Monday, June 20, 2011

Quick Update

Hello everyone,

Just wanted to let you all know that this blog will be on hiatus until the fall because I am stateside and unbelievably busy. If anyone wants to do a guest blog about interracial relationships, traveling while black, or any mixture of the two, shoot me an email or comment.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Seeing Angelo Again (or why it's good to have rich international friends)

Some of you might recognize the name "Angelo". If you don't, then you can read the blog post titled, "With Angelo" for more information about him. Basically, I met him when I went to Italy and we have kept in touch often since then. Apparently, everybody is catching the marriage bug because he sent me an e-mail a few months ago telling me that he was getting married in early May. He said he would love it if I could attend and I wouldn't have to worry about accommodation because he was renting a renovated villa for some of his family and friends to stay in. Please reread that sentence. A renovated Italian villa…to stay in…FREE! I was checking out flights before I even finished reading the whole e-mail.

Soon, I was on a flight headed straight to Italy. When I arrived, a friend of Angelo's kindly picked me up and took me straight to the villa. Ordinarily, I am not one for gaping at expensive homes, but my bottom jaw definitely got a workout when I saw this place. It was a huge luxurious villa on a sprawling estate in the Italian countryside. I had my own room and got to enjoy waking up to the sight of a beautiful garden and birds chirping softly without me wanting to kill them. The wedding was stunning and so was the bride. She was dressed in a slinky ivory dress that showed off her well-toned body and several male guests made no bones about checking out her butt as she walked past them. Ah, the Italians. As they exchanged vows, I felt a sudden rush of envy that surprised me, though it is easy to see why. She married a rich, generous, handsome, nice, and faithful man who will no doubt cherish her. She basically married the Lamborghini of men, while a lot of other women are just settling for a hoopty. I guess I was just reminiscing on what could have been and should have been with my ex-fiancee instead of living in the moment and realizing that I completely made the right decision, in breaking my engagement.

The high point was the reception. The liquor and conversation flowed freely and I had a fantastic time, although his uncle continually tried to grind on me on the dance floor. Luckily, I was tipsy and found it hilarious instead of realizing just how creepy it was the day after. His mother got up and made a speech that I couldn't understand at all, partly because it was in Italian and partly because she sobbed through most of it. I saw her dancing with Angelo most of the night, crying into his chest and gripping his shoulders tightly. Angelo and I danced a few songs together and I thanked him for inviting me and for being a wonderful friend to me. He told me that he was glad I came and that I could stay with him anytime, although the evil eye his wife was giving me said otherwise.

After my long weekend was over, I reluctantly packed my bags and headed back to reality.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Interview with the Infamous Marie

Some of my regular blog readers might recognize the name "Marie". She has been my partner in crime for a few of my trips abroad and is always a source of amusement and fun. I asked her if I could do an interview for this blog and, being the attention whore that she is, she quickly agreed.

1) What part of the U.S. are you from and what is the "swirling" scene like there?

I am from the deep South and I have seen a lot more interracial couples in the past five years than ever before. I think that taboo is really starting to lift and I couldn't be happier.

2) Why did you choose to go abroad?

Well, one of my first "real" jobs was for a travel agency, so traveling was inevitable really. But, I've always had a fascination with life on the other side of the pond. They just seem to live so differently from us and I couldn't wait to experience that firsthand.

3) In terms of interracial dating, which country do you think is the friendliest towards it, and why?

I would have to say England just because it's so widespread and few people seem to care, at least openly. You see mixed race children everywhere you look, so you know someone is swirling!

4) What have your experiences with swirling abroad been like? Did anything surprise you?

My experiences with swirling abroad have been great! When you're abroad, something great happens. You can enjoy your experiences for what they are, not for what you want them to be. My favorite trip so far was the one I took to England last year. I don't know what it was about me, maybe the fact that I had just broken up with a boyfriend but men were on me like gangbusters. I walked into my hotel and the handsome Englishman at the front desk looked at me and started stuttering. I thought he had a speech problem until I noticed his coworkers trying to suppress their laughter. His hands were shaking when he gave me my room key and I smiled knowingly as I switched my way to the elevator. That was a fun moment.

I also began a foolish and fantastic relationship with a bartender I met at a bar near the hotel. If you want to know about a city, befriend the bartenders. They know everything and then some. He took me to all of the lesser-known attractions of London. We even sneaked our way into a private party that turned into an orgy! Before your minds get carried away, we sneaked out really quickly. But not before we saw things that can never be unseen.

