Traveling as a POC is an adventure all on its own. Danni here and I can only speak from personal experience, but I believe that traveling as a WOC is both liberating and slightly intimidating.
To give you all some context, I’m from the South Side of Chicago. I grew up in a country where policing oneself was a means of self-preservation, also known as “street smarts”. When I first began traveling, I over-analyzed every aspect of myself: was my hair too big? Were they judging me for not speaking the language? Was I too imposing? Would they assume the worst of me? Would I be treated unfairly for being Black or a woman or American?
These fears and preoccupations made me feel trapped for the longest time. Instead of finding out for myself, I simply assumed the worst. Until one day, on a whim, I booked a flight to Dublin for New Year’s Eve.
Although I’ve had moments of uneasiness and more miscommunications than I care to list, my experiences have been overwhelmingly positive. I’ve traveled to every country in Western and Southwestern Europe -- excluding Monaco, Andorra and Luxembourg-- and have no plans on slowing down.
Here are my top 5 destinations if you are a POC visiting Europe!
If you like warm weather, free (tasty) tapas, and architecture, then Granada should be on your list. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to the famous Alhambra, which was first constructed in 889AD.
Bonus: If you are truly a fan of Moorish architecture and its manifestations in Spain, check out La Mezquita in Córdoba, Spain!
Nantes is located in the Northwestern part of France, formerly known as Brittany and only has about 900,000 inhabitants, making it the 6th most-populated French city. I wrote about my travels to Nantes here, but I’ll share a few highlights:
“At one point in the 18th century, 75-80% of France’s slave ships left from the port at Nantes and in total, this tiny city was responsible for almost half of all France’s slave trafficking. There were over 4, 220 expeditions from French ports and 1,800 from Nantes alone which translates to around 550,000 African souls shipped to the Americas and Caribbean with French Guyana, Martinique and Guadalupe being some of the main destinations.
It’s rumored that there were so many Black Africans in Nantes during the 18th century that wealthy landowners gave human beings away as “tips” for services rendered.”
Convinced yet? That, and Nantes is a beautiful river-side city in Brittany!
Call me what you may, but as “emblematic” as Cognac is for Black Americans, it’s not so far-fetched to want to visit the place where this drink originates! Cognac is in Southern France, and you can easily take the train from Bordeaux. How can I describe Cognac? It’s the opposite of every rap video you’ve ever seen that features Cognac. It’s quiet, old, damp, and wealthy. You can take tours of Hennessy, Martell, and Remy Martin.
Bonus: Chateau des Milandes near Toulouse, also in southern France. Ever heard of a Queen, talented, super-diva named Josephine Baker? This is where she called home and raised the Rainbow Tribe.
Whether you like it or not, the English colonized much of the world, and their lasting influence can be seen from English-speaking Belize to the United States and any of the other 67 counties that claim English as an official language. Think of it as a “pilgrimage” of sorts to the English-speaking Motherland. That, and there are so many Afro-Caribbean and Afro-English trendsetters, artists, musicians, and all-around dope people changing the game!
Last but certainly, not least: Lisbon, Portugal
It’s the oldest city in Western Europe. Yes, even older than Rome. It’s a colorful, and vibrant city built on not one, but 7 hills. The views are incredible, and if you’re a fan of seafood, look no further. Portugal holds a special place in my heart as a Portuguese-speaker because most of the Portuguese diaspora is in Africa (excluding Brasil) like Angola, Mozambique and Cabo Verde.
Where are you headed first?
Any other places you'd add to the list?
Danni, Community + Content Director at Las Morenas de España, is a twenty-something, Chicago native currently residing in Madrid. Lover of language, words, and travel, she's managed to combine all of her passions through her work. In her free time, you can find her exploring the winding streets of Madrid, hunting down good flight deals, planning her next adventure and writing & researching for LMDES. Danni loves spicy food, natural hair, music and of course, her wonderful husband. If you need to find her, she’s the girl with huge hair and her face buried in her Kindle.