Fréttablaðið Fólk: my interview in Iceland´s biggest newspaper

Enjoy a rough translation of this Icelandic article journalist Starri Freyr Jónsson wrote about me in this weekend´s edition of Fréttablaðið. If you understand Icelandic, you can just read the original article in the picture below!

Fólk, Fréttablaðið. Helgablaðið laugardagur 5. ágúst 2017

Finds Happiness in the small things

When Katrin was 22 years old, she decided to travel to 200 countries before she turned 20. Today she is just over 30, and 208 countries are already on her list. Future travels include remote islands in the Pacific Ocean, Central Asia and middle Africa.

There are definitely few, if any, Icelanders who have traveled as much as Katrín Sif Einarsdóttir. At only 22 years old, she set the goal of traveling to 200 countries before she became thirty. Today she´s just over thirty and the country count has reached 208; according to her countdown, which has perhaps more countries than people think exist, also considers countries that are not defined as an independent states, for example places like Greenland, Scotland, the Faroe Islands and Taiwan.

Katrín Sif was born in Iceland but grew up in Canada. “I started traveling alone when I was 18, but had a very outdoorsy life as a child and a teenager. Until age 21, I traveled mostly to South America and Asia. When I was 19, I lived for a four-month period on a ship sailing around the world. The trip began in Mexico, and we sailed across the Pacific Ocean through Asia and Africa, then to Europe and across the Atlantic to Florida. ”

Despite extensive travel, Katrín Sif has completed a double BA degree in philosophy and French, and has completed two master’s degrees; one MSc in environmental science and natural resource management, and an MA in Icelandic history. “In between, I have worked in restaurants, both at home and abroad, and worked with writing and as an editor during and between travels. I still see myself most as a cowgirl and work as a tourguide during the summer time in the highlands of Iceland, and sometimes work as a shepherd in the autumn in the east and north. ”

Thankful for a safe home

This summer she went to Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan where she, among other things, completed an eight-day horseback riding trip in Kyrgyzstan. “This fall I want to travel across Europe and learn about wine production. Later in winter, I’m headed for some of the Pacific islands that are extremely difficult to travel to, for example Wallis and Futuna plus Tokelau. However, next year, I would like to spend a few months in central and northern Africa and learn some Arabic. I would also love to travel to Central Asia and to some former Soviet Union republic and learn a little Russian. ”

After all the years and the number of countries it is difficult for her to point out some of the destinations that stand out. “However, in 2016, I visited North Korea and Afghanistan, which were both astonishing. It was very safe to travel in North Korea, the country was clean and offered more exciting places than I expected. Of course, I always felt like it was being watched or followed by my shadow of a guide, so I never knew if I was really experiencing North Korea or something staged. Afghanistan is a very beautiful country where the countrymen are very friendly and hospitable. Like their neighbors in Pakistan, terrorism and war have made it very stressful to travel in these areas. In such circumstances, I am grateful for the peace and security that prevails in Iceland. ”

Learned a lot on the way

After traveling for more than half of her life, Katrín Sif has learned a lot about how people act and interact. “I’ve learned to be very tolerant, patient and understanding as I get to know other languages, religions and different cultures. I have also learned to see happiness in the small things and to live a simple life with an 8 kg backpack for a large part of the year. This lifestyle has taught me to be happy with what I have at each time in each place. However, no matter how much I travel, I always find new and new exciting destinations to keep wanting more. ”

Even while traveling, she sometimes gets home sick. “I love Iceland more and more every time I come back for different reasons. Still, I always complain about the weather! If it were only hotter here, less wind and brighter winter I would definitely stay longer here every year. ”

Check out Katrin’s trips and travel stories on her blog, nomadiccosmopolitan.com, and follow her on Instagram (nomadic_cosmopolitan) to see photos from her journey.

 

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Sumac Grill + Drinks

There´s a new restaurant in town, and its officially opened as of today. Its in downtown Reykjavik, in the middle of everything 101, on Laugavegur 28, where the old Bunk Bar and hostel was. The entire interior has been torn apart and redone, designed by non other than Halfdán Petersen, the designer of the oh-so-popular Kex hostel and Iceland´s first Michelin star restaurant Dill. A selection of plates and pots are individually hand made by potter and ceramic artist Hanna Gréta in Hafnafjörður, such that no two are stained the same way or have the same pattern.

