Its rues (streets) are lined with cafés, shop owners with often greet you with a hearty bonjour, and the city has maintained its own culture despite continuous pressure to become more Anglophone. So, jonesing for Europe and with the memories of holiday disagreements with family members still fresh in our minds, my friend and I hopped a plane headed for Montreal shortly before ringing in the new 2006 year.

Our Travelocity last minute deal included airfare and four days stay in the swank Omni Hotel near Mont-Royal. The deal was amazing considering holiday travel usually more expensive than any other time of the year. Once we arrived in Montreal, we understood why the deal had been so cheap…it was freezing cold! The temperature in December and January in Montreal hovers between -10°C and -5°C (13°F and 21°F). Heavy coats, gloves, hats, scarves, earmuffs, and boots are necessities. I’ve heard that the city is gorgeous and pleasantly Mediterranean-feeling during spring and summer. Ville de Montréal was still stunning in the cold weather. Snow gently covered church roofs, kids sloshed around throwing snowballs at each other, and a steaming cup of espresso or tea was always a welcomed sight.

When we arrived in Montreal, my friend and I agreed we were definitely not in the States anymore. True to the Canadian reputation, Montreal is exceedingly clean. Like any well-conceived city, the core of Montreal is set up as a grid system meaning that most of the streets run parallel and perpendicular according to the cardinal directions. A grid system keeps a city walkable and easy to navigate (or hard to get lost in). The metro system in Montreal rivals any of those in Europe. It’s clean, efficient, and can get you to anywhere you need to go in Montreal proper.



A Trip Report from Poland

2012-09-19T22:23:00.318-08:00

by Waymon Meeks Photo of Warsaw curtesy of www.kurma.net.Chorzow During my vacation, I was invited to be a special guest at a blues concert in the city of Chorzow. I guy I know who runs a couple of radio stations invited me to the concert. On the bill were Corey Harris, Harmonica Shah, and Ike Coose. One thing I found out, from the various people who felt comfortable enough with their skills in English to speak to me, was that the old Communist government did not allow them to listen to jazz/blues. They were allowed to listen to some western music but jazz and blues had an unsavory element that the government did not want to permeate society.Chorzow is not a `tourist' stop. It is an old industrial town with a small historical center but a fairly large population. It is about a 20 minute drive north of Katowice. After the concert, a man explained to me that most of the people here do not understand the words you are saying but they could understand the emotion and how those feelings were being conveyed through the rhythms in each song. They could feel the power of the music without understandthe lyrics. The Poles too had `the blues' for many years and they are just being allowed to express them in their art, music, and literature. This was the only city where I met another African-American (or in this case, she would an African-American-Pole) since she was once a nAmerican but now full Polish citizenship. Otherwise the population is pretty homogeneous.I want to convey my first in a series of vacation reports. I am not going to tell you things that you can read in tour books, but I will share some of the `special' things I encountered while traveling. I just recently returned from spending two weeks in Poland. I visited the cities of Krakow, Chorzow, and Warsaw.AuschwitzWhile I was in Krakow, I took the opportunity to visit Auschwitz (1.5 hours outside of Krakow).What I experienced inside this concentration camp made this one of the most special moments of the trip. I will preface this by saying that Poland is made up of 96% Poles so a large black man stumbling around really draws attention. While touring this concentration camp, the older gentleman walked up to me and asks me where I was from. I told him Florida (he was from Tennessee), we exchanged the standard tourist greetings, and I went on my way. About two minutes later, this gentleman approached me again and made a statement. First he told me that his mother and father were killed at Auschwitz in 1941. Before I could respond to that statement he then said that he escaped from the camp and was a survivor. Looking at the gentleman, he looked to be in his mid/late 60's. Then he said that he escaped when he was age 5 and lived on his own during the war for four years on the run. No one dared to help an escaped Jewish kid during those days without fear of being killed by the occupying army.I still had not muttered a word yet and then he pulled up his sleeve to show me his tattoo which consisted of a Star of David and a number. Next he told me something that would stick in my head the rest of my life. He said, "I guess God had other plans for me. You see, twenty years after I escaped Auschwitz, I found myself at the forefront of the Civil Rights movement in Tennessee during the 1960's." Standing there before me was a man who lost both parents in a horrible way, escaped the Nazis, survived four years on his own, immigrated to America after the war to live in an orphanage, and then eventually took the time to help others during the Civil Rights Movement. Eventually we exchanged contact information and parted ways. About an hour later,we met again in the crematorium. We just looked at each other. This was the only way out of the camp for most.Peasant FoodWhile I traveled through Poland, I took time out to seek out the`peasant food' for each region. Small family run restaurants were the key in doing this. In central Europe you will usually find a meatdish and lots of starches and lots of uses for cabbages. Being the case, there is not a whole lot [...]



A Black Woman's Tips For Safe Travel in Europe.

2012-08-23T02:44:00.612-08:00

(image) BlackTravels.com writer Veronica Hampton in Egypt.

As usual I spend much of my free time scouring the net for anything of interest to Black travelers. This week I ran across this list of great tips at TransitionsAbroad.com. It's a quick read and very insightful.

Other Travel Resource & Web sites for Women Travelers.

JourneyWomen.com - The Premier Travel Rescource for Women.


WanderLust & Lipstick - Inspiring Women Travelers.


Womentraveltips.com - A simple website for women travelers edited by Marybeth Bond, National Geographic Author, and Editor of Travel Girl magazine.


Rick Steve's Graffiti Wall Forums. Read what others have experienced and add your own comments and suggestions.




How Not To Be An Obnoxious Tourist.

2012-07-18T07:25:00.546-08:00

I just read this very sad but true post by by Kate Sedgwick over at Traveler's Notebook titled: How To Avoid Being an Ugly American Tourist. (Thanks for the link Lola!)


(image) "Tourist telltale sign #452: being a totally disconnected spectator." Photo: Jon Feinstein

Fair enough, there are obnoxious tourists from everywhere on earth, but the article states some darn good examples of ugly tourist behavior that are commonly associated with American travelers.


I especially like Lesson #3: "Be humble. Your country sucks, too."



"Slainté!" Interview with Alexandra Sutton.

