The #1 Secret to Extended Travel on Small Savings (or, How I Enjoyed London for a Month w/o Touching my Bank Account)

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MIDNIGHT IS THE DEADLINE!! If you want to learn how to travel Europe on just €5 a day, check out the Kickstarter page to pre-order a copy of the travel guide before MIDNIGHT TONIGHT, JUNE 16th!

A deck of cards, some rope, a Sharpie, and a big pad were all it took to keep me exploring London without ever digging into my savings.

The number one key to travelling for extended periods of time on a small savings is a willingness to step outside your comfort zone and BUSK.

Creativity will get you very far when wandering across Europe, and with a little foresight you can travel pretty well.  You might work at hostels or farms, or become an Au Pair or English teacher.  But most people know about this, and the ground is very well covered. And it all sounds like work–bleh.  You can busk almost anywhere, and interact with the culture at large as you do it.

Busking is the real secret.  Busking is a fancy word for street performing, and if you have any talent, including the extraoridnary ability to stand perfectly still, you could have an extra twenty Euros in your pocket in no time.

The last time I traveled to England I took my vest, a deck of cards, a few balloons, and three pieces of rope.  I lived comfortably in London for a month without spending a dime from home.

After about two days of trial and error I had a seven minute routine down that garnered me enough cash for a hostel, meals, and rides on the subway.  After two weeks of polishing my performance, I had enough to go see museums and shows, while only working about four hours a day.

My girlfriend remembered that she had a skill as well–plate spinning.  She took her plates and sticks to Trafalgar Square and just standing there with a plate on a stick, handing it off to people, she was able to boost our income by about 50% daily (with plates and sticks people!).

You must understand, however, that there’s much to know before going out there if you want to be successful.  You can’t just walk out on the street and start strumming and expect to make much money.  There are techniques and bits of etiquette you should know–things tested, refined, and passed down for generations.  

Whether you’re going to do magic, spin a plate, play a guitar, sing, create chalk drawings, do caricatures, become a human statue, etc, you will want to know the etiquette of busking in general, and the etiquette relating to each of the countries/cities you’re visiting.  Utilizing a foundational understanding of busker etiquette can get any amateur on the streets and grabbing a little extra cash in no time.

I’ve studied the art, both from all the major books/DVDs on the subject and intensely on the street as well.

I’ll be including city-by-city tips on how to take your skills and turn them into a little extra spending, or the financial foundation of your overall journey.

Of course that’s on top of the traditional travel guide that is “Europe on €5 a Day.”  There’s only a few more hours to get in on the Kickstarter action!

The Uncommon Uses of “Europe on €5 a Day”

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ONLY 3 DAYS LEFT!! If you want to learn how to travel Europe on just €5 a day, check out the Kickstarter page to pre-order a copy of the travel guide before JUNE 16th!

What could you do with a book that teaches you how to travel Europe on just €5 a day?  Well, you could backpack Europe for a fraction of the usual cost, or use it to supplement your activities while studying abroad.  You might use it as a supplement to more luxurious travel to help you find unique and out of the way sights.  You could give it as a gift to a favored traveler you know. But then I got to thinking about what else you might use this for…

  • Are you $180,000 in student loan debt?  One more charge on the ol’ credit card to get you to Europe shouldn’t hurt.  Then you drop off the map!  They can’t collect on the loan if they can’t find you as you hop from place to place using only cash!
  • Are you a secret agent with no memory of your past who needs to track down the government that tortured you?  No problem!  Europe on 5 will show you where to spend your nights far away from prying eyes!
  • Are you living in a post-apocalyptic world where all the major tourist attractions have been leveled by the recently defeated alien invaders?  How about some of these off-the-beaten-path sites which the aliens didn’t bother with since they couldn’t find them in Lonely Planet or Rick Steves.

Those are just a few ideas, but I’m sure the possibilities are endless.  Any thoughts?