6) What's the weirdest thing that has ever happened to you abroad?

Well, that was actually with you Love. Love and I were on a train leaving Paris and had both fallen asleep, with her heavy head on my shoulder. I woke up first, and gently (note from Love- it was not gently!) tossed her head to the other side because I had to go the bathroom. When I was walking back to my seat, I noticed a well-dressed man kneeling in front of Love. At first I thought he was a train attendant telling her something, but then I noticed she was still asleep. He wasn't touching her, but he was staring at her with this crazy and psychotic look in his eyes. I still don't know what it was. He didn't look angry. He just looked focused. I started yelling at him to get away from Love and he slowly stood up, looked at me, and walked away. Like he wasn't in a rush at all. I told Love what happened and she started laughing like a deranged maniac, but I think that was just the sleep deprivation.

7) If money was no object, where would you make your home in the world and why?

Probably London, with Paris as a close second. London is a great place to be if only because you can get to everywhere in Europe from there. The culture, food, and atmosphere just can't be beat.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Tips for an Extended Trip Abroad

A poster named Simone e-mailed me looking for information about Amsterdam and traveling abroad for an extended period of time. I thought it would make a good post for everyone.

Amsterdam is a popular tourist destination for Americans. We share a common language, which means that culture shock will probably be at a minimum. This isn't to say we are the same, though. There are many differences that will baffle and amaze you. The most obvious is the legalization of marijuana. It's very important to note that marijuana is allowed only in certain cafes in Amsterdam. Sometimes, certain hotels will allow the use of the plant, but it's best to stick to the cafes. If I had to describe Amsterdam in one word it would be: tolerant. There is a relaxing vibe to the city that tends to affect you. It amazed me that so many different people could, for the most part, get along. Personally, I experienced no discrimination in Amsterdam.

Now, let's get down to the bone. Traveling abroad for an extended period is a tricky thing to do, at least at first. I will stick to the main things you might want to do. First, there is the subject of your current living arrangements. If you are in an apartment, think about subletting. If your lease allows it, it is a great way to ensure your apartment is kept in good shape, if you pick the right tenant. Make sure you put a clause in the tenant contract that ensures that if you have to come home quickly, for any reason, then the apartment will have to be vacated by the tenant within a reasonable period of time. If you live in a house, you can choose to rent it out as well. If you have the funds to do so you can always keep your apartment/house empty, and have a trusted friend or family member come by to check on it regularly. You can forward your mail to a PO Box or to a loved one's house. It's important to do this as well as stop your newspaper service, if you have it. You don't want your house/apartment to look as if no one is living in it.

The best tip I can give about making plans to travel abroad is to start early. When traveling, things will always go wrong. Always. If you are well prepared, then you can frequently overcome these obstacles. Try to book your flight at least four months in advance, six would be great if you can swing it. It's the classic demand/supply system. When there are plenty of seats available, the price is lower. The fewer seats available, the higher the price. I have found some amazing deals because I booked my flights early. Speaking of airlines, try to pack as lightly as you can. I know it might be tempting to try to take all of your favorite pieces, but fight the urge! Try to have a lot of "basic" pieces, meaning pieces that can be worn with a variety of outfits. Learn how to pack efficiently, so you won't be bogged down in a busy airport or foreign street.

Make sure your passport is up to date and with you while navigating through airports. I recommend putting your passport and ID in a plastic baggie in your zipped purse for easy access. Getting a safety pouch to put underneath your clothes is always a good idea. Keep it high on your stomach so that it can't be reached by an "accidental" touch. Always be alert. Pickpockets and criminals often target those that look distracted or preoccupied. Take close notice of your surroundings and the people around you, even if you are with a group.

The Internet is your friend when it comes to finding a place to stay for an extended period of time. There are websites dedicated to reviewing hotels, hostels, and even apartment buildings. Study these and see what other people have to say before you commit. If you're going to travel during the off season or have never stayed in the particular establishment, then I recommend making a short reservation, just to see if you like a place first. If you like the place or have been there before, it might be helpful to contact the owner of an establishment and see if there are any ways you can save money since you're going to be staying for an extended period of time. Once, I received an extra week free in a hotel in Canada because I talked to the manager and told her that I would her be staying at least three weeks.

