Travel: European Couch surfing in pictures

IMG_3092’s Koren Helbig crashes on couches of Eastern-European strangers:

It’s remarkable where in the world one can end up after firing off only the barest of emails. The wonders of the internet have rendered it remarkably easy to be a plugged-in wanderer and, while some decry the digital world for muscling in on what was once a great escape, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

This year I fleetingly stepped into the lives of strangers through doors that were only unlocked by the internet.

I bunked down with Polish priests at a Catholic convent, slept behind the fire-trap locks and impenetrable safeguards of hulking Communist-built flats in Slovakia and Romania.

I brushed shoulders with Polish celebrities at the opening night of a famed dance show, nearly died in the snowy streets of a small Slovak town at the hands of a maniac friend-of-a-friend driver who enjoyed sending his speedometer-deficient four-wheel-drive careering sideways at every opportunity.

Thanks to Captain Internet, I skipped across four Eastern European countries and 11 homes in the space of one month for the excellent price of free. Like thousands of shoestring budget couchsurfers before me, I indulged in the hospitality of virtual strangers who offered up their couches, spare rooms and fold-out sofas in exchange for conversation and perhaps friendship, however brief.

And I discovered that it’s the little things that are always the same, despite our world’s myriad culture, language and perspective differences. Go to the top drawer in almost any kitchen on the planet, for example, and you will always find the knives and forks.

Click on any of the above pictures to launch the gallery.



Words and pictures by Koren Helbig