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Sumac Grill + Drinks, bar side

The owner and master mind behind the concept and menu is Þráinn Freyr Vigfússon, arguably Iceland´s best chef (okay, I´m a little biased), and has competed, placed, and won in enough cooking competitions and shows around the world that he´s definitely one of the world´s top chefs. The head chef is his friend and prized chef Hafsteinn Ólafsson, and a few other industry-recognized names fill the bar and wait staff. Me, myself, and I, are the hostess and rose and tree keeper.

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sumac infused gin and ginger beer in a copper cup

The menu is inspired by Moroccan and Lebanese cuisine, using influences, flavours and spices from the Mediterranean coast and middle east – not only in the food, but also in cocktails and deserts. Sumac, popularly used in Turkish cuisine, is a deep red, sun-dried berry, giving a little spicy kick and citrus hint to their signature cocktail, Sumac, and their made-from-scratch yogurt ice cream which tastes like roses.

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cauliflower, baby potatoes and salmon in their various clay plates and steel pans

The best sellers (so far) are definitely the grilled cauliflower head and za´atar flat bread with hummus and almond red pepper dip. The can´t miss items include the Berber chicken liver mousse, grilled octopus legs, and 100% vegan pistachio ice cream with chick-pea meringue. My personal favourites are the kumquat salmon drizzled with fennel froth, the crispy baby potatoes with Icelandic chorizo sausage, the pork belly tagine (actually cooked and served in a Moroccan clay tagine pot), and the Hilo cocktail, topped off with an organic Icelandic red-rose petal.

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Sumac Grill + Drinks, kitchen side

Find Sumac on facebook, follow them on instagram @sumacgrilldrinks, or feel free to leave their first review on trip advisor. The official website (including the menu and wine list) can be found at Sumac.is, where you can make a dinner reservation. Otherwise just give us a call, +354 537 9900! I may even answer the phone personally 😉

 

DV Interview in English

What started as a 40 minute phone call turned into a few more phone calls, email exchanges and a 3,000 word article by Bjorn Þorfinsson in DV´s New Years eve paper. There were pieces of the article published online at DV.is, and the print paper advertised the article front page, top and center. The middle spread, 3 page print edition was of course written in Icelandic, so here are a few highlights of the article in English for those who don´t read Icelandic, entitled “I appreciate freedom and solitude“.

the center spread from DV

the center spread from DV

It is safe to the that the life of Katrin Sif Einarsdottir has been filled with adventure.  Despite her young age, she is one of Iceland’s most seasoned travelers and shows no signs of stopping any time soon.  Her 30th birthday is this upcoming February and she is currently planning to celebrate in the celebrations for her 30th birthday in Mauritius, the 200th country on her list.  She is born in Europe, traces her lineage to South-America and is raised in NorthAmerica.  She has visited all of the continents and was particularly fond of the Antarctic.  Typically, she will travel the world in the winter and spend the summers in Iceland working to save money.  Unexpectedly, she is spending the holidays in Iceland, due to her father’s illness, and gave herself time to chat with DV about her adventurous lifestyle.

Roots in three continents

Katrin is born in Iceland.  Her father is from the Vestmannaeyjar islands and her mother from Guyana, a small country in South-America.  Her parents separated when she was a toddler at which point she moved to Vancouver, Canada, with her mother, where she spent the remainder of her childhood.  However, she always missed Iceland which she views as her home country.  “I yearned to move back to Iceland and had a hard time not being able to.  My parents were going through a rocky period in their relationship and so I didn’t visit as often as I would’ve liked” she says.  Hardest for her was not being able to speak Icelandic with her sister during grade school in Vancouver, causing her Icelandic to deteriorate. In her adult life, she has brushed the rust off and now conducts interviews in native-level Icelandic.

Japan: the seed of wanderlust

One could argue that Katrin’s propensity for adventure started after a trip to Japan, where she spent time, at her mother’s behest, as an exchange student.  “We had a Japanese girl live with us in Vancouver for a few months, and then I visited her in Japan.  It was an awesome and eye-opening experience because everything was so foreign.  I didn’t understand the language or the script, and both the people and the cuisine was totally different from anything I’d seen up to that point.  I was completely enthralled and since then travelling has been at the forefront of my mind / [I have lived to travel],” says Katrin Sif.