2012-06-18T03:02:01.148-08:00

1. What Countries and Cities you visited. How long was your stay? Was this your first visit to this travel location? Do you speak the local language? I visited Scotland, United Kingdom in the summer of 2008. I spent two months (May - July) traveling around the country. It was my second trip to the UK, but my first time going there alone! And it was also my first time venturing outside of London. In Scotland, English is, of course, the primary language; however, as you venture farther north, you may more frequently hear Scots (a Saxon dialect very similar to English) and Scottish Gaelic (pronounced "Gallic" by Scots) spoken, neither of which I knew before I traveled to Scotland. However, Irish Gaelic is quite similar, and so sometimes I could squeak by with words like "Slainté!" (pronounced: Slawn-cheh; translation: Cheers!)2. Was this trip for business or leisure? Did you travel in a group/solo? How did you go about planning your trip? Did you use a travel agent or the internet? I traveled as part of my master's thesis; I was intending to travel the country, interviewing various wildlife biologists who had worked on the sea eagle reintroduction. Although it was my master's research, I wasn't accompanied by anyone from my university, and although I was funded, I was completely responsible for my budgeting, planning, and everything else. I traveled alone for my entire trip, and did most of the planning online. I googled as much as I could ahead of time - climate, recent politics, culture, history, etc. to try to get a sense of what things were going to be like, but nothing I read could even hold a candle to the experience of being there. I bought my plane tickets online and flew into London because it was much cheaper. From London, I took an EasyJet flight (www.easyjet.co.uk - cost me about $50) into Glasgow Airport, and from Glasgow, I began taking buses. Scotland is so easy to get around by bus and train that it's just ridiculous. I visited almost twenty towns, bussing it all the way. You can buy tickets online (I used CityLink: www.citylink.co.uk, but there are loads of bus companies) or at any bus station, and the buses are super clean, centrally located in every town (Scots use them a lot, too) and generally on time. I also stayed in youth hostels during my entire trip, which was a brilliant idea, especially as a solo traveler. Staying at a youth hostel means you will inevitably meet people, and usually, you will instantly have someone to go out to dinner with, especially if you share rooms. This can be the singularly most comforting experience you could have when you're in a strange country and all alone. All the hostels I stayed in were spectacular experiences - I was a little worried because I'd never stayed in hostels in a foreign country before, but these were just fine. Because I bought most of my bus tickets on arrival at the station, or maybe the day before, I didn't use a travel agent. Also, if you plan to stay in hostels, it may really be better to book the trip yourself, as it can give you a bit more flexibility, and some space to change your mind (which hostels tend to be very cool about).3. Over all, how would you rate your experience? How would you describe the treatment you received as a Black American or as an American in general? Would you visit again? Would you recommend this country to another Black traveler? I loved it! I would move back to Scotland in a heartbeat, given the chance and the citizenship. People were friendly, kind, open, and generally a joy to be around. I received great treatment, both as an American and as a Black American. As an American: The UK is a country with whom we have a long, mostly positive relationship, and with whom we also share a very similar culture. This reflects in the relationship and interactions between British citizens and Americans.I found people to be uniformly polite and interested in what I was doing, although they were open about their feelings[...]



Six Months in Santiago, Chile.

2012-05-18T02:53:00.739-08:00

By M.S. DeChelle.One of the most memorable experiences I had was studying in Santiago, Chile during my sophomore year of college. I was there for six months, taking courses through an international exchange consortium. Although this was not my first time traveling to Chile (I had previously lived 8 hours south of Santiago during high school), this was the first time that I would be all on my own in a foreign country as an adult. I speak Spanish, so I wasn't worried about not knowing the language, but I'd forgotten a lot of "Chilenismos" (Chilean slang) and was worried I wouldn't be able to relate much with Chileans that were my age!Since I was an undergraduate student, it was really easy for me to find an exchange program that would be place me in Santiago. All I did was a short Google search for exchange programs, and picked the program (USAC) that best suited my needs. Since I only wanted to go for a semester, this program was excellent, as it only lasted six months and ended in the summertime! The program was fairly inexpensive (around 5,000 airfare not included) and I was immediately put into contact with other students who were going on the program.My experience was tons of fun! We were such a big group of International Students (from Guyana, Australia, China, etc.) that we always stood out, which was a good thing. Everyone wanted to be friends with the "cool international kids", so we were always traveling to different states or going to lots of parties. It wasn't all about partying, though, we also studied a lot and many people who had NO Spanish were able to hold lengthy conversations in the language. I was perceived extremely well as a Black American. Most people were curious about my history and my family, and most wanted to know the history of Black Americans in the US. Of course I got the stereotypical, "can you sing" and "are you related to Whitney Houston" comments, but they were not said out of malice, but genuine curiosity. Another interesting fact about Santiago, was most people assumed that I was not American, but Brazilian. Because Brazil is so close to Chile, many Brazilians in Chile or Chileans who spoke Portuguese would come up to me speaking Portuguese!I would definitely visit again! Santiago is such a metropolitan city, with various diverse people and sites. Traveling from Santiago to major volcanoes, Easter Island and historic churches is very easy. First class bus tickets that allow full room to lay down run roughly 30-50 dollars with food included, and air plane tickets in country don't get much more expensive. If you're looking to experience a city akin to Europe, but without the expense or touristy feel, that I wholeheartedly recommend traveling to Chile!My most favorite "must see" attraction was the hot springs located about an hour outside Santiago. Visitors usually spend roughly two days there. I went and shared a cabin with 4 friends. It was a beautiful cabin overlooking the springs and the mountains. After visiting the springs, we took a six hour horse ride through the foothills of the Andes mountains. It was a little scary, but also exhilarating. I could see the entire village down below! One thing to be careful of is the time schedule: buses only run a certain times and dates, so be sure to look up the correct time, we almost got left behind because we thought another bus would be coming! Imagine that! Another "must see" would have to be Volcán Villarica, located about 8 hours south of Santiago. This volcano is active, and takes about 4 hours to climb. Once we got to the top, little bits of molten rock shot up in the air! Don't worry, we were a safe distance away! One of my friends even kept one of the rocks as a memento!Because I'd lived in Chile before, I didn't have any instances of "culture shock" outside the normal want for certain items from the US. One of the biggest cultural differences that my friends were shocked by was the extreme disparit[...]



The Joy of Paris.

