And so my mini series on traveling concludes (for now) with my trip to Amsterdam and Brussels, Belgium. I had no expectations regarding race here. I read an article about the growing African American expats in Amsterdam and wanted to know what was pulling them there. And I liked chocolate so Belgium felt right for a greedy gal like me.
First up, Brussels. Again, other town with a growing Africa population. There are several languages spoken in Brussels but French is a popular one. Therefore it attracted a lot of Africans that came from French speaking countries. There were also a lot middle easterners (although they could have been north Africans too). The result meant that I didn’t feel like a “stranger in Moscow” (aka sticking out). We got a few stares but most of that just came from fellow black folk checking us out (heeeyyy). I’m not going to wrack my brain thinking of a racial moment there. Nothing stood out. I felt comfortable being a person of color there.
On to Amsterdam, now this is a diverse town. Loads of biracial and people of African decent. I blended so well a European tourist came up to me asking me for directions. I felt irrationally proud of that. Couldn’t help him though. I’d like to think it was my natural hair. There was a lot of the curly fro going on, what with the blending of the races. So, yep, his girl found a black hair care store. And this store carried loads of my favorite natural hair care products too. I was good ta go!
In all honestly, I found Amsterdam really attractive. It was a small town with a lot of style and a openness I found quite refreshing. The night life was great and diverse. Even had a white guy (and I mean Nordic white- super tall and blond) accuse me of turning him down for a dance because he was white! Me, racist? Nah. I just didn’t want to dance with the drunk frat type dude (drunk dancing not my thing). The jazz scene is super strong here as well. I can easily understand why a town like this could appeal to an artsy, hipsterish black person. It just didn’t feel pretentious. The only negative event occured in a cab.
We told the cabbie where our hotel was (in a very pricey, snazzy side of town). Instead he took us to a hotel of the same name in a not so pleasant part of town. Now we very clearly told him the address but he took us to the wrong spot anyway. Both me and my friend couldn’t help but wonder if he didn’t bother to hear us and just assumed we couldn’t possibly be in the expensive part of town. Was it our youngish age? Our color? Or was he just used to going to the other hotel? Who knows, but it left a bad taste in my mouth.
Outside of that one incident, I had a blast there and would go again for sure. Wish I had the strength to learn dutch because I wouldn’t mind living there.
So for now dears, this concludes my series on traveling while black. But I have more trips in store for the new year. Regardless of anything, I will not be scared off or dissuaded from traveling. I only see our world becoming a more diverse and open-minded place and something you should explore to the fullest.