Communing with the Ghosts of Pompeii

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ONLY A FEW DAYS LEFT!! If you want to learn how to travel Europe on just €5 a day, check out the Kickstarter page to pre-order a copy of the travel guide before JUNE 16th!

The ruins of Pompeii, Vesuvius in the distance.

I couldn’t help myself in Pompeii.  Never in my life have I been so utterly haunted–and in the middle of a bright, sunny day no less.

Well, mostly sunny. The day started out a little overcast, but it cleared up nicely.

The ancient city is much less of a ruin than you might imagine, and more of a poorly kept abandoned town.

Okay, a *very* poorly kept abandoned town.

Some buildings still have their original roofs attached and the last scrawlings and sketches of playful and vulgar citizens are found everywhere you look.

It’s a little hard to see, but this is a bit of graffiti depicting two gladiators duking it out.

I couldn’t help but run my fingers along the wall, and sit and think on the benches where long dead scholars sat and thought.

A semi-circle, stone bench. I will assume, for the sake of my gilded memories, that scholars sat here :)

I walked the same streets over and over again.

I examined the paintings on the walls, imagining endlessly the hands that crafted them, and the minds attached to those hands which could never have conceived of the world that would one day surround their art, the people who would appreciate it, or the magic silver rectangle which would capture it.

I roamed the home of the villainous senator Casca, whose blade was the first to fall on Julius Caesar.

I spent at least twenty minutes staring in awe at the bones of a family and their slaves where they had slowly starved to death after being trapped in their home by the fall of heavy ash.

I bowed my head before the honored gods of a doomed family, the tiny idols in their altar, still standing where they failed almost two millenia ago.

The restricted areas of Pompeii are poorly restricted.  Flimsy, rotting wooden gates are meant to bar tourists from wandering to areas not open to the public.  But, as I’ve said, I couldn’t help myself.  I looked around me and, when I was clear, pressed on into the narrow corridors beyond the gates.

I wandered the backrooms of Pompeian homes, crouched next to broken vessels, and examined bits of graffiti tourists less daring than me don’t get to see.  I sought out beautiful pieces of art that one could just barely glimpse in the distance from the tourist path, and found my way into areas totally sealed, except for a small hole where a bit of wall had disintegrated.  I climbed half collapsed stairs which led to a crumbling second level where I looked out over the sun-baked ruins.

I’m full of bright ideas.

I laid my pen and notebook on an table still standing and wrote.  I wandered in ancient kitchens which led to concealed gardens.

In the hidden spots of that dead city there is much of interest to be found, and I wandered where I was not supposed to be for hours.

And hours.

As dusk settled on the little city below Vesuvius I took no notice of the darkening sky.  Pompeii closes at sunset, and as hordes of visitors made their way to the exits, I continued on my trespassing way oblivious, unaware of, and unseen by, the workers ushering people towards the exit. Suddenly, or so it seemed, it was dark.

In those streets, where hundreds perished in blinding agony, no light, save the moon and stars, fell to guide my path.  So removed from the modern world, it was silent, except for the slap-slap-slap of my boots on the cobbled roads. Everywhere I looked, I was alone with the ghosts of Pompeii.

Alone and lost.  Utterly lost.  I walked in circles. It was too dark to read my map.  The only lighting I found was when I passed an exhibit, where the twisted shells of charred corpses, frozen eternally in their last, writhing moments of searing agony, were laid out for all to see.

Chest raised in a last, strained, ash-filled gasp–no sculptor could so clearly convey pain and despair.

Adults curled futilely as fetuses–neither Lovecraft, nor Poe, nor King, nor any storyteller could so perfectly craft horror.

The longer I walked, the deeper the moon-thrown shadows fell on me, and I could form no distinct vision of the ruins.  In some spots, where time and misfortune had little weathered the buildings, it may as well have been a living town slumbering before Monday for all I could tell.

My pulse quickened, and I felt each cool breath drawn between my lips.  I began to run.  But running only obscured detail, tripped up my memory, and I soon found myself in a section of the city I had not yet seen.

