I already heard a lot about Couchsurfing and I must admit that the idea of staying with foreign people at their places sounded suspicious to me. But at some point, I decided to try it out anyway. In fact, some of my friends already tried it before and told me a lot of positive things about Couchsurfing, so why shouldn’t it also work for me? Plus, I already visited a few Couchsurfing meetings in Marburg and met a lot of awesome and open-minded people.
From Febuary 2nd until Febuary 4th, I spontaneously decided to visit Zurich, Switzerland to – in addition – perhaps meet some people I got to know on ICC.
Luana – a friend I know from ICC – agreed to meet in Zurich, but she was not able to host me. However, she connected me to a friend of her in Aarau, not too far away from zurich. I also created a public trip on Couchsurfing in order to find a more suitable place in- or near Zurich, so I wouldn’t have to go back to Aarau on Saturday evening.
Although – in my opinion – it was a very spontaneous request, I got a reply the next day from Marcus, who offered to host me; so I accepted his offer.
When I left the local train in Frankfurt, the assistance didn’t show up in first place. Instead, they called me up on the phone because they were not able to find me. They announced where they were located and together with a colleague of mine, we were able to find the woman who was supposed to pick me up and she gave me a hand boarding the right train; but before I claimed my seat, I went to the board restaurant for lunch.
In Basel, the assistance was standing by and he helped me withdrawing some Swiss Franks. Then, one coffee later, he brought me to a train to Aarau.
On the train and in Aarau where I was picked up by the assistance again, I realized that – even if Swiss German is no official language – everybody is assuming that you speak and understand Swiss German; but of course they are able to speak propper German if you ask them to do so.
I met Vanja in Aarau and we went to his group, where I – from time to time – also met the rest of his group mates.
The next day, Vanja and I went to the train station to get a ticket. Because it is possible to call a certain number in Switzerland to get support at the ticket machine via remote-access, I was excited to try that out because I have never ever heard of such a similar system in Germany or other countries.
I gave them the ticket machine number so they knew which one to access and a few minutes later, I got a ticket from Aarau to Zurich; the only thing I did was inserting my card and entering my PIN in order to pay.
Luana and her friend picked me up in Zurich and after finding a place for lunch, we were just sitting together talking about this and that. We didn’t really tour the city (except for some shops to get some Swiss chocolate), which didn’t really matter because we were already more than happy that we were just able to meet and spend some time together after a long time has passed.
In the evening, they dropped me off at a café and I sent Marcus the information he needed in order to find me. It obviously was a little difficult to locate this particular café I was sitting in, but in the end we found each other and I was more than happy that I brought my powerbank in order to charge my phone; otherwise it would have been way more difficult to find each other.
Marcus invited me to a very cozy hotel restaurant for dinner. Actually, we only tried some of their desserts instead of their main dishes, but it was enough for a whole, sweet dinner (in my opinion).
We afterwards went to another location where we visited some of Marcus’ friends and had a nice talk and laugh.
Arrived at his house, he first showed me around to familiarize myself with the most important things, before we finally went to sleep.
On Sunday, we spent the morning at home for breakfast, a cultural exchange and we shared some of our travel- and Couchsurfing stories.
After lunch, we departed to the train station where I was supposed to check in for the assistance.
As I was used to, I went to one of the service desks to claim my assistance, but they told me that – if I claimed assistance – the person will be waiting at the platform itself, and they were wondering why I didn’t know that and why I was irritated.
Well, there are a few particular reasons why I book assistance in first place: I am – in most cases – not familiar with the train station and I don’t know the way to the platform.
Zurich isn’t really one of the smallest train stations in Switzerland and despite that, why would I book assistance if I had to make it through the train station to the right platform on my own anyway?
Luckily, Marcus was there who brought me to the right platform and even helped me boarding the train and finding the right seat, because whoever was supposed to expect me at the platform didn’t show up.
Later on, Marcus texted me that – a while after my departure – someone showed up looking for me. It turned out that they booked the assistance for the wrong train, not for the one I booked my tickets and requested assistance for which was more than strange, because I definitely announced my assistance request on the phone properly and even got it confirmed on the phone. Next time, I better go check the confirmation SMS more precisely to make sure that there are no mistakes.
Anyway, I called up Deutsche Bahn to rearrange everything and they assured me that someone will pick me up in Frankfurt from the train I was on.
Five minutes later already, the assistance in Frankfurt called me up and asked where I was; the guy was standing at the platform of my arrival but he couldn’t find me. No wonder, because we just passed Karlsruhe and it still took quite a while before the actual arrival in Frankfurt. He apparently didn’t really understand me and was a little confused, so I suggested that he should look at the schedule and check the arrival time of my train.
Finally arrived in Frankfurt, (luckily) another person picked me up from my train and put me on the right train to Marburg.
All in all, it was an awesome experience trying out Couchsurfing and I would gladly try it again when visiting other places when traveling, and it is a nice feeling to travel- and get around independently and additionally meeting some of the locals.