5 Black-Friendly European Countries You’ll Love
Traveling while black in Europe over the last seven years, I have experienced far more wow moments and fuzzy feelings than negatives experiences. I won’t to let incidents like being refused service at a tapas bar in Spain and getting stalked by a middle-aged man in Croatia taint the priceless moments I’ve had. Still, black tourists like myself unfortunately have to deal with unpleasant treatment on a continent that touts its progressiveness. But Europe is a vast place with plenty of black-friendly destinations where you can feel right at home. In this post, I’m going to share the 5 friendliest countries in Europe for black travelers. This list is based on my experiences as well as those of other avid black travelers.
Which black travelers I’m I referring to?
I make it a point to acknowledge how your nationality affects your travel experiences as a black person. Having an American or British passport could, for instance, save you from a long interrogation at border patrols. Although I have experienced race-motivated mistreatment, I also know that being an American citizen has been an advantage when navigating Europe. For instance, when I would go to exchange money anywhere in Spain, presenting my American passport would lead to polite conversation and smiles. I also encountered the same hospitality in Greece and Italy, countries that you’ll typically find on lists of the most racist places in Europe. It’s as if my passport is sort of magical wand that instantly puts service people on their best behavior (most of the time.) For the purpose of this article, I am mostly referring to black travelers from the west – African Americans, Black Brits, and the like. Without further ado, here are the best countries for black tourists in Europe, in no particular order.
The best countries in Europe for black tourists
Portugal is hands down the most underrated country in Europe. It doesn’t get as much love as its next door neighbor, Spain, but should not be overlooked! Where do I even begin? Well, let’s go back to my first visit to Portugal. It was 2012, and I was studying abroad in the Spanish Basque Country. My friends decided to take a weekend trip to Lisbon, and I reluctantly tagged along. ‘What happens in Lisbon?’ I thought. In my head, Lisbon was just some random port city. Boy was I wrong! I remember riding the trolley up the steep, colorful streets and thinking ‘wow!’ At night, my friend and I went to a giant street party in the Bairro Alto neighborhood, where we were staying. We ran into two Italian men who asked us to get to their hotel after chatting for an hour. Hell to the no! Watch out for the unscrupulous men hanging around Bairro Alto at night.
When in Lisbon, you must eat the seafood rice and the famous pasteis de nata, egg tarts. Pasteis de Belem has been serving it’s golden egg tarts since 1837. Honestly, I didn’t think they were as good as the Chinese egg tarts I eat in LA, but they were good. Pasteis de Belem also sells meat pies and other pastries that are better than the pasteis de nata. For seafood rice, I’d recommend Estrela da Baixa, a mom and pop location that a local told me about. You can find seafood rice in almost any restaurant, but the quality will vary. Estrela da Baixa will not disappoint.
Pasteis de Belem: R. de Belém 84-92, 1300-085 Lisboa, Portugal
Estrela da Baixa: Rua da Conceição 11, 1100-500 Lisboa, Portugal ⠀
My second visit to Portugal was with my sister in 2016, when I was living in Madrid. We took a day trip to Sintra, just 2 hours from Lisbon. Sintra is like a kingdom with a collection of palaces, mansions, villas, and other creations of King Ferdinand II. There, you’ll find the out-of-this-world Pena Palace, which is located at the top of the Sintra mountains. It takes about 45 minutes to drive up there, but the views are insane! From Sintra, we stopped at Cabo de Roca, the southernmost point in Europe.
In addition to Lisbon, my sister and I made a trip up north to Porto. Along the way, we stopped at Aveiro and Fatima. If you’re Catholic, you may have heard about the Miracle at Fatima. Well, it was in Fatima that the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to three children. Anyway, back to Porto. This city is famous for two things: wine and a sandwich called Fransecinha. For the famous port wine, try Taylor’s Port winery. It’s a bit tricky to find so you may want to join a wine tasting tour. For Fransecinha, a sandwich with layers of ham, eggs, and melted cheese, I’d head to Cafe Santiago.
Taylor’s Port: Rua do Choupelo 250, 4400-088 Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal
Cafe Santiago: R. de Passos Manuel 226, 4000-382 Porto, Portugal
My third visit to Lisbon was a solo trip in the summer of 2018. There were expats everywhere. I mean the streets were brimming with them. I guess the secret is out – Lisboa is not only stunning, but it’s also one of the most affordable cities to live in Europe. I’m glad I got to experience it before gentrification. Despite the influx of foreigners, Lisbon still maintains the qualities that make it special: the easy going vibe, warm people, delicious food, colorful architecture, and, of course, those classic trolleys.
