Friday, August 6, 2010

CS (couchsurfing)

i noticed that i keep mentioning couchsurfer(s)(ing)(ed) in my posts, but i never really explained what it is.
the concept is this. when you are travelling to a new place, instead of staying at a hotel or hostel, and just meeting other travelers, and seeing typical 'on the map' tourist spots; instead you contact a local living in the city or town you are visiting and you can stay with them and learn about the culture, get to make a new friend from a different part of the country. and so far all of my expereinces couchsurfing have been much more cherished than those spent in hostels. one of my couchsurfing hosts said it best "i travel to people, not places".
so if i decided for instance to go to ljubljana, slovenia; i simply search on the couchsurfing website for people who currently live there and are willing to host a backpacker. most people would now assume that creeps can just make a profile and hope that an unsuspecting girl will ask to stay with them. but its much more secure than that. i can chose to only stay with people who have good references from people all over the world. in fact i usually always make sure they have a review from a solo female traveler from north america. you can be as specific as age and gender when choosing your host.
the hope is that when you travel, someone will host you, and when you get back home, you will return the favor by hosting others. and so far its been working really well for this non-profit organization, seeing that they are currently in their sixth year! i even stayed with one guy in france who has been hosting people for five years, and in total has had over 250 stay with him!
im definitely going to continue to use CS for the rest of my trip....oh! and did i mention that its free!!!! if i hadnt been couchsurfing, i think i would probably be back in canada, because everything is turning out to cost more than i planned on.
today is my 50th day on the road, and 33 of those have been spent with CS hosts.
CS has without a doubt been the unexpected highlight of my trip so far.

Land of Lindt

when i arrived in switzerland, i had my new host's directions scribbled down on a piece of paper. luckily they were very good directions, and i easily navigated my way from the train station, to the correct bus stop, and then walked the rest of the way to his apt. marco had just got home from work when i arrived so i ditched my pack in his guest room and we went to the kitchen to chat.
in his kitchen he has a huge map of the world. and i knew instantly that he had been to many more places around the world than me. he explained how i was the first person he had hosted since he returned from his own around the world journey. after relishing in our past and present travel stories, he made me crepes! which he kept calling pancakes, so i thought thats what i was having till little thin wannabe pancakes arrived on my plate. but i couldnt complain cause they were amazing! on my last day there marco msgd me from his work to let me know that him and two friends from work were getting off early and were wondering if i would like to go for a trip on their boat...clearly i didnt have to think very long about my responce. i spent that afternoon and evening cruising around on a lake in the middle of the alps! it was breathtaking. sadly the next morning i had to leave lausanne and head to fribourg to meet my next CS host, amelie! i stayed with amelie for three days. but since she is a nurse, she works insane hours, and was gone for my last two days, but luckily her neighbour was a CSer too! his name is christoph and he had those two days off work and was currently remodeling his house. so on one day he took me with him to pick up a huge drill he needed, and then on the way back he showed my ancient roman ruins, and we drove to the top of a lookoff where i could see all th way to the french be specific the sections of the french alps that gets the water for evian! the next day i helped him do house repair...which was way more fun than it sounds. i got on my mask, and earprotection, and goggles (yes dad, i had all my gear on) and i helped him drill a huge whole through the cement to get outside, and then turn a gigantic window into a huge door! by the end of that day i was covered in dust, so a grabbed a shower before heading to bern to meet my new (and current) host fabian. fabian has backpacked around south america, and just moved back to switzerland to get a job and work till 2013 until he has enough money to start a new journey somewhere else. i love meet these new hosts, and hearing all of there experiences cause they are all so inspiring and give me new cool ideas.
for instance, fabian mentioned to me a website that is for boat owners looking for crew members, and potential crew members looking to join a boat for either skill building, money or a cheap ride. in my case its the cheap ride. so today i joined a website called 'findacrew', created a profile and am hoping to find someone traveling in my general direction! fabian has heard success stories of people 'boatsurfing' so who knows what could turn out! tonight is my last night here with fabian, but not my last night in bern. tomorrow i am meeting up with a girl who lives in bern, and i am staying with her until monday, and then i am making my way to zurich to CS with a guy named joel...who happens to be from waterloo, ontario!
until next time! xoxo