Wednesday July 15, 2016
I just flew into Poland. Excitement was high. I had no idea what to expect. There money was not Euros, so the first thing I had to do was pull out Polish money and find my way to my first couch surfers place. Thankfully, he gave me pretty good directions.
Take the train to the central station then take the trolley that goes in the middle of the road to the street where he lived.
But of course, I got lost.
I was nervous.
Alone in a huge city.
My phone wasn’t picking up wifi so I had no idea how to get ahold of my couch surfer to ask him for more specifics… I spoke no Polish so was scared to talk to anyone after attempting to talk to people in France ( my “Parlez-vous anglais?” was more often than not greeted with stuck up noses and pure disgust).
So I stood there, at an intersection of an underground train station with people hurting in all 4 directions. I was lost.
Just as I was about to look for a bathroom (What’s bathroom in Polish again?) to hide from the crowds for a bit a nicely dressed man in a crisp blue button up and newly ironed khakis walked up to me and asked, in English, with quite a thick Polish accent, “Do you need help? Welcome to Poland!”
Relief flooded through me. Anxiety quickly erased as this beautiful stranger looked up directions to the trolley stop (down the hallway until I reached the McDonalds and turn left and take the first ….) and timetables on when the next one would come (10 minutes) and how long it would take (35 minutes).
45 minutes later I was at my couchsurfer’s place. The trolley dropped me off in what some would describe as the ghettos. Huge concrete buildings with tiny balconies. The bare sides of the building were covered in beautiful street art and giant dinosaurs and faces and trees towered over the dirty streets. It was run down, but in a quaint, safe kind of way.
I always get that rush of excitement and nervousness when I first meet up with my couchsurfer.
Will they like me? Am I enough? Do I live up to their expectations? What do they expect? I wonder what their plan is for the night? I hope they don’t want to stay up until 6am… I am tired. Did they eat already? I am hungry, should I have picked up something? I wonder how the couch feels. Oh mannnnn, should I have already picked up some vodka? I bet they have some.. what if they don’t! I wonder what stories they have. What can I teach them? Will I be entertaining enough? I wonder if they like chocolate and Haribo as much as me… etc.etc.etc.
He turned out to be grrrrrrrreat! A tiny little apartment up on the 9th floor with a gorgeous view of Warsaw. We went to a shop to get some more supplies for dinner. He took me to the vodka section, it IS Poland after all.. and Ohhhh mannnnnn
A WHOLE WALL OF VODKA!!!!!!
There was clear vodka and caramel colored vodka and flavored vodka and dude… I was in heaven.
We bought some and skipped off to this darling little beach on the river between two bridges and sat down just in time to catch the sunset. We bought three little bottles of vodka and spent the evening swapping stores, sipping from the different flavors, digging out toes into the sand and watching the people all around us. It was a beautiful summer vibe.
The sunset was breathtaking. The vodka was tasty, warming us up from the inside as the breeze grew stronger with the progression of the nightfall.
My favorite bits of couchsurfng.
The local spots.
The story swapping.
Always inspiring. Always leaving me wanting more. Always making me dream of what life would be like to live in that particular place. Bewildering me with the fact that some people grew up in that place. They get to do these things I fall in love with each place I go anytime they want. These places these couchsurfers take me to have stories, have history with these places they take me to. There is a reason why they take me to these places.
Their ordinary is my extraordinary.
And I always think, maybe this is home? Maybe this is where I should be?
Because right there, in that moment, with that stranger that is quickly becoming a good friend, in that new place that makes my heart melt with happy, I feel at peace. I am where I am meant to be at that moment. And nothing can take those moments away from me.
Those places the couchsurfers take me to. The conversations we have. The stories we swap. The laughter we share. We rocket forth from strangers to best friends in mere hours.
I love it.
I truly do.
Couchsurfing is by far my favorite way to travel and to meet people.