DV.is page showing the most read articles

DV.is page showing the most read articles

College on a cruise ship

Katrin exploited the opportunities of her schooling to travel and experience new adventures.  After the positive experience in Japan, she registered for an exchange semester in Brisbane, Australia.  Even then, it did little to satiate her hunger for travel. “I did a Semester at Sea and that was an experience I definitely recommend.  It was like I was on a reality TV show for several months straight.  I couldn’t believe, as a 19 year old, I could live on a cruise ship, travel the world and get university credits for it,” Katrin says laughing.  Around 500 students participate in the program, which sails around the world, at any given time.  Katrin embarked in Mexico and three months later arrived in port in Florida.  In the meantime, the ship stopped in 13 different ports of call on the way an around 12 teachers taught classes aboard the ship. “This was an amazing experience that I highly recommend for others who want to do something fun and learn along the way” says Katrin Sif. This program is still happening and changes every semester. The last sailing in fall 2016 went from Hamburg to Greece, Italy, Spain, Morocco, Senegal, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, Panama, Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica and ended in San Diego, USA.

Loved Antarctica

After the sea-adventure, Katrin Sif went back to her university in Vancouver to complete her bachelors degree. She then moved back to Iceland where she studied for an MSc. in Environment and Natural Resources. “I have always tried to use school as a means of traveling as much as I can. For example, I took one semester exchange to UC Berkeley in California. There I became very interested in ecotourism and I got the opportunity to travel to Antarctica for a case study. I enjoyed it there very much and could easily see myself going there again” says Katrin Sif.

Saves Money over the Summer

After graduating from HI, Katrin Sif has taken her traveling to another level. “Since 2010 I´ve worked in Iceland over the summers as a tour guide with multi-day horse tours and I love horses and riding. I take between 7 and 12 week long tours each summer and then buy a one way ticket somewhere and don´t come back again until May the following summer. Sometimes it happens that the money doesn’t quite last for 8 months of travel, so I sometimes have to come back in spring if the money runs out” says Katrin Sif humorously. According to her word, she feels best up in the Icelandic highlands on a horse over the summer. “I cant say I’m  big fan of the Icelandic winters so that’s why I always go abroad during the cold months” says Katrin Sif.

Travels with a Wedding Ring

Its expensive to travel so Katrin adopted the necessary habit of couchsurfing. Its an online social network for travelers and hosts, where locals can invite visitorys to stay for free at their home, or rather, ´surf their couch´. “Wherever you can find internet then its possible to find couchsurfers. I was traveling in West Arica a few years ago and even though people lived in tents, they still had smart phones and could register to host people thru couchsurfing” says Katrin Sif. She has just arrived home from a three month trip thru Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan where she couchsurfed everyday with new people along the way. “It was an interesting experience to travel to these Muslim countries but by the end of my trip I had had enough. I was covered in black from head to toe, with my hear always covered. I had to walk in the street with someone else to avoid being harassed and follow a thousand other rules. I couldn’t smoke, sing, dance, drink coffee in the wrong café, nd not enter some mosques or holy places. I wanted to be less restricted and started dreaming about traveling to a remote sunny island, wearing nothing but a bikini, and be free from all the society´s rules and regulations.”

“It was a great way to travel and one learns much more about the country´s culture if you interact with locals. On the other hand, there are also dangers and annoyances that follow a solo traveler. “Being hit on or flirted with (uninvitedly) is the most annoying and I think I´ve had to deal with in nearly every country” says Katrin Sif, and admits its not just men who can bother her but women have also tried. For that reason, Katrin has started to travel with a fake wedding ring so she can keep unwelcomed come-ons by describing an appropriate fake husband.

some more pictures and my top 10 country list

some more pictures and my top 10 country list

2ooth Country is in reach

“I´ve never landed in any real trouble when I stayed with couchsurfers. I investigate all the details about a possible host and read all the references or information about them that I can. If everything seems safe there then we exchange a few messages and then confirm my stay. I have probably stayed with over 400 hosts and families!” says Katrin Sif.

