Even though I only went to Europe for half of the time that I did last year, my summer trip was just as lit as the first one. My 21 days away was a true testament to quality over quantity. I made sure to have enjoyable experiences because I knew that my time was limited and I was more confident because this was not my first time across the pond.
Often times, people ask about my favorite city, country, etc, and while I have not figured that out just yet, especially because I have moments to digest, I wanted to share my favorite moments during my 3 weeks abroad. However, I know people appreciate transparency and because I want to keep it 100, this time around I am sharing my 5 best and worst moments from my 21 days away.
Let’s get it started!
Related Post: 40 Days Away: My Top 10 Moments
My Best Moments In Europe & Morocco
5. Welcome to Athens
As per usual, I find myself at the right place at the right time unknowingly. The very night I landed back in Athens, it fell upon PRIDE weekend. Lo and behold, while writing in my travel journal just to capture the moment, another black girl named Gabby in the hostel asked me about the wifi. This led to further conversations in which we discovered we were Sorors (Woo, those AKA’s). She was also best friends with a great college friend of mine. Look at God. She asked me if I wanted to check out the party and of course, I said yes. We saw a concert, a lot of love and glitter, and danced for a good amount of time. Yes, I missed out on some Athens nightclubs / rooftops, but I am one that values a great experience. It was the perfect introduction to Europe.
If you want to know more about how I conquered 24 hours in Athens, read here.
4. Indulging in spa culture at Gellért bath house.
I was a bath house virgin and knew that I wanted to see two of the famous ones. While Széchenyi was gorgeous and the outdoor thermal bath was immaculate, I adored my time at Gellért because I was truly able to RELAX. If I wanted to get a little wild, I could just wait for the outdoor wave pool to turn on and in a few minutes I would be getting thrown around in the water (if you can’t swim, stay towards the shallow end). Gellért’s interior was ornate and I could smell the minerals in the water. It was quiet and serene, and everything I asked for.
3. Riding a camel on a North African beach.
I had difficult moments navigating through Marrakech on my own. I hated admitting it, but this was one of the first places I did not enjoy being by myself. On the contrary, when I arrived in Essaouira I was overcome with peace. During my last day, I fulfilled a bucketlist item and rode a camel. Boris was quite the gentlemen and once again, I felt like royalty. The beach was quiet, the breeze was calming, and I had the ocean in my background. I would never have imagined that I would be riding a camel on the beach, and it suited me just fine.
2. My Last night in Budapest was EPIC.
Woah. I thought the pub crawl that led me to missing my bus to Prague was insane (well, it was). I was due to leave Budapest on a Saturday morning and knew specifically that I wanted to safe the infamous ruin bar, Szimpla, for my last night. I hooked up with Starr from Black Girl In Budapest and had a great night filled with rose. Now, when you are in a space as a minority, sometimes in the black culture you take the time to smile even give a head nod to another person, for the culture. This led to us meeting a Nigerian woman by the name of DiDi and her coworkers. It’s amazing how when you are expats / travelers, you can form bonds mighty quickly and this led to many toasts, karaoke singing to Whitney Houston & Celine Dion, almost throwing your cell phone away (I wonder who did that…), and dancing your life away at a ruin bar’s Gay night. Budapest absolutely owed me nothing when I left and it is a pure gift from Big Homie that I woke up and made it to my flight with ample time.
This is just a mild version of why I loved the city of Budapest so much, so if you are interested, read the post here.
1. Being Cinderella in Santorini
It is amazing how an article of clothing can make you feel like you are walking on the moon and a celebrity. I knew from the moment I saw my yellow dress I needed it in Santorini. I felt beautiful in it simply trying it on and I hadn’t even jazzed myself up yet. Typically when I am traveling I will keep it to lipstick and eyeliner, but I was going for it in Santorini without a care. Santorini was going to get some black girl magic that evening and the reception was incredibly warm. From random compliments, to free drinks, and the feeling of being a princess in the most beautiful place I had seen in my life, I could not trade it for anything. I was on top of the world and felt incredibly fearless as a black woman traveling solo. I have never compared myself to Beyonce in life, but I did indeed feel immaculate like her for that evening. I did not want that evening to end.