Finally, have fun! Take a lot of pictures/video to commemorate your time. Make sure you savor the moments you have. The memories will be with you forever and you can reminisce about them forever.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Engagement is Off (And Apparently Russia Sucks for Black People)

So, as many of you have seen, I have taken a small break from blogging due to some pressing issues. I had a lot of thinking to do and a lot of hard decisions to make. Long story short, I decided to call off my engagement. While I love my ex-fiancé very much, I couldn't see us reconciling our lives in a way that would work for both of us. It had nothing to do with any cultural or racial differences, but rather life just got in the way. I'm at peace with this decision because I know it's the right one.

Now, on to the point of this blog. I have never traveled extensively in Eastern Europe, but when a friend of mine told me she was going to Russia for a week, I was excited to hear about her experiences. We went out to lunch and I knew something was wrong because she looked positively frazzled. The things she told me made my blood run cold. She said that when she first arrived she noticed that some people were staring at her, intensely. It wasn't a friendly or a curious stare, but rather one of hatred or disgust. Then, when she arrived at the hotel, the workers there acted as if they didn't believe that she was really supposed to be there. They insisted on calling the manager to verify the booking and to make sure the credit card she was using was valid!

The next day, she was at a café and she heard Russians behind her, saying that she was probably a drug addict or prostitute and that they hated all of the "African trash" in the country. She told me that she had never felt so fearful. I was surprised at this comment because she has traveled more than I have, including to some war-torn and extremely poor nations. Needless to say, she won't be going back to Russia. After hearing about her experiences, I can't say that it will be on my itinerary anytime soon as well.

*Edited to include part of a comment I made on this post. Everyone's experiences are different when traveling, like with everything else. The things my friend told me about her personal experiences made me sick. She has since sent me several articles describing the intense racism towards black people in Russia and it is disgusting and terrifying. My decision to not visit Russia is not based on fear, but money. I refuse to spend my money there and support the country in any way.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Observations about Scotland

I realized that I never made an "observation" post about Scotland, so I decided to do that. I have to say I'm a little biased about this country because I love it so much on its own. It's one of my favorite countries in Europe.

Scotland is definitely more relaxed in terms of race relations, especially compared to Ireland. I got more curiosity in Scotland, as opposed to neutrality or hatred. The landscape is stunning and there's a rich history to the country, which makes it seem rustic. There is also a modern feel to the big cities, which makes it seem cosmopolitan. This isn't to say that Scotland is a utopia because it definitely is not. Like many European countries, there has been a rise in Nazism and violence against minorities. But, honestly, as minorities we have to be careful wherever we go in the world, even our hometowns.

I found Scottish men to be quite interesting. The ones I talked to had interesting stories to tell. Of course, they could be lying, but either way, I had a good time listening to them. They seem to be more direct and forward then men from other nationalities. The ones I met didn't have a problem telling me about their opinions about anything and everything. This was a refreshing change of pace, especially from Englishmen who have a reputation for being secretive or repressive.

Scottish food is unlike any other. How anyone lives past the age of 30 is beyond me. So much oil, so much fat, and so much everything in haggis, clapshots, etc. I had to work hard to find healthy food. I can say that if you crave fast food, you will not be disappointed. Pizza, fried chicken, hamburgers and french fries, and anything else you want is probably located within a 5 mile radius.

The Scottish Highlands are something that should be seen at least once in your lifetime. I can't even begin to describe the beautiful views. There is something healing about standing alone in a beautiful field in a foreign country and just feeling the wind.

There's nothing like it.

Monday, February 21, 2011

American Black Chick in Europe Went Abroad...and Stayed.

Recently, I interviewed ABCiE about being abroad, Croatian businessmen, and interracial dating.

1) What part of the U.S. are you from and what is the "swirling" scene like there?

I'm originally from Atlanta and the swirling scene there is getting better, but when I was growing up it definitely wasn't the norm.

2) Why did you choose to go abroad?

I actually decided to do a study abroad programme my final semester of undergrad because I just wanted to try something different. Plus I read a ton of books and I was intrigued by the idea of actually seeing the places I read about. After my first study abroad programme to England, I gotten bitten hard by the travel bug and I've been back and forth ever since.

3) In terms of interracial dating, which country do you think is the friendliest towards it, and why?

Hmmmm....this is a tough one. I think it depends. I know there are certain cities that are cool as far as interracial dating, but not necessarily the countries as a while. As an Africa-American, I'd say London and Paris are fabulous.

4) What have your general experiences with swirling abroad been like? Did anything surprise you?