Pitch black. Long alleys. Silence and wind.

I am not a superstitious person.  In fact, I don’t believe in ghosts or spirits–I am a materialist in my rational brain, but my imagination doesn’t know that.  I had spent the whole day in my mind, soberly picturing life in the old Roman city, living it in my thoughts.  Rationality had abandoned me, and terror began to wind itself about me, tightening on me.

Only curiosity kept my head on straight.  As I wandered in search of an exit, I saw even more of Pompeii than my day’s explorations had allowed.  Despite the unsettling fear I felt, I seriously considered tucking away in a dark corner, in a closed off section, and spending the night.

Almost two hours after they had closed I found myself on a wide boulevard which seemed to lead away from the center of Pompeii.  I followed the road until I saw a modern gatehouse, with a guard inside, obliviously watching television.  It looked like a place they might receive deliveries, but I didn’t investigate.  I hightailed it out of there, ducking under the gate, and bolting past the guard lest he should think to question what a tourist was doing in there so long after closing.

I ran long and hard, all the way around the city until I reached the train and sat down under electric light where the ghosts of Pompeii, with whom I had communed in private, could not follow.

Kickstarter Deadline Fast Approaching! — June 16th

If you want to pre-order a copy of the travel guide on how to backpack Europe on €5 a day, you only have a little time left!  June 16th, at 11:59 pm, the fundraising period ends, and I can only move forward with the project if I have enough pre-orders.

While this blog has focused mostly on some light travel journaling and some tongue-in-cheek advice, the travel guide will be a full-fledged guide to making your way around Europe on next to nothing.  You can find out more details about the project on the Kickstarter page.

Europe on Five Euros a Day will be written and laid out in the style of a traditional travel guide with non-traditional advice.  If that’s something you’d like to see, hop on over and grab a copy.  If you know someone who’d like something like that, please pass the word on :)

I want to make this work, but I need your help!  Of course, you’re not just helping, you’re getting something of value out of it–a great book!

Questions, comments, ideas?  Write it below, or contact me at fiveeurosaday@gmail.com

On the Virtues of a Towel

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Ford Prefect expounds on the virtues of the towel.  Towlie, perhaps a little biased, urges all around him to remember to bring a towel.  And now I too wish to express the illimitable value of the humble towel.

In my travels I never panic, for my towel serves many roles.  I have used it to, quite appropriately, dry myself off after a shower.  But, so have I used it to prevent such a dousing in the first place, draping it about my shoulders and head in a sudden storm.

On the long, bumpy rides along Eastern Europe’s rails I have placed my towel, carefully rolled, beneath my head to guard me in my sleep against the cold and hardness of the window upon which I rested.

In the far, frozen reaches of the great Arctic North, the towel found its way beneath my jacket, wrapped tightly about my torso, an extra layer of warmth.

When I needed to carry extra food, which could not fit in my backpack, quickly my towel transformed into pouch, folded up at the corners and tied into a handle–the crusty bread and fresh fruits dry and unmolested in its hold.

When a rough journey was ahead of me, where I might spill upon the ground after a mighty leap or a quick stumble, I would bind my laptop with the towel to protect it should I land on my backpack.

Always, the towel should be at your side, whether you are hitching the galaxy, chillin’ in Colorado, or bumming around Europe.  The bigger, the fluffier, the better.  I’ve only listed a few of its most useful applications, yet the towel’s true purposes are endless.

The Perfect Metaphor for America; or, A Drinking Game I Witnessed in Paris

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I will never forget the moment I saw the clear divisor between what makes Americans, Americans and what makes Europeans, Europeans.

I was relaxing in the bar of the St. Christopher’s Inn, which straddles a canal in Paris.  I was just  people watching when two guys stepped up to small table, surrounded by a horde of friends.  I heard their accents.  One guy was clearly American, the other was German, I think.

Their friends ordered two big glasses of beer and placed them in front of the contestants–a drink off.

