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This Black Girl Wanderer Lets Us In On Her Favorite Places In The World

"You should not cast an entire country and its people in a single light – there's always more to the story."

Black Girl Wanderer

Black Girl Wanderer is a series spotlighting the travels and explorations of black women journeying the world. Black women in all their magic and all their glory wander the earth, sprinkling the earth with their brown and their gold.

If you were to ask Cebi Baker what sparked her desire for travel, she'd say it's in her blood. The photographer/yoga enthusiast is the product of a multicultural family with roots in Mozambique, Swaziland, and South Africa. The benefit of being able to claim being raised by many places is that you are exposed to a variety of cultures the world has to offer. At a very young age, you're exposed to the fact that the world is much bigger than what you see. It was that taste that would act as the catalyst to her insatiable appetite for the diverse cultures and traditions the world had to offer.

As a student of the world, Cebi is a huge proponent of not judging a place by what you see but what you experience firsthand. As such, she believes every place has a story and complexities that go beyond the surface-level. "Being born and raised in Africa, I am only too aware of the negative stereotypes that foreigners learned to attach to our countries. You can't paint an entire continent with one brush, in fact you should not cast an entire country and its people in a single light – there's always more to the story."

In her search of unknown discoveries and creating new stories, Cebi has traveled to more than 15 countries and over 19 cities. Of the places she's been, she revealed her top destinations. Here's what she had to say.

Paris, France

Courtesy of Cebi Baker

August 2015

"I had always dreamed of visiting Paris to enjoy the cafes whilst people-watching, taking a romantic stroll by the river, strutting down the Champs-Elysees and visiting the museums – when I did finally visit, it lived up to all my expectations! Knowing that I had always dreamed of going to Paris, one day while we were visiting London, my husband booked us an early morning train ride from London to the 'City of Light'. It only took us two hours to reach Paris and I remember pinching myself as we stepped off the train and into the city of my dreams! It turned out to be as romantic and elegant as I had imagined.

"We spent the (rainy) morning people-watching at a cafe where I had a delicious French onion soup which I still think about today! Once the rain stopped, we walked around the city and soaked up the iconic scenery: we saw the Eiffel Tower, strolled past the river Seine and the Louvre – we didn't bother going into any of the attractions as we were only there for the day. Our day ended with a beautiful stroll down the Champs-Elysees and a golden sunset."

Pro Tip: "Take a good stroll and absorb the sights and sounds of the city. It's not always necessary to have an itinerary or list of attractions to tick off, especially if you're on limited time like I was. If you're curious and stay open to unplanned exploring I don't think you'll miss out on anything because you'll experience the city in a more organic way."

Courtesy of Cebi Baker

Lisbon, Portugal

Courtesy of Cebi Baker

September 2016

"I wasn't expecting much when I visited Lisbon in the summer of 2016, but boy did it amaze me! It was such a walkable city (something I truly enjoy) and full of charming history, cozy cafes and a vibrant art scene. Having grown up in Mozambique (a former Portuguese colony), I was also able to understand the language and I connected with the city on a deeper level.

"I fell in love with Lisbon on our first evening in the city when my husband and I trekked up a long, steep hill in one of the city's oldest neighborhoods. We were on our way to the Castelo de São Jorge, an ancient Moorish castle perched high above the city; and just as we reached it, the sun began to set and cast a magnificent pinky-orange glow over the city down below. All around us people were fixated on the glorious view and so we ended up staying until late evening where we enjoyed a musical performance and sipped a glass of wine. I love how people take sunsets seriously in Lisbon!"

Pro Tip: "Visit at least one Miradouro, a viewing platform located high above the city, at sunset. The views are spectacular and if you're lucky, there might be a wine stall nearby, so grab a glass and prepare to be enchanted. I would also recommend a day trip outside the city to the nearby towns of Sintra, home to the fairytale Pena Palace tucked away in the Sintra mountains, and Cascais, a seaside town perfect for a day of sunshine by the ocean."

Courtesy of Cebi Baker

Rome, Italy

Courtesy of Cebi Baker

August 2015

"There are few places with as commanding a history as Rome. Walking through this city and seeing ancient Roman architecture firsthand felt surreal– it's an experience that really makes your problems feel small because you realize that there were once other people, thousands of years before you, who lived and roamed the same streets.

"I talk a lot about walking in cities but there truly is no other experience like walking through the ancient streets of Rome. Every tiny cobbled street we turned into seemed to split into a dozen different alleyways – it was like stumbling through a beautiful maze of little pathways, all hiding their own secrets. We got lost a few times but I really didn't mind because each time we accidentally discovered something new and totally unexpected – a tiny pizzeria serving authentic Italian pizza and gelato, a back-lane lined with interesting art works, an empty courtyard with a little bench, perfect for a quick rest – there were pleasant surprises at every turn!"

Pro Tip: "Definitely wear comfortable footwear to properly enjoy this 'walking' city – there are little cobbled streets everywhere and you're bound to get lost at some point, but if you're in comfortable gear (e.g. some cute sneakers), you'll enjoy it! If you stumble on a little café or pizzeria, grab a gelato or refreshment and just chill – it's always good to take in the moment."

Courtesy of Cebi Baker

Cape Town

Courtesy of Cebi Baker

July 2017, December 2014 , June 2011

"Being South African, I may be a little biased in saying that Cape Town is right up there with some of the most beautiful cities in the world. I can only think of a handful of places which are nestled in between majestic mountains and the wide blue ocean. Add in its history, art and wine culture – you have a truly magical place!

"During a short visit [in July 2017], we stayed at a hotel located at the foothills of Table Mountain in the iconic (and colorful) neighborhood of Bo Kaap. While I lay asleep, I remember hearing a distant, chanting voice at the crack of dawn – it drifted with such a gentle melody that I listened to it, enchanted, through my sleep – I thought I was dreaming! It was only after I fully woke up that morning that I realized the magical singing had come from the neighborhood mosque (it was an early morning call to prayer). I'll never forget how beautifully that mysterious melody floated through the sleeping city. I was left feeling like I had experienced a hidden side to Bo Kaap, usually reserved for its residents."

Pro Tip: "If it's sunny, take the opportunity to go up Table Mountain. There are many walking tours of the city so definitely tag along to get a bit of history and a sense of the culture. I'd highly recommend visiting Bo Kaap for its charming colorful houses (and if you want to snap photos of someone or their house, it's always nice to ask for permission first). While you're here, try some authentic Cape Malay (a culture belonging to the original inhabitants of Bo Kaap) cuisine – if you're a meat-eater, try a dish called 'Bobotie' (baked minced lamb filled with fragrant spices, currants, and other delicious condiments).

"There are lots of other charming spots in this city so be sure to do some research and above anything else, treat this like any other big international city. Keep your wits about you and don't flash fancy cameras or gear unnecessarily. Strike up a conversation - we South Africans are generally a warm bunch and we love people to have a good time when they're visiting!"

For more of Cebi, follow her on Facebook.

Featured image via Cebi Baker

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