2012-05-01T19:40:19.171-08:00

by Claire Garcia Paris! The city's name has conjured up magical connotations for me ever since I was little and my mother, a painter and sculptor, would entertain me with stories of the fabled city as she massaged Vaseline into my scalp. In 1949, my mother and her sister, along with their two friends, pooled their savings and embarked the long-defunct ocean liner, the Ile de France, to make a pilgrimage to the City of Light. Three of these young black women ended up staying in Europe and marrying European men. Only my mother returned, after her funds were exhausted, to Greenwich Village, where she met and married my father.Her months in Paris were a liberating time for her, not only because of her artistic interests, but because it had been a world, unlike the U.S. of the 50s, where a Montgomery, Alabama, native could be accepted on her own terms. She only returned to Paris once, a year before she died at age 39. On that trip, she brought my sisters and me on a three-month trip to show us some of the greatest art in the world in museums in Paris, Florence, and Rome. So when I received a small unexpected inheritance the year before my daughter Lola went off to college, I thought that it was a fit tribute to the grandmother she had never known to take her to the city which had shaped my mother's dreams.Because of our school and work schedules, we found that August, though it is the height of the tourist season and time when most Parisians vacate the city, was the only time we could take ten days away. After researching airfares and hotel prices, we found that the least expensive option for our chosen dates and preferences (a small hotel, centrally located) was an air-hotel package through expedia.com. We chose the charming Hotel Lautrec L'Opera (8-10 rue d?Amboise, 75002 Paris, 01 42 96 67 90), which is located on a quiet side street off of Les Grands Boulevards, 7 blocks from the Louvre, within two blocks of the Metro Richelieu-Drouot, and three blocks from Galleries Lafayette. Lola and I walked almost everywhere, dividing our explorations by neighborhood. This location was perfect for our pedestrian excursions to the Ile de la Cite, St. Germain, Montmartre, Les Halles, the Palais Royales, Place de la Concorde, and the Musee d'Orsay.The hotel is housed in a former residence of the artist Toulouse-Lautrec (famous for his pictures of can-can dancers), and provides a wonderful blend of old-fashioned charm and modern conveniences (including the rare, in lower-priced European hotels, convenience of central air conditioning.) Our double bedroom was a comfortable size and had a very clean, recently renovated private bathroom. But the exposed beams, tall windows, renovated original walls and the minuscule antique elevator which more often than not "ne marche pas" (out of order) added flavor to our few waking hours at the hotel. The hotel staff was integrated and very friendly and helpful, from the front desk to the housecleaning crew. I have recommended this hotel to other African American travelers, who also had good experiences there. A satisfying breakfast with plenty of fresh fruit, yogurt, and croissants was served every morning. Our meal strategy for most days was to eat an early, large breakfast and then dine picnic style on our beds with bread, cheese, and pate from local markets while we read the papers and plotted our next day's adventures. When we did stop for lunch during the day, we ate as many working Parisians do, from bag lunches in the many lovely parks and gardens which grace the city.We bracketed our 10-day adventure with two panoramic views of the legendary city. On our first night, we took a boat (bateau mouche) ride on the Seine, the river which flows through the center of Paris. The night before our flight back to the U.S., Lola and I waited in the longest line of our trip for a midnight view of the city from the top of the Tour Eiffel. The boat [...]



Facing Forward and Looking Back—A Trip to Kenya by Marcus A. Ferdinand

2012-03-19T11:11:00.172-08:00

(image) My first trip away from the confines of the United States brought me to the African nation of Kenya. I have always desired to visit Kenya, and to this day I am amazed by the idea that I have set foot on the same ancient lands where mankind’s earliest ancestors would evolve into our present form. It’s humbling to think that hundreds of thousands of years have passed since my ancestors have last inhabited this land. In so many ways, going to Kenya was like returning home-- not only as a Black man, but more importantly, as a human being. Since I have always been somewhat disillusioned by American life, visiting Kenya has awakened a dormant portion of my soul.

In Kenya, I was able to forge a connection with my past and that has been immensely beneficial in guiding me to the future.My plane landed in the still darkness of the Kenyan night. As I was driven from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to my hotel, I was amazed by the level of development that Nairobi has reached. For the first time in my life, I saw the modern face of Africa. In many ways, the streets of Nairobi were no different than those of any other city that I have had the pleasure to visit. They were filled with shops, vendors, car dealerships, skyscrapers, hotels and anything else that one would expect to find in a modern capitol. This picture of a vibrant and modernizing Africa is typically not shown in the Western media...(click here to read full trip report)



"SEE YOU IN PAMPLONA! " by Lola Akinmade

2012-02-18T13:22:00.552-09:00

(image) Those were the last words I heard from some Italians I had befriended in Barcelona the day before I was heading down to Pamplona. The odds of that happening were literally 1 in 1.5 million people expected to be reveling during San Fermin.

The San Fermin Festival (“Running of the Bulls”) is held every year on the exact same dates – July 6th to July 14th – come rain or shine. As I stood in an overcrowded bus from the train station heading down to Plaza Castillo, eager anticipation could be felt in the air. Strangers stealing glances at each other yet sitting quietly on that bus, knowing we were all going to be experiencing something we’d be talking about for years to come.

I was meeting the lady who I was renting a room from in Plaza Castillo. Hotels in Pamplona sold out 6-9 months in advance of the festival, and so, locals opened their homes to strangers, renting out rooms at prices comparable to 3-4 star hotels. I couldn’t have asked for a better location – On the fourth floor along the world-famous Estefeta Street which was the final stretch towards the bullring! My roommates ranged from young Mexican ladies to young Englishmen donning white Elvis suits and white Marilyn Monroe dresses. Later on that night, I ventured out to Plaza Castillo where Pamplona’s infamous nightlife thrived with my camcorder in tow. Needless to say, it was just the precursor to what I was going to be experiencing in the upcoming days... (click here to read full trip report)



Seeing Amsterdam: An Interview with Renee James.

2012-01-18T01:37:00.681-09:00

Renee James in Amsterdam with new travel friends from the US, Ireland, England, and Morocco.So tell us a little about about your trip. Was this your first visit to this location? What was your "First Impression"? It was my second trip to the "Land Of" Amsterdam! It is a fascinating place and the people are really the nicest I've ever encountered. I've traveled a few places abroad prior to this but even when I compare it to Paris (another nice place to visit)-- there is really no comparison. Why do I want to write about Amsterdam vs. Rome, for example? Rome was EXTREMELY prejudiced towards Blacks. There are several races and nationalities that live in Amsterdam and somehow, they all live among each other with very little racism, hate crimes and violence. As a black woman, I found it totally refreshing. In addition, they are among the healthiest people too. A huge population ride bicycles and walk instead of filling the air with emissions from cars. For people who wish to visit the city, two tidbits of caution-- there appears to be a problem with pick-pocketers (although I never came remotely close to encountering that, but signs are posted throughout the city), and moderately priced hotels are not hotels at all. If you decide to stay at the Marriot (for example) it will be hugely overpriced and the beds are very hard. I opted out of the traditional hotel names we in the U.S. are familiar with and stayed at the other local hotels instead. Those hotels are like bed and breakfast residents, and the stairs are OMINOUS! If you haven't climbed stairs like these, they are breath-taking and the actual steps are very tiny but hold on to the railing and you'll be just fine!Tell us a bit about how and why you decided to take this trip to Amsterdam. Did you travel in a group or did you decide to travel solo? How did you go about planning your trip? On this particular 8 day trip, I decided to go alone. I simply wanted a break from my day to day grind, and needed this vacation to be completely stress-free and I got exactly what I wanted. It's funny that I could not think of one place in the U.S. where I could experience that for my important "stress free" vacation. I spontaneously "planned" each day (waking when I wanted and visited where I wanted). There were actually 2 nights that I was out from 1pm, until the following day arriving back at the hotel around 1pm! Every single place I ventured, the people (including the locals) were exceptionally kind. From Anne Frank's House, Van Gogh Museum, The Diamond Museum (yes, there is a diamond museum there) and even Madame Tussaud-- I met new people and made new friends every single place I went.As mentioned before, I had visited once, but it was just short of 48 hours so I knew I wanted to go back one day. After this current visit, I'm certain that I will make this an annual birthday vacation from here on. I needed a vacation that would be "stress-free" and met people from Lebanon, Israel, Cairo, Ireland, South Africa, America, United Kingdom, Morocco, Finland, Pakistan (yes, Pakistan), China, Japan, Argentina and Sudan. Every single person was incredibly kind, generous and warm. There was no nationality that looked at me as a Black woman from the U.S., I was only HUMAN to them! And oddly, I did very little research prior to this trip and found everything I needed on the internet (without a travel agent).Over all, how would you rate your experience? How would you describe the treatment you received as a Black American or as an American in general? Would you recommend Amsterdam to other Black travelers?My overall rating for a trip to Amsterdam would be 10 out of 10! It was one of the greatest examples of a non-racist experience. While it is slightly more expensive than the U.S., you can absolutely budget a week and spend less than $395 U.S. dollars as[...]