So far, not to many issues as far as swirling abroad. I think I was most surprised by how much more common it is in the European cities I've been to and how much less of a stigma is attached to it. Not to say that there are no stigmas or no problems, but definitely not the same baggage as in the US. I would say that black women should be cautious that men are not going after them to fulfill some fantasy...but this applies to any country.

5) What are some particularly memorable experiences with swirling abroad that you have had?

Oh where to start? I guess the one that really stood out actually happened to a friend of mine while we were in Croatia. We met this Croatian guy our first day in Dubrovnik as we were searching for our hotel. We chatted with him a few minutes and he invited us to dine at the restaurant he owned. We did end up stopping by, but it was too expensive on our limited budget. We saw him later and told him why we didn't eat there and he said that he would have given us the meal for free. Turns out he was trying to get us to his restaurant to spend more time with my friend! He then proceeded to ask my friend out. When she politely declined (because we had an early bus to catch the next morning), he pleaded with her for just one date. He said, "Are you worried about your safety? Don't worry, when you are with me, you are like Swiss bank. You are safe." I'm pretty sure he would have happily made my friend his wife if he had any indication that she would have agreed...he feel for her hard.

6) If money was no object, where would you make your home in the world and why?'s hard to pick just one. If I had an option, I'd split my time between NYC, Berlin, Paris and London.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Kourt Brought Home Memories, Teaching Experience, and A Man

I recently interviewed Kourt, of, who told me about meeting her Middle Eastern husband in an Asian country and being abroad in a foreign land.

1) What part of the U.S. are you from and what is the "swirling" scene like there?

I'm from a small town in Middle Georgia, interracial couples are around but I've known a few people who's families would disown them if they dated someone from another race

2) Why did you choose to go abroad?

I choose to go abroad because I know there was always something different from what I grow up with, I wanted a different experience and I wanted a bit of adventure in my life

3) In terms of interracial dating, which country do you think is the friendliest towards it, and why?

Out of all the countries I've been to, I guess England was the friendliest (I could be wrong because I was only in London) but London is such a melting pot that it's normal to date and have friends from different walks of life

4) What have your general experiences with swirling abroad been like? Did anything surprise you?

What surprised me about "swirling abroad" is how in most countries it's not a big deal, where is in America people are up in arms over it...I'm not saying ever country is ok with it, because when I was in Korea it was considered wrong for a Korean to date someone who wasn't Korean

5) What are some particularly memorable experiences with swirling abroad that you have had?

My most memorable experience is meeting my husband, who is Iranian, because I was really surprised at his range of friends and how relaxed who was with me, even more he didn't ask crazy questions because of the difference in race and religion

6) If money was no object, where would you make your home in the world and why?

I'm partial to London and Paris, I guess just Europe in general...but this would be a hard one for me, if money was no object I'd live in different places around the world; the problem with traveling is that you sometimes only stay in a major city for a few days, so I would spend a few months in England, a few months in Peru, a few months in Turkey, etc.

7) How did you meet your husband? What made you fall in love with him and has being in a Black/Middle Eastern marriage changed your perception of your family, society, etc.?

Against everything I was taught in a southern baptist church I actually met my husband at a club in Korea. Which to say I think is normal given our ages. What made me fall for him is that he was just a direct as I was, we had a lot in common but we are very different...and I can't lie, I love to hear him speak Farsi. What has changed is that I've had to look at my own family differently it's amazing how people you've known you're whole life can question your judgment and essential try to make you choose between them and your significant other. Another thing it has changed is my own sense of individuality. Before I was married I was more than happy to go it alone, I preferred to travel alone. But know I'm happy (90% of the time) my husband is able to travel with me. I can't wait for our first trip outside of the US.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Intl Glamazon Showed Europe Her Beauty

Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Intl Glamazon, a sister of Nigerian origin who told me of her adventures through Europe. Check her out at

1) What part of the world are you from and what is the "swirling" scene like in your region?

I go to school in Central Illinois, reside in Dallas, Texas, and I represent Nigeria! Well, considering that I'm at school that has less than 3,000 students, the "swirl" scene is pretty skewed. If there are any swirl relationships at my school, they don't usually include the black women at my school; most are in relationships away from school. In our college town, it's mostly black men/white women and other combinations of swirl. In Dallas? Well, I'm never home enough to get a solid look!=oP I'll get back to you on this!

2) Why did you choose to go abroad?