I got up to watch.  It was like a sporting event, and soon the whole barroom seemed to gather.  Someone was chosen to start them off, and then, “GO!”

The glasses flew to their faces, beer sloshed over their lips and gulped heroically. Down, down went the beer. The European was ahead.  The American saw and threw his head back, the beer cascading around his jaw, down his chest, and then his empty glass slammed to the table just moments before the European’s.

The European looked up, bewildered, as the American whooped and hollered with every other patriot in the room. “But look at him,” the European shouted, “His shirt is soaked!  Mine is dry!” The American turned around and smiled at him. The Europeans were furious, “He spilled half of it down his shirt!”

The American got his face down near the European. “But I got it done!” Then he stood up, slammed the table hard and pumped his fist in the air. “I GOT IT DONE, BABY!”

And the American felt perfectly righteous in his “victory” despite his, uh, liberties.

That, right there, is the mindset of America.  It doesn’t matter how, as long as they get it done.

10 Tips to Getting Totally, Incredibly, Wonderfully Lost

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  1. Go to a country with a language that you don’t know.  At all.  We don’t need extraneous input when we’re wandering.  Street names? Bah! Directions? Bah!  All we need to understand are the universal symbols of the arrow and the big red X.
  2. Don’t buy a map. If you have one, get rid of it.  Instead, pay attention, focus on what’s ahead, where you are, and what’s behind.  There should be only the constant map being drawn in your head.
  3. Go away from the big shiny things!  If it looks touristy, head the other way.  Not that there’s anything wrong with touristy things, but it’s hard to get lost when you can just follow the thronging crowds wherever.
  4. Act on impulse. Think you should turn left? Turn left.  What’s that monument-looking thing in the distance?  Well, I guess you’re about to find out.  Wow, those mountains sure are pretty, aren’t they?  Find out what they look like from the other side–by climbing over them.
  5. Grab a random train.  Do this by closing your eyes and pointing on a train schedule, or by grabbing the first commuter train you can find and transferring at random stops. When you can’t go farther, or you’re just bored of being on a train, get off and keep walking.
  6. Walk straight, as far as you dare.  It doesn’t take long to get out of the city center.  The heart of London can be crossed in a little over an hour.  Paris in closer to two.  Then, suddenly, you’re in a strange place, unfrequented by outsiders.  Now, make that left turn I mentioned.
  7. Stop.  Have a meal.  Have some coffee.  Write in a journal.  Talk to someone–or try to at least.  Just relax and become a part of the scenery.
  8. Go off the trail. This applies almost exclusively outside of urbanized areas, but take a “shortcut” across a field, or wander through the forest surrounding the quaint, secluded town you’ve found.  Follow tunnels, tracks, and alleys.  Walk the lines untrodden, avoid the trodden lines.  If, with reasonable safety, you can get from one point to another using an unconventional path, do it.  This is one thing that a lot of the people I know who enjoy getting lost fail to do, either because they never considered it, or it unnerves them.  I say, paths are just suggestions. Make your own.
  9. Never plan.  Have an open schedule.  If you don’t need to be anywhere you’ll take more risks.  Nothing kills wanderlust like knowing you can’t go too far, or get too lost.  And nothing dampens curiosity like a destination.
  10. Be ready for an adventure. If it’s getting late and there’s a hostel nearby, stay there, instead of hopping a train back to the comfortable city-center. Talk to travelers other and get attached to their wanderings–they might take you places you never considered.  Courage is a big part of proper wanderings and you must have it in spades.  You can question, but only as far as common sense requires (you know, to avoid getting robbed, kidnapped, or ripped off).  Beyond that you must be totally open.

Note: Being lost and/or ready for an adventure requires you to face the totally unknown.  Being lost as a traveler isn’t just about your physical place.  You can also be lost in the culture, the language, the people.  If you are invited to dinner in a foreign land, your are bound to be lost to customs.  And you cannot let your pride, anxiety, or fear deter you.  Cultural growth is only stimulated by forcing ourselves to experience the unknown and unfamiliar.

