Couchsurfing (Part 1)

Mi Casa, Su Casa


Tokyo, a couchsurfer megalopolis
There are thousands of hosts in Tokyo, hotly sought after by countless visitors to the ever-expensive Japanese capital.
Ogimachi, Hida, Japan
One of the traditional villages of Shirakawa-Go commune, one of the snowiest regions in the world. There, the houses were built with A-shaped roofs, in order to prevent landslides due to the accumulation of snow.
Dhukurpokhari
Dhukurpokhari's Inns provide more or less halfway between Chame and Pisang.
Looped ascent
Visitors go up the stairs to the Museo del Campesino restaurant.
Colonial Heritage
Partially isolated from the world due to the rigidity of the military regime, Yangon is one of the cities in Southeast Asia with more colonial buildings.
in the comfort of home
Young family at their home on the outskirts of Suva.
Color balconies
Balconies worked in an alley of the fort.
cubic houses
Very cubic colors and shapes of the San Juan neighborhood.
suzdal-golden-ring-russia-fashion-old-thousand-years-Irina-Zakharova
Dª Irina Zakharova prepares a breakfast in her family inn.
rural affairs
In 2003, a new online community globalized an old landscape of hospitality, conviviality and interests. Today, Couchsurfing welcomes millions of travelers, but it shouldn't be taken lightly.

Sounds simple, Couchsurfing.

You go online, register an account and fill in a profile and provide some more information. From then on, it becomes possible to sleep without spending on hostels or hotels in the homes of literally millions of hosts all countries in the world, North Korea included.

In 2013, there were more than one million registered users, with an average of 28 years. Even Julian Assange from Wikileaks was part of the community, but now it's the Ecuadorian Embassy – as far as we know, not registered on the site – that has been hosting him for a long time.

From Spontaneous Movement to Hyper-Organized Online Community

Initially, I led this community, not for profit and with good intentions, a group of idealistic volunteers, but the unexpected fame of the project came to corrupt the original ideals of sharing and socializing. Even so, countless people continue to strive to make travelers happier.

In exchange for the accommodation we need, it is assumed that at least one or another of these millions of registered users will also be able to stay in our house a few times a year.

From then on, the relationship established depends on the good will and open-mindedness of both the guest and the traveller, but as not always everything goes as expected, here is an overview of the best and worst of Couchsurfing, with some personal examples.

House Saints Don't Always Make Miracles

Couchsurfing Fake Offers:

part of the alleged guests attract travelers to their profiles and even to their properties with the sole purpose of imposing chargeable stays on them, with values ​​similar to those of hostels and inns.

Sometimes this is stated on the profile, but others allow a free first night and announce that there is an amount to pay – for one reason or another – the next morning. This was a question we came across dozens of times on two round-the-world trips and round-trips to the Pacific.

Fortunately, with careful reading of profiles and messages exchanged, as well as attention to telephone conversations, we were able to manage it with relative ease.

Sometimes, even against the founding principles of the Couchsurfing community, we couldn't get affordable accommodation in another place and time and, to be honest, we ended up staying in rooms/houses “advertised” on the Couchsurfing website.

By the way, we remember this problem in the immensely expensive French overseas territories – French PolynesiaFrench Antilles. It is natural that it happens a little everywhere.

The Lonely and/or Guest with Predefined Interests in Couchsurfing: 

is one of the really common situations in the community Couchsurfing. Countless hosts feel lonely or because of psychological, family and social problems or because they live as expatriates, out of step with the places and cultures they have changed to and expect guests to spice up their existence.

This reality becomes really unpleasant when they have already idealized that they will have the company of guests 24 hours a day and hinder their freedom or their plans. We went through several situations of this kind, with completely different experiences and results.

It went well: nothe surroundings of Perth, Western AustraliaTim had recently been divorced. He only lived with a son who completely ignored him. 

He welcomed us and a couple of Germans. He slept on the sofa, offered us the car to explore the Great Ocean Road and took us to see a australian football game among many other incredible sympathies. Despite his somewhat colloquial treatment, we had a lot of fun conversations. 

We have already praised him in several articles about Melbourne and we will never forget it. If you come to Portugal, we insist that you stay with us.

Did Bad: in Utsunomya, in the Japan, halfway to Nikko and her temple complex, we were taken in by a Japanese teenager obsessed with learning English who, in addition, despite not informing him, lived in a tiny T0.

As we arrived at his house late at night and we were far from any alternative, the three of us ended up sleeping on the floor, side by side with our legs under a table.

But that wasn't even what bothered us the most. The worst thing was that, the next day, he tried to stick to us in such an overt and oppressive way that we had to invent an excuse to leave him in the middle of the afternoon.