As mentioned before, Katrin Sif has traveled to 197  countries but the UN lists only 193 countries. “I count countries like Greenland, Faroe Islands and for example Gibraltar. With territories like that included, there are around 230 countries in the world so I still have quite a few left to check out. I planned to travel to 200 countries before I turn 30 years old and that’s still the plan” says Katrin Sif. She likes staying a while in each country, to get familiar with the country´s culture and locals. “I usually travel alone though a friend sometimes meets me somewhere on the way for a week or two. I would rather have the freedom to spend each day as I like and not have to plan around other travelers” says Katrin Sif. She plans her visits based on what kind of country she is in. “If I´m in France, then I try to take in as much culture, arts and music as possible. When I’m island hopping in the Pacific Ocean then there´s very little to do touristically so then I just sit on the beach for 4 months and relax” says Katrin Sif and laughs.

“Stan” countries on next years travel plands

There are few areas in the world where Katrin Sif isn´t familiar with. “I still have to visit Syria and Lybi but think I wont go there anytime soon because of the current situation there. I have yet to go to central Africa, like Chad, Central African Republic and South Sudan. Since its also not the safest there, I may wait a little before going there. I also have to go to all the ´stan´central asia countries, ie. Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. There is a lot of horse culture there and I hve the idea to break up my tradition and travel there in summer so I can also do some riding” says Katrin Sif.

Obviously Katrin has had a lot of adventures. She has kept a blog online, first with the Icelandic travel agency Dohop.com, and now has her own website. In the works is one travel book that she hopes to publish next year.

Accidentally married a Kenyan Masai warrior

“One of the strangest things that ever happened to me on the road was accidentally marrying a Masai man in Kenya” says Katrin Sif and snickers. Katrin had been speaking at a tourism counference in Uganda where she met a Masai who was also speaking on tourism issues. “I told him I was traveling after the conference and wanted to go to Kenya after the conference and he said he would show me around.” Katrin took up his offer and when she met him at the land border, he gave her some traditional Masai clothing to wear before coming to his village.

“His cousin was with us and told me how to wear the red dress and beaded jewelry.” She dressed herself as was told, and met all the women of the village, was danced for by the men, and after the show and welcome ceremony then the Masai´s explained “I was wearing traditional wedding clothes and I was the bride who had just been married,” says Katrin and laughs at the memory. She put her feet on the ground and tried to explain that that’s not how it works in her culture. “It took a while to explain to him I wasn´t his wife, though he was happy to have me stay in his tent for the night. But after a while he understood it wasn’t going to work and we left the events just turn into a little joke.”

Motor problems on the sea

Of all the most dangerous adventures Katrin had, getting stuck on a boat with a broken engine off the coast of Guinea Bissau in west Africa. “I went on a little boat trip to a nearby island where we could spend the day. The boat was nearly out of fuel when we arrived so we had to buy some more gas to make sure we would get back. Later in the day we headed out and a few miles out we had to refill the gas tank. But the driver of the boat filled it with diesel, when it was a gas engine, and the engine stopped working.”

“We were too far from land and didn´t have any way to communicate for help. All the cell phones were either out of service or out of credit and the light was nearly gone. Before the sun set, we at there cooking, and once the sun went down, we sat in dark silence, with only the occasional sound from the ocean surface and wondered if they were sharks. On the boat were 9 people, 6 locals and 3 foreigners. The hours were passing and we only has d little bit of drinking water left and nothing to eat except one live chicken.”

“We had been floating there for hours before another boat drove by and we managed to get his help. But he only wanted to take the 3 foreigners and offered to drag the boat with the locals to land. I didn’t understand if he was being racist or what, but our boat driver also didn’t want us to leave since he taught they had a better chance of all getting rescued if they kept the tourists on the stranded boat. Eventually the rescue boat did take us, but only back to the island we had been trying to leave, where he fed us and gave us accommodation. The next morning he let his boat driver taxi us back to the mainland, and then charged us $400 for his services! So that´s probably why he only wanted to help us, to basically get our money.”

She finally made it safe and sound to the main land but had been avoiding boat trips for a while since then. “I tried to stick to planes and buses after that” she says and laughs.