Cool Website Find: African Diaspora Tourism

2011-12-12T03:43:00.435-09:00

If you haven't already stumbled upon it, you should definitely stop by AfricanDiasporaTourism.com.

(image)


"African Diaspora Tourism (ADT) is an online magazine dedicated to exploring the culture, heritage and influences of people of African descent, past and present. The ADT web site will highlight information on how people of color, living all over the world as a result of the transatlantic slave trade and modern-day migration, are continuously shaping the cultures of North, Central and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, as well as Africa.

ADTs major objective is to enlighten and inspire cultural and heritage tourism through up-to-date information, compelling first-person travel articles, candid images, and scholarly research. In addition to bringing you a first-rate travel journal about the people and places of the global African Diaspora, ADT is committed to supporting sustainable tourism and preserving the culture and heritage in the places we explore."

ADT also encourages submissions from writers.



Vote to Send Lola to the North Pole.

2011-01-08T06:05:35.927-09:00

If you’ve been around BlackTravels.com for any amount of time you know thatLola Akinmade is one of the most dedicated and involved travel writers to frequent our neck of the woods. At the moment Lola is competing for a chance to win a $54,000 expedition to the North Pole from Quark Expeditions. We’re asking for everyone’s vote and help in spreading the word. Here’s what you do: 1. Go to www.lolagoesnorth.com 2. Create a register to vote, or login using your facebook account. 3. Click on “Vote For This Entry” to send our Lola to the North Pole! For obvious reasons, Lola’s beautiful short essay titled “Homecoming: A Childhood Dream” is currently in second place. She’s an amazing writer and photographer, so I know she will do us proud when she wins this opportunity. Lola is currently in 2nd place and the top 5 essays qualify to go on to the final judging round, so every vote counts. Let’s see if we can get her to number one![...]



1st Independent Festival Of Black-American Jazz Musicians In Paris.

2010-02-10T02:23:00.267-09:00

Last week I received an e-mail from Mra Oma who was kind enough to pass on this information about this. I love the flyer which features the 369th infantry hell fighters, Jim Europe's Jazz Band in French Uniforms, taken in Brest France in 1917.

(image)

The festival will present an International series of concerts by Black-American Jazz Musicians(both men & women)in Paris, who pay hommage with their music to the contributions of Jazz Musicians in France from past to present.

This event will be presented by Black-American Jazz Musicians in Paris, with the Association (1901) Maison Internationale pour la Musique, les Art & la Danse, also participating with the BAJMP are, all Americans, French & International Jazz Musicians that are local Parisiens & from the Ile-de-France communities.

The Musician Line-up:

Bobby Few, Sunny Murray, Kirk Lightsey,
Rasul Siddik, Steve Potts, John Betsch,
Ricky Ford, Wayne Dockery, Harry Swift,
Katy Roberts, Darryl Hall, Chris Dailey,
Simone Goubert, Jerry Edwards, Richard Raux,
Slyvia Howard, Eric Breton, Micheal Felderbaum,
Jack Gregg, Steve McCraven, Mra Oma & many
others......

(image)

Date: Saturday March 13th, 2010.
Time: 7:00pm to 10:30pm
Tickets: 20 euros (Elders over 75 & children under 10 Free)

For more information contact:
Association 1901
Maison Internationale pour la Musique, les Arts & la Danse
64 rue du Cherche-Midi
75006 Paris
Tel: (+33) 01.45.44.07.27

E-mail:
Bobby Few / ahbobmusic@hotmail.com
Mra Oma mraoma@gmail.com

Ticket locations: Fnac and Carrefour in Paris

To listen to Mra Oma and The Brotherhood, head over to their MySpace Page: http://www.myspace.com/mraomaandbrotherhood



"The Beauty of Vancouver." by Samuel Ratcliff

2010-02-02T02:04:00.745-09:00

I will begin by stating that Vancouver is truly an international destination. This city stands as unassailable proof that if you maintain a low crime rate, offer a gorgeous skyline, combat the rigors of pollution, and choose the most dynamic geographical locale possible, such a place will walk away with the trophy for most livable city year after year. Vancouver is a well-dressed lady, steeped and overflowing with cosmopolitan flair and exuberance.The city itself is majestically framed by the coastal range and the shimmering Pacific waters of English Bay. It’s no surprise that the birthplace of Greenpeace would support a natural playground that’s larger than Manhattan’s Central Park. This emerald shrine is called Stanley Park. Stanley Park clings to the notion that an urban existence can, and should, remain in touch with nature. Within the park, visitors will discover 1,000 acres of lush rain forest, a five kilometer wraparound seawall, which offers excellent walking and biking opportunities, and the city’s premier aquarium. Visitors can also enjoy breathtaking views of the downtown skyline, the North Shore area, Lions Gate Bridge, and the mountains beyond.If one intends to follow the lead of the average Vancouverite, a daily itinerary might include shopping on Robson Street, savoring a tasty and delectable seafood lunch at either The Sandbar or Bridges, on Granville Island, and perhaps winding down with an eclectic stroll through Yaletown.The city offers a variety of attractions and activities, including the Grouse Mountain Skyride, kayaking, hiking, the Lynn Canyon Park Bridge, windsurfing, and whale watching. I am inclined to mention that it would behoove those who are concerned about rapidly depleting funds to avoid the expensive Capilano Suspension Bridge, and opt for the Lynn Canyon Park Bridge, which is free of charge.Sheltered by Vancouver Island and the coastal mountains, the city is normally warmed by the Japan Current, which creates a moderate climate throughout most of the year. However, Vancouver and Seattle share the same propensity for rain, especially during the fall and winter seasons, so it’s always best to dress appropriately.Vancouverites are quite proud of their city, and they seem all too happy to receive intercontinental, as well as continental, guests. Vancouver is picture postcard perfect, and after multiple visits, I often contemplate the necessary number needed to complete the experience. I am compelled to believe that such an endeavor might require more than a single lifetime. [...]