The hills are alive in this gorgeous country sandwiched in the middle of Central Europe. What initially drew me to Austria was the fact that The Sound of Music was filmed here. I watched that movie all the time as a kid so I wanted to go see the filming locations. When I visited the city of Salzburg, just two hours east of Munich, I immediately fell in love. Despite the fact that it was still snowing in April, this city was so quaint and charming.
Salzburg is a small city so you can actually see it in 2 days. The must-see places are the Hohensalzburg Fortress, the Mirabelle Palace, and the birthplace of Mozart. Be sure to try Wienerschnitzel, a breaded veal dish. I had it at the restaurant inside Hohensalzburg Fortress, which has breathtaking views of the city.
Beyond Salzburg, you can take a day trip to the picturesque village of Hallstatt. This little village is one of those places that look like somewhere out of a painting. You can also go experience the opera in the capital, Vienna. Some say Vienna’s boring while others rave about it. I personally have no interest in visiting Vienna just because I’m done with European capitals.
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The Top 5 Transgender-Friendly Cities in the U.S.
Are there transgender-friendly cities? There have been significant improvements in recent years with the acceptance of queer people in the United States. Progressive laws and the mainstream media’s portrayal of transgender folks have helped. In addition, there is an upward trend of Americans who support marriage equality, access to healthcare and jobs, and equal treatment of LGBTQ+ folks.
Still, not every city shares this mindset, and trans people face the brunt of this discrimination. Between prejudicial legislation and a societal normalization of transphobia, some places may feel unwelcoming or unsafe for trans people to live in or visit. On the other hand, there are some great, progressive areas where this is less of an issue. These cities have flourishing communities, local events for queer people, Pride festivities, and politicians who support the trans experience.
We’ve rounded up the best US places for transgender dating, safety, working, and well-being.
San Francisco, California, regularly tops the charts
San Francisco is typically found at the top of lists ranking LGBTQ-friendly cities. So much so that it’s even affectionately called the “gay capital of the world.” The city isn’t just a trendy hotspot for queer people; it has the history to back it up. SF was the first US city that legalized same-sex marriage. It also was the first city to elect an openly gay official, the trailblazing Harvey Milk.
Even though San Francisco has world-renowned Pride celebrations, from parades to parties visited by over 50,000 people, you can find events celebrating queer and trans folks all year round. In addition, San Franciscans can support their local queer community by shopping at one of many LGBTQ+-owned businesses or strolling down the beloved Rainbow Honor Walk to connect with the heart of the city.
San Francisco has as much love and pride for its trans folks as it does for everyone in the LGBTQ+ community. The Golden City has been ranked highly for healthcare access and community support.
Additionally, the local government has a department called the Office of Transgender Initiatives, considered the first — and only — trans-led office in the US to advance equity and policies for trans and gender nonconforming people. The city additionally has a Gender Inclusion Policy that strictly prohibits gender identity or expression discrimination in the workplace.
New York City, New York, has the history and the community
It’s not surprising that New York City is on this list of transgender-friendly places in the US. The Big Apple is not only incredibly progressive today, but it’s also the birthplace of many important events in the LGBTQ+ community’s rich history. One of the earliest places with a thriving queer community, NYC was home to protests and riots over gay rights. One of the most famous of these was 1969’s Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village. Many trace this event, which saw Black trans women at the forefront, to be what incited the modern gay rights movement in the US.
Today, New York’s self-identifying queer population is higher than most other places around the country, and over 50,000 people self-identify as transgender — that’s more than any other city’s trans population.
People from around the world flock to New York in June for its annual Pride March, and the city has begun championing trans Pride events in particular, like the Queer Liberation March, which advocates for trans and BIPOC people.
The local politics offer laws protecting trans and queer people against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in workplaces and in public. For the lesbian-identifying trans folks out there, NYC is also home to Henrietta Hudson, one of three lesbian bars that remain in the city.
Chicago, Illinois, is considered to be a top progressive city
Chicago has a booming population of queer people. Not only can it be a fun place for trans dating or socializing, but the local politicians are doing the work to ensure a safe and equal environment for everyone regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
In 2019, Illinois was one of three states to pass a law that designated public single-occupancy restrooms to be gender neutral. In addition, it was one of a handful of states that banned LGBTQ+ “panic” defenses, which have historically been used to justify violence toward gay and trans people. Banning panic defenses has been crucial in reducing attacks on queer and trans folks.