I went abroad because I consider myself a citizen of the world! I have a huge curiosity about the world that can't be satisfied by just reading about it=o) Also, I knew it would be an amazing opportunity for growth in my life, which it most definitely was! I studied abroad in Perugia, Italy, and traveled to a lot of small Italian towns, London, and Madrid.

3) In terms of interracial dating, which country do you think is the friendliest towards it, and why?

Within the realm of my experience, I'd have to say that England (London in particular) was the place that seemed most friendly towards the swirl. An apt description of London is its like someone grabbed people from all over the world and placed them into one city. With so many different cultural influences, people, and lifestyles, one can see how interracial dating isn't a big issue there.

4) What have your general experiences with swirling abroad been like? Did anything surprise you?

You know, when you tell folks that you're going to Italy, they'll talk about how Italian men love black women, blah blah blah. It's not quite true - Italian men love WOMEN, lol=o) When I was in Perugia, I either received an outward hostility, overt sexuality (from certain men), or just plain curiosity. Italy has a serious xenophobia problem right now, so many people thought I was an African immigrant, and treated me accordingly.It was hard for me because I am African! But when I spoke Italian most people would completely change their treatment towards me. I was not feeling that.

In regards to swirling, I didn't really get down with it, because I was in a program full of Americans, and Italian men sincerely believe that American women just want to have "fun" (i.e., American women are sluts). There were a few exceptions, but it wasn't too common since I was in a college town. Men from abroad are far more forward than their American counterparts! So when dudes approached me in that manner, I kind of shut it down to the "hey friend!" level, because I don't do "casual" relationships well, at all. I was treated really well in England, and in Madrid I just got curious looks, which is 100% fine. I rocked a full-on afro while abroad! Never be afraid to be yourself when you travel=o) Also, be aware that feminism hasn't quite made it to Italy yet. Men will pay for your drinks! And of course, this comes with its consequences, lol.

5) What are some particularly memorable experiences with swirling abroad that you have had?

I struck up some good friendships with a few Italian guys, they're so charming! We had a great time sharing languages and each others company=o) I do have some wild stories though! The two that I will NEVER forget:
1). Me and two buddies went to Florence for the day, and when we left the train station, an Italian man started yelling "i tuoi cappelli, è bellissimi!" (your hair, it's beautiful!). So me, being the friendly person that I am, turned to him and thanked him. Before I could even finish, the man (he was an older guy, lol) grabbed my arm, tucked it under his and basically dragged me away in another direction. OMG! I said "No thank you!" in Italian and ran away from friends STILL can't get over it!

2). We get back to the train station in Perugia and have to hang around for awhile because there was a strike (as usual), and as we're waiting outside, what happens? Some disgusting man comes up to me and says..."Ciao coco." WTF. He continues to do this while trying to touch me; my friends and I had to go across the street to try to avoid this dude. It was pretty scary, and while I'd been inappropriately propositioned before this incident, this was certainly the worst. But it didn't happen often. The key to being abroad is to protect yourself, first and foremost. It has to be your number one priority.

6) If money was no object, where would you make your home in the world and why?

I'd definitely have to say that London would be my home! I could travel to other places around the world with ease; I'd be close to family; and most importantly, I'd feel the most comfortable in London. I felt safer there than I do in some major U.S. cities. And I didn't really frequent tourist areas, so I know a solid amount about London and its dangers.

Special note from Intl Glamazon

Please, don't let my cautionary tales discourage anyone from traveling abroad! I mentioned them because I don't want anyone going into a whole new world without realizing that it's just like U.S. or worse when it comes to how people will treat you. Just be confident, safe, and strong! Men will flock to you as long as you have these qualities, trust!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Calling All Black Female Travelers with an experience of swirling!

From the beginning, I didn't want this blog to just be about me and my experiences. I want to share the stories of others. If you are a black female who has traveled and you have an experience with swirling around the world, please send me an email (on my profile) letting me know of your interest. Include AIM, if possible. Your story will be featured on this blog (with as much identifying information as you want to include).

Please send me an email within two weeks because this is going to be a trial run and I will be traveling and might not have internet service.


The Scottish Surprise

In order to tell you about the surprise I received on the Isle of Skye, it helps to have a bit of background. I arrived in Scotland in the spring of 2010 to attend the wedding of a close friend of mine, Annie, who had relocated to Scotland years before. Plus, I would get to visit Scotland, a country that I had always wanted to see firsthand. Originally we planned for me to be in the wedding, but obligations with my job made that impossible.

