Friday, 3 December 2010

Riding The Waves

I'll start by saying Happy Birthday to one of my oldest friends Mrs (!!) Katie-Jayne Thomas who is 23 today. Many happy returns from Canada.

So, most of you who I spoke to before I left will have a vague idea of what my two biggest plans were out here. The first being Couchsurfing. The second I shall reveal at a later date (although I have mentioned it several times before...)

So, what is Couchsurfing I hear you cry?! Possibly the best thing to ever happen to the modern traveller I should say. Couchsurfing is an online network that allows you to meet likeminded individuals on your travels or in your home town. What you do with said likeminded individuals is up to your living situation and availablity, which you display on the profile you create. This can range from just meeting someone for a coffee, or having them stay with you whilst they're passing through the area. Or on the other hand, it is you passing through the area and you have your own little personalised tour guide to show you the hidden gems of a city which you may never have found with a guidebook.

Sounds good right?! Well hell yeah it is. I guess for some people out there the idea of meeting up with complete strangers and staying in their houses seems fairly insane, and in a way it is. But if you choose carefully and don't put yourself in stupid situations, couchsurfing can be the saviour of your travels, as well as your bank account.

In the past few weeks I have had three experiences of Couchsurfing, all of which have been positive, and I'd like to publicly announce how greatful I am to all my hosts. I'm not so sure what I may have done with myself in that time if it had not been for you guys.

Just so those people unfamiliar with the whole shabang can get an idea of it all, here is a very fast whistlestop tour of the kinds of things Couchsurfing has brought into my life.

RISK! 2210 A.D.
First Stop: Michele and Katja. Eastside Vancouver. One Italian, one German. Ridiculously hard Italian card games, a silly amount of tea consumed (decaf included for those late nights), my first real nights sleep in Canada, my first taste of sushi (I will try it again despite the fact it was gross) quiz night at Our Town (see above post on Top Five Eats), my first burrito (better than sushi!), an epically long game of futuristic Risk, Mary Poppins on vinyl, returning a week later to head out on a trip to Seattle and Portland together, which brings us to today, hooray!

Second Stop: Graham Street House. Victoria. Three guys. Two students, one money bank person. Political chitchat about WikiLeaks and the British monarchy (most of which I couldn't keep up with, shameful), squishiest sofa known to man, badass TV show called Boardwalk, jugs of beer at Swans, getting complimented on my British accent by drunk people at Canoe Club, debating Adam's outfit for his night out (hilarious.), convincing a man to follow his dreams and go and build a cabin in the wilderness (next step, convince his girlfriend...), my first taste of perogies Steeve style (yummmm!), trying to teach them to speak in an English accent and just making Steeve sound like a South African sex offender. Not going to lie, probably a highlight.

Third Stop: Bryan. Victoria. One man, two geckos. A short but oh so sweet visit. Endless talks about travels whilst looking at a world map and being overwhelmed by how much ground there is to cover, writing lists of music for his travels, wine/gin/someswedishstuff/beer.cosmo's/moregin, Big Bad John's and peanut throwing 2010, first decent meal at The Mint (and a painful stomach for many hours afterwards), great new friendly faces of Victoria, falling asleep listening to Blind Pilot, hella portions of food at Flynn's, Fisherman's Wharf and Sammy the Seal, beautiful Victoria lookout point (it's a secret, sshhhh!) Bryan managed to squeeze a lot in considering I was ther for less than 24 hours!

So there we have it. I doubt I would have done any of those things had it not been for these incredibly generous individuals. They will always be remembered as helping me along the way on my first travels alone. And I am pleased to say there will be plenty more stories on Couchsurfing to come...

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