"SEE YOU IN PAMPLONA! " by Lola Akinmade

2010-01-19T01:13:15.568-09:00

(image) Those were the last words I heard from some Italians I had befriended in Barcelona the day before I was heading down to Pamplona. The odds of that happening were literally 1 in 1.5 million people expected to be reveling during San Fermin.

The San Fermin Festival (“Running of the Bulls”) is held every year on the exact same dates – July 6th to July 14th – come rain or shine. As I stood in an overcrowded bus from the train station heading down to Plaza Castillo, eager anticipation could be felt in the air. Strangers stealing glances at each other yet sitting quietly on that bus, knowing we were all going to be experiencing something we’d be talking about for years to come.

I was meeting the lady who I was renting a room from in Plaza Castillo. Hotels in Pamplona sold out 6-9 months in advance of the festival, and so, locals opened their homes to strangers, renting out rooms at prices comparable to 3-4 star hotels. I couldn’t have asked for a better location – On the fourth floor along the world-famous Estefeta Street which was the final stretch towards the bullring! My roommates ranged from young Mexican ladies to young Englishmen donning white Elvis suits and white Marilyn Monroe dresses. Later on that night, I ventured out to Plaza Castillo where Pamplona’s infamous nightlife thrived with my camcorder in tow. Needless to say, it was just the precursor to what I was going to be experiencing in the upcoming days... (click here to read full trip report)



India: An unpredictable, never boring, crazy, amazing place.

2009-08-24T00:13:00.286-08:00

An Interview with Tameka Porte from Astoria, New York.Please tell us about your trip to India. How long was your stay? Was this your first visit to this travel location? Do you speak the local language?This was my first visit to India. Although I traveled to many places in the country I spent the longest period of time in New Delhi. Also, even though it is stated that English is an official language in India most people in Delhi speak Hindi only and I do not speak Hindi. Was this trip for business or leisure? Did you travel in a group/solo? How did you go about planning your trip? Did you use a travel agent or the internet? I was doing an internship, so I went to India solo. Since I was doing an internship I did most of my planning when I got to India. I did seek out a lot of information from Indian friends and the internet. Over all, how would you rate your experience? How would you describe the treatment you received as a Black American or as an American in general? Would you visit again? Would you recommend this country to another Black traveler? On a scale from 1-10 I would rate my experience in India as a whole an 8, as a Black person traveling in India I would rate it a 3. Eventhough Indians themselves are a people of color I think this greatly adds to the amount of racism a person of color will face. Indians have a color divide among their own people. You can see it from there cast system and Indian society as a whole. The lighter Indians are of higher casts then darker ones. Women in India spend hours lighting their skin and staying away from the sun. Just to give you an idea of how much color is an issue among them. Being Black in India you are automatically considered African. Most Indians have no idea Black Americans exist. Since you are African some Indians will consider you dangerous or a drug user-- especially in the big cities like Delhi and Mumbai. This is due to a small African (mostly Nigerian) population that has made an undesirable name for themselves. On the other hand not all Indians will think this way. Many will stare and follow you due to fascination. The reason I gave my experience in India an 8 and being Black in India a 3 was because being Black in India is not necessarily a good thing. That being said, Indian people in general are very friendly and even though they may find you strange at first, eventually they will look beyond the color and look at the person. I wouldn't recommend India to just any Black traveler. Especially if you dark skinned like myself. I would recommend India to a Black person that is open-minded and confident about their nationality and history, or to a person that was interested in Indian culture and seeing beautiful sites. I would recommend India to someone who at the end of the day could over-look the stares and occasional following and see the country for what it is. An unpredictable, never boring, crazy, amazing, place. How would you describe the treatment/service you received in your hotel, area restaurants, and stores? Were there any places where you were treated especially well? Were there any areas, cities, neighborhoods in which you felt un-safe or threatened? The safest thing for a Black traveler to do is to stay in tourist spots. When I left tourist spots while on train rides men did surround me and that was threatening, but if you stay within tourist locations and travel with people you should be fine. I was denied entrance into a night club in Delhi because I was mistaken for a Nigerian. It was a kind of discrimination I never faced in America, but I then realized that ignorance is to be ignored and I did not let that ruin my trip. All the other clubs i[...]



Walking the Spirit of Paris.

2009-08-05T23:35:37.082-08:00

An interview with traveler Kim Jones from Silver Spring, MD.Kevin and Brett at the Louvre.Please tell us about your trip to Paris. How long was your stay? Was this your first visit to this travel location? Do you speak the local language?In 2000 and again in 2007 I took a Family & Friends tour of Paris, France. The program was 9 days long and for some it was the first time visiting Paris. While only one person on each trip spoke French, we all got along fine in the city and on day excursions to the countryside with limited French or language guidebooks.The group was traveling to explore Black Paris. We put together notebooks with facts about Black history around Paris, cafe/restaurant listings, we had a gospel brunch or moroccan dinners and met with local Black business people. We found little community based groups and also had a soiree with locals hosted by an African American woman living in Paris. We planned the basic part of the trip with a travel agent and then added our own itinerary. The 2000 program had 8 participants and the 2007 program had 14 participants.Over all, how would you rate your experience in Paris? How would you describe the treatment you received as a Black American or as an American in general? Would you visit again? Would you recommend Paris as a travel destination to another Black traveler? Paris is a must see location and a great time was had by all. We were well received and there were no conflicts, problems or difficulties due to the general diversity of Parisians. In my experience over the years, there are always isolated situations but they are minor and I've never felt they were directed globally at Blacks. As in much of Europe, conflict derives more from class than race but conflict can always arise from racial and ethnic differences.What was your favorite "Must See" location or activity that you would definitely recommend to other Black travelers?Everyone should try to book a walking or mini-bus tour with Walking the Spirit Tours. In both instances, I was able to contract with my friend Julia Browne who runs the company. The tours are scheduled as the Intellectuals or the Entertainers segment of Black Paris history. Getting a chance to walk and ride through the various districts, hear the extent of Black history in Paris, see the sites where such luminaries as Richard Wright, Josephine Baker and many others lived and worked was the highlight for everyone. (http://www.walkthespirit.moonfruit.com/)What was the biggest cultural difference you experienced during your trip? Did you have any instances of "culture shock"?The biggest cultural difference was watching the French eat mayonnaise on their french fries.How would you describe the treatment/service you received in your hotel, area restaurants, and stores? Were there any places where you were treated especially well?Were there any areas, cities, neighborhoods in which you felt un-safe or threatened?Treatment, service and safety were not problem areas. If any of us decided to venture out at night to small neighborhoods, rather than larger urban areas we went as a group. For some poorer districts on the outskirts of the city we also traveled during the day or in groups. We treated safety as we would in any major city worldwide.What suggestions or advice about this country would you give to other Black travelers? What do you wish you had known about this country before your visit?Get out to the neighborhoods, get off the beaten path, live like the locals and use an organization like Walking the Spirit to give you the history you need to explore further.[...]