When I got to the wedding venue, I was amazed. It was the fairytale wedding that almost every little girl dreams of, a huge spacious church with beautiful Catholic accents, wonderful decorations, and gentle music playing in the background. Annie was a gorgeous bride and you could tell that she truly loved her groom. At the reception, I met the groom's half brother Andrew. I hate Grey's anatomy, but Andrew was definitely McDreamy. He was tall, broad shouldered, kind and handsome. Plus, he had a Scottish accent that was gentle. He worked as an architect in London and was thinking about going to law school. We talked for most the night, about our respective lives and realized that we had a lot in common. I definitely liked him, but didn't want to rush into anything, especially because we lived on different continents.

I went back to my hotel room and was watching TV when the phone rang. I answered it and it was Annie! "Love, just shut up and listen, because we only have about two minutes until they force us to turn off our cell phones. I just got a call from Andrew, who was panicking because you left without giving him your phone number. Apparently, you two made a love connection and he didn't want to wait until we came back. So, I gave him the number to your hotel and he is probably going to call you tomorrow. Go out with him! He's a really good guy and you two would be great together. Love you, bye!"

Andrew did call me and we ended up going on a six hour date. It was the best date of my entire life. It's hard to describe it without using that cliched expression of, "We just clicked." We meshed so well together and spent the better part of the week getting to know each other. When the time came to go home, we were both crushed. So we made the drastic decision to enter into a long-distance relationship. Skype, IM, and plane trips saved us. As time progressed, I fell in love with him and the feelings were entirely reciprocated. We dated like this for about eight months when I went to Skye to meet some of his family.

After a fantastic dinner (made by his mother), Andrew said that he wanted to take me to a cliff that had a beautiful view of the island. The view was fantastic and we just stood there, looking over the isle and enjoying the scenery. I didn't notice Andrew was on his knee until he grabbed my hand. I looked down at him and my bottom jaw dropped open like a fish. He said, "Love, being with you is amazing. I didn't know that I could feel this way about anyone. I love you so much. I feel like we could be happy together, forever. Will you marry me?" I was crying at this point, but I said yes and nodded. He stood up and kissed me and we hugged for at least ten minutes. Then, we went back to his family's house and they were in the living room, silent. We walked in and when they saw that we were smiling, they started laughing and screaming. His mother went to her room and gave Andrew an engagement ring that had originally belonged to her mother. Andrew put it on me and we spent the night with his family, laughing, drinking, and celebrating.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Isle of Skye (or why I love Scotland)

The Isle of Skye in Scotland is one of my favorite places on earth. If I could, I would have a house on the island and live there six months a year. It's really the only place I've ever been to where I sat outside and looked at the landscape for hours. A boyfriend of mine, who was Scottish, first took me there to meet a part of his family. Even if you never date a Scotsman, try to meet a Scottish family. It will be an interesting experience.

We got to the isle late at night and his family was at a friend's house. We decided to go to sleep, in separate rooms mind you, and meet them in the morning. I was sleeping peacefully in my bed and was about to wake up when I heard footsteps in my room. My first thought was, "Great, my dad is going to be so happy that he was right about running all over the world." Carefully, I opened my eyes and I saw the most adorable little boy standing at the foot of my bed, smiling at me. He said, " Hi, I'm Jacob. My mom wanted you to wake up so she's banging pots in the kitchen, but I just decided to come in here and do it myself." The mouths of babes.

Carefully, we made our way down the narrow staircase and sure enough, my boyfriend's mother was in the kitchen banging a pot with nothing in it. Soon, she saw us and was startled, but she recovered quickly. "Good morning! I am Una, Andrew's mother." Except, it sounded like, "Gud mornin', I am Una." Una was, frankly, a lot prettier than I had imagined. What's your first thought when you think of a Scottish pig farmer? She was tall, but well built and had the most fantastic blue-green eyes. She introduced me to the rest of the family and, surprisingly, we all got along fantastically.

But, as it turns out, my boyfriend had the biggest surprise for me yet.

(Not meant to be a cliffhanger, but I really have to do some work. More to come.)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Thanks Everyone


First, I want to thank all of my followers for listening to my rambles. Like, I have said, I started this blog because my friends were so interested in my stories about being abroad (really only the men). I wanted to encourage other women, primarily black women, that you can go anywhere you want to go and date anyone. This has already been a great outlet for me and I really enjoy hearing your questions and comments.



