About two years ago, I had read an article in the New York Times about Couchsurfing.com and LOVED the idea. It's an online community of over 1 million members that offer couches to travelers and welcome them into their homes and lives as a way of connecting and learning from others from difference world and cultures. Here's some excerpts from the article by Penelope Green.
In an age of cheap airfares and porous borders, where nearly every corner of the earth, from Bulgaria to Bhutan, is open for tourism, the home is the final frontier, the last authentic experience. Instead of being in some sanitized hotel in Hanoi, said Erik Torkells, editor of Budget Travel magazine, “if I couch surf I could be on some cool ex-pat’s or local’s sofa.” He added: “I’ve already leapfrogged barriers."So, I created my profile and started requesting to surf couches in Rome, Florence, Naples, and anywhere else I wanted to go. Yes, I was nervous at first. What if a host is difficult to get along with or tries to steal my stuff, or worst, a serial killer! Well, I found that although people tend to be very trusting in the global community, the trust has to go both ways. One potential host told me that they couldn't host me because I had no references. Oh yeah, I only requested couches from people with tons of "friends" and references but I took for granted that they would just welcome me unconditionally into their home. One person responded that they get between 5-15 requests a DAY for their couch in the most visited city in the world. Alas I received many rejections for couches, but DID received offers to have coffee and invitations to events.
The group’s philosophy:... I will offer you my couch free, along with the company of my friends and a tour of my favorite spots in my city. In return, you will give of yourself. In this way, we will be friends, if only for a day or two.
Well, it's a good thing that I used to work for Campus Crusade for 10 years where I trained thousands of new staff that are stationed on campuses all over the world. I could probably put a finger on the map and know someone there. I've wanted to visit my friend Nicole in Florence, Italy so it was no brainer to start facebooking friends and former new staff I'd trained to request their couches.
This is my travel journal as a couchsurfing adventurer in Italy and Greece. It's about the people I've met and their unique stories. Connecting with old friends and experiencing their lives. Seeing amazing sites and being awed by God's creation around the world.
Thanks for reading the following posts about my daily adventures.
With new friends at my first Couchsurfing event. Dinner at Rex Bar in Florence. I met about 30 couchsurfers from around the world. Nico is French and Rossano is from Venice.