Friday, August 10, 2007

Couchsurfing (Mis)adventures

Greetings from Vienna! Hope everyone is doing well and enjoying the summer! As you know, I have been on the couchsurfing quest for the past couple weeks while travelling through Europe, and thought you might enjoy some of my (mis)adventure stories.

So it all started with Rosario in Lausanne, and I have blogged about the experience in my last post. This is her showing where I slept, basically a mattress on the floor next to her dorm bed.

Then it was with Karine in Geneva. She took me in even when she already had another CS guest! Very sweet of her to do a picnic in the park with me - great outdoor music venue btw. I slept in the living room foldable couch-bed. Karine was very considerate to keep Socrates, her dog, in her room overnight to keep him away from sniffing me. :)
During my stay in the Netherlands, I was very well taken care of at Hotel Wijnberg, a.k.a. Wads and Bart´s (N.B. Q´s parents) house, and later on at Anne´s fabulous apartment in Amsterdam centrum. (Sorry, no photos avail here.)

Ivan met me outside Namesti Miru (Miru Square) church when I arrived in Prague a week ago. At his (and his three housemates) apartment, I stayed four nights. It was one of the classic communist-era apartment with high ceiling and huge gates - definitely a unique experience. Ivan was very nice to offer his own room, which I politely declined and opted for the kitchen/hallway/dining room where there was a futon-like bed. I had a great time getting to know two other CS hosts, Mats and Brano. Funny thing was all three of them were Slovak, not Czech! Here is a photo of Ivan on the train ride leaving Prague just before we said goodbye and I went on to Cesky Krumlov.
Cesky Krumlov is a beautiful small town in south Czech. Unfortunately there weren´t any CS hosts. Thanks to Jane, an Aussie girl´s referral, I stayed in Hostel Postel for one night - that was my first commercial accomodation on this trip, not bad, I say. At the same time, I also met Martijn and Quintus, a pair of father and son from the Netherlands. After seeing how beautiful C. Krumlov was, I decided to stay one night longer. Just as I was scratching my head about where to stay, it just happened Martijn´s hotel room had an attic with an extra bed. As he semi-joked about `you girls could´ve stay in the extra bed´, I happily took the offer, so the second night I was sleeping in a hotel room attic. How cool was that! Here is a photo ofo Martijn when we were rafting down River Vltara.
After the attic surf, I made my way to another city called Ceske Budejovice (the hometown to the original Budweiser), where I had the most trouble finding a place. Since the CS host I contacted didn´t respond to my txtmsgs when I arrived, I decided to look around bus station for a place to stay overnight since I had an early bus to catch the following day. The first hotel I saw was junk, then the second one looked better, but asked for a lot more money, so while I was trying to bargain the price down, a guy from the restaurant came up and asked if he could help, so I explained my situation, and it turned out Petri was a fellow traveller from Finland, and he recommended his hotel. Since my map of the area wasn't good, and I was also hungry, so I decided to join him for dinner and waited till afterwards so he can take me to the hotel. (N.B. I know how fishy this story sounds, but it gets better! :) After dinner and a pleasant conversation, we headed to Petri´s hotel, and surprise surprise, the hotel reception was closed!! Even though according to the sign, it was supposed to open till 10 pm! So I was stuck yet again, and it was already getting dark. At that point, I was debating going back to the second hotel and just bite the bullet, when Petri suggested (out of his guilty conscious for ´misleading´ me, but really wasn´t his fault), so he suggested that his room had two single beds and I could take the second one. Now, in a strange city, with a complete stranger, even I had to think about it, only if you could see how fast my head was spinning! :) So after a second´s thought, I responded, "That is really generous offer, but I have two conditions: one is for me to share half of the hotel room cost, and the other is to exchange passport info." And that is what we agreed! I txtmsged Petri´s info back to Q for safety sake. As luck would have it, a few minutes after we settled down in the hotel room, I got a txtmsg from the CS host, apparently the cell phone number she gave me earlier was off by one digit. GOSH! I still met up with the CS host very quickly and explained the situation but still went ahead with Petri´s room. In the end, everything worked out great, and I managed to get up at 4:30 am to catch my bus. All is well. (Sorry, no photo here either.)

After leaving Czech, I made my way to Moritz and Angela´s apartment in downtown Vienna. It is a very nice location and space, and I have my own futon bed - nice setup! The first night after I arrived, we went dinner with a few other CS hosts - apparently the Vienna CS group is very active, and there are regular and frequent meetings. Here is a photo from the dinner, from left to right: Pawel, Moritz, Angela and Stefan.

So thanks to everyone I met on the way, couchsurfing has been a great experience. Oh, and I must give a special thanks to my support team back home for helping with my CS search. Till next time!

p.s. After a few stops in Austria, I am heading back to Geneva next Tuesday, hoping to catch an earlier flight back to Abu Dhabi. *Fingers crossed!*

1 comment:

FreeTinkerer said...

Girl, you got guts (and smarts too). The old lunch gang agrees with that unanimously :) Everyone misses you.