CS Newsletter for the Netherlands 2010.2

[[Wiki.trustroots.org]] is an independent wiki with information for people who are actively exchanging hospitality.
Jump to: navigation, search

Old newsletters:

CS Newsletter for the Netherlands 2010.1

CS Newsletter for the Netherlands 2010.2

Draft 2nd newsletter

Heading

Queensday 2010. Who parties along?


CouchSurfers meeting up (rechterbalk)

Queensday 2010. Who parties along?

Most people who come to the Netherlands have heard about it at least once. The day that all Dutch people act even more silly than usual. The day that the country is orange. And the day that everyone is (beyond) drunk. We're obviously talking about.. Queensday!

Queensday is a national holiday in The Netherlands, on April 30th. This is the birthday of our Queen Mother, Juliana. We do so since 1949. Before that it was celebrated on august 31st, the birthday of Queen Wilhelmina (she's the grandmother of our recent Queen). In 1948 her daughter, Juliana, became Queen and the holiday moved to April 30th. Back in the days, Queensday was no more than just a regular weekday (and the birth date of the Queen). The royal family never attended any festivities. Nowadays, almost everyone has got the day off and Queensday has become the national holiday of the year. In case you're wondering why we still celebrate the birthday of our Queen Mother: Our current Queen is born on January 31st. As most of you know, you can never count on the Dutch weather (and winter time it isn’t reliable at all). Queen Beatrix therefore decided to honor her mother by keeping Queensday on April 30th (but also to have a bigger chance of a sunny day).

What's special about this day? The royal family attends and participates in many activities (you can watch it live on tv, it's not very interesting really ;)). Every year, they visit a different city in The Netherlands. This year they will visit Middelburg and Vlissingen (Zeeland).


Couchsurfing the night before!

For Couchsurfing, Queensday means not just a DAY of activities and parties. No, we have a WEEK filled with fun things!

Couchsurfing starts the week traditionally during Queensnight with events in The Hague, Amsterdam and Utrecht. Originally, The Hague was the first city to celebrate Queensnight with a lot of live music throughout the whole city. Soon after other cities followed The Hague’s example. CS The Hague organizes a fun night in the city with traditional Dutch food and party in the center. In Amsterdam they know how to party, too! During Queensnight you can join the CS Amsterdam members in a pub in the very typical Amsterdam surrounding; the Jordaan district. ‘A great opportunity to meet other CS members and dodgy locals’ (at least, that's what the meeting page says).

Ever played Musical Chairs? I’m sure you did. It is a nostalgic game which you can play In Utrecht. Utrecht has also one of the biggest Queensday flee markets of the country, which opens during Queensnight. Get there early with fellow CS’ers and get to the best stuff first. Or just make a competition out of finding the weirdest, craziest rubbish. Really, be amazed by what people used to have in their homes and want to get rid of now!

Also smaller cities have parties during Queensnight. Enschede for instance has a free party with DJ's and also a CouchSurfing meeting.

Queensday

Partied hard during Queensnight? Well.. get some Ibuprofen, a new beer and suck it up. There is no time to sleep, because the party continues. The place to be on Queensday is Amsterdam. Over half a million people visit the country’s capital to celebrate the Queen Mother's birthday. Throughout the city there are parties everywhere, people are selling things and you’ll find the traditional games. Don’t be surprised if people try to make money by giving you a kiss, hug or whatever. The Dutch are always keen on money and Queensday is the best opportunity to make some profit. The biggest party for CouchSurfing is also in Amsterdam. Right where it all happens. CS Amsterdam is organizing a real CS-Camp down in the Vondelpark. The park is a nice place to relax, regain your powers for the next party, chat with other CS’ers, play music and have a BBQ together. Besides that, walk around the city center! It will be crowded and you move slowly, but the experience is simply unique.

If you feel you haven’t partied enough by the end of the day; you might want to head east. Zwolle organizes their first Monthly meeting! CS Zwolle chose Queensday as a the kick-off for their regular meeting; which better day to start it? It'll start at 20.00 so it is a great opportunity for an after party.

I still have plenty of energy left: what’s next?

Don’t worry! As said before, CS Netherlands has a week filled with activities! Other activities you can enjoy are: • May 1st – Rural Cinema in Wognum. Ever watched a movie with special effects containing frogs, birds, bats, mosquitoes and other animals?

• May 1st – Windmills & Cheapthrills in Dordrecht. Get a view of the beautiful islands, windmills and other Dutch scenic things around Dordrecht.

• May 4th – Memorial day service at the Dam Square – Amsterdam. The day that we all remember the World War II victims with a beautiful service at the Dam Square.

• May 5th – Liberation Day Music Festival – Zwolle To celebrate our freedom and the end of World War II. Every provincial capital organizes one or several music events. CS Zwolle has a gathering for those interested.