Icelandic Passport is wonderful

Dual citizenship has always helped with Katrin´s travels. “I have an Icelandic and Canadian passport which I use equally as much, according to whichever one is more useful or less problems to apply for a visa. The Icelandic passport is great because Iceland has such few embassies in Reykjavik that its usually impossible to apply for visas at home, so I can just apply in whatever country I am in or nearby. The only country I haven’t managed to get in (after 3 attempts) was Algeria. I tried to get a visa in Morocco, Tunisia and Spain, but finally after visiting the embassy in London, they explained to me I had to go to Stockholm´s embassy as an Icelander and Ill do that soon” says Katrin Sif. Icelandic isn’t as useful on he road, but she is well-weaponed with other language skills. “I speak English, French and Spanish and with these languages I can communicate in so many places. For example, French is very useful in Africa” says Katrin Sif.

Plans to keep traveling

The future is unsure for Katrin, but she sees herself continuing to travel. Her family is also supportive of her lifestyle and no one is pressuring her to change her ways. “At first my mother wanted me to study more and be some important person, marry or have children, but shes over it now. She was very strict and controlling growing up and perhaps that’s why I am so addicted to the freedom of traveling. Dad always told me I was very determined nd independent. Nowadays I feel as though most of my family and friends are proud of what I do and who I´ve become because of it, despite my lifestyle being so different” says Katrin Sif. She dreams about maybe one day working remotely as a travel writer. She also wants to be like Georg Bjarnfreðarson and finish 2 more university degrees to have a total of 5, 1 in journalism and perhaps one Phd. “I wonder though if I would get bored of traveling if it was also my work. I like doing things according to my own spontaneous plans and could never see myself working 9-5 in a normal job. I appreciate my freedom and independence” says adventure woman Katrin Sif Einarsdottir.

Check out her adventures on Instagram (@nomadic_cosmopolitan) or Facebook and the online articles at DV.is

Home Sweet Home

Its wonderful to come home after months of traveling. Not only have I been away from home, but also homeless, in a sense of the word. On the road I’m constantly seeking out accommodation, either as the guest at someone else’s home, or the couchsurfer on some strangers couch. Not that I’m complaining… but its nice to finally be home again.

the natural geothermal area of Kyrsuvik

the natural geothermal area of Kyrsuvik

being a tourist at Gullfoss

being a tourist at Gullfoss

At the moment ‘home’ is Dad’s house, in the ‘countryside’ (this has a better ring to it in Icelandic). My bed is actually a couch there, but its my couch so I love sleeping on it. I missed drinking tap water, ice cold straight from the source, and showering in hot water that kind of smells like rotten eggs. But its okay because its smells like home.

I love bathing in open air, in an assortment of pools and hottubs, even the ice-cold sea, because there’s never a steam room or hot shower too far away. The wind on my wet skin and ice under my toes doesn’t even bother me after I’ve stayed long enough in the hottest hottub, and sometimes I purposely dip in the cold tub or sea just to remember how much more I love the heat.

Iceland is still one of my favourite countries to travel, especially impromptu road trips

Iceland is still one of my favourite countries to travel, especially impromptu road trips

The sun doesn’t rise until after 11 am and sets around 3 pm… and the days have gotten shorter every day. Tomorrow will be the shortest day of the year, but I don’t mind, because that means every day after that until June 21 will be longer. Its cold, but not that cold, so I was happy to clean the snow off my car yesterday for the first time – it might mean that we’ll have a white Christmas, even though every day last week was warmer than in London, New York or Vancouver.

some random, friendly horses

some random, friendly horses

I’ve been home nearly a week now, and the only thing I’m still missing are the Northern Lights and my horses. Both are within reach, so I don’t feel homesick anymore, but it’s amazing how you can’t get enough of home even when you’re finally home. Oh home, sweet home.

My First Bachelor party, in Reykjavik

I’m not much of a bachelor, but getting invited to a bachelor party was a dream come true, one kick of the old bucket list. I was some kind of a tom-boy growing up and still love being one of the boys every once in a while, and 25 friends and friends of friends of mine were coming from the US/Canada to stag Mr. Chotzen, the groom to be. He’s a friend from UBC, one of the few that managed to party like an animal and snowboard all season every season at Whistler throughout undergrad and still graduate on time (spring 2008). I’ve only ever seen him since at Whistler, most recently over New Years, when we all starting planning his bachelor party behind his back.