My Worst Moments
5. Tutu Takes a Tumble… The Epic Fall
It wouldn’t technically be an adventure if I didn’t have a battle wound to come with the trip. Let me preface this by saying, I am HORRIBLE at stairs. One of my first memories is falling down an escalator. I’ve fallen down entire steps as a grown woman. My dresses have gotten caught in escalators. So naturally, when walking on my pub crawl having a conversation with the cutest deaf man one could find (via Apple Notes lol), I tripped over a random wooden step on the sidewalk. I tried to handle it like a G but when I saw just how much my foot was bleeding and the pain started kicking in, we had to handle it. I guess the ruin bar is used to injuries because they had their own medical clinic in the back and I got patched up. My footwear wasn’t the best for my battle wound but I lived and laughed through it!
4. When Mosquitos Attack
Soo…. Once upon a time, it was my first night in my favorite new city (Budapest) and I wanted to see the Parliament building and famous bridges during the sunset while on the Danube River. The hues of pink and purple in the clouds along with the buildings beginning to glow were a sight to see. While leaving the Buda side and crossing the Margaret Bridge over the Danube River, I noticed the influx of mosquitos. When I looked down I realized that it looked as though a swarm was attacking my stomach (shoutout to my crop top) and my feet. I also felt like in any minute I would begin swallowing them and I began to walk faster, to the point of almost running off of the river. The next day, I saw just how swollen I was due to the massive amount of bites and stopped counting after 20. I still am trying to diminish the dark spots that came from those bites that had me out of commission for almost a day. Cheers.
Related Post: My Apology to the City of Budapest, My New Favorite
3. Prostitute Jacques
I have an entire post that will come about this later, but I want to bring your attention to an arrogant prick that decided he wanted to ruin my evening of comfort while in Paris. I ventured off to Jip’s for some Afro-Cuban cuisine and music. I was content. I was happy in the corner eating my light bites and sipping my small-but-mighty rum beverage. Suddenly, a man named Jacques from Senegal with ashy feet propped himself at my table, grabbed the menu, and told my waiter that he wanted a beer. I’m no small chick, but even I felt small while he was at my table and I literally felt cornered. I wanted to see how the situation played out before cussing him out up and down and being a crazy American girl.
Let’s just say my intuition was right. Sorry Moms, but this guy was a certified asshole. He was totally enamored with himself and the money he tried to flaunt. No amount of money could have covered up his ugliness, inside and out. It got to the point that he touched the waitress and offended her, he annoyed the security guards and they almost kicked him out, he continuously called me “baby”, and almost fell to the floor when getting back in his chair. The kicker? He eventually tried to pay me to go back to his hotel room and have sex with him for 20 minutes. Hell no. F you. Get out of my face. I won’t disclose how much he offered / showed me, but I told him that I was getting up, he needed to move, and even he even THOUGHT about following me, I would scream and use my American privilege quickly. I also told the security guards to watch my back as I left. Prostitute Jacques, do better and catch my middle finger in the wind.
2. Arguing with Marrakech locals
As I mentioned before in my Marrakech post, I NEVER expected to be called a nigger and/or bitch in Morocco of all places. I am not quite sure if I simply underestimated the verbal harassment I read about, because there are plenty of posts out there, but it was real. While I met gracious Moroccans like my taxi driver and the riad managers, while I was in the streets, it was rough. And for those of you that are new, I am from New Jersey and yes I have a slick mouth from time to time. Don’t let my location fool you because I was not raised as a Southern Belle and I definitely was a bit rough around the edges. I was constantly on high alert whenever in Marrakech’s Medina and had a difficult time trusting ANYONE that was not a restaurant / hotel employee. There is a difference between bartering and being scammed. On my last day, I was simply fed up and at wit’s end, and unashamedly flipped off two separate men, and I was glad to leave when I did. I never wanted to fight so much while abroad! (God ain’t done with me yet.)