• May 9th – Spring Forrest Hike 2010 – Oss Enjoy the nature with a nice, refreshing hike!

One last tip:

Wear orange! So get an orange t-shirt, paint your face orange, buy a weird wig.. be creative! It doesn't matter how you do it, as long as you do it. Orange is the keyword!

The 24 hour train race project

The Netherlands is probably the only decent country where it is possible to travel by train through every provincial capital in just one day.

This time table is tested:

http://www.rosenbrand.net/cs/timetable.pdf

The start and end will be in Amsterdam, but there are plenty of cities in the Randstad area where from you can join as well. For people who live further out: all cities part of NachtNet are available to find a couch in.

Preparation:

There are several pretty cheap options to get your dayticket. Kruidvat sells daytickets for only 14,90. The red ticket is valid on the right day. At several Kruidvat stores they are already sold out, but you can still get them pretty cheap at www.marktplaats.nl With discount otherwise the ticket is 26,80 (there will be plenty of people with a NS-subscribtion at the meeting, so your discount ticket will be valid).

Food:

The timetable doesn't give much time to get food outside of the train stations. But we have plenty of time to make our own in the train. Let's make it a challenge to make as much food as possible in the train! Also don't forget to bring drinks. It is allowed to drink alcohol in Dutch trains.

Entertainment:

Your not allowed to play electric music in trains, but I'm sure we can also get creative in here. There are plenty of games we can play in the train. Let's also make it a challenge to come up with the most crazy games!

An extra challenge could be to make a picture with you and as much city-signs as possible!

Visitors:

Of course you don't have to do the entire journey. We would love to get visitors along the track. Do you live in a tiny village, that only has a train station? This is finally your chance to join in in a CS meeting!

Just check the timetable: http://www.rosenbrand.net/cs/timetable.pdf

Sign up here

Family Meeting on Kijkduin beach, The Hague

We are happy to organize the very first Family Meeting in the Netherlands.

The beach is a perfect place to meet for families and share experiences under a (hopefully) bright blue sky, while barefoot children play games in the sand.

We meet at 10.30 o'clock under the lighthouse near the parking and bus stop in Kijkduin, before going down to the beach (right side). Here the children (and parents too) can play games in groups like waterpaaltjes voeltbal, giant mikado and frisbee. Also individual games like poi and diabolo are fun to do or learn. Also there is the biggest swimming pool of the Netherlands: the sea!

If all families bring some food (enough for yourself and two others) we can have a huge picnic around 12.30 o'clock. In the afternoon there is a yoga class and we'll build sandcastles and play more games.

If you want to join this event, sign up on the meeting page, we would like to know how many people are coming. Please bring friends who are not yet a member of CS as this is a perfect introduction to CouchSurfing.

What to bring: The usual stuff like towels and swim suits, favorite games of the children and food/drinks.

During the meeting you can contact us on 06 389 259 52

We hope to see you all on the 13th of June! Greetings from Ilse, Maarten and Lilou

Visit the Deltaworks in Zeeland!

The Dutch know how to manage the water. It's been a constant struggle in the past centuries, with the lowpoint being a major flood in 1953 with thousands of people drowning. Nowadays big dikes keeps the water out succesfully. One of the major accomplishments in the fight against the water is the 'Deltaworks' in Zeeland, in the southwest corner of the Netherlands, with the Eastern Scheldt storm surge barrier being the masterpiece. The first part of the Deltaworks was built about 50 years ago, and the Eastern Dam was finished in 1986. Check for more information: http://www.deltawerken.com/23

I think both Dutch people and foreigners would love to see the Delta works with their own eyes. For me it's been a while as well, so that's why I'm setting up a meeting event for June 5th. The enthusiasm was overwhelming in the first few days with over 20 people signing up. We are working on the program now, but it will include a museum visit and a visit of the outside structures. It could be a whole weekend event with camping for those who want to, or we could have a night program in a city afterwards. It depends on you as well. Ideas and suggestions are very welcome. So please sign up, and let's make it a fun event! We'll keep you updated.

Harald

Songfestival Meeting in Utrecht

Everybody has an opinion about the Eurovision Songfestival. Some like the music, some like the show, some think it is only favoritism, but everybody loves to see who gets 12 and who gets 0 points.

  • Will the Netherlands give 12 points to Turkey again?
  • Will the Scandinavians give all points to each other again?
  • Will Turkey and Greece give points to each other?
  • Will any of Turkeys neighbors give them points?
  • Will the Netherlands finally reach the finals again?
  • Are there still enough Poles in Ireland to give them 12 points?

and the most important one:

  • Will Israel give points to Germany?

