Aug 8, 2011

Louis Theroux, Couchsurfing and Holland


"You're kinda like a Louis Theroux"
- Dutch woman at a party my CS Host brought me along to

"You're like your own personal Couchsurfing site"
- American I've Campervan & Attic "surfed" with

These have been two of the most flattering compliments I've gotten whilst traveling. Funnily my maiden reference to my Couchsurfing profile declared, "Definitely a people person since he seems more interested in meeting the locals than the attractions". I mildy took offence the first time I read it. Then conceded that I do aspire to be more like a 'Louis Theroux' than a 'Rick Steve'.

Couchsurfing is arguably the most popular recurring subject in my travels. Many have endorsed it and some live by it. A friend and big CS advocate had a saying, "contempt prior to investigation". I was definitely guilty of this with Couchsurfing as I had played Devil's Advocate in all my discussions of it.

I was skeptical because through my travels I had been blessed with hospitality and wanted to continue to manufacture things organically. Staying with my brothers in Porto, meeting with friends of friends and finding new running mates along the way.

After realising the scarcity of hostels in parts of Holland (and the scarcity of funds in my bank account), I decided to get over my stubborness and give Couchsurfing a try. Needless to say it was a blast. In my earliest posts I spoke of "ego tripping" and my desire to join random parties as a fly-on-the-wall. Couchsurfing is the surest and quicket way to realise that.

With couchsurfing I've partied with Dutch Capoeira enthusiasts, Danced at the biggest Gay Festival with a gay woman and watched Comedy with a reviewer. It has been a real pleasure to be with open minded people who are willing to share their lives and experience.

I've realised Couchsurfing, is simply a utility. It does not create an open, inviting personality, it merely facilitates it. I've met some amazing people who have shown me great hospitality and we have enjoyed bouncing off each other's curiosity and positivity. These interactions were created by simply striking up conversations. On my return visit to Amsterdam, I've been lucky to experience another side of this amazing city. A more local and less worn perspective. I was able to spend nights in the East with a couple I met in an Utrecht hostel, they had swapped their NY apartment for one in Amsterdam. In the West, a kindly Dutchman allowed us to stay in his unfurnished, recently bought apartment after a brief chat on the street (he needed a light). Last but not least, we've enjoyed a night on a campsite on the outskirts of Amsterdam sleeping in a campervan with Germans befriended in Scheveningen.

With the help of Couchsurfing and otherwise, I've found the world to be more open than I could have ever imagined. Goude Leven!

2 comments:

  1. I really do need to get more active with my Couch Surfing!!! I love the way you're travelling :) Such an amazing experience, different to most I'd think.

    I aspire to have my own adventure like yours one day.

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  2. My opinion on CS is always a work in progress.

    We can only make our own experiences but I do enjoy walking a mile in someone else's shoes.

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