Guernsey, country #218

Though Guernsey is closer to France than England, but not in the EU. Its also not technically part of Great Britain or the UK, but they use the pound with their own coins and different pictures on the bills. If I pass thru border control and can add pieces to my worldwide money collection, then hey, it’s a new country for me.

The south coast of Guernsey

The roads on Guernsey were built or horse carriages, and never really widened after the car was introduced. This made renting a new car and driving it on the wrong side of the ride extra difficult, since oncoming traffic was literally head on. The shores were rocky, the weather windy, and the skies a dramatic mix of clouds, sunshine and rain, so being outside never got boring. Once in a while there was a sandy stretch of beach and you were sure to find a dozen joggers and dog owners enjoying the space. We drove around counter clockwise, starting at the airport near St. Martin, to Pleinmont, then Vazon and Grandes Rocques and Bordeaux harbour before reaching the capital, St. Peter Port.

St. Peter Port

The pubs were in great supply, and even a handful of good restaurants, and the main attractions were a few lighthouses, port towns and an aquarium. Tourism is dead here in the winter, since many hotels shut down until the summer season and the ones that were open were only partly open. The island of Lihou was my favourite stop, and we arrived there during the only 1.5hr window when the ride was low enough to walk over. A handful of guests were doing the same to check into the only hotel (and only building) on the island, but a tractor carried their luggage in a rickety hay trailer since the rolley suitcases would have killed a few too many limpets and barnacles.

the underwater road to Lihou

The best hotel on the island was Ziggurat; it was a boutique hotel with cutely decorated rooms, a bar with views of the city to the sea, and a stone staircase leading straight into the center of downtown St. Peter Port. Breakfast was included, a hot meal with the feeling of being home cooked and served by a long lost aunty, and the eggs and sausage breakfast was a refreshing change from the seafood we’d been gorging on every other meal.

Photo Highlight: Winter in Vestmannaeyjar

My father was from a tiny island on the south coast of Iceland where men proudly call themselves the first and most original Icelanders, since Iceland is their biggest colony. My father was born January 7th 1952 and both my grandparents were born January 11th, so January seemed like the best time to go and visit their communal grave. The cemetery in Heimaey is always lit up with festive lights until January 23rd, the anniversary of the 1973 volcanic eruption start date. If only everyone could Rest In Peace in such a paradise as this.

Katrin Sif likely the most traveled Icelander in Icelandic history

In an interview taken by Björn Þorfinsson, he claims I may be the most traveled person in Icelandic history. Whether or not that´s true, I definitely enjoyed his take on my mission. Here is a translation of the article, which you can find on

It´s possible that Katrín Sif Einarsdóttir is the most widely traveled Icelander of all time. Despite being only 31 years old, Katrín Sif has traveled to 217 countries on the globe. It is worth mentioning that there are 195 recognized United Nations countries, but by, for example, counting Greenland and the Faroe Islands as countries instead of Denmark, it is possible to list about 230 countries.

Katrín Sif started traveling at a young age. Her father is Icelandic but her mother is from the South American country of Guyana. After her parents’ divorce, she grew up in Vancouver, Canada, but visited Iceland regularly. Just over a year ago, DV covered Katrín Sif’s milestone in being able to travel to 200 countries before the age of thirty. She succeeded when she stayed in the Mauritius over her birthday but then realised that she had thought wrong and was actually traveling to country number 201!

A journalist took the opportunity when Katrín Sif was in the country the other day to sit down with her and discuss the travels and lifestyle that she doubts she can ever give up. She is at a turning point because her father, Einar Óskarsson, died this summer. “Of course it was a big shock and it has taken a long time to complete all the loose ends.”

It´s not about competing in checking off countries
It is very unusual for Katrín Sif to be in Iceland during the winter months, as she says she is not a big fan of the Icelandic winter or the darkness that covers most of the day. “I often experience Icelanders as semi-bears, who go into hibernation in the winter but then play extra hard in the summer,” she says. Despite loving Iceland, she is more fond of following the sun. “Iceland has the biggest place in my heart. The more I travel the world, the more I love the country. Despite the fact that I have connections in many places, Iceland is always the place I call my home and that will never change, “says Katrín Sif.

For the past twelve years, Katrín Sif has taken on various types of tour guiding, especially horseback treks, during the summer months in Iceland, but then leaves the country in the autumn and travels around the world for 8-9 months. It is far from being a “check list” of countries by only stopping a short time. She takes her time in each place and tries to get to know the natives and their culture.

