This is the biggest news I’ve had in a long time, maybe even the biggest news I ever had ever since starting this blog:
I’m off to Jordan tomorrow! I’m going to the Middle East!
I know! I can’t even believe it myself! I’ll be visiting Jordan as a guest of the Jordan Tourism Board and will get to see all the places I could only dream of until now! For the first time in forever I actually needed to get myself a passport! It’s the first time in ten years that I’m actually leaving the European continent to explore a whole new region of the world!
And the second best part about this trip is that I get to travel with my all-time favorite blogger ladies! Remember my friends Amanda over at Farsickness, Ashley of Ashley Abroad, and Jessica of Curiosity Travels from my trip to Spain last year?
We have been online friends for years and after meeting in person for a hilarious girls’ weekend in Madrid, we didn’t go a day without updating each other via Facebook chat and Sunday Skype sessions (when we managed to figure out that rare time slot that worked in all our time zones). And we really love traveling together: Ashley and I had met up in Cologne, Strasbourg, Karlsruhe, and Paris previously, and after our weekend in Madrid, Jessica even came to Germany to stay with me in my random little home town in Lower Saxony, and Amanda will most likely come visit me this summer too!
Even though we’re so different, we get along perfectly and laugh more together than I ever thought was possible. I seriously couldn’t be more excited to share this adventure with these girls and my biggest worry is actually that we might fall off our camels, because we’re laughing too hard.
Despite all the exclamation marks (I know I went a bit overboard there) and all my anticipation though, I know I have a few questions to answer.
For me as a person and as a blogging brand, it doesn’t really make sense to go to Jordan. At least at first sight: I’m not an adventure blogger and my expertise lies in European travel. So I assumed you might be asking yourselves the following questions, which I tried to answer in this post.
Why go on an adventure trip when you’re afraid of everything?
It’s true, I’m a real chicken. I’m afraid of cats, little dogs, phone calls, spiders, bugs, escalators and basically anything going downhill fast. I’m a major germaphobe. (I never had a massage in my life because the thought of a stranger touching me gives me the shivers.)
I’m also probably the only person who was ever stopped by the police because she was driving too slowly. Even as I kid I never climbed a tree. I was 23 when I tried this funky fruit called pineapple for the first time.
I actually don’t like trying new things and I’m terrified of figuring stuff out by myself.
It’s absolutely true that it is somewhat ridiculous for a girl who is so afraid and neurotic to want to go drink tea with Bedouins in the Jordanian desert.
But travel is exactly what I need to overcome my fears. Even though I’m often terrified and I don’t like figuring stuff out by myself, I learned that I can do it if I really want to: I can move to Portugal without knowing the language well and without having a place to stay. I can randomly hop on a train to Bratislava by myself and go sightseeing there alone. I can try funky looking foods with names I can’t pronounce.
I can do things when I force myself to leave my cozy little comfort zone. Thus I know I need to travel to slowly but steadily become a less afraid human.
After learning that I can overcome many of my fears by traveling, I’ve come to realize that I eventually would have to leave Europe, my safe haven, for once. I need to challenge myself to grow as a person and a traveler, and to become more self-confident.
But it will be tough for me: I was the girl who needed a chair to get on her horse when horseback riding. I’m not athletic at all, and even failed PE class twice (although I always showed up for class!). I don’t climb things, I don’t let myself fall off of things, I don’t dive through things, I don’t fly things, I most certainly don’t bike. I seriously wouldn’t even go on a roller coaster. Yep, most things many people would consider fun are actually my personal worst nightmare.
I’m officially the lamest person in the world, and I like museums and libraries, because they don’t force me to do scary things. But: I can’t avoid the world out there forever. And I hope you can begin to understand why I have to go on this trip to Jordan now.
Parts of me are honestly scared. To be real here: I’ve never ever in my life peed in the wild. Even on a road trip through France I would not pee until we found a gas station with a non-squat toilet. Yes, I’m 27 and I’ve never used a squat toilet — and I really don’t know how I’ll handle a potential situation like this somewhere in the desert. But I’ll have to figure this out somehow.
I’m also scared because those girls I’m traveling with are so insanely cool and well-traveled and generally kick-ass: Amanda has climbed a volcanic crater in Korea, Ashley trekked through the Himalayas for several days, Jessica traveled through Brazil by herself for five weeks. These girls are super experienced backpackers, squat-toilet users, and outdoor sleepers. They have all experienced nasty food poisoning and filthy bedrooms with cockroaches.
I however, am the kind of girl who can’t sleep when she knows that there is a tiny grasshopper in the room somewhere.