Homes Sweet Homes or Not As Sweet As This

We also stayed in pristine, sophisticated homes and avoided or left, as soon as possible, homes for us uninhabitable. It's not that we've always managed to fulfill it, but it's important to always have an alternative plan from other Couchsurfers or, if that's not possible, from another type of accommodation, for when things don't go as expected.

It went well: noone of the most prestigious neighborhoods in Tokyo, the American host, a consultant in a multinational company, received us saying that we had broken the record for the delay in arriving at the entrance to the building. à door of his house, such was the technological complexity of the building in which he lived.

As you can imagine, in this case, we feel physically comfortable in his modern, almost futuristic home, even if he turned out to be too corporate and “numerical” by our standards – the typical American eager to become the next "wolf of Wall Street".

went wrong: in Christchurch, in the south island of New Zealand, we had a response from a student in his twenties.

When we arrived at his house, he wasn't there. But there were six or seven other young women, almost all of them women, also couchsurfers, scattered all over the house. One of them welcomed us and told us to settle in wherever we wanted.

All around, everything was a messy, dirty and repulsive chaos and we are far from spoiled. We appreciate it, but we transmit it in the most sensitive way possible to that friend that we weren't going to stay after all. It still occurs to us today that either the host was, himself but only he, irresistible, or those girls were really penniless.

SexSurfing and the Pitfalls

It goes without saying that, even if some countries are practically unworried, no matter where you go, the issue of safety should be on the mind of any couchsurfer.

One of the most recent criticisms of the community is that it houses too many guests and also travelers whose interests are purely sexual. Although almost all relationships end up being consensual, the news of forced sexual relations became more and more frequent, some with extreme violence.

It is Couchsurfing's own directives to advise women traveling alone or even in small female groups to avoid seeking and accepting male guests.

Finally, in some countries with recognized criminality problems, even Couchsurfing has come to be used as a tool for robberies and kidnappings. Malicious procedures are simple to calculate, the malicious host creates a fake profile and attracts victims where it is most convenient for him, not necessarily his home.

To avoid these two problems above, carefully read the profiles and all references of the people you contact and respond to. Don't trust guests without full profiles.

By the way, trust only guests with many positive references from other couchsurfers from different parts of the world. Also investigate as much of the person's remaining online presence as you can. Here, the Facebook obviously has a prominent role.

The Couchsurfing site also launched, some time ago, a paid credit card verification system that allows you to securely associate a name and e-mail to an account with a payment of around €20. .

This verification has become Couchsurfing's main source of income, but it is much criticized because, in practice, it is largely ignored since what it commits to do does not provide any guarantees of real safety.

For more information and safety advice on Couchsurfing itself, go to the Couchsurfing website Safety Tips.

Effortless Traveling

Sync with Check In and Check Out Hours

After a long flight or sequence of flights, he arrives at the hotel on a slop, but has to wait to be admitted to his room. Find out what you can do to prevent or soften this drama.
Effortless Traveling

Book Comfortable Stays for Your Finances Too

As with flights, booking accommodation has its secrets. Find out what the strategies are to ensure a welcoming and financially rewarding stay.
Travel does not cost

On the next trip, don't let your money fly

Not only the time of year and in advance with which we book flights, stays, etc. influence the cost of a trip. The payment methods we use at destinations can make a big difference.
Houses

Homes Sweet Homes

Few species are more social and gregarious than humans. Man tends to emulate other homes sweet homes in the world. Some of these houses are impressive.
Perth, Australia

the lonely city

More 2000km away from a worthy counterpart, Perth is considered the most remote city on the face of the Earth. Despite being isolated between the Indian Ocean and the vast Outback, few people complain.
Apia, Western Samoa

The Host of the South Pacific

She sold burguês to GI's in World War II and opened a hotel that hosted Marlon Brando and Gary Cooper. Aggie Gray passed away in 2. Her legacy lives on in the South Pacific.
Osaka, Japan

In the Company of Mayu

Japanese nightlife is a multi-faceted, multi-billion business. In Osaka, an enigmatic couchsurfing hostess welcomes us, somewhere between the geisha and the luxury escort.
Mendoza, Argentina

Journey through Mendoza, the Great Argentine Winemaking Province

In the XNUMXth century, Spanish missionaries realized that the area was designed for the production of the “Blood of Christ”. Today, the province of Mendoza is at the center of the largest winemaking region in Latin America.
Okavango Delta, Not all rivers reach the sea, Mokoros
Safari
Okavango Delta, Botswana

