I’m the definition of neurotic right now.
Sitting in the corner of my neighborhood coffeeshop stuffing napkin after napkin beneath the leg of my table to stop its incessant wobbling.
In confidence – the wobble’s not that bad. I’m just using it as an excuse for my lack of concentration and convincing myself that a sturdy table will make words magically appear on my computer screen.
I did something similar 45 minutes ago while sitting at the counter that faces the window – basically throwing a conniption fit over the nerve of the people who thought it was ok to just pass by on the sidewalk, distracting me to the point where I had to switch tables.
Then there was the incident with the cappuccino machine. Ok, so the almost incident where I contemplated stopping the continual hissing noise by bashing it to pieces with my umbrella. Only when I calculated the number of umbrellas I’d lost in the past year, I couldn’t justify coughing up the cash for yet another replacement.
Besides, getting arrested just seemed too exhausting of a task – especially when I hadn’t yet finished my first cup of coffee.
So instead I silently cursed these disturbances all the while knowing the true reason I was having trouble staying focused – my own excitement.
See, this is the post I’ve been waiting months to write. The one I’ve been scrawling in my head every morning while in the shower. The one I keep alluding to on social media. The one that’s caused me to send teenagesque texts to the tune of EEEK!! OMG I’M SO EXCITED!
It’s the one where I FINALLY get to announce the details of my upcoming trip to the Middle East.
Only now that I’m sitting down to write it, nothing’s coming out. Bursting excitement has rendered me impatient to the point that my eagerness to hit publish has made the actual process of writing the article a Herculean effort. Paragraphs remain unfinished as I jump back and forth between sections; conjunctions and pronouns are being skipped over entirely; and I keep writing the end of one sentence only to realize I never wrote the beginning.
In fact, I’m impressed I’ve been able to get through this intro at all – even if it did take 3 hours.
Here’s to hoping I can get through the rest of the post before the sun goes down.
March was overshadowed by the anticipation of April.
If I were to compare it to a state in the US, It’d be one of those fly-over ones no one can really remember the name of. It was just simply there.
The only travel I did was to spend a week in West Palm Beach, Florida which is one of my favorite small towns. I love its laid-back, day-drinking kind of vibe which in a lot of ways reminds me of Key West.
It has a walkable downtown area comprised of gridded streets named after local flowers and perennials that are also listed in alphabetical order which is insanely adorable and helps those who are terrible at directions – Evernia, Fern, Gardenia, Hibiscus, Iris, etc. The bars and restaurants lining these blocks are outstanding in both food and atmosphere.
I highly recommend a visit if you’re planning a trip to the South Florida area.
What’s Coming Up In April?
Ok, so now we finally get to the main event.
Flights are booked, bags are packed (ok that’s a lie – we all know I’m a pack-the-night-before kinda girl), I’ve googled how painful is it to ride a camel a thousand times, and I’m now less than 4 days from Ubering my way to the airport for my trip to the Middle East.
Destination #1 – Dubai, United Arab Emirates
It’s funny how things work out.
And also how they don’t.
This initial trip started out as a white water rafting excursion through the Balkan country of Montenegro in Europe (I know – so random that this somehow transitioned into a Middle Eastern vacation).
You see, my best friend since the age of 13 (we’ll call her Betsy because, well…her name is Betsy) has been married to her husband for nearly 4 years. Being that she’s from the South, that makes her 3 years past the optimal breeding stage so at this point the idea of kids is becoming less of an idea and more of a concrete actualization. Couple this with the fact that they’ve now checked everything off their “Pre-Baby Bucket List” – including an African safari and cooking lessons in Spain – they’ve been pretty much ready to get down to business.
Until Betsy and her team at work were selected for a trip to Dubai as a reward for them kicking ass in the corporate world. So she paused her baby-making plans and decided this was it – her last hoorah before a future filled with screaming tantrums and diapers. She would go to Dubai, meet her husband for a romantic getaway in Greece, and then raft down the Tara River with me, her bestie.
It was a flawless plan – up until the day her husband found he was unable to go.
