Friday, August 15, 2014

Feelin' welcome in Zurich

Zurich is one of the most expensive places for accommodation that we've seen!
For $200, you can get a very basic room with no breakfast included, out of the city centre..

Given that our budget was already unhappy with us constantly exceeding our limits in Europe, this was too much!

It was time for something different!

AirBnB? No, same problem there.. nothing centrally available, and/or not cheap!

OK, time to be social.. first, we checked with our friend David, who we met at the start of our trip, in Pak Song, Thailand, to see if he knew of anywhere we could stay. He didn't, and would have offered his place, but there was renovations going on, so no room. No problem, and we appreciated the thought.

So, time to turn really social - CouchSurfing and BeWelcome are two sites where you can host or be hosted, essentially free accommodation and you get to meet locals! Nice!
We were running short of time, and I'd put in several requests on CouchSurfing, but so far, only polite rejections ("My house is already full of guests" was the common response).

Time to try BeWelcome, which I only knew about from seeing it on the profiles of CouchSurfing (CS) hosts who were unhappy that CS had incorporated as a for-profit and were in the process of jumping ship..

So I whipped up an account, wrote my profile (copying heavily from my CS profile) and searched for hosts.
Found a few in Zurich, and sent off some requests late at night.

I'd actually received an offer via CS, but the offer was literally for a couch, not a bed, so I wanted to see if we could find something slightly more comfortable.

In the morning, alongside more CS rejections, was a response from BeWelcome, from a German couple who lived in Zurich.
They sounded really friendly and they offered not just a sofa-bed, but pasta dinner and the use of their shower (towels included)! Win!

So I politely turned down the CS host, and gratefully accepted Sharon and Jan's kind offer from BW.
Just in time too, as we were heading to Zurich that very night on a sleeper train via Munich.

We also arranged to meet up with David for coffee.

After a long train trip, we got to Zurich and stashed our bags at the station.
Our locker - big enough to hold all our bags!

Then, we headed out for a walk around, to get a feel for the place (and some food!).

We ate at a Swiss restaurant, and of course, we had cheese dishes: fondue and Raclette. Delicious!

After some more walking around, it was time to meet up with David.

Walking around town with David..

Soon, it was getting towards our agreed meeting time with our hosts, so David helped us find a place to buy wine, and we jumped on a local train back to the main station, where we quickly grabbed overnight stuff, and left the bulk of the stuff in the locker (Naomi's brilliant idea!!).

Then we walked, and let me tell you, we were happy that we weren't carrying all our stuff, as it was mostly up-hill or up stairs...

We got there, and met Jan, who turned out to be just as friendly as the profile indicated.
Their place is on the top of the building, so they have a pretty awesome view..
View from Sharon and Jan's place
Soon, Sharon joined us (she was out shopping for our dinner) and she was also as nice as the profile suggested.

We chatted for ages, while Sharon cooked pasta, and Jan and I played/tortured the ukulele. Jan plays the guitar, as mentioned, and is really good, but is even more of a beginner on the uke than me.
Me on Jan's uke, Jan on guitar - he was the only one playing an actual tune..
Soon, the place smelled wonderful, as the pasta was ready.. Thank you Sharon, for single-handedly preparing this tasty meal!
Yummy dinner!!
After dinner, we chatted more, and then it was time for bed.
Our awesome hosts set up the sofa bed, then showed us the shower.
Interesting shower - it's built underneath the sloping roof, so you can't stand up in it! You have to kneel or sit in the tub. Must be hard to get used to, but for us it was novel!

Clean for the first time in two days, we crashed on the bed.. and off to dreamland..

Thank you so much, Sharon and Jan, for inviting us into your home! We really appreciate it!

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