Going on an adventure trip with the girls is really the best thing that could happen to me though: I know them well enough to ask for squat-toilet advice (I hope) and I’m also sure that they will inspire me in a way many other people never could.
Why would you go on a press trip?
I always had and still have extremely high standards for myself and this blog: I swore I would always be real and never promote something that I’m not absolutely convinced of. And to this day, I have not made a single cent with this blog. I never ever wanted to sell out.
Every single word on this blog was written by me as well as 95% of the photos were taken be me, the other 5% either by my boyfriend or someone else I handed my camera to. I don’t use stock photos, because I want my blog to tell the story of an art historian who is trying to figure out the world, and I feel like I’d falsify this story by using well-lit long-exposure shots from professional photographers on 500px. I refuse to put anything online that was not created by myself. So until today, the blog is absolutely free of ads, sponsored posts, and even affiliate links, because I secretly (but sadly, also somewhat hypocritically) despise Amazon and think you should all go support retail instead.
With all these standards of what my travel blog should be like, I’ve hopefully created a blog that is real and honest, but I’ve also lost a lot of business opportunities. I’ve invested quite a bit of money in this blog, but since I never sold any ads and sponsored links, I never cut even. I turned down writing app reviews, advertisement requests, and even an everything-covered press trip to Spain last week, because it didn’t fit my travel style and blogging niche.
However, I will be working with the Jordan Tourism Board, because the girls and I had a big saying in the creation of this trip. This press trip to Jordan is not a generic blog trip that random bloggers got invited to. Instead us girls created the idea and our hashtag #GirlsGoneJordan as well as the distinct focus of this trip: We want to show that Jordan is a great destination for a girls’ getaway and a safe and fun country for female travel.
But we also want to broaden our horizon as females and talk to Jordanian women. As none of us speak Arabic, we need the support of people who know the country really well to get us in touch with locals. We want to look behind the facades and hear real stories from real women. Something like this hasn’t been done in yet, and we hope to create new impacts for the tourism in Jordan, because this region of the world can use every possible support it can get.
I’m insanely thankful for this amazing opportunity and even though this trip is made possible through this blog, you can be sure that I’ll be absolutely faithful to my own words and beliefs, and not write a single word I don’t mean.
Why leave Europe when European cultural travel is your niche?
I love Europe. I love traveling in Europe. I love the diversity in European food, languages, and nature. I love that this continent has everything from fjords to mountains to glaciers to the most gorgeous beaches. I love European art and architecture, which is so diverse and yet shares a common history so often. With the languages and literatures I studied (and still study), I can understand this continent better every day and I adore that.
But: European history, art, and architecture wouldn’t exist like this if it weren’t for other continents. The entire European continent I love so much wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the Middle East. The Roman Empire included bigger parts of the Middle East and when it collapsed, two world religions started to spread out over Europe (and beyond) from the Middle East in the early Middle Ages. Both Christianity and Islam originate in the Middle East, and both religions and the history intertwined with them played the biggest role in creating today’s Europe: If it hadn’t been for the Middle East, Europe wouldn’t have architectural masterpieces like the Notre-Dame in Paris or the Alhambra in Granada. Despite the historical gruesomeness that some of these religious developments imply, I wouldn’t want to have today’s Europe any other way today.
And even beyond learning more about the shared history of Europe and the Middle East, I’m eager to learn more about Islam just like I’m also looking forward to exploring the country where Jesus was baptized and Moses saw the Promised Land. I also can’t wait to see the biggest area of ancient Roman architecture outside of Rome. And did you know Jordan has several medieval Crusader castles?
Sure, I probably won’t find one my beloved Gothic cathedrals, but I’m convinced that I’ll find more art historical treasures than I can count in Jordan.
I’m going to Jordan!
One of my favorite medieval stories is about a German crusader traveling to Middle East telling a story of adventure, challenges, and unbelievable encounters. Stories like this actually made me write this blog in the first place, because they show that writing down travel memories is one of the oldest kinds of literature — the kind of literature that inspires your imagination in a way that only travel literature can. And I like to see myself in this tradition, not in the crusader sense of course, but as a German traveling to the Middle East to understand where it all began and to get know myself better along the way.
Have you been to Jordan? Would you go?
Make sure to follow Amanda, Ashley, and Jessica on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. We’ll be using our hashtag #GirlsGoneJordan for this campaign and we would highly appreciate you following along our adventures as well as any shares and retweets!
If you have any real-time questions about what it’s like to travel in Jordan, please tweet us or comment using the hashtag #GirlsGoneJordan and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. Thank you so much for your support!