Posts tagged ‘couchsurfing’

CouchsurfingStories#2: A tourist in the own city

On Monday, there were lots of guests in Hannover for the Coldplay concert. After a while of not-hosting (nobody asked me, indeed), I was happy to be the couchsurfing-host for two guests from Russia, St. Petersburg. My idea here is not to tell boring travelling stories like “have-you-been-here-and-there and I-have been-here-and-there and so on and so on and I have been to more countries to you and it is all soooo great and exotic.” No, this is boring, as I already wrote in my first couchsurfing story.

I think it is more interesting to tell you how couchsurfing changes the way you think.

So, on Monday, my guests from Russia, me and others were sitting in the Hannover-Künstlerhaus with some fruit juice. Two hours before Coldplay started to play, I and another person from the couchsurfing-Hannover-Community said goodbye to the guests, as we were not joining (Tickets 60-80 Euros!).

We helped to carry the sleeping bags of them, and as I was walking with a sleeping bag, an ice in the hand, lost in thoughts, it suddenly came to my mind: I feel like a tourist in my own city!

And this is cool, being a tourist in your own city.

It always happens to me, that I feel more conscious about the seemingly well-known-environment. People notice the facades of the houses, that are sometimes extremely beautiful in the area where I live. I first noticed them after a year living there.

Often, I become aware, that I should appreciate more the area I live: Guests notice how great it is to have a lake to swim and a big forest. Tourist go into a museum, inhabitants of a city only rarely. A year ago I went with a Canadian guest into the modern art Sprengel-Museum, and she told me about her modern art idea:

“I and a friend once wanted to make an art installation consisting of a transparent plastic-block were we vomited into.”

Disgusting idea, but could be modern art. If you have such stories, connected to all the modern art,  it really helps you to understand, how people might draft modern art ideas.

Couchsurfing also helps you to understand what Germany is, if you walk through these allotments (Kleingartenkolonien, Hannover has many!), where you think Snow White will soon show up between all the kitschy Gartenzwerge.

As I visited Oldenburg again, where I was born, I showed a Brazilian the Schlossgarten. Autumn, leaves were falling, ducks were swimming in a little lake. She spontaneously said: “It’s so Disney!” It seems that Disney had a huge impact on the global Europe-image, and there was also an exhibition in Munich about this («Walt Disneys wunderbare Welt und ihre Wurzeln in der europäischen Kunst»). The danger, off course, is that you affirm klischees. But, I think, the danger is the very much higher, if you travel with friends using a hostel and then visit all the mainstream attractions such as Maschsee or Rathaus.

If you want to change yout perspective in a more luxourious way, you can do what Svennov wrote on his Limmerstraßenblog:

Nach dem Einchecken bin ich zum Gast in meiner eigenen Stadt geworden, denn normalerweise wäre mir das Viertel um den Maschsee viel zu langweilig und das Maschseefest zu sehr verseucht mit unkultivierten und gleichzeitig langweiligen Menschen. Aber an diesem Tag war es genau das richtige, ein Kurzurlaub in einem anderen Stadtteil; ich beobachtete die Menschen wie ein Aussenstehender, sog alles in mich auf und fühlte mich ein bisschen wie auf einer Safari, die ohne Kamera auskommt.”

Join Couchsurfing.com if you also want to be a tourist in your own city. Or go into a hotel as Svennov did, but this is probably the more expensive option.

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August 29, 2009 at 6:15 pm 1 comment

CouchsurfingStories#1

I have several drafts of couchsurfing stories saved in wordpress. It’s this travelling, non-commercial website I also mention in my About section.

But I could never decide on writing further. The story about the British movie freak where I watched Lola runs in Manchester for the first time. Or the story about the former employee of the old German Parliament in Bonn in the 80s, that I met (or: “couchsurfed”) in Berlin. He: living lonely, sorrounded by all his cats and his massive flat-screen. Second occupation: Former tax-advisor for tax havens.  I just arrived, we drank wine, I had my own room, he told me about his cats and his live in London, his witnessing of 9/11 in NY. The greatness of conversation corresponded to the luxurious room, bath towel on bed — just like in a hotel. I just couldn’t decide.

Which story is worth writing down? Or is this senseless, because all these stories are worth nothing without the mental images you personally collected at your journey? Maybe you know the situation, when people tell you about a travelling story, but you are just not interested, because they don’t  mean anything to you.

So I won’t write down any of my stories, but a different one;

In a park here in Hannover, I met a British guy who is into literature and travelling around with almost nothing. No plans where to go next. “I don’t plan” he said.

Some months ago, he just came from a faraway country into London. What a coincidence: G-20 Summit. Big thing. Financial crisis. Estimated 20.000 protesters that pilgrimaged to a rather small square just around the Bank of England.

He could decide on which group to join: Autonomous ones, anarchists, ecological groups, tourists, handy-cam ones, undecided ones, people with a Bank-of-England coffin, having the picure of the BoE-executive printed on it. Or just follow a man on a bike made up like a pirate ship, himself wearing a pirate costume?

He didn’t decide to join a group, he just walked alone with his script among the crowd to detect literary essence. He wasn’t present, but just documenting what was going on. But was anyone present actually? Everybody filming everybody: The police filming the protesters, the protesters filming the police with handy cams. Journalists filming the filming people. Helicopters filming the people filming the people. And he noting it down. So who was present?

This is the Youtube-Age. Anyway, there were agressive protests, just as expected; People throwing stones into the Bank, even trying to burn it, but being stopped by other protesters because bankers where upstairs. Computers being smashed, drum n’ bass music played in the background from sound systems in shopping-carts. A japanese girl with platform shoes dancing to rave music, sorrounded by helicopters.

I could listen even longer…but the protests had its end, so his story does. Later the evening, I saw him vanishing, just around the corner at Hannover’s federal bank, walking home with his host carrying his bike. He is on the road again, never seen again, but stories that stay.

A story like a journey. No youtube, no picures. Just words. And an internet plattform like couchsurfing.com that gives you the opportunity for such acquaintances. Sometimes that’s all you need.

August 11, 2009 at 1:47 am 1 comment


About jannesr.wordpress.com Blog

This Blog has no real mission, but it is just a place for me to publish stories.
I like to have the pressure to simply write something down for an abstract audience. Bristrouble.wordpress.com was another attempt of me to do this when I was in Bristol. See below.

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