I can’t believe I’m actually writing this post right now. Just a few short weeks ago I returned home from a three month trip gallivanting around Europe. I was sure that after that trip I was staying put until after the New Year. Well, so much for that! I know most of you are probably wondering,

“Why on earth are you leaving again? What next?”

Don’t worry. I ask myself that all the time. For me, there is no perfect time to travel. Sometimes I feel completely stir-crazy and dying to book my next flight and sometimes I feel a little tired and desperately desiring some sort of consistency in my life. The truth is, I have planned far fewer trips than fate has planned for me. And this time, I have been presented with an opportunity that I could not be more grateful and excited for.

I’m going to the Middle East!

In just two weeks I’ll be flying across the Atlantic to get my first taste of this enchanting region of the world. This is something entirely new for me and, to be honest, I feel incredibly ignorant because I lack any real knowledge of the customs or culture there. A million questions are running through my head like, “Do I need to dress conservatively?” “What key phrases should I learn and in what language?” “Am I going to feel like I stand out because I’m a blonde American?” “Is it dangerous?”

I’m embarrassed to admit that, at 24 years old, I still imagine the Middle East as a Disney cartoon with magic lamps,  flying carpets and sexy “street rats” with chiseled abs and pet monkeys.

Maybe some of you reading this have the same skewed image as me or perhaps think that it’s dangerous because of the unrest there at the moment. I’ll be doing a ton of research before my trip to hopefully answer some of my questions, but I don’t expect that there will be any way to fully prepare for this trip. I’m only seeking answers to ensure that I am respectful of the culture and have some basic knowledge of my destinations. Otherwise, I am embracing the excitement of the unknown!

Now, let’s break down my adventure…

JORDAN

Despite being located next to Syria and Iraq, Jordan is a peaceful country and there are no travel restrictions for visitors. I have been invited as a guest of the Jordan Tourism Board to come and explore some of the many spectacular things that make it’s capital city, Amman, such a desirable destination. Here are some of the things from their list of “99 Things to do in Amman” that I’ll be experiencing and shooting video on:

  • Om nom nom-ming as many cultural dishes as possible! From Knafeh to Falafel to sugarcane juice and sampling goodies from vegetable markets, spice shops and Arabic sweet shops.
  • Visiting museums and historical sites like the Citadel, Roman Theatre, Archeological Museum and Jordan Folklore Museum.
  • Concocting my own personalized musk at a local perfume shop. (Eau de The Blonde Abroad coming soon to a store near you)
  • Unwinding at a Turkish Bath.
  • Getting my adrenaline going playing paintball, horseback riding, go-carting and indoor rock climbing.
  • Trying flavored Shisha at a coffee shop.
  • Shopping at Souk Al-Bukharieh (the oldest souk in Amman) for jewelry and souvenirs.

The Ad-Deir Monastery, high above the site of Petra.

Needless to say, it’s going to be a busy week! Following my time in Amman, I’m taking my adventure around Jordan to marvel at all of it’s splendor. The rest of my time in Jordan will include:

  • Floating fun in the Dead Sea, the lowest point in the world.
  • Visiting Petra, a unique and ancient city that was carved into a red rock face more than 2000 years ago.
  • Camel riding through the vast Wadi Rum desert.
  • Diving and relaxing in Aqaba in the Red Sea, one of the best diving spots in the world.

After all of my activities in Jordan I’m hopping a short flight to Dubai where things are a little less organized.

DUBAI

I don’t have an itinerary for Dubai but I will be joining some of my South African friends that I met over the summer in Croatia while sailing with The Yacht Week. I have a quick 3 to 4 days to see as much of Dubai as I can. My friend disclosed a few of the activities they have planned for me but much will be left to surprise. Here’s what I could pry from him:

  • 4×4 off-roading through the desert.
  • Dining with a view of The Dubai Fountain (the largest in the world).
  • Visiting the top of the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa.
  • Celebrating my last days in the Middle East at the kickoff show for Swedish House Mafia‘s “One Last Tour.”

The Burj Khalifa

*Deep breath in* *Long exhale* Phew!

And after ALL that I will return home to enjoy the holiday season with my family. Until I head out to the Middle East, I’ll be a slave to my blog trying to catch everyone up to speed on my experiences around Europe this past summer. I’m so behind. I’m sorry. But lots of good stuff coming your way!

Which leads me to this side note: Keeping up on my blog while I’m traveling can be difficult, so be sure to follow along on Facebook, Twitter and also my video channel on Mobli.

Leave a comment if you have any recommendations or tips for Jordan or Dubai.

I can use all the advice I can get!

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Kiersten Rich
Kiersten Rich is the bikini-obsessed author of award-winning solo female travel and lifestyle blog, The Blonde Abroad, featuring travel tips, fashion, food, festivals and photography from around the world.