Illinois also was the fifth US state that required schools to teach LGBTQ+ history. The law also mandates that schools’ curricula include positive contributions of transgender, lesbian, gay, and bisexual people.
Chicago received a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s 2021 Municipality Equality Index scorecard, which evaluates how a municipality’s laws are structured to protect and empower queer and transgender people. The report found that the city provides the highest amount of transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits as an employer. In addition, HRC determined the municipality is committed to treating LGBTQ+ employees equally by offering these benefits and protections.
Portland, Oregon, is a must-visit in the Pacific Northwest
Portland, Oregon, is beloved for its quirky culture and personality. There’s always something to do, especially for queer people looking to connect with their community at LGBTQ-friendly events. For example, the Portland Queer Film Festival is a showcase for LGBTQ+ artists and entertainers; you can hang out every month at skating sessions around town; there is plenty of queer and transgender business owner whose shops would love your support.
Diego G Diaz/Shutterstock.com
Portland’s history speaks to its acceptance of those in the queer and trans communities. In 2008, it became the first major city to elect an openly gay mayor, Sam Adams. The community typically shows up loud and proud to Pride events and protests. And the city government itself offers diverse resources for transgender individuals, from vocal training to a coalition for Black trans folks to education on changing one’s gender marker on their driver’s license.
Portland is notably close to Seattle, another PNW city favored for being trans-friendly, so it’s an ideal location if you’re looking to travel locally and still find that welcoming quality people know and love in Portland.
Visit Boston, Massachusetts, for excellent resources and nightlife
Boston, Massachusetts, rounds out our list of the top 5 transgender-friendly cities in the US. The city is inclusive and diverse, with many trans and gay nightlife and celebratory events.
Boston was also given a perfect score from the Human Rights Campaign on its 2021 Municipality Equality Index scorecard. The report, which evaluates how a city is enacting equality policies, found the municipality offers the top trans-inclusive healthcare benefits to LGBTQ+ employees, which shows a commitment on a local level to progressing the queer community.
As for nightlife, Boston’s esteemed Jacques’ Cabaret features regular drag performances and cabaret shows. The establishment has rave reviews about the club’s transgender staff. Other queer bars can be found throughout the city, with the traditionally gay neighborhood concentrated near the South End.
The city offers compassionate and inclusive resources for transgender community members, with unique providers for transgender veterans and queer Asian Pacific Islanders. Trans people can also find support in the Trans Community of New England’s social club. Still it’s great to remember that transgender dating and social apps are an easy way to connect with people when you’re new to an area or are just looking to expand your community.
Looking to the future
As is often the case, major cities in the U.S. can often become islands of progressivism. What sets these cities apart are the local policies that protect trans folks’ access to lifesaving healthcare, employment, and housing. They also enrich the lives of trans folks with vibrant nightlife and trans-inclusive places to socialize. We hope for a future where lists like this can continue to grow. A future where trans folks can simply look around and find that they are already home.
Countries That Actually Love Having American Tourists
One of the strangest sensations when traveling abroad as an American is the heightened sense of your American-ness. That I’m-from-anywhere accent you picked up from ’90s sitcoms becomes an invitation for people to guess where you’re from. Texas? California? When all else fails, and you don’t want to explain where Oklahoma City is, just claim to be from Miami, then watch your new friends’ eyes get wide. You, my friend, may just be from the Most Interesting Country in the World.
Point of fact, you don’t even need to be all that charming to be intriguing. We’re #blessed with a solid currency, a language that our colonial forebears took global, and a luminous pop culture that put Michael Jordan jerseys on kids in Buenos Aires and etched Michael Jackson jams into karaoke playlists in Seoul. Your American-ness precedes you, often for the better. So look past what you think the world thinks about the United States writ large. When you’re an American abroad, you’ll find warm welcomes many places — these countries perhaps most of all.
Twelve Apostles in Australia | ymgerman/Shutterstock
Why they dig Americans: Aussies are famously welcoming to the travelers they call Yanks, accent in full flair. They appreciate that we also bailed on the Crown. They will rib you over how much armor NFL players wear compared to the spare pads of Australian rules footballers. If you’re trying to date there, you might find that your exposure to modern American manners goes a long way with Australian women, who are known to complain about their country’s 1960s-vintage gender roles.
