I don’t call my blog a “travel blog” for several reasons:
My blog is not only about travel, but about politics, history, books and about other serious, silly and random stuff. Some of it you find interesting, some of it you find curious, some of it makes you hate me and unsubscribe. Because my blog is like me, a person with many different interests. I am not a brand or a product or a company, I am a human being.
I don’t want to be grouped together with most other travel bloggers who are going from sight to sight, from beach to beach, take a photo of a sunset here and a cup of coffee there. Seriously, what’s so special about coffee mugs that people fly halfway around the world to bring back photos of them? Probably, they never leave the hotel or resort, don’t meet anyone interesting, let alone experience any real adventures.
You know these kind of bloggers: Everything is “the greatest”, “the most adventurous”, “the most beautiful”, “perfect”, “breathtaking”, “amazing”, bla, bla, and everything “needs to be on your bucket list”. By the way, a bucket list is for people who are about to die or for people who don’t know how to enjoy life. Lists are for going to the supermarket, not for leading your life.
These bloggers travel to wherever they get invited by hotels or tourism associations, and of course they have to write positively. I, on the other hand, I go where I want to go, and I am interested in looking behind the glamour of travel. I don’t shy away from conflicts, tensions, poverty, lies, environmental destruction and the complexity of life. And I write about that. If it offends some people – as it often has – I don’t mind, because I am not a paid PR blogger.
I have to throw up (my hands in despair) when I read the umpteenth blog which praises the old cars and the music of Cuba, the beaches in Dubai, or the pyramids and camels in Egypt, without mentioning that these countries are authoritarian, oppressive or even dictatorships where people get imprisoned, and sometimes executed, for trying to exercise basic human rights.
When I read praise about Thailand, for example,
I can’t help but point out:
Having lived in Malta or Sicily, I can’t help but write about the thousands of refugees being washed ashore, dead and alive. Living in Romania, I can’t help but write about the discrimination/segregation of the Roma. Traveling through Eastern Europe, I can’t ignore the falsification of history that is prevalent in many people’s minds.
While it is sad that most travel bloggers know nothing about history and politics and probably aren’t interested, as long as they get paid for swimming in a pool and taking photos of their drinks, the most shocking surprise is their lack of geographical knowledge. Or how else would you explain that they constantly “discover” “surprising” “hidden spots” and “secret destinations”, when every 8-year old knows these places from school or the documentary channel?
I don’t even know which examples to pick because the internet is full with this most annoying fad. The “10 wonderfully secret tourist destinations” include Tasmania (it’s one of Australia’s states!) and the Pyrénées (a 500-km long mountain chain between France and Spain, you can see them from space or from Barcelona, that’s how secret they are). These “19 secret travel destinations you never knew existed” include Machu Picchu (!!). If you are the only person in the world who doesn’t know Machu Picchu, go on Facebook and check your friends’ profile images. Yes, the ruins in the hilly jungle.
Isn’t it insulting to readers if an author refers to places like these as ones “you never knew existed”? The people who put together “Europe’s best hidden gems” don’t ever seem to have read a book about Europe either, let alone been there. Lugano, Cinque Terre, Trieste, Santorini and Kotor as “unknown destinations”? Hm, I wonder how all the cruise ships with thousands of tourists find some of these places, then. Every day.
Because I currently live in Eastern Europe, I don’t want you to miss the “20 hidden gems in Eastern Europe”. The list includes capital cities like Bucharest, Tallinn, Riga and Budapest. My Romanian readers will be surprised that Brasov “has numerous Black Sea resorts”.
I couldn’t help but comment:
This “secret”, “hidden” and “unknown” mania is getting so out of hand that I bet you can find New York, Paris and Berlin on some of these lists. If you want to read about a genuinely hidden spot, check this out. But that requires a ride on a boat and a bit of walking, for you can’t even fly to that island.
I have now come across someone who seriously claimed Sevilla as an “undiscovered gem” and “one of the most underrated destinations” in Andalusia. I had to point it out to him:
Please, please don’t ever lump me together with people who write terrible stuff like that!
So, if you have been wondering why my blog never appears in some “Top 50 Travel Blogs” list, why I never get invited to anywhere, why I can’t even return to some places where I have already been arrested, why my blog is banned in some countries, you now know why.
If you have been wondering why I don’t write very often, why my articles are sometimes years behind my travels, it’s because I need time to prepare my journeys, to read, to think, to write, to research. Keep in mind that I don’t travel to show off or to tell others about it. I travel to satisfy my intellectual curiosity, to experience other places, to get confronted with new ideas. Some of these ideas I will share on my blog, mainly to motivate you to explore the world yourself. But most of the time, I prefer to simply live my life instead of writing about living it.
Lastly, if you have been wondering why I don’t have many friends, you may understand that a bit better now. – No, I cannot be silent when people spread bullshit.
In the interest of
naming and shaming proper sourcing, if you click on any of the photos in this article, you will get to the original website/blog.
Now that I have ranted a bit, I am asking you, my esteemed readers, to nominate your favorite travel blogs in the comments below and to tell me why you like them. I am thinking of putting together a list (oh, the irony) of the best travel blogs and – this will cause lots of enemies – of the worst travel blogs. Obviously, don’t nominate me. You are free to nominate yourself, but please add an explanation. What I am looking for is original, thoughtful or thought-provoking writing by people who care about people in other countries and who regard travel as an intellectual journey, not as a list to tick off. I won’t consider the quality of the photos or the design, only the text. – Thank you for your comments!