Archives – June, 2010

Want the REAL scoop on ‘Black Paris?’ A new guidebook from a Chicago sister shares its secrets

As you UrbanTravelGirl readers know, Paris is my favorite place on the planet. Someone this week asked me why I love it so, and I didn’t have to think long before responding, “The diversity.” Sure, Paris is THE quintessential French city, but a huge part of what makes it so special for me, an African-American woman, is the presence of black folks from throughout the Diaspora. You’ll meet black folks from African former French colonies including Togo, Senegal, Mali, and Côte d’Ivoire. From French Caribbean “overseas regions” such as Martinique and Guadeloupe. And black American expatriates from all over the States.

And whereas most “mainstream” travel guidebooks gloss over their presence (if they mention them at all), Chicago author Kiratiana Freelon jumps all over it in her new book, Kiratiana’s Travel Guide to Black Paris: Get Lost and Get Found ( An African-American Harvard grad who’s visited more than 25 countries in her young life and spent time living in Paris, she uncovers GREAT finds all over Paris (and beyond, as well)….

Continue 9 Comments June 12, 2010

Serendipity on a Seattle afternoon (and why I love my Italian people)

Call it vanity, but I try to never run out of the house without looking presentable. But I’m here in Seattle on a three-month assignment for my company, living in a lovely downtown high-rise furnished apartment. I love my work, but I work HARD—and so I slept in yesterday morning, not rising until nearly 1 p.m. I needed some maple syrup to go with my breakfast—so I tossed on huge wrap-around sunglasses, skinny black jeans, and the navy “Italia” zip-front jacket I picked up during a 2008 cruise stop in Sicily to literally run to the drugstore. And since folks in the Northwest are HARDLY known for their high style, I figured I’d fit right in. No danger of running into anyone I knew—or so I thought.

As I rounded the corner, who did I see standing outside Barolo (, the FAB ristorante in my building, but a group of elegantly dressed native Italians. As soon as they spotted my “Italia” jacket, they threw open their arms. “Buon giorno, buon giorno!” I greeted the group, and once they discovered I spoke Italian (however limited), they eagerly engaged me in conversation. The men were thrilled to see the Sicilian flag embroidered on the side of my jacket because many of them were from this gorgeous island. It was like Old Home Week! They were gathered at Barolo for the wedding reception of this FINE Italian guy, and were waiting for him and his new bride to arrive. Turned out one man in the group is the manager of my favorite Seattle pizzeria and someone who constantly flirts with me.

“Give her a glass of champagne! Come in and join us,” one of the young gorgeous dark-haired ragazzi said. So here I am, messed-up hair, no makeup, and I’m being invited inside the restaurant to join this super-well-dressed group. I felt like I was having one of those dreams/nightmares when you find yourself naked—or otherwise inappropriately garbed—in a crowd….

Continue 18 Comments June 6, 2010

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