Feature Friday | Katerina from Golden Wings Diary
Feature Friday with Future Friends
I strongly believe that people who love to travel are the best kind of people. This series will introduce you to some of the amazing women travelers with whom I have been fortune enough to connect. Women travelers who are overcoming adversity and crushing societal norms are a huge source of inspiration for me and I believe their stories will inspire you as well.
Tell us about yourself. Who are you? Where are you based? When and how did you start traveling?
Hello friends! My name is Katerina, and I am a genuine Cypriot, who lives and breathes for traveling. I have been living permanently in Cyprus, the most beautiful island of the Mediterranean Sea, for the last 7 years, ever since I finished my studies at the Faculty of Philosophy in Thessaloniki, Greece! When I was just 12 years old, I got on an airplane for the first time, along with someone that proved to be my best companion in most of my adventures. I am talking about my father, from whom I inherited my travel genes. So, my first trip was to beautiful Switzerland, and I remember that I couldn’t hide my enthusiasm! Everything was new to me. First time on an airplane, first time on a cable car, first time that I had witnessed so much natural beauty and picturesque cities. Ever since, I had been waiting impatiently for my father to announce our next destination. When I turned 16 years old, I traveled alone for the first time to Holland, to participate in a youth camping trip. Ever since that day, a new chapter began for me, full of traveling and many solo adventures.
What is the hardest thing you have experienced while traveling? What did you learn from this experience?
The two times that I got sick are definitely the hardest moments I have ever experienced on my trips. The first time I was in India, when I found myself lying in bed with a high fever and severe stomach-ache. The second one was in South Africa, when during my last day in Cape Town, I contracted swine flu. The next day I was traveling to Cyprus through Dubai. Those were the worst flights of my life. It goes without saying that, once I returned home, I immediately sought medical attention, and I was put in a quarantine. Those experiences taught me two things. First, that a reliable life insurance that is also valid abroad is never unnecessary. Secondly, wherever you find yourself to be, even if you are traveling alone, there will always be people willing to help you when they see you suffering. You are never alone.
What is the most unique meal or dish you have eaten in a foreign country? What made it so special?
Every now and then, I have tried some unique foods. I will refer to the most recent special dish I have eaten for one and only reason. Because I loved it! When they first served reindeer soup to me, I said “Ok, this is in no way edible”. First, I never eat soup. Second, I rarely eat meat. Guess what? I asked for a refill. In Finland there is nothing special about reindeer meat, but for me it was something very unique. Leaving aside the fact that back home everyone accused me of having eaten Rudolph, I would eat it here in Cyprus as well if I had the chance.
Have you ever traveled solo? If so, what was the best part of the experience? If you haven’t, why not?
Numerous times I have set off on solo trips, but I have never managed to remain completely solo until the end. On my travels, I always come in contact with locals before I even set foot in the country, through social media, so I always have somebody, wherever I go. My best solo trips took place during my university years, back when I only had 60 euro in my pocket; I used to take the next flight to Prague and stayed there for three days. That simple! The best part of traveling on your own is that you have to rely exclusively on yourself. You learn your strengths, you gain confidence, and you become your own master. Also, it is much easier to approach locals, or for them to approach you. When they see me on my own, everybody (ok, perhaps not everybody, but most everyone) is willing to help me with everything. From carrying my bags to driving me somewhere. Of course a bit of charm never hurt anyone.
In your opinion, what is the biggest misconception that most people have about traveling?
From what I have heard in my own country, the greatest misconception concerning traveling is that you need a fortune to go abroad. As far as Cyprus is concerned, this is not entirely false. We live on an island, and the only way to travel is by boat or airplane, both of which are a bit expensive. But still. If your research is good and you book your tickets early, then you will not have to spend as much as you may think. Good research and preparation is the key. If you love traveling like I do, then nothing will stop you. Not even the lack of money.
If you could give one piece of advice, about anything, to a large group of people, what would it be?
Don’t wait for anyone in order to take the first step in doing things that are valuable to you. Do you want to travel but your best friend won’t come with you? Go alone. You will not regret it! Do you want to participate on the Erasmus student exchange program with your university but none of your friends will come with you? Go alone. Don’t wait for anyone to take you by the hand. You need to realize that not all people have the same priorities and desires in their lives. For example, some people do love traveling, while others just say they do but do nothing about it. If you belong in the first category don’t wait for those who belong in the second one to make your dreams come true. Just go for it!
Be sure to check in every Friday to meet other awesome women travel bloggers and future friends! If you follow a female travel blogger that you love, please send suggestions my way so that I can reach out to her! If you are interested in being featured yourself, please shoot me an email: [email protected]