The bachelor party of 51 balls and 2 tits... noone is sure who has 1 or 3, or if I have some, but that's the official count

The bachelor party of 51 balls and 2 tits… noone is sure who has 1 or 3, or if I have some, but that’s the official count

He didn’t figure out he was going to Iceland until they were already checked into the Icelandair flight and waiting at Sea-Tac airport, and one of the others accidentally mentioned my name. He would have found out 5 minutes later after going through security, but now the guy who slipped up will never live it down. And the stories just kept on rolling in after that.

the groom-to-be, Chotzen

the groom-to-be, Chotzen

There was the guy that got left at Gullfoss (and the guy who skinny dipped in Hvítá), the guy who hooked up with the flight attendant from the Seattle flight, the guy who got a special kiss in the Danske Kro bar bathroom, and the guy who passed out in his plate during dinner at Kolabrautin. I can’t say names, but I can admit that Chotzen wore a horned Viking helmet and the Borat green g-string one piece into the Blue Lagoon and nearly got kicked out. He was allowed to stay after he put on some extra shorts, but there were many other costume changes, including a pink tutu and shirts printed with a picture of him on the bow of a viking ship.

I managed to drag 3 bachelorettes out with me to a few bars; my polish girlfriend wasn’t even impressed but more horrified than anything else, and the two Canadian girls, who thought it would just be like being back home, were completely overwhelmed. When I was alone with them, I got a few looks of ‘How much are they paying you to do this?’, as if I may be their paid escort, but always admitted ‘these are my friends – I actually want to be here!’ no matter how embarrassing or rowdy it got. And I always pretended I was also American. It didn’t help running into people I knew, but time will heal all, and I can’t wait until my next bachelor party. I think I’ve been invited to at least 2 more and a wedding, just from this weekends shenanigans, and maybe my reputation as a bachelor party enthusiast will spread and I’ll get a few more invitations.

Photo Highlight: Polar Swim

I always love going to Nautholsvik whenever I'm in Reykjavik, no matter what time of year or no matter how cold it gets. This time it was -10°c.

I always love going to Nautholsvik whenever I’m in Reykjavik, no matter what time of year or no matter how cold it gets. This time it was -10°c.

A little dip in January in the freezing North Atlantic seemed like a good idea, until it came time to get in the water after walking barefoot and half naked across an icy beach

A little dip in January in the freezing North Atlantic seemed like a good idea, until it came time to get in the water after walking barefoot and half naked across an icy beach

Masters Degrees and Birthdays to feed my homesickness

now I'm a master in everything icelandic

now I’m a master in everything icelandic

I didn’t attend my first master’s graduating ceremony, and I wasn’t going to attend the second, but then three of my closest friends and partners in anti-studying crimes from the program were invited to (slash threatened to attend) the occasion; Steve, Liv and Marie. I felt I had to be present too once they all showed up in Iceland and I was still MIA.  My flight out of Sierra Leone was delayed nearly a day, but I made it in time for the ceremony and a lot of celebrations.

The first celebration was Steve’s birthday, then my graduation. I felt like a spectacle since I was the only person to walk the stage from the program, and it was the only program announced in English, “Masters in Medieval Icelandic Studies.” It should have been called a Masters in Norse Mythology, or Icelandic Horse History, but now everyone thinks I’m one of those medieval enthusiasts who should wear a Thor’s hammer necklace or studded, black pleather clothing. Unfortunately, I’m not pale enough for gothic fashion, and I don’t know nearly enough about Vikings or the middle ages, so I just claim it as a degree in being more Icelandic than before.

We took a road trip to celebrate my new truck, a Kia sportage I bought 2 days before leaving for Africa for 4 months. But the Kia was a party pooper and ran out of gas in the middle of the highlands between Thingvellir and Laugarvatn…

me and my mustache friends

me and my mustache friends

The next celebration was my roommate Harald’s birthday, followed 2 days later by my birthday. There weren’t enough champagne bottles for all the events, but we popped at least 4 over the week, and polished off some 12L of miscellaneous other alcohol. We threw a mustache and bowtie party, where I received the kind of amazing gifts little girls wish for on shooting stars. My father treated me like a princess, a special guest from France came to visit, and my Icelandic chef friends spoiled me rotten for the Reykjavik Food and Fun festival.

Then, I was gone as quickly as I had arrived, with another flurry of happy home memories and a bunch of friends to miss even more. But I was on my way to other friends that Im always missing, so once more I tore myself away from the comfort zone of safe at home, with a tingle of travel bug itching again at my toes.