Another Note: If you can’t use the first tip, then don’t.  Some of my best times getting lost have been in places close to home, places I thought I knew.  All I’m really saying is, get out there.

In Munich for Oktoberfest — Beer, Surfing, Durer, and More!

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NOTE: Pictures in this post are not mine.

October, 2010

Villkommen in Munchen!

I arrived in Munich exhausted and cold.  I had grown accustomed to French and was once again thrown-off by the unfamiliar language.  I had a reservation at the massive “hostel” known as The Tent which is put together for the enormous influx of backpackers during Oktoberfest.

I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do on the tram, and throughout the course of my stay in Munich, I think I rode on the city’s dime to the tune of some €30.  To be fair, there’s no explanation of how or where to pay for a ride.

When I finally arrived at the hostel I discovered that I had paid enough for a cheap hotel to stay in a tent with fifty other backpackers on thin cots with barely enough room to move.  I was given a small locker and there would be food in the morning, but for how much I paid I was quite taken aback.

Not my bed.

I took a shower in an almost ice cold water, and by the time I dried myself and got dressed again I realized I hadn’t ever been so consitently cold in my life.  Since arriving in Germany I had yet to experience a warm environment and with weather like that, perhaps you can understand the German temperament.

The next morning I made my way to the Oktoberfest grounds.  It was like a huge carnival! Midway games, rides, noise, and, surprisingly, kids everywhere.  The beer tents seemed almost an afterthought.  I went into a few of them, but I was uncertain as to how the whole operation worked, and what to do since I was alone.  The tables were filled with people, some were reserved, there were beermaids rushing around, but I didn’t know how to get a drink from them.  I cursed myself for not having researched it better before leaving.

Seriously. It’s a goddamn carnival. I have rarely been so bewildered.

I went back to The Tent and did some internet investigation, and tried to find a group to go with.  I found a tent that was most frequented by the youngsters of the world, and set my sights on grabbing my drink there.  So, back to Oktoberfest at the Hofbrau-Festzelt.  I awkwardly found a spot at a table and I asked one of the people standing there how to get a drink.  He kindly told me that I just ask a beermaid to bring it to my table number.  So I flagged down a lady and ordered my first German beer.

My Portuguese adviser introduced me to his friends: a cohort of excitable young Portuguese girls, one with a love for quoting Friends, especially Joey.  The company was amusing (read: A bunch of cute foreign girls eager to hang out with an American) so I spent the day with them.  As the day and evening wore on the conviviality spawned beer after head-sized beer.  At some point, in my drunkenness, I lost my group as the sun was setting, and next remember standing in front of a hot-dog stand at night. I wandered around for a while longer and then made my way back to the hostel.  I stayed up drinking cup after cup of water and talking with an Oxford double-PHD student–luckily he was drunk too, so our relative IQ’s balanced out!

This was me after Oktoberfest

When I felt sufficiently hydrated to avoid an earth-shattering hangover, I strapped my passport to my body and crawled into bed.

The next morning my head was pounding, but I forced myself up and to the store for some fruit juice and water.  Replenishing my body, but still in significant pain, I set off in search of the soul of Munich.

I went down to the city-center, just beyond the terminal.  It was all well and good, aesthetically pleasing, at least, but somehow felt uninspired and inauthentic.

Where I ate one of my favorite meals in Europe.

I ate lunch at the Augustiner Restaurant and enjoyed some Weisswurst and minced veal lung.  They seat you with other people, and the Germans there were nice enough to show me how to properly eat the sausages, which are brought out in boiling water in a goblet.  I was instructed to cut open the skin and peel it off, then dip it in a sweet mustard and chow down.  Oh, and veal lungs: very tasty.

I’m pretty sure this is a picture of what I ate.

