First semi-couch surfing experience
First semi-couch surfing experience.
For those who don’t know, couchsurfing is all about fostering international exchange by having the opportunity to meet and stay with locals when traveling. You can surf, open up your couch and host surfers or attend events in your city organised by other local couchsurfers. The whole essence is to share your life, culture and kindness to otherwise strangers. It’s a flippin’ cool idea and one that I’m only starting to dwell into.
While it does seem like a great idea, I’m a little freaked out by the prospect of staying at someone’s place who i don’t know and is the only reason why I have yet to do this. There are horror stories but the good intention by many on the site is clear. There is an option of course, to just meet a couchsurfer which is the option I took when I was in Paris last year (yay, another Paris story).
One excellent way to sort through people, is to see whether they have any references in their profile. These are what other surfers/hosts have written about them, like a testimonial to see whether they’re a serial killer or not on what the other person was like and whether it was a positive or negative experience. There are sections to write a bit about yourself so you can see what others like and whether you think you’ve got enough common interests to get along.
I met up with M, who had agreed to meet me for an afternoon. Upon meeting up with her, she introduced me to 2 of her friends (one being a visiting spanish friend- Liz) and off we went to look at the Christmas displays of Printemps, Palais Garnier & were going to make our way to a rooftop bar (that we later found out to be closed). They showed me the first Hungry Jacks that recently opened in Paris (and the insane queue pictured above), told me about the burger situation in Paris and chilled out in Starbucks giggling like school girls over the cute barista. The most hilarious thing was that Liz had little english and spoke to M in spanish, M was speaking to her other friend in french and in english to me!
We met up again for dinner as M had booked us into a quaint french restaurant where we had a very stereotypical meal of soupe l’oignon, canard a l’orange and creme brulee. Delicious. We then made the trip to see the Notre Dame & Lourve by night and then towards to Eiffel Tour for the 10pm light sparkle.
You may be thinking, well you’ve just spent an afternoon talking to other girls but as a traveller in a foreign city, the experience was more than that. I had no idea that Paris just got a Hungry Jacks (they’re been in Aus as long as I can remember), I wouldn’t have chilled at Starbucks talking about english classes in the french schooling system, wouldn’t have seen the Lourve at night or shared language learning techniques. I’m forever grateful to the experience that M and Liz added to my time in Paris and the photos we took!
It’s all great and well to go to another country and see the sights but meeting locals and learning about what life is like for them and sharing ideas is something money can’t buy, which is the core of what couchsurfing is all about.
While my first couchy experience wasn’t very long, it was definitely a positive one and I will be using couchsurfing again!
Pictures: Us at the Notre Dame checking the lighting under the Christmas tree before our group photo, the Hungry Jacks queue.