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Dear Mum and Dad,

Please don't be mad.

Okay I've just WhatsApped you guys anyway but here's a full account of my couch surfing and hitchhiking activities so far:

Couch surfed in Brussels with this really nice guy called Nicolas. That's where we met a really cool fellow couch surfer from California who's been traveling eastern and western Europe on her own for the past year and two months. Nicolas' place was clean and nice, just that the hot water wasn't reliable.

Hitch hiked from Bruges to Ghent with a lovely couple, lady was called Ellen. They live in Ghent and were super nice, wrote down a list of local things that we can do, and best Belgian beers. (held up 'Ghent' written on the back of my bus ticket at the side of the road leading to the highway to Ghent for about half an hour, with thumbs stuck resolutely up) (most people will shrug shoulders apologetically if they can't take us. These three guys were funny idiots who all gave broad smiles and thumbs up as they passed us by)

Couch surfed in Ghent with an architecture student called Pavel. He lives next to his parents (Nicolas lives above his mum's shop, she's a dentist) in a place that used to house hobos. But they got chased out and he redid the whole place on his own. Our bed wasn't the cleanest but the shower was heavenly. There was another couch surfing couple there but we didn't have much chance to talk to them.

Hitch hiked from Ghent to Brussels with a Belgian Air Force engineer (wanted to be a pilot but hearing wasn't good enough). He was pretty cool. And he doesn't actually live in Brussels but a town further down, so he spent quite long detouring through the poor city traffic for us. (held up sign written on pie box for half an hour as well) (we accidentally almost attempted to hail a police car. They were amused.)

That was all with E. With S I attempted to couchsurf a night at Darrens place in Cork. At first he seemed okay, like the picnic at the water's edge was lovely, but when he brought us to his place we were disgusted. It's absolutely filthy and filled with stuff everywhere. There was a pile of half eaten bread on the table, and the kitchen was a mess of uncleaned dishes and random food. The toilet bowl itself was alright but the shower looked supremely dirty and S spotted a garden slug. That last piece of news didn't bother me because I'd already made up my mind not to shower that night. We slept on Darrens big bed with 2 Belgian and German girls who we'd spent the day with, while he slept downstairs in the living room. The bed wasn't clean, had a bunch of crumbs at the side, brushed most of it of but guess who slept there? Ugh. The four of us spent a while coming up with a plan to beat it the next morning (we'd initially planned on staying 2 or 3 nights) before going to sleep. At least it wasn't cold. The Belgian girl did a fantastic job the next morning of explaining why we were all leaving, and we walked away with a sigh of relief. The moment we got to our hostel, S and I took a shower. So relieved. Hope I can wash that set soon because it's one of only three sets I've brought.

Couch surfed with a guy called Owen and his roommates on our third night in Cork. At this time it was E, S and I. Slept in the living room on the couch and the sofa bed. Not the cleanest but understandable for college guy standards maybe? Hot shower also amazing here. If you read my other post I'll tell about the people there.

Conclusion: there are good and bad experiences to be had in couch surfing and hitchhiking. So far I've been blessed with fairly okay ones. I'm not going to do it all the time because it's not always safe to, like in Portugal and Spain (my next stop) but Belgium is known to be safe enough. I do think however that it's an amazing way to get to know locals, because a true couch surfing experience involves interaction and conversation with your host. It's always good to hear the slang and the culture and the ordinary lives of the country. As much as I would like to believe that I could roam around the countryside on my own like a lost waif and breathe in the essence of the land, I think that maybe half the experience of travel is the people.

That being said, I will be responsible and not romanticise it too much, so I'll just be friendly along the way, stay in hostels and talk to other travellers etc. And I also don't do any of this alone, if alone I'll pay for normal stuff.

Sooo yes that's an account of things so far, you know I don't like to keep things from you guys. Let me know when you've read this fully?

Love, Sophia

Posted by seaskimmer 11:31 Tagged people travel hitchhike couchsurf Comments (0)

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