Monday, January 24, 2011

Observations about Ireland

Ireland is a beautiful country. It is filled with gentle slopes, beautiful landscapes, and breathtaking fields. There is a reason why there are so many famous Irish poets.

That being said, Ireland is a country that is rapidly becoming a multicultural hub. With this, there are growing tensions about the number of immigrants in the country. This has led to outbreaks of racism, discrimination, and violence. Marie and I felt the tension while we were there. It dissipated some when they found out that we were Americans (and planning to leave soon). I'm not saying this to discourage anyone from going, but it's a good idea to be aware of who you are and where you are.

Irish men can be very direct. This can be refreshing on a first date, but it's a little jarring when you're walking home at two o'clock in the morning. I also saw a large number of the "sensitive artist types" in Ireland, which I love. There is a vibrant art and cultural scene in the major cities and sometimes even in the countryside.

Go forth and find your Ireland.

Irish Thorns

Ireland has always been a dream vacation for me. There's something about the beautiful landscapes that is striking. If you don't believe me, Google Ireland and be prepared to be sucked in. And, pictures are nowhere close to the real thing. So, when one of my close friends, Marie, told me that we could go for a fraction of the price I jumped at the opportunity. And, yes I have paid full price for trips (and I have the bank account to prove it).

So, we get to Ireland and I'm immediately disappointed. The weather is sticky and our hotel looks like a set in a horror movie. Our beds are lumpy, the light in our bathroom is flickering,and the couple in the room next to us is either having sex or getting murdered. But, we don't really care at this point and all we want to do is crash (notice a pattern?). The morning comes and we get up, determined to seize the day. We go out to breakfast and notice that outside of the café there is a trail of something that looks like blood. We asked our waitress what it was and she said, "Yes, it is blood, those bloody idiots were fighting last night after the pubs closed."

Marie had to go to work, so I decided to explore and took in the beautiful scenery of the countryside. When you get a little bit outside of the major cities in Ireland, there are beautiful views to be seen everywhere (without the smog, noise, and pollution of the cities). So, I'm sitting on top of a hill that looks something like the picture below and I hear crunching behind me, like someone is walking towards me. I turned around and there was a handsome man standing behind me. But, I immediately got an odd vibe from him. I looked at him and said, "Hello. How are you?" He looked at me for a very long time and said, "Fine." Then, he walked away, without looking back. My heart was beating so fast that I thought I was going to have a heart attack. To this day, I have no idea what would've happened if I had never turned around.

Alas, the trip wasn't a total washout romantically, at least for Marie. She met a charming Irishman in a dingy pub who was proud to declare he was "Black Irish", which was hilarious to us because anything is hilarious when you're tipsy. His name was Alex* and when he wasn't slumming it he worked as a history teacher. He showed us a more complete picture of Ireland, including the historical landmarks and ghetto. Alex and Marie kind of dated for four months, but the distance proved to be too much. I say kind of because they never really clarified what they were doing. When I date, I demand clarification.

Despite what happened, Ireland is still one of my favorite countries and I truly hope to go back one day.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tips/Observations for Italy

Since my last post was about Italy, I thought that I would post some observations about Italy. Black people aren't that big of a deal in Italy. I think Marie and I got so much attention because we obviously were guests and we were in a place that didn't have that many African immigrants. And, we were women. It's true. Italian men are notorious for their love of women and it's no joke to them. But, don't expect every Italian man to serenade you outside of your balcony or put their coat in a puddle. You WILL be disappointed. They are like any other group of men, some good and some bad. Use your intuition and good sense.

I don't know if it was a regional thing, but I could NOT find a good breakfast outside of my hotel. I love my breakfasts, especially my big obnoxious American breakfasts. Yeah, didn't happen there. I was grateful for a piece of toast and two soggy pieces of bacon. That was my only food issue though.

If you have any specific questions, comment, and I will try to answer them.

With Angelo

One of the first trips I ever took outside of the country was with a group. Now, group traveling isn't for everyone, like me. When I travel, I want a lot of independence and freedom to do what I want. Group traveling seems to stress conformity and leads to little bunches of Americans crowding the streets in various foreign countries. But, this trip was going to be bearable because one of my best friends was going with me and because she worked for the agency we had gotten the tickets for half price. So, Mama wasn't complaining. Besides, we were going to Italy, the land of delicious pizza and delicious men.

