I first heard of couchsurfing on my way to a U2 concert in Croatia during a random catch-up with a local girl who had a perfect American accent. I was curious how she had acquired her accent, so I asked her about it.
“Have you heard about couchsurfing?,” she asked.
“Couch What?!,” I replied.
“Oh man, you must check it out. It’s great. I hosted so many Americans on my couch that their accent just got stuck to me.”
“Oh, so you’re renting your couch?,” I asked, a bit surprised.
“No, I do it for free, just go to www.couchsurfing.com and try it yourself!”
Well, now I was more surprised, but I decided to check it out. Just before I was scheduled to leave for Switzerland, I created a quick profile and sent 50 messages to couchsurfing.com members in the Zurich metropolitan area. I was quite skeptical and thought I’d get one, maximum two responses.
I got 40 responses…Around 10 were positive – and all in one day...
Instead of reading their profiles, I simply chose the first one who had replied and made my way to her home. I knocked on the door, and a lovely girl opened it with a big smile. “I’m so happy you’ve arrived. I hope you like chicken because I’ve just started to cook us dinner.”
Is this for real?! I remember asking myself.
My first-ever host turned out to be a 29-year old court judge (and probably the youngest judge I’ll ever meet). She made every possible effort to make me feel at home and always with a smile. Lucky me, I thought to myself. I was still skeptical about the whole thing, so I decided to give it another try, and the universe once again responded favorably.
Bjorn, my second host, owned a motorcycle, so we made plans to take a trip together to the Swiss Alps, only 5 minutes after arriving to his home. The guy definitely knew how to ride, and it turned out to be one of the best trips I’ve ever had. He introduced me to some of his good friends, which made the whole experience even more enjoyable.
I was now convinced.
Every couchsurfer who hosted me (no matter where he or she was – Switzerland, France or the Netherlands) was simply great. Cornilia, Bjorn, Michel, Aurelien, and all the others – BIG thank you! See you when you get to Australia.