Why you should go: Hospitality flows through their veins, and Australians are notoriously chill, so you won’t go 10 minutes without meeting a new pal. Drive the 150-mile Great Ocean Road, one of world’s truly epic coastal road trips. Bookend the trip with nights in Adelaide for its great arts scene and in Melbourne (say it: “Melbun”) to play or watch cricket. This drive sends a tail between the legs of California’s Route 1, and the crusty pub characters you’ll meet en route will be unforgettable. Sydney’s trendy; sun-bleached Brisbane resembles their Miami before ours fell so deeply in love with itself. Although the days of hitchhiking have faded — when I hitched across Australia years ago to see AC/DC, nearly every ride turned into an on-the-spot backyard barbecue invite — that trusting, festive spirit lives on. Lagers, fish & chips, and new friends await. — Bruce Northam, American Detour
BATUMI, GEORGIA | SARYMSAKOV ANDREY/Shutterstock
Why they dig Americans: The United States established strong diplomatic relations with Georgia after its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Since then the two countries have cooperated on trade and security: After a 2005 visit from one of America’s great international players, the capital city of Tbilisi dedicated one of its major avenues, calling it George W. Bush St. So raise a glass to Georgia, which claims to be the birthplace of wine, and which sends us hundreds of thousands of bottles of vino annually.
Why you should go: For starters, this West Virginia-sized former Soviet Republic is naturally stunning, from the Caucasus Mountains in the east to the Black Sea in the west. Strong US diplomatic ties make it possible to stay in Georgia without a visa for up to a year. The current exchange rate is in your favor, 2.5 lari to the dollar: 30% stronger than just three years ago. There’s even an economic index for khachapuri, a national eggy-cheesy-bready comfort food that’s been steadily growing in popularity in the United States. The former Soviet state that shares a name with an American state is ripe for a visit. — Tim Ebner, Thrillist contributor
Why they dig Americans: Ireland could very well be the 51st state (lo siento, Puerto Rico). The Emerald Isle shares many of the same political and social values that the United States holds true — and there’s a great chance if you’re reading this that you’ve got some Irish in your background somewhere. One person Ireland truly loves to claim: that stealth Irish descendant in the White House, Barack Obama. Aside from enjoying a pint or two during his presidency, President Obama also has direct ties to the Irish village of Moneygall in County Offaly. Drive by and notice a sign proclaiming it Obama’s ancestral home. There’s even a highway rest stop: Barack Obama Plaza, complete with a 24-hour gas station, Papa John’s, Tim Hortons, and visitor center honoring our 44th president.
Why you should go: Because the beer there flows like wine. Cheap flights and strong diplomatic ties make Ireland extremely accessible for Americans — there’s even an express line at customs. Want to extend your trip? US citizens can stay for up to three months without a visa. — Tim Ebner, Thrillist contributor
The Buddhist monastery of Diskit in Nubra valley | Zoltan Szabo Photography/Shutterstock
Why they dig Americans: Indians are some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet, and they’re mostly keen to offer up directions, travel advice, or a helping hand to anyone — regardless of nationality. Being so well-versed in English, locals aren’t averse to expressing their curiosity, either. It’s a cordiality that can be pleasantly infectious.
Another reason to connect is India’s burgeoning middle class, rapidly being exposed to new ideas from abroad. They’ve got a little bit of spending money and they’re curious about the West. Whether it’s American shopping brands, coffee culture, fast-food chains, or craft beer, India is starting to delve into lots of new concepts — and they’re interested to hear about what’s new and trendy back in Illinois or wherever you’re escaping.
Why you should go: You’ll share your culture, and Indians will be more than happy to share theirs. You can’t get that kind of open, honest exchange just anywhere — especially in a place so drastically different from the States. Culture shock can be a welcome jolt.
Besides offering ethereal journeys through Hinduism, ancient customs, and tradition, India serves up gorgeous physical surroundings. Look to the epic sunsets on Keralan backwaters or Goa’s golden coasts. Or, go to the most beautiful place in the world, as determined by a Japanese man who traveled the world straight for 40 years and who offered me this tip at a hostel in Laos: the mountains of Ladakh. Where, it should be noted, far too few Americans venture. — Barbara Woolsey, Thrillist contributor
Why they dig Americans: Until 2016, any American who made it to Cuba was risking federal charges. And Cuban people respect that. I went there LONG before it was legal (statute of limitations FTW) and every single Cuban, after asking me if I knew their cousin Yurisleidi in Miami, asked how I got there. Then, as now, they were excited to share their music, family, and food with us, diplomatic impediments be damned. I think they saw us Americans as a blank slate to fill with beautiful images of Cuba and its culture. Literally four different families invited me to have dinner in their homes. Also, those valuable dollars we bring with us don’t hurt.