Exploring Victoria, BC.

2011-12-12T03:56:41.185-09:00

I have enjoyed the privilege of multiple trips to Victoria, as I am a resident of the Seattle area. And, I would like to assure you that Victoria offers a charm and enigmatic splendor that is available nowhere else upon the North American continent.Let us begin with the spectacular stage that is composed from Victoria’s Inner Harbor, which is centrally located in the downtown area. This shimmering body of liquid sapphire is teeming with life and activity. The harbor supports a broad variety of transport ferries, seaplanes, whale watching boats, privately owned yachts, kayaking enthusiasts, and water taxis. As these vessels actively navigate through this very busy inlet, we are entertained by a colorful assortment of street performers who are situated along the perimeters of the harbor itself. As we (my wife and two boys) strolled the area, the sound of public applause, associated with an endless succession of acts, resonates through the warm summer air. The endless drone of Scottish bagpipes joins the fray, and that helps me to achieve a “James Bond” moment without leaving North America.There are three modes of travel that allow you to reach Victoria, which is situated on the southern tip of Vancouver Island: The seaplane, which requires the least amount of travel time, and provides the most dramatic views. A passport is necessary when selecting this option. The second option is the Victoria Clipper, which consists of a 3-hour boat ride from downtown Seattle directly to Victoria’s Inner Harbor. Passports are recommended, but a birth certificate will suffice for this mode of travel. The third option is the Washington State Ferry that launches from Anacortes for an incredible scenic cruise through the San Juan Islands to deliver you (and your car) to Sydney BC. This ferry route allows for the possibility of spotting one of the three resident orca whale pods that inhabit the San Juans. After arriving in Sydney, and clearing the Canadian customs station, it’s a short drive on Highway 17 to Victoria. (I should mention that the Coho Ferry also operates between Port Angeles WA and Victoria, but personally I don’t care for the haphazard way they tend to load the vehicles.)As a black male, the Canadians greeted me, and my family, with a great deal of enthusiastic hospitality. I can recall a friendly encounter with a local, who expressed concern about our president’s foreign policy, specifically pertaining to the Iraq War. He desperately wanted to know how we (U.S. citizens) could support George Bush in a bid for a second term. I could only reply by stating that I didn’t vote for him. As I struggled with a wave of shame, during our lengthy conversation, he seemed to sympathize, and identify that my demographic, as a whole, is not responsible for the current circumstances in America. It was a very good discussion.In closing, I must include that Victoria is not a good vacation destination to consider for children or for an extended stay. It doesn’t host a broad variety of appropriate activities for kids, and it functions best as an “add on” or supplemental destination when exploring Seattle or Vancouver.Two to three days are enough to experience the following highlights: Butchart Gardens, the Fairmont Empress Hotel, Chinatown, and the Victoria Bug Zoo. I recommend avoiding the Royal BC Museum. Admission is rather steep, and the exhibits don’t really measure up with other museums in the states. Nonetheless, I am confident that most black travelers will find Victoria socially inviting and visually delightful. [...]



Wanted: Tour Guide for Historical and Contemporary Black Paris.

2008-10-14T01:48:50.404-08:00

(image)
A well-established black owned and run tour company is seeking a guide to conduct walking and bus tours that focus on historical and contemporary Black Paris. The series of tours was created in 1994 by a former student of the late Sorbonne Professor Michel Fabre, author of From Harlem To Paris: Black American Writers in France 1840-1960.

The tour guide is expected to have prior knowledge of some aspect of the historical and contemporary African-American, African, and/or Caribbean presence in Paris. More than just reciting facts, the guide will engage the minds and enthusiasm of tour participants with insightful analysis of the social and political climate that conditioned the experiences of Black writers, artists, intellectuals, musicians, and entertainers. Full training and materials will be provided.


The ideal guide has experience in public speaking or working directly with the public, communicates with warmth and in a professional manner, and possesses strong storytelling skills. As the tours can be scheduled at short notice, a certain availability is required, although we do try and book well in advance and we will work with your schedule. Most tours take place in the morning and can be scheduled any day of the week, summers and holidays included.


A student of Black Studies/African Diaspora in France or related studies will gain from this guiding/research position through the continual updating of their knowledge base as well as having the opportunity to discuss many aspects of the Black Paris experience with various audiences - from department chairs and subject experts to students, business people, general interest tourists, young people and children.


Interested candidates are invited to respond with a letter and resume to Julia Browne at : walkthespirit@netscape.net Please visit our tour website (http://www.walkingthespirit.com/) for further information on our company.
Thank you,


Julia BrowneFounder & CEO,Walking The Spirit Tours
Web: http://www.walkingthespirit.com/