The waiter was a cool guy, friendlier than I expected for a German restaurant, even though he looked a little crazed in the lunch hour rush. When I asked for water he says, “Vis poppers?  Or visout poppers?”  Took me a minute to figure that one out.

Apparently, this is “vis poppers.” AKA, seltzer.

I spent the rest of the day and night in endless wander.  I enjoyed the archeaology museum and the art museum where I saw the Albrecht Durer self-portrait.  It was totally unexpected.   I just turned around and, boom, there it was.

I love Europe. And Durer.

Along my meanderings I did see one incredible thing: people surfing on a river!  Seriously.  There were guys in wet suits in October, riding surfboards on a perpetual wave just below a bridge on a river.  In-freakin’-credible.

Okay, I lied. I did take this picture myself.

On my way back to The Tent I met a bunch of fellow youngsters from New York and Conneticuit.  It was incredible! For the first time in quite a while I was able to speak English without having to slow myself down, or watchout for unfamiliar idioms, or choose common words.  It was like a good stretch. I spent the night with them (went back to the Augustiner and the fairgrounds) and had an amazing time.

I won’t be writing any more about Germany, though, because I don’t have much else to say.  My day in Berlin was the most dreadful of my entire trip, and every other German city I visited was uninspired.  The Germans seemed, on the whole, to be unfriendly, and my ability to communicate with them was challenging in the extreme.  This is not to say that all of Germany is like that, because I haven’t been to all of Germany, but from what I’ve experienced, I’m not particularly eager to go back.

The Breathtaking Beauty of Paris–or, Almost Asphyxiating on Awesomeness

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Nothing like a good, excessively alliterative blog title to get you going in the morning!  (Also: consonance, for those who would point it out.)

After escaping my first experience with Parisian con-men, I quickly made my way up the stairs—at least two hundred if not many more—and feasted my eyes on the stunning church–egg-shell white with half-egg shaped spires.  As I turned around I saw all of Paris, and much of France, stretched out gloriously before me in the morning haze.  Already I had the feeling that I might never live in the States again if I could help it.

I entered the church and found myself literally breathless as my eyes absorbed the beauty of the mammoth construction.  As I remembered to inhale, I examined the meticulously painted walls and the carved columns and ceiling.

I settled into a pew and read a few passages from the Bible in front of me.  Then I looked up to where I saw four giant angles watching over the service.  They hang, immense from the four corners of the nave.  They are giants, yet they hover so delicately over the congregation that they create a sensation of warmth and protection.  It’s almost enough to turn an atheist devout.

To be fair, this picture doesn’t even come close to expressing what the angels look like in person.

I left and descended once more into the streets of Paris, the tiny, worn stones where pedestrians mingle with cars and three card monte is played with abandon as the scent of bread and roasted chicken and fish and chocolate and gasoline and urine mix with the sounds of hawkers shouting and knives cutting and bags crinkling and French being mumbled between couples.  The curbs are lined, thick, with cigarette butts.  There are a surprising number of Chinese and Japanese restaurants.  There are no mimes.

There is this guy though. Totally badass fountain sculpture of St. Michel.

Hungry, I kept my eyes peeled for a small, local-looking patisserie to enjoy my breakfast from.  I found one on a side street and entered, crucial French phrases locked in my mind, unused.  I felt butterflies as if I were to go on stage before an audience of thousands.  “Bonjour!  Je voudrais un quiche.”  She asked me something that sounded like the word for ham, so I just nodded vigorously and waited to see what the register said.  I dropped my Euros into the shopkeeper’s hand and bid her, “Au revoir!” I set off in search of the grand Parisian landmarks, my spirits lifted considerably by the successful exchange.

After a bit of aimless walking I found myself unexpectedly before the Louvre.  It was late in the day so I decided to put off the museum for another time and continued my walk south.  I crossed a bridge to the south bank in search of Notre Dame whose bell towers I could just glimpse from where I was.