“I’m not in any particular competition to try to travel to all countries in the world in the shortest possible time. Of course I think about the number of countries and places I have visited, but I am doing this for myself, first and foremost. I often experience that others are more excited about the number more than I am, “says Katrín Sif.

She says she plans her travels so that she stays in similar cultural areas. “I do not jump between continents as it is expensive and very cumbersome. Not only the journey but also the thought of constantly adapting to different languages, customs and habits. For example, I traveled around West Africa on one trip, North Africa on another trip and so on, “says Katrín Sif.

I still have left to visit a handful of recognized countries, including Libya, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, the Central African Republic and South Sudan. “I have been having trouble getting a visa for the first three. The situation is unsafe in the other two, so I have only waited to visit them. I don’t mind “says Katrín Sif.

Her annual income never exceeds one million
Asked if she never gets enough of these trips, she says: “No, I really appreciate this lifestyle. I love to be free and do not invest much in worldly goods. ”According to Katrin, her paid annual income has never exceeded one million Icelandic kronas, so she has to travel very sparingly. She says she almost has a doctorate degree in finding cheap flights. “I am often hired to help family and friends find cheap fares. The thing is, major search sites often do not have a contract with the same low cost airlines. It is therefore necessary to search on several pages and in this way it is possible to put together a trip in the best way, “says Katrín Sif.

Since she has to keep track of the finances of her travels, she often chooses the cheapest option, so she travels a lot by bus. “It has not been a luxury to go on long bus journeys in Africa and most recently in India. But it is a great experience and you get more insight into the lives of the natives. However, this is probably not for everyone, “she says with a smile.

When it comes to accommodation, Katrín Sif takes unconventional paths. “I usually stay free with the locals through couchsurfing. It all depends on how conditions for hosts are, but in my opinion this is a very fun way to travel, “says Katrín Sif. For example, she visited Bangladesh for the first time recently and stayed with a Turkish pilot who lived in the country’s capital, Dhaka. “I had only been staying in his apartment for a few days when he was suddenly called to work. Then he just handed me the keys and asked me to lock them when I left, “says Katrín Sif and smiles. She says that such trust and friendliness is the rule rather than the exception in her travels and that is one of the reasons why she appreciates this mode of travel.

She expects to take on even more tasks as a tour guide abroad in the coming years. “This is what I know and live for, to travel. I took a group to South Africa a while ago and it went very well. I will work in some way in tourism in the future, “says Katrín Sif.

Backroads´ Active Adventures in 2019

Backroads, the worlds #1 active travel company, has recently expanded its activity horizons by adding yoga to their trips! There is still biking and/or hiking and the multi-sport type trips haven´t been dropped or changed, but Backroads has simply added yoga as an extra option. In fact, Backroads has always been a yoga friendly company, with free yoga classes at lunch time for their head office staff and dozens of existing leaders already being certified yoga teachers. But now, you have the opportunity to book an active-packed adventure in one of the many countries Backroads is working on incorporating yoga into.

the yoga space at Hotel Húsafell, Iceland

The yoga classes will usually be offered in the early morning or late afternoon, getting in hour of yoga after big meals, and somehow connected to sunrise and sunset times, theoretically (hard to do in Iceland with only 4 hours of daylight). The yoga is Hatha style, a slow flow intended to stretch and strengthen the body. The yoga is not just seen as its own activity, but an exercise to help increase and improve the experience of the other activities offered on trip, since a little bit of yoga never hurt a cyclist or hiker! After the yoga classes, guests (and teacher) felt relaxed and better prepared for the next days activities, and I even noticed I was sleeping better.

Dark and wintery Iceland offers lots of time for cosy indoor yoga

The first ever yoga trips started just this year in Costa Rica and Iceland, and I was grateful to be the yoga teacher leader on Iceland´s two yoga departures this January. The first Iceland trip was a shining success, and more yoga-enthused guests means more yoga options with Backroads in the future. So far, we have California, Florida, Hawaii, Utah and Arizona in the US, plus Costa Rica, Iceland, India, Italy, Mexico, Bali, Indonesia and Mallorca, Spain. If those segments go well, who knows where the yoga will stop – perhaps it will slowly creep into trips in all of the 60+ countries Backroads operates at!

your Backroads yoga teacher leaders have all gone through YTTC training

Check out your active adventure dreams at, especially if you´re thinking of traveling with a bit of yoga in your future. Or if you´re a yoga certified teacher and have ever thought about teaching yoga as a Backroads leader, why don´t you try applying for the 2019 season?