Dispatch: On a traditional junk

2008-07-23T07:26:54.737-08:00

Black Travels community member, Claire Garcia is currently traveling through China and Vietnam, and has been sending us dispatches along the way.Our boat was a traditional 19th century junk, a replica of a pirate ship cleverly designed to look like a small commercial boat. I will send a photo in a separate e-mail. It had three feather-shaped sails and was made completely of wood~ even the sail mechanisms. There were 8 passengers (two couples of the Hong Kong variety of gilded youth, and a loud and enthusiastic Australian couple, in addition to Mateo and me), our guide and translator, and a crew of about half a dozen, in gold-braided brown uniforms and bare feet.Ha Long Bay gets its name from a legend that a magic dragon spewed up a belly of jewels (the thousands of abrupt, weirdly shaped islands in the bay) to stop the ever-land-grabbing Chinese from making another assault on Vietnamese territory. As of a few years ago, it is now illegal to go on to most of these islands, as they are environmentally protected. But even in COnrad's time, landing on most of them would have been impossible, as they are sheer mountains and cliffs rising up directly from the sea. The sea itself is so placid that our guide says that it is referred to as "the world's largest swimming pool."Here, from the opening of The Secret Sharer, are some of Conrad's words, which are more beautiful than my own. The young captain is leaning over his taffrail, waiting to embark on his first command:"To the left a group of barren islets, suggesting ruins of stone walls, towers, and blockhouses, had its foundations set in a blue sea that itself looked solid, so still and stable did it lie below my feet; even the track of light from the westering, sun shone smoothly, without that animated glitter which tells of an imperceptible ripple.""On my right hand there were lines of fishing stakes resembling a mysterious system of half-submerged bamboo fences, incomprehensible in its division of the domain of tropical fishes, and crazy of aspect as if abandoned for ever by some nomad tribe of fishermen now gone to the other end of the ocean; for there was no sign of human habitation as far as the eye could reach. And when I turned my head to take a parting glance at the tug which had just left us anchored outside the bar, I saw the straight line of the flat shore joined to the stable sea, edge to edge, with a perfect and unmarked closeness, in one leveled floor half brown, half blue under the enormous dome of the sky."However, we at the dawn of the following century, on our replica tourist ship, put up for the night in a cove where a water village of houseboaters live as they have done for generations, fishing and not going to school. Their voices and music came to us across the dark water as we sat on the deck in the evening, and finally the captain moved our ship a little farther off, as there was a very agitated baby who was ruining the atmosphere for the westerners.Most of our hours on the first day were spent eating wonderful fresh seafood dishes and swimming off of the side of the boat. The young men went off in sea kayaks (and of course, as young men do, went farther than they intended, so a search party was sent out just before dusk. As the sun slipped below the horizon and the beautiful golden 3/4 moon became more prominent, I tried to quell my anxiety about three young men with no map, no guide, in a sea of a thousand unlandable islands. I later told Mateo, who has also read the Secret Sharer, that I thought he, as the Sharer does at the end of the nove[...]



Dispatch: On the Way to Ha Long Bay

2008-07-23T07:26:09.053-08:00

Black Travels community member, Claire Garcia is currently traveling through China and Vietnam, and has been sending us dispatches along the way.

(image) My children have often told me that things that I see always remind me of books. Well, Ha Long Bay reminded me of my second-favorite novel in the world, Joseph Conrad's The Secret Sharer.

As I leaned on the rail of our classic junk (such a precise replica of the traditional boat that all the various mechanisms that would now be made out of iron or steel were wood), gazing out over the placid seascape of still water and jutting islands, lines of Conrad's kept coming back to me during our 2 days and a night at sea.

For Conrad, this northern part of the South China sea was part of the Gulf of Siam; to the French colonists and later the American military forces, it was the Gulf of Tonkin. Now, to the recently (in their long history) unified nation of Viet Nam, it is Ha Long "Descending Dragon") Bay.

To get to Ha Long, one must go 3 hours north of Ha Noi along a very exciting highway. I now know that my husband's opinion that three vehicles going in two directions can pass each other if no one loses their head is true~ and add a multitude of scooters and bicycles, water buffalo and chickens and goats and you can imagine that it was better not to look out of the front window of
the mini van.

There is an average of 3 motor scooters per household in Vietnam. Most people do not have cars. Among the more startling things I have seen on the backs of motor scooters:
  • a brand new washing machine;
  • a cow;
  • four porcelain vases, each about 5 feet tall;
(image) Of course, it is routine to see families, including infants, who would have taken up a whole minivan on one scooter, and mountains of various produce.

We also passed several Vietnamese houses, most of which were extremely narrow (one room wide), three or four stories high, with wide verandahs on each story, with elaborate pagoda style roofs. They are usually colored in "bright pastels"-- a term I would have considered an oxymoron before seeing the yellows, blues, pinks, and greens of the houses in the towns along the highway.



Dispatch: Ha Noi

2008-07-23T07:25:11.876-08:00

Black Travels community member, Claire Garcia is currently traveling through China and Vietnam, and has been sending us dispatches along the way.The hotel was in the Old City, but don't think that that moniker connotes some carefully tended quaintness and charm aimed at tourists. The Old City, like all the rest of Ha Noi that we have seen, feels like an old village~ uneven and cracked cobblestones, very narrow and tall buildings with shops and workshops (motor scooter repair, locksmiths, hodgepodges of plasticware, some stores selling "designer" clothing-- made in Vietnam-- such as the $3 Gucci swimtrunks we bought for Mateo), and the sidewalks teeming with life and work, most of it performed by people squatting.There are many sidewalk restaurants~ squatting women cooking wonderful smelling food in woks over little fires, selling plates of food and beer to people who sit on little plastic chairs around 6 inches high. The women wash the dishes and chopsticks and glasses the customers use in plastic basins of soapy water sitting right there on the sidewalk. Needless to say, lovely as itall looks and smells, I don't dare try to eat at these curbside restaurants.Adding to the village atmosphere are the women, many of them in the iconic conical straw hats, who move through the crowds with the double basket carriers slung over their shoulders. They all seem very small, and many are very old, but they carry all sorts of things, including live animals, in the baskets. Other women carry huge piles of things on their heads, like African women. There's a constant tinge of motor scooter fuel in the air, mixed with the aroma of street cooking, cinnamon (sp), incense burning at sidewalk shrines. . . .Locksmiths working out of little boxes on the sidewalk~ young men spraypainting motor scooter parts on the sidewalk~ old men crouched over beers on the little plastic seats~ the narrow shops opening straight on to the sidewalk (traditional Vietnamese architecture seems tall ~ 3-6 stories~ and one room wide)~ the absence of skyscrapers, the old and heavy-leafed trees, the broad avenues and former colonial buildings~ all contribute to the sense that this is a unique place~ not just another itiration of a major, post-modern city.I didn't realize that Vietnam is one of the poorest countries in the world, with a national per capita income of $500 ($1000 in Ha Noi), but a long and rich history. Today Mateo and I spent the morning in the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum, which had exhibits that traced Vietnamese creativity from 2500 BC, through various dynasties, through modernism, the revolution, and ethnic and contemporary art.The galleries meander through a wonderful French colonial mansions. In the afternoon, we visited the Temple of Literature, the first university in Vietnam, founded in 1076. The campus is a series of embedded gardens, quiet pagodas, and flowering trees. Students still rub the heads of the turtles bearing the steles carved with the names of all the successful doctoral students (like a perpetual, and very public, registrars' office) for good luck on exams. The temple is still a functioning Confucian temple, with people lighting incense sticks and prayingamong the tourists.On our first day, we visited the Vietnam Military History Museum, which gave fascinating insight into Vietnam's war-torn history. It's clear that their struggle against the Americans was only one relatively brief chapter in struggles with China, France, and among themselves. The courtya[...]