Not all rivers reach the sea

Third longest river in southern Africa, the Okavango rises in the Angolan Bié plateau and runs 1600km to the southeast. It gets lost in the Kalahari Desert where it irrigates a dazzling wetland teeming with wildlife.
Hikers on the Ice Lake Trail, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit: 7th - Braga - Ice Lake, Nepal,

Annapurna Circuit – The Painful Acclimatization of the Ice Lake

On the way up to the Ghyaru village, we had a first and unexpected show of how ecstatic the Annapurna Circuit can be tasted. Nine kilometers later, in Braga, due to the need to acclimatize, we climbed from 3.470m from Braga to 4.600m from Lake Kicho Tal. We only felt some expected tiredness and the increase in the wonder of the Annapurna Mountains.
Bertie in jalopy, Napier, New Zealand
Architecture & Design
Napier, New Zealand

Back to the 30s

Devastated by an earthquake, Napier was rebuilt in an almost ground-floor Art Deco and lives pretending to stop in the Thirties. Its visitors surrender to the Great Gatsby atmosphere that the city enacts.
The small lighthouse at Kallur, highlighted in the capricious northern relief of the island of Kalsoy.
Adventure
Kalsoy, Faroe Islands

A Lighthouse at the End of the Faroese World

Kalsoy is one of the most isolated islands in the Faroe archipelago. Also known as “the flute” due to its long shape and the many tunnels that serve it, a mere 75 inhabitants inhabit it. Much less than the outsiders who visit it every year, attracted by the boreal wonder of its Kallur lighthouse.
The Crucifixion in Helsinki
Ceremonies and Festivities
Helsinki, Finland

A Frigid-Scholarly Via Crucis

When Holy Week arrives, Helsinki shows its belief. Despite the freezing cold, little dressed actors star in a sophisticated re-enactment of Via Crucis through streets full of spectators.
Victoria, capital, Seychelles islands, Mahé, Capital Life
Cities
Victoria, Mahé, Seychelles

From Francophone “Establishment” to the Creole Capital of Seychelles

The French populated their “Etablissement” with European, African and Indian settlers. Two centuries later, British rivals took over the archipelago and renamed the city in honor of their Queen Victoria. When we visit it, the Seychelles capital remains as multiethnic as it is tiny.
Meal
Margilan, Uzbekistan

An Uzbekistan's Breadwinner

In one of the many bakeries in Margilan, worn out by the intense heat of the tandyr oven, the baker Maruf'Jon works half-baked like the distinctive traditional breads sold throughout Uzbekistan
Bolshoi Zayatski Orthodox Church, Solovetsky Islands, Russia.
Culture
Bolshoi Zayatsky, Russia

Mysterious Russian Babylons

A set of prehistoric spiral labyrinths made of stones decorate Bolshoi Zayatsky Island, part of the Solovetsky archipelago. Devoid of explanations as to when they were erected or what it meant, the inhabitants of these northern reaches of Europe call them vavilons.
4th of July Fireworks-Seward, Alaska, United States
Sport
Seward, Alaska

The Longest 4th of July

The independence of the United States is celebrated, in Seward, Alaska, in a modest way. Even so, the 4th of July and its celebration seem to have no end.
Homer, Alaska, Kachemak Bay
Traveling
Anchorage to Homer, USA

Journey to the End of the Alaskan Road

If Anchorage became the great city of the 49th US state, Homer, 350km away, is its most famous dead end. Veterans of these parts consider this strange tongue of land sacred ground. They also venerate the fact that, from there, they cannot continue anywhere.
Indigenous Crowned
Ethnic
Pueblos del Sur, Venezuela

Behind the Venezuela Andes. Fiesta Time.

In 1619, the authorities of Mérida dictated the settlement of the surrounding territory. The order resulted in 19 remote villages that we found dedicated to commemorations with caretos and local pauliteiros.
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Got2Globe Portfolio

life outside

, Mexico, city of silver and gold, homes over tunnels
History
Guanajuato, Mexico

The City that Shines in All Colors

During the XNUMXth century, it was the city that produced the most silver in the world and one of the most opulent in Mexico and colonial Spain. Several of its mines are still active, but the impressive wealth of Guanuajuato lies in the multicolored eccentricity of its history and secular heritage.
Vesikko submarine, Suomenlinna, Helsinki, Finland
Islands
Helsinki, Finland

Finland's once Swedish Fortress

Detached in a small archipelago at the entrance to Helsinki, Suomenlinna was built by the Swedish kingdom's political-military designs. For more than a century, the Russia stopped her. Since 1917, the Suomi people have venerated it as the historic bastion of their thorny independence.
Maksim, Sami people, Inari, Finland-2
Winter White
Inari, Finland

