Aug 4, 2014

Europe 2014: CS hosts

I can't write about my trip without first mentioning how grateful I am to all the wonderful couchsurfing hosts who are so generous in welcoming me into their homes. They made my trip exceptionally memorable with the time we spent together, talking and exchanging views/thoughts/insights about everything and anything.

Many of those around me are quite astonished when I tell them that I'll be sleeping on 6 strangers' couches instead of staying in hotels/hostels in 5 different cities. They just can't wrap their heads around the idea that there are (many) people in the world whom are willing to allow 'stranger(s)' to sleep on their 'couch' without getting any monetary returns. As someone who can sleep (almost) anywhere, I don't really care if I'm sleeping on a couch/sofa bed/ mattress/real bed in their spare/living/dining room/kitchen. I want to interact with the local people. I want to know about their daily lives. And I get to do that through couchsurfing.

Stairways up to M's house
Almost two months before the trip, I started writing requests to hosts in the 5 cities that I planned to visit. Diligently, I read through profiles and references of potential hosts as I wanted to make sure we have things in common and can talk about things that we like/love. I would send one request at a time for each city. I then waited for at least 5 days for responses before sending out another one. And all my requests are personalized and tailored because I genuinely wanted to meet them and talk. Maybe because of my sincerity, my 'acceptance-rate' was pretty good. For the 6 couches I needed in 5 different cities, I sent out a total of 23 requests. Some of the hosts didn't respond, while some were kind enough to let me know that they can't take me in. So 6 out of 23 isn't such a bad statistics after all! :)

Also, I kept my plans flexible because I knew I would need to adjust and adapt to my hosts' plans/schedule. All of them gave me suggestions and recommendations about the places I can visit that may/may not be listed in guide books. Some of them took me around to get me familiarized with the city and showed me how the public transport there works. One of them even took me to a castle in her car! Truthfully speaking I enjoyed my stay so much more when I was staying with a CS host, which maybe why I don't like Rotterdam because I stayed in the conference hotel when I was there.

To Merijn, Rob, James, Pierre, Phillips, Olaf, Amy, Ester, Inge, Nadya, Sharon, Wendy, Geert, Sara, Jelle, Maud and Dana, thank you for your hospitality and kindness from the bottom of my heart. I am really glad that out paths crossed through CS and hope to keep in touch for many years to come. :)

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