Surf's up

Berlin Travel Blog

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Márton and his flat
Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the fabulous invention that is Couchsurfing. My Seattle friends already got a taste of this when I invited a couple of traveling English blokes over for an evening and we all became fast friends. I'm part of an online network of friendly backpacker types, called... (any guesses?) You create a profile, talk about how much you like meeting new people and want to see the world, and then days, weeks or months later some other people-loving vagabond contacts you to ask if they can sleep on your couch. Or vice versa. For all you nay-sayers, who scoff at the "danger" or absurdness of not knowing the person, I'll remind you that when I went to college I lived with a stranger; as an exchange student, I lived with strangers; when I first got to Seattle I moved in with 2! get the point. It's all about people trusting people. And, in this case, usually really cool, open-minded people at that.

My first experience as a surfer is with Márton. He was born in Hungary but has lived in Germany since he was seven. His english is great, which is a very good thing since, as it turns out, my German is shit. Apparently not using a language for 6+ years will make you forget a thing or 20. The first thing Márton did when I arrived was hand over a spare key and leave me alone in his apartment for an hour while he ran an errand. This, my friends, is called trust. And since I am not (thankfully, for all involved) a psychotic, kleptomaniac criminal, I just sat down with my computer and relaxed for the hour. When he returned, we left together to meet up with some of his friends for dinner and drinks. This is exactly why I do couchsurfing. To experience the neighborhoods and people you don't come across as a tourist.

I gave Márton and his friends "permission" to speak completely in german when talking to each other. I find my ability to understand is still somewhat decent. Trying to answer, however, is pretty painful for all involved. I realize exactly how many words are no longer, or never were, lingering in my brain. It makes me respect non-native english speakers that much more, considering the deep discussions we've had in my language. My german conversations don't get much deeper than "Where is the toilet?" or "My neighbor likes to go on walks." You can imagine how far that takes me.

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Márton and his flat
Márton and his flat
photo by: CFD