That’s when things changed at the chime of a text:
“Jere’s a no-go so what if we scrapped Montenegro and instead have you meet me in the Middle East. Then we can just travel around there?”
No offense to Montenegro but….SOLD!!!
To be honest, if it weren’t for the free stay in her 5-star hotel room I would have happily skipped over Dubai.
I’ve never had a burning desire to visit this man-made metropolis. That’s not to say I won’t enjoy myself – there are just other parts of the Middle East I’d rather explore. Meeting Betsy in Dubai just made the most logistical sense. Plus, I can’t wait to see her being thrown out of an airplane while I’m miles below, safely on the ground.
I’ll be staying in Dubai for 2 nights and would tell you more about what I’ll be doing while there but truthfully, I have no plans! As Betsy will be there a week prior to my arrival, I’m letting her take the reins on this one. This isn’t much of a hardship considering she’s a total Type A which means there will be a full itinerary lying on my pillow when I arrive.
With its expat scene and more westernized culture, Dubai will serve as a great introduction to the Middle East and will make visiting destination #2 much less of a culture shock.
Destination #2 – Oman
Roughly the size of Kansas, Oman is a country that lies at the tip of the Arabian Peninsula bordering the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen.
The Muslim sultanate is known for its tolerance and peace in a region that’s often rife with war. Whenever I tell people I’m traveling to the Middle East, their reactions are one of worry, caution, and surprise. I’m either met with deafening silence or outbursts of you cant go, it’s not safe.
But guys – the Middle East is VAST.
It’s not all ISIS, bloodshed, and strife. There are truly beautiful places just waiting to be explored.
And when I say beautiful – I’m talking about the character of the people as well the scenery.
I’m hoping my soon-to-be firsthand experience will inspire many posts that will help change people’s perception of this region.
So what exactly will Betsy and I be doing in Oman?
Seeing as how it’s a contrasting landscape of deserts and coastlines, we’ll be spending most of our time melting in the sun and cooling down by the waterside.
We’ll be spending the first couple of days in the capital of Muscat – shopping the markets, bingeing on dates and kebabs, inhaling frankincense, and marveling at the Grand Mosque. This will be a lot of firsts for me. My first time experiencing a culture so radically different from my own. My first time not bar-hopping on a trip. My first time entering a mosque. My first time dressing head to toe while wandering around in 100 degree weather.
I couldn’t be more excited.
No journey to the Middle East would be complete without cashing in for at least a few of those 1001 Arabian nights – which is why we’re also heading out to the desert for a few days to camp with local Bedouin tribes – camel rides and dune bugging included!
There’s plenty more on the agenda including renting a car to visit a turtle reserve, sampling some of the smaller cities, and 4-wheeling in Wadi Shab – a place known for their canyons and refreshing watering-holes.
You can follow the whole journey live on Snapchat @notouristiswear
Destination #3 – London, UK
The last remaining days of April will be spent in London.
As many of you know, I spend around 12 weeks per year here and its become my second home.
The city is massively sprawled with so many diverse neighborhoods which is why I prefer staying in a new area every time I visit. I want to sample everything London has to offer. So far I’ve spent extended periods of time in Bloomsbury, Clapham, Fulton, Earls Court, and Hammersmith.
I’m throwing around the idea of trying out Islington this time but if you have any other suggestions then please let me know!
Blog News and Announcements
The biggest thing to happen to me in March was the launch of my new website design.
I AM SO IN LOVE WITH IT!
I had been unhappy with the look and feel of my site for some time now and I really wanted to make it more user-friendly for you, my readers. I could not be happier with my designer who took the brief I gave him and created something that fully encapsulates the personality of this blog. I hope you like it just as much as I do!
If you subscribe to receive these posts by email and haven’t seen the new site yet, you can check it out here.
Do you have any thoughts on Middle Eastern travel? Let me know in the comments below!
Why Suffer From FOMO When You Don’t Have To?
Taking on the classic “round-the-world” route, the next Travel Dispatch journey kicks off Nov 15 as I travel east to west, looping the globe over a period of 12 months with $25,000. Now’s your chance to get in on it from the very beginning!