Note: I did have some good experiences in Marrakech as well, so if you want to read about that, click here.
1. Experiencing Death
Almost two months later, I realize this is still fresh, but I would be lying if I said the physical act of me typing this is hard. I have always worried about if something would happen while abroad and I would need to go home. I also experience those moments whenever I leave New Jersey and head back to Texas. In fact, I almost had a full blown panic attack at Philly’s airport back in January because the last three times I had come home had been for a funeral and my heart was just aching.
Losing someone is never easy, but when they are young and it is completely unexpected, that shit is HARD. My grad chapter lost one of our most recent president’s and vivacious was not the word. Only a few days after her 41st birthday, I randomly checked into Facebook when I had some internet and I didn’t want to believe my timeline. It’s in those moments when you are traveling alone that you have to dig deep and get yourself through it. Yes, I called / texted my own support system, but dealing with that alone in Budapest was no easy feat. Continue to sleep in peace, Tara.
Similar to last year, it was quite a task narrowing down my best and worst moments so here are a few more for you.
- I got extremely lost in the Medina. This goes without saying. If you’ve ever wanted to be in a human maze, get yourself lost in Marrakech’s Medina! It’s not as bad during the day, but at night, you can miss me.
- Missing the last game of the NBA finals. I was able to watch Game 4 on my flight to Athens because Emirates Airline is the GOAT. I was even able to watch Game 7 last year in Portugal. Unfortunately, that wasn’t going down in Summer ’17 and I missed the Warriors take it.
- The 4-hour flight delay in Bordeaux was a buzzkill. I’m cool with flight delays if you communicate what’s going on. My issue was I spent almost 24-hours traveling and Volotea Airlines never communicated with us what was going on and ultimately led me checking into my hostel at 5 in the morning.
- Picnicking on La Seine was peaceful. I felt so cute and so French. I enjoyed going to different shops to buy baguettes, wine, and cheese. It was a relaxing Saturday off the river’s edge and while I’m usually ripping and running, it was nice to sit my butt down.
- Being a black girl on a black sand beach was dope. While I saw some extremely dark sand in Italy, I didn’t classify it as black. Santorini was the first time, in my opinion, that I witnessed a black sand pebble beach. Yes, it was ridiculously hot but it was worth it.
- I lived and died on another pub crawl. I don’t know how people on Eurotrips manage to survive a pub crawl in every city they visit, but I charge it to me getting older. What I do know is that if you are in a hostel, they will typically advertise one for you and you will have a grand time if you handle it properly. I had some great experiences and photos.
- Seeing the Eiffel twinkle shook me. I have been having some great moments with the Eiffel Tower. The first time I saw it, I was busy looking at my phone’s GPS for how to enter the Euro 2016 Fan Zone when I looked up and realized it was in my view. Naturally, I was overcome with emotion. I was watching France beat Ireland in Paris, at the Eiffel Tower, and when they won, the city was LIT. I wondered if my second time seeing it would produce tears, and in fact it did because this time I was seeing it twinkle in the night sky. Paris reminds me to keep dreaming and keep living.
I hope you enjoyed (and got some laughs) while reading my 5 best and worst moments during my travels. What are some of your favorite moments while traveling? What about a moment that you wouldn’t wish upon your worst enemy? Let’s talk about it and be sure to share this post with your friends!
Need to catch up on my “21 Days Away” series? Here’s what you might have missed.
- Maximizing 24 Hours In Athens, Greece
- My Apology to the City of Budapest, My New Favorite
- Visiting the Famous Budapest Thermal Baths of Gellért & Széchenyi
- That One Time HotelTonight Rescued Me In Marrakech
- My Love-Hate Relationship With Marrakech
- Finding Peace In Essaouira
- Paris, The Second Time Around
- Life Lessons Paris Taught Me
- A 48-Hour Santorini, Greece Love Affair