The Guardians of Boreal Europe

Long discriminated against by Scandinavian, Finnish and Russian settlers, the Sami people regain their autonomy and pride themselves on their nationality.
On the Crime and Punishment trail, St. Petersburg, Russia, Vladimirskaya
Literature
Saint Petersburg, Russia

On the Trail of "Crime and Punishment"

In St. Petersburg, we cannot resist investigating the inspiration for the base characters in Fyodor Dostoevsky's most famous novel: his own pities and the miseries of certain fellow citizens.
Nature
Cascades and Waterfalls

Waterfalls of the World: Stunning Vertical Rivers

From the almost 1000 meters high of Angel's dancing jump to the fulminating power of Iguaçu or Victoria after torrential rains, cascades of all kinds fall over the Earth.
Sheki, Autumn in the Caucasus, Azerbaijan, Autumn Homes
Autumn
Sheki, Azerbaijan

autumn in the caucasus

Lost among the snowy mountains that separate Europe from Asia, Sheki is one of Azerbaijan's most iconic towns. Its largely silky history includes periods of great harshness. When we visited it, autumn pastels added color to a peculiar post-Soviet and Muslim life.
Seljalandsfoss Escape
Natural Parks
Iceland

The Island of Fire, Ice and Waterfalls

Europe's supreme cascade rushes into Iceland. But it's not the only one. On this boreal island, with constant rain or snow and in the midst of battle between volcanoes and glaciers, endless torrents crash.
Selfie, Wall of China, Badaling, China
UNESCO World Heritage
Badaling, China

The Sino Invasion of the Great Wall of China

With the arrival of the hot days, hordes of Han visitors take over the Great Wall of China, the largest man-made structure. They go back to the era of imperial dynasties and celebrate the nation's newfound prominence.
View from the top of Mount Vaea and the tomb, Vailima village, Robert Louis Stevenson, Upolu, Samoa
Characters
Upolu, Samoa

Stevenson's Treasure Island

At age 30, the Scottish writer began looking for a place to save him from his cursed body. In Upolu and the Samoans, he found a welcoming refuge to which he gave his heart and soul.
Lifou, Loyalty Islands, New Caledonia, Mme Moline popinée
Beaches
LifouLoyalty Islands

The Greatest of the Loyalties

Lifou is the island in the middle of the three that make up the semi-francophone archipelago off New Caledonia. In time, the Kanak natives will decide if they want their paradise independent of the distant metropolis.
Balinese Hinduism, Lombok, Indonesia, Batu Bolong temple, Agung volcano in background
Religion
Lombok, Indonesia

Lombok: Balinese Hinduism on an Island of Islam

The foundation of Indonesia was based on the belief in one God. This ambiguous principle has always generated controversy between nationalists and Islamists, but in Lombok, the Balinese take freedom of worship to heart
white pass yukon train, Skagway, Gold Route, Alaska, USA
On Rails
Skagway, Alaska

A Klondike's Gold Fever Variant

The last great American gold rush is long over. These days, hundreds of cruise ships each summer pour thousands of well-heeled visitors into the shop-lined streets of Skagway.
Merida cable car, Renovation, Venezuela, altitude sickness, mountain prevent to treat, travel
Society
Mérida, Venezuela

The Vertiginous Renovation of the World's Highest Cable Car

Underway from 2010, the rebuilding of the Mérida cable car was carried out in the Sierra Nevada by intrepid workers who suffered firsthand the magnitude of the work.
Fruit sellers, Swarm, Mozambique
Daily life
Enxame Mozambique

Mozambican Fashion Service Area

It is repeated at almost all stops in towns of Mozambique worthy of appearing on maps. The machimbombo (bus) stops and is surrounded by a crowd of eager "businessmen". The products offered can be universal such as water or biscuits or typical of the area. In this region, a few kilometers from Nampula, fruit sales suceeded, in each and every case, quite intense.
Masai Mara Reservation, Masai Land Travel, Kenya, Masai Convivial
Wildlife
Masai Mara, Kenya

A Journey Through the Masai Lands

The Mara savannah became famous for the confrontation between millions of herbivores and their predators. But, in a reckless communion with wildlife, it is the Masai humans who stand out there.
Passengers, scenic flights-Southern Alps, New Zealand
Scenic Flights
Aoraki / Mount Cook, New Zealand

The Aeronautical Conquest of the Southern Alps

In 1955, pilot Harry Wigley created a system for taking off and landing on asphalt or snow. Since then, his company has unveiled, from the air, some of the greatest scenery in Oceania.
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