How I made it through the airport and to the hotel is fuzzy. By the time I got there, I was so fatigued that all I could do was collapse on my bed and wait for daylight. It came far too quickly and Marie* and I went downstairs to order breakfast. By the time we got to the bottom of the stairs, we were in shock. Screw the buffet of food, there was a buffet of men! At a large table in the middle of the room, there was a large group of Italian men in designer suits. Most of them had tanned skin, dark eyes, shiny black hair, and well-defined muscles. To quote my grandmother, I felt like I was in hog heaven! Almost on cue, the men at the table swiveled their heads toward us and most smiled to reveal gleaming teeth.

There was one man in particular that caught my attention. He was seated at the back of the table and his eyes did things to me that my ex boyfriend couldn't do with his hands. He wasn't smiling, but had an interested look in his eyes. Marie and I paid for our breakfasts and before we had gotten our plates, my mysterious man had gotten up and was headed for our table. Marie was smirking and I looked up at him, expectantly. He looked at both of us and said, "Buongiorno. I am Angelo and I was wondering if I could sit down and speak." I was thinking, "Honey, you can do anything you want to." But, I said, "Of course." He sat down and started asking us generic questions about where we were from and what we were doing in Italy. He told us that he was in town for a business meeting, but he was originally from Sicily. Soon, the rest of his group started getting up and heading for the door and he looked at us and invited us to a club in town. We agreed to meet up with him that night. Now, I've never been much of a "club" person, but when in Rome…

We got to the club around 10 PM and there was a pretty light crowd there. Angelo was outside and lead us to a table in the back room where we were treated to champagne and a fruit plate. Marie was soon whisked away to slow dance while Angelo and I continued talking. "So, you like Italy?" he said. "Yes, I love it! We've only been here for a day but I have already had great food and great champagne." When I told him that we were only going to be in Italy for two weeks he sighed and said," That's too bad. Italy should be savored, like wine." He took my hand and started gently massaging the top of it and said, "In two weeks, there is only surface but surface is better than nothing, right?" I smiled and said, "Your surface is lovely." He laughed and led me to the dance floor. As I wrapped my arms around his neck I looked over at Marie and smirked. Her face had a blissful expression and she was gently swaying with one of Angelo's associates. Lesson learned: bring a camera everywhere.

Angelo and I danced for about two hours until we finally went back to the table and continued talking. I learned that his father was a poor farmer in Sicily who couldn't read or write. His father told Angelo that he had to get an education, no matter what it took. So, Angelo started working after school at 12 years old and started saving money for college. He excelled in school and was able to get a few private scholarships which helped fund his education. I told him about my life in the United States and he laughed at my descriptions and said that he had been to the US but had no desire to go back. I told him that I knew that I was definitely coming back to Italy and he gave me his card, smiled, and said, "I hope so." By the time there was a break in the conversation, I looked at the clock and realized it was three in the morning. Since Marie and I had to get up at seven, I decided to leave and I told Angelo that I had a great time and I hoped to see him again. he kissed me on my cheek and whispered, " "You will."

Marie decided to leave too so we walked out of the club (well I walked and she stumbled) and got into a taxi to go back to the hotel. On the way home, we exchanged stories about our night and agreed that coming to Italy was a very good idea.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Growing Up...

I grew up in the deep South. Now, if you are from the deep South I am sure you are smiling at your screen certain of what I'm going to say next. And, you're right. While I saw a few interracial relationships growing up, they were almost always of the black male/white female variety and even those were few and far between. It's not even that you heard people speaking ill of interracial relationships. It just wasn't done.

Thank goodness for travel. And, for having a mother who knew the value of it. My mother loved to travel and often dragged me along, regardless of my feelings. It wasn't until I became an adult that I realized the gift she had given me. She showed me that there was a world outside of our city and for that I am forever grateful. Although we only traveled inside of the country, I saw that there were places where interracial couples lived peacefully, without ridicule or scorn. That made me even more curious about the world outside of my own country. The travel bug was planted at an early age and subsequently was allowed to grow.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011



My name is the Swirler. But, you can call me Love. No, that is not my real name, of course, but a girl can't put all her business out in the streets, you know? I am an African-American woman in her early 20's. I have been lucky enough to land a corporate gig that takes me to faraway locales (sometimes). I realized early on that black women were often considered exotic, mysterious, sensual, and overall wonderful creatures around the world. These are my tales of swirling around the world.