Dispatch: Shanghai

2008-07-23T07:24:23.652-08:00

Black Travels community member, Claire Garcia is currently traveling through China and Vietnam, and has been sending us dispatches along the way.Somehow, "Shanghai" seems to warrant an exclamation point. It is city life on a mega scale. The "American Century" is definitely over~ this is what the future looks like. This country is producing the only thing that keeps a drowsy American emperor awake: cheap goods. I have never seen so many super-skyscrapers (even the apartment buildings). The streets are always teeming (Shanghai's population is 14 million) with humanity, buses, cars, bicycles. Never have I seen so many "gimungus" electronic billboards, or every single space devoted to advertising or selling. Never have I seen so many huge loads on bikes or motor scooters, or people splayed out in the street taking an afternoon nap. Every block has at least one major construction project on it. It is sweltering here. I'm not a big sweater, but I have ended every day drenched.Of course, the first thing I did was stroll along the famous Bund, lined by European architectural imperialism: the street, the commercial center of old Shanghai (Customs house, the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank - now the ubiquitous HSBC, etc)~ even a replica of Big Ben reminding the thousands in the street below 4 times an hour that the sun once never set on England. The HBSC has an astonishing domed mosaic in its lobby (it is still a working bank, amid all the glorious British neo-classical architecture) depicting the cities of its major branches: Calcutta, Hong King, New York, Paris, London, Shanghai, and one I'm forgetting. Unfortunately, photographs are not allowed.Opposite the Bund is the very proletarian riverside promenade park, where once "Chinese and dogs were not allowed," though these two prohibitions appeared separately in the municipal code, not on a sign at the entrance, as legend has it. The Bund is just over the creek from our hotel, the funky historic Astor House which is trying to make the transition from a backpackers' hotel to 3-star tourist hotel, accompanied by often-comical ESL and bellboys in plaid a-line skirts which management apparently mistook for kilts.Drenched, I found a secret little cafe tucked up in the rear of the second floor, guzzled one San Pelligrino in one gulp then tried to savor the second bottle while enjoying the coolness and the silence emanating from the courtyard below. The next day, while waiting for my son Mateo to arrive, I headed over to the former French Concession to find the house, now museum, where the first Chinese Communist Party meeting was held. Of course, I first had to do the inaugural Garcia longer-than-it-looked-on-the=map-there-must-be-a-metro-around-the-next-corner death march for almost 90 minutes before finally jumping into a cab (cabs are cheap and plentiful).At the site, I was the only foreigner in a sea of Chinese tourists, including masses of shrieking school kids wearing red neck kerchiefs. It was very interesting, and included a wax figure display of the 13 youths, including Mao, gathering excitedly around a table, setting out the vision and goals of the CPC. Fleeing the secret police who were trying to track them down, the revolutionaries held the final stage of their initial meeting on a junk in the river.The museum also played homage to the "bourgeois revolutionaries," of the 19th and early 20th centuries who hadn't been able to succeed in over-throwing the imperialist oppressors because they[...]



Asia Trip Report - Jonathan Martindale

2008-06-12T03:32:33.079-08:00

Jonathan Martindale shares with us a few highlights from his last whirlwind business trip to Singapore, China, Malaysia, and IndonesiaJonathan's PrefaceHi allI have a couple quick trip reports I want to put out here. These trips were all business related so they may read a little different than some others. Also since I was on business I had limited time for tourist activities so I usually utilized a city tour that was offered by whatever tourist agency was in the lobby or could be organized for me by the concierge. I found them really good if you have a short amount of time in a city. They allow you to quickly hit all the major spots of a city in just an afternoon.The downside is they always take you by several merchant shops to "witness" local craftsman. But in actuality you are just being fed to some shopkeepers to be fleeced on some overpriced goods so that your guide can get their kickback. Also a common odd experience was being in an office or meeting and have people light a cigarette.I can't even remember a time when you could smoke inside.SingaporeVery international city and centrally located to so many countries it is no wonder why it serves as an excellent port and business center. Other than that I didn't find much else to the city other than shopping. I quickly visited Sonesta Island which was overcrowded and not much more than a tourist trap. I stayed at the Singapore Marriott on Orchard which was one of the nicest hotels I have ever had the pleasure to stay in. The staff was extremely helpful and polite the food was outstanding though pricey.Beijing, ChinaLevel of pollution was disturbing. Most days you could hardly see the sun for all the smog. I feel for the marathoners come August. English was pretty well spoken probably thanks in part to the upcoming Olympics. Tough city to do some kinds of business I came to find. Normally you can pitch a client saying hey spend X amount of dollars with me and I'll help you save 5X dollars over time. But in a country where labor cost are so low the response is hey you would have to save me 20X before I'd really care as I can just double the workforce for pennies. I was taken to what I was told is THE place for Peking duck and quite frankly I was not very impressed. Now I'm far from being a health nut but that duck had to be the greasiest I've ever seen. And the worst part is you have to eat the skin dipped in sugar as part of the eating ritual. I could hear my arteries begging for mercy throughout the meal.I've seen a lot of thins traveling that I've, either overbuilt up in my head and then found them to be a letdown or see something that is all the rage and just not be impressed but I was just taken aback by the Great Wall. It was outstanding to visit partly on its scale and how it must have been just a struggle for an invading army to attack as it was such a defensible position. It really is an engineering marvel. A word to the wise: if you are planning a trip to see the Great Wall spend a few weeks on the Stairmaster leading up to it. Your legs will tha nk you for it.I really enjoyed the Silk Market where your thirst for crappy counterfeit goods can be quenched. I had strict orders by some ladies in my life to bring back purses. I'm proud to say I know next to nothing about purse shopping but I did find that whatever price you are quoted counter with about 10% of that price and never settle above around 20% in the end. The quality was the same as th[...]



Blogs by Black Travelers

2009-03-18T06:05:04.466-08:00

Beauty in Baltimore compiled a fantastic list of blogs and websites that are maintained by black travelers who travel, study, and live abroad.I have categorized and expanded them below (with new links)Asia11 down 9 to goA brother in ShanghaiAdisaoAdventures in IndonesiaDaitimeDelta DivaEjoviExpat JaneFabulous is a choiceJapan NewbieJapan takes the QueenJoiasiaMetropoliticianNear and FarRsims2Seoul on IceSeoul to SoulSoto AyamThe Persimmon ChroniclesEuropeAdventures in WheelvilleArin’s OdysseyBlack girl in ParisBlack girl in PragueBisous from ParisBroad AbroadMy So Called Life in FranceNigerian Woman in NorwaySF girl in ParisShelby in ItaliaSomething InsideVakkervinneZandile in LondonMiddle EastHochmah and MausarLive from IsraelCarribeanRhemyLatin and South AmericaBlack girls guide to Buenos AiresMegan Lyles (Travel Writer)The Travel Chronicles World TravelElaine Lee (Travel Writer)Lola Akinmade (Travel Writer)Terah Shelton (Travel Writer)My World TourAm I missing a great blog or website by a fellow black traveler? Please post a link under comments below or email augustgreen [AT] hotmail [dot] com and I will update this list.[...]