Why you should go: It is, right now, a surreal otherworld that has barely budged since the 1950s. In Havana people drive (and maintain) cars you’ve only seen in American Graffiti. The buildings are stunning, if dilapidated. Shows are the sort of cabaret you’d have seen opening for Ricky Ricardo. Best of all, it’s been hermetically protected from American franchises, American media, American tech. But get out of town, to the beaches of Varadero, and you’ll also be backstroking through some of the most beautiful waters in the Caribbean, with just a fraction of the price or the crowds of other islands. The diving here is pristine, for now. You’re best served to go soon, before you read that inspiring story about the first Starbucks in Havana. — Matt Meltzer, Thrillist staff writer
Why they dig Americans: OK, so the survey might say otherwise (a 2015 poll revealed that only 37% of Japanese people think Americans are honest — yikes), but in my experience, the Japanese are nothing if not graciously patient with, and kind towards, Americans. This is particularly true when you begin examining the little pieces of American culture that have been adopted in pockets across the country. In the Meguro neighborhood of Tokyo, aspiring Japanese cowpokes in Stetsons and Wranglers line-dance to the sounds of Brad Paisley at the Little Texas honky tonk bar. Hula schools and Hawaiian food are beloved across the country, with some people dropping wads of cash on appropriate hip-shaking attire. And, lest we forget, one of the greatest traditions for Japanese families on Christmas Day is gobbling down a bucket of KFC. (Yes, really.)
Why you should go: For starters, Tokyo is the greatest food city in the world (come at me about this: seriously, I dare you), but there’s so much more to explore outside the glittery high-rises of Shinjuku. The Japanese countryside, whether trekking up into the mountains or headed towards the beach, is its own special brand of charming, and here, running into an American is — for many Japanese — an unexpected treat. I once met several octogenarians on an island in the Seto Inland Sea whose faces lit up when I told them that, not only was I American, but I loved jazz. Stevie Wonder might be onto something with this whole music-as-a-language thing. — Sarah Baird, Thrillist contributor
Banff National park, Canada | Galyna Andrushko/Shutterstock
Why they dig Americans: America’s snowshoeing northern neighbors can be polite to the point of stand-offishness. But they know Americans as brash, passionate, and warm, if amusingly clueless about Canadian culture. While the two countries share a lot of common ground — i.e., easy foundation for friendship — idiosyncrasies abound. Thus you’ve got plenty of room for teasing, banter, AND politically engaged conversations.
Why you should go: Picture Alaska, only bigger. The vast country is crammed full of natural wonders even beyond the rush and roar of Niagara Falls or the ethereal northern lights as you near the Arctic. Find solace in thick pine forests while gazing at the snowcapped Rockies at Banff National Park, or head to Tofino in British Columbia to watch for the arc of a humpback whale as you surf. Canada’s home to the best skiing and snowboarding on the continent at Whistler Blackcomb, and some spectacular wine country just across the border from Washington. To do the scenery justice, book a cross-country train trip and soak in the expanse of the prairies or the serrated majesty of the Rockies. You’ll be surrounded by friendly Canadians proud to show off their home, and eager to ask what the hell is going on in the United States — because that always, always bears explaining. — Laura Yan, Thrillist contributor
St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow | Savvapanf Photo/Shutterstock
Why they dig Americans: Because Donald Trump and Putin are BFFs, of course. Just kidding! (Sorta.) As relations between the US and Russia have thawed, frozen up, and repeated again, ad nauseam, Americans themselves have become something of a fascination over yonder. While opinions of our nation are infamously low among the Slavs, there’s a certain level of respect reserved for a Yank spotted taking a selfie in Red Square after an onerous and bureaucratic visa process. Oh yeah, plus, they love our money.