Halfway across the bridge my eyes fell on the top half of the Eiffel Tower, rising up out of Paris, over the building tops, proud.  I stopped, dead in my tracks, a mind-bending flood of emotion sweeping over me.  I truly am in Europe.  This is the grand tradition I have always dreamed of.  My chest tightened as my attention focused—the sound of the Seine beneath my feet, the pedestrians around me, the Tower in the distance.  So incredibly real, so painfully surreal.

Surfing a Fjord; or, How I Was Rescued from Oslo by an Awesome Voldan — Couchsurfing pt. IV

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I had couchsurfed happily about a half-dozen times when I encountered my first negative experience with a host. Though, to be fair, it turned out to be another set of hosts who would help me out of my situation and give me one of the best weeks of my whole trip.

Me, rockin’ out with my buddy in Volda :-P

After Octoberfest in Munich, I aimed myself at Norway and traveled north by train through Denmark and Sweden to get there.  I prepared in advance to meet a man in Oslo who was offering me a place to stay in Oslofjord for three days.  I was scheduled to meet him at 8:30 pm, at a bar about a half-hour walk from the train station.

After enjoying a full day in Oslo, wandering about and discovering that index cards are about as rare and valuable as gold, I arrived at the bar at 8:34.  I had seen pictures of the gentleman so I would know who to look for, though I, the quintessential backpacker, would not be hard to spot.  I scanned the dimly lit hipster hang-out and saw no one familiar.

I went to the barman and asked if he’d seen the gentleman. No dice.  I waited fifteen minutes before borrowing someone’s phone to call the number he’d given me. No answer.  I waited another 15 minutes.  Nothing.

Seriously, dude? It was the four minutes, wasn’t it? Wasn’t it? Jerk.

Damn.

I got on my computer quick, which died just as fast.  I found myself asking a friendly-looking Norwegian if I could borrow their laptop for a moment and searched quickly for available hostels or cheap hotels. Everything was booked.  The only rooms available in all of Oslo were exorbitantly expensive.  I gave the laptop back and thanked them as I pulled out my train schedule.  The last train would be leaving in just over an hour and I needed a place to sleep–this being late October in Scandinavia–even if it was on a train.

I bolted from the bar, fuming, sprinting for the train station.  A thirty minute walk turned into a ten minute mad-dash.  I flew up to the ticket agent, but realized I had no idea where to get a train to.

Noticing an outlet nearby I slumped against the wall and jacked in as fast as I could, pulling up a range of hostels in cities the last two trains would be visiting.  Nothing available!  If I’d come during some holiday, I hadn’t known it (and still don’t quite understand the predicament to this day).

I pulled up Couchsurfing.org and sent out a few “emergency” requests.  No takers in Oslo.  Bergen was a bust.  But I received a positive reply from a small town called Volda.  I booked an overnight train to Bergen, and in the morning transfered to a bus for Volda.

My experience on the bus can be found elsewhere on the blog, and when I finally arrived in the sleepy college town almost fourteen hours later I became a top-notch sleuth.

Disclosure: Not my pic.
A nice, warm place to rest during my sleuthing.

In my haste to find a host before the last trains left, many details were left unsettled.  I asked around town for the location of the college, where I knew my host was a student.  I found my way there, and sat down in the cafeteria, which was mostly empty, but had a few people passing through from whom I inquired about my host. After over an hour, I found someone who knew her.  They called for me and soon we were united.  I offered a meal, a hot shower, and introduced to some of the nicest people I’ve met.

Resting after a long hike with the aforementioned awesome people.

I ended up spending a full week there–I enjoyed parties and was invited on camping expeditions and hiking trips.  When I left, I felt rejuvenated, and blessed to have found such an incredible little place.

A good time was had by all at the infamous Rokken.

I never had a bad experience after that, and hearing about such things is rare.  The worst you ever experience is a person you don’t really “click” with, which can make for an awkward experience, but rarely a bad one.

Thanks for reading my little series on Couchsurfing!  I’ll be back Tuesday with more blogging!

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