Tag: Florence

UrbanTravelGirl talks about being a sister living abroad on “The Traveling Eye” radio show

There’s nothing like reliving old memories—especially those that have shaped you into the person you are today. And last week, thanks to a fabulous Chicago-based Travel radio show, I got the chance to reminisce about my sistagirl-living-abroad-in-Italy experience from five years ago!

The hour-long show is called The Traveling Eye (http://www.thetravelingeye.com/), and its programming is especially designed to appeal to upscale African-American consumers and travelers. It’s hosted by two dynamic sisters: my Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., soror and Chicago radio legend Bonnie DeShong and travel specialist and Advantage International President and Founder Ja’Vonne Harley. Listen to THEIR show and before it’s over, you’ll want to be online or on the phone booking some fabulous getaway. And some advertisers don’t believe that black folks travel—and travel in style? Along with WHUR-FM in Washington, D.C., Bonnie and Ja’Vonne are leading a tour of nearly 100 folks to Egypt and Dubai in February—and this nearly two-week trip is SOLD OUT!

During last week’s show, Bonnie and fill-in host Gene Harley asked me and a super-bad American expat sister named Tiffany Zunker who’s lived abroad for half her life to share thoughts on why we first got interested in living abroad….

Continue 27 Comments October 15, 2010

Why don’t films about traveling or moving abroad ever feature black women?

For most folks, spending 10 bucks and a couple hours at the movies is all about passive entertainment. But sometimes, you encounter a cinematic gem that literally becomes life-changing, that totally alters the way you see the world. That one for me was 2003’s “Under the Tuscan Sun,” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0328589/) which inspired me, following a major surgery and reordering of life priorities, to quit my corporate job and pack my bags for fabulous Firenze (Florence), Italy.

Even now, if I’m flipping channels on the TV and “Tuscan Sun” is on, regardless of whether the film’s at the beginning, middle or end, I plop down and watch. And certamente, I own the DVD—and when I’m feeling the need for a bit of inspiration, I’ll view it again. I recently interviewed Under the Tuscan Sun (http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780767900386) author Frances Mayes (http://www.francesmayesbooks.com/) for a national Travel story, and that conversation took me back to those dreamy days of living in bella Italia.

The latest film buzz, of course, is about Julia Roberts’ “Eat Pray Love” (http://www.letyourselfgo.com/), which hit U.S. cinemas earlier this month. As I’m sure you know (or have heard, whether you wanted to or not), it’s based on Elizabeth Gilbert’s monster best-selling memoir (http://www.elizabethgilbert.com/eatpraylove.htm) about ditching New York City after a traumatic divorce and subsequent love affair and spending a year traveling through Italy, India and Indonesia. (Her gig was WAY easier than mine, as her publisher’s book advance funded her year of self-discovery.) Personally, I never got past the “Eat” portion of the book, but perhaps that’s because I’m too Italy-obsessed to care about the rest.

But here’s what got me thinking: none of the films I’ve seen extolling the joys of traveling and/or relocating abroad has ever starred a black woman—or a woman of color AT ALL….

Continue 22 Comments August 27, 2010

Tips for sisters on ‘hooking up’ their hair when traveling abroad, Part Deux

Late last month, I wrote about the “hair issues” we black women often face when traveling abroad—and promised to offer some tips about handling these when you’re overseas.

When I first traveled to Europe in the late 1990s, visiting a friend who worked on a U.S. Army base in Germany, I was doing the relaxed hair thing, toting multiple curling irons and assorted lotions and potions in my always-overstuffed suitcase. But once I started hitting the road with friends, all those curling irons became a royal pain. What a hassle to constantly be plugging in, moving irons from one room to the other, waiting for them to cool down before you could pack them, etc. And then there was always the issue of “what if it rains?”

Now that I’ve been wearing two-strand twist extensions for most of the past five years, that’s no longer a concern. BUT, I have gotten overseas and much to my dismay, realized that I forgot to pack my favorite olive oil sheen or softening lotion. This, my friends, can be a challenge—especially since overseas trips tend to last for more than just a weekend.

But if you find yourself in a city—especially in Europe—and have arrived sans products, I’ve discovered that black folks and Arabs (who frequently have similar hair textures as ours) often live near the city’s main train station….

Continue 57 Comments January 10, 2010

Who is your ‘Inner Italian?’ Former Italy dweller and expatriate Kelly Carter celebrates hers

I wrote recently that my friend and former newspaper colleague and friend Sharon Sanders invited me to dish about my “Inner Italian” on her “Simple Italy: Italian Food, Culture, Lifestyle and Travel” blog. Through this blog, Sharon helps her readers understand that ““Even if we don’t live in Italy, Italy lives inside of us.” Reading Sharon’s Q&A interview with me inspired my good friend and fellow Italophile Kelly Carter to take a cobblestoned stroll down her own personal Italian memory lane. She shares it in this Kelly’s Korner post.

Kelly and I met during our days in bella Italia, and obviously the lessons she learned during her amazing two years continue to shape her life on this side of the pond. So for those of you who’ve been pondering a move abroad—or even spending an extended period of time in another country—you’ll probably be ready to quit your job and buy a one-way airplane ticket after reading this piece.

Continue 5 Comments November 8, 2009

UrbanTravelGirl dishes about her ‘Inner Italian’ on 'Simple Italy' blog, a love letter to bella Italia

My former newspaper colleague and friend Sharon Sanders writes a gorgeous, award-winning blog called “Simple Italy: Italian Food, Culture, Lifestyle and Travel.” Years ago, she and I developed a tight bond over our fascination with all things Italian. Today, Sharon—who spent several years living and working in beautiful Florence—was kind enough to feature me and my “Inner Italian” persona in a recent post.

She writes a periodic question-and-answer feature with “wannabe Italians or expatriate Italians –who try to ‘live Italian’ wherever they are.” I would certainly qualify, as I remain obsessed with the place, its food and wine, its beautiful people — the list goes on. So read all about my “Inner Italian” (http://www.simpleitaly.com/the-inner-italian-q-a-maureen-jenkins) and you’ll understand why, as Sharon says, “Even if we don’t live in Italy, Italy lives inside of us.”

Continue 6 Comments October 29, 2009

Say amen, sister: Get a spiritual boost by visiting houses of worship when traveling overseas

I don’t know about you, but I’m often more psyched about going to church on the road than hitting a bunch of must-see museums and boutiques. Although mornings and I have never been friends, when I’m overseas, I make a point of finding an English-speaking service, whether I need to hop on a subway or bus or use my own two feet to get there. I enjoy the religious aspect of worship but for me, it’s also about experiencing local culture in one of its most authentic and expressive ways….

Continue 6 Comments August 16, 2009

“… with liberty and justice (and affordable health care) for all.”

Finally in America, the decades-long debate over health care is coming to a head. Last night, President Barack Obama hosted a prime-time news conference at the White House, where he delivered his vision on health care and answered reporters’ questions about it.

As someone who’s extensively traveled abroad and marveled at the United States’ apparent unwillingness to make affordable access to medical care available to ALL its people, I’m amazed that so many politicians—and regular citizens—think that providing such care is somehow socialist. Subversive. And against the “American way of life.” Well, if having to choose between buying groceries and paying for prescribed medicine is capitalism at its best, perhaps we need to re-examine our priorities ….

Continue 5 Comments July 23, 2009

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