Why you should go: It’s a gorgeously bleak and mysterious land. Plus, it’s a big ol’ party. Vodka is, duh, the name of the game, sipped at room temp at lunchtime and swirled into cocktails during late, late-night clubbing. When I made the voyage to Moscow and St. Pete, the Russians who had a command of English — a fairly rare feat, Cyrillic being a different alphabet — were fascinated by what I could tell them of Mother USA and, boy, is it fun to barter with them (for cab rides, Russian dolls, ballet tickets, and pretty much everything under the clouds). The trip is also great for adrenaline junkies. I saw two dead bodies while I was there: some guy in a staircase, and Lenin. Note: I’m a straight, white male. People of color may be treated less favorably and members of the LGBTQ community should be careful about their PDA. That does suck. But you really gotta see the vodka aisle in the grocery store. — Colin St. John, Thrillist contributor
Wat Prajomklao Rachanusorn | Take Photo/Shutterstock
Why they dig Americans: To understand Thailand and America’s tight ties, go back to the Vietnam War. Thailand struggled with insurgencies that were emboldened by the Communist advances in neighboring countries, and formed a partnership with the States. Thousands of American soldiers were deployed around Thailand. For a country that had never been colonized, it meant an entirely new and formative contact with the West.
Those days were by no means happy-go-lucky (think prostitution and narcotics use, plus we all know what happened in ‘Nam). But they laid the foundation for Thais to get used to Americans who kept traveling over through the years. One of Bangkok’s most legendary figures was a Delaware-born businessman named Jim Thompson, who helped revitalize the country’s silk industry in the ’50s and ’60s. His former home, now a museum, is one of the capital’s most beloved attractions.
Why you should go: If you haven’t been to Thailand yet, your FOMO is totally warranted. Sure, even your fifth-grade teacher has probably been to Phuket by now, but off the tourist-beaten paths, Thailand has plenty more to explore. The eastern islands such as Koh Mak and Trang have handsome, sprawling beaches with far less traffic than the south. Or, heading north, you’ll find the likes of Lampang and Loei, misty mountain towns that are sleepier than popular Chiang Mai. — Barbara Woolsey, Thrillist contributor
Caye Caulker, Belize | LMspencer/Shutterstock
Why they dig Americans: A) We speak English and carry American dollars in our wallets. B) We aren’t the British, their former overlords. C) If you’re an American in Belize (and not sequestered in some fancy resort), chances are you’re a pretty cool cat. Commonalities spring outward from there. Belize can often feel like an even chiller extension of Southern California: diverse, laid-back, and always ready to eat some killer fish.
Why you should go: It’s a nice picture of what your life could’ve been if you had shirked all responsibility and went firmly for the “no worries” lifestyle (aka what you probably should’ve done). The small nation can feel like thousands of Wailers cover bands decided to populate it and, damn, that’s groovy. When I went in high school for an immersion trip, the people couldn’t have been more welcoming, especially when they were passing us Belikin beers that we couldn’t have consumed at that age stateside. Get sunburnt snorkeling around the Belize Barrier Reef and head to a bar in Dangriga for a Panty Ripper (coconut rum and pineapple juice). The inevitable reply when you ask what the moniker of the beverage means: “When the ladies drink ’em, they rip their panties right off!” You better Belize it. — Colin St. John, Thrillist contributor
Brecon Beacons National park in Wales | skyearth/Shutterstock
Why they dig Americans: Insofar as the English sneer at Wales (eyeing it as an unfortunate industrial backyard) and condescend to Americans, the Welsh side with us Yanks. The Welsh appreciate our low-key antagonism toward the English, cuz let’s face it, the English are pros at busting American balls.
Why you should go: Stress cannot keep pace with a hike through Wales. Try the 200-mile trek across Wales coast-to-coast along Offa’s Dyke, the great dirt wall conceived in the 8th century by King Offa of Mercia. The immense earthen barrier, intended to keep the Welsh out of England, eventually became the border between England and Wales. (Old grudges die hard. Quite a few English and Welsh folks still eye each other warily.) Atop the long, curving ridge of Brecon Beacons National Park, you’ll see the wildflowering valleys below were pardoned by the Industrial Revolution, yet the gorgeous stone walls and homes along the way exemplify one of the rare occasions where humans have managed to improve natural scenery. As you arrive in villages at night, locals will point you to a B&B (or you can book ahead; various services will transport your luggage from town to town). You can also try out Welsh, their ancient, still-thriving language: Rydw i yna yn barod. (“I’m already there.”) Remember, the roaming gene should not become out-selected over time. When you’re done playing nature boy, go mix ales with flirting in Wales’ merry capital, Cardiff. — Bruce Northam, American Detour
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