Of course we will also vote ourselves, we'll see who predicted the winner, but more important, we will see which songs the CouchSurfers actually DO like.

Sing up here

Jasper

Midsummernight in the park in Utrecht

Again Utrecht has prepared a whole weekend full of activities in the park around Midsummer Night

The submeetings are made, so sign up before it is too late!

- Meeting each other with nice drinks and fun games

- A crazy quest in the centre of Utrecht finding the lost CouchSurfer

- A chance to see the Netherlands play football against Japan in South Africa

- Creative workshops in the park

- A diner made by the Utrecht Cooking team (bring your own plates this time!)

- A new ceremony celebrating the sun going down

- A lazy Sunday afternoon-brunch

These pictures of last year will give an impression of what you might expect:

Midsummer Lampions

Midsummer fireshow

Crazy people in Utrecht

The whole group of 2009

Jasper

past

Flash Mobs in the Netherlands

Flash mobs have been taking over cities all over the world since around 2003, though until recently they were not common in the Netherlands. A flash mob is a (large) group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual act for a brief period of time, and then just leave again. At the first ever recorded flash mob 150 people arrived at a flooring shop, claimed to live together in a warehouse and showed interest in buying the same rug. Exactly 10 minutes later the crowd suddenly disappeared.

Reading about this first flash mob inspired me to research the phenomenon. As I sat captivated by videos of flash mobs on Youtube, the idea of organizing one in my home city became increasingly exciting. Admittedly it took a bit of work, but within a few weeks eager participants were signing up on CouchSurfing, Hyves and Facebook.

The afternoon went off without a hitch. At the appointed time on Saturday 20th February 2010 the signal was given. CouchSurfers ran out of shops, jumped up from benches, suddenly stopped window shopping, and got down on their knees and fanatically worshiped a small statue in the busy shopping area of Rotterdam. Passers by looked on with confusion and surprise, as the mob disappeared just as quickly as it had appeared. You can find “Worship the Sock Bears” on Youtube. Our after party proved highly successful as Rotterdam’s Tiki Bar kindly agreed to open early for us.

If you’ve ever been part of a flash mob you’ll know the immense amount of fun involved. If you haven’t yet, don’t fear, there are many more entertaining events looming on the horizon. On Saturday 3rd April at 15:00 there will be massive pillow fights worldwide! The pillows of Rotterdam and Amsterdam, along with over 120 other cities will be celebrating together as never before. Interested? Check out our group

Hazel

CouchSurfers’ Music Exchange: Different cultures different music styles

During my Australasian half-year-in-between-jobs I’ve encountered it several times: backpackers I randomly met that have the best suggestions of music I might like after listening to some of my stuff on my iPod. Of course you’re somewhere dodgy and that’s exactly the point where you are being pushed into another rundown bus and you forget to write down the artists and titles of the songs your musical muse told you. You tell yourself you’ll remember it till you find pen and paper. An hour later you completely forget about it.

That’s how the idea of the Couchsurfers’ Music Exchange started: it’s a meeting where CS'ers listen to other CS’ers' music and give “if you like this you might also like”-type of suggestions. (besides writing down some tracks themselves, of course). To keep it civilized nothing is actually copied on the spot (except for some open source tracks). The first meeting took place the 1st of March at the “La Place” on the top floor of the OBA (library) near Amsterdam Central. A happy and culturally diverse group of around 15 people brought their laptops, iPods, headphones and hard drives to share their taste in music. A combination of hip-hop, electro, lounge, classical music, Dutch music and bollywood was the outcome. The atmosphere was open and relaxed; a beautiful start of a monthly little festival of music lovers.

The next one will be on the 18th of April at the same spot. Keep an eye on the CouchSurfing [http://www.couchsurfing.org/meetings.html?mid=58591 events calendar] for more info.

Victor

Bowling meetings

One year ago exactly, Jeroen and Ellen organized the first Eindhoven Bowling Meet. This successful meet has brought Eindhoven CS back to life after it kind of died.

One year and many meets later in Eindhoven, we decided to have another Bowling Meet! We arranged to meet at 8pm, in front the entrance of Mega Bowling. Lots of ‘familiar’ faces, but a lot of unknown ones as well, came to this event and there were even some international guests. It was a nice mix of people, devided in four lanes.

One after the next, the bowling balls were launched and it became clear who had the most talent –and who was there just for fun-. The music was best to be described as ‘old skool 90s’. And of course we saw some bloopers like throwing the ball backwards or sliding along with it.. but in the end the aim of the night was to have a good time.. And so we did! Everyone went home happily afterward. See you all at the next Eindhoven Meeting!


Astrid

Happy times in Zwollywood - Sardines

What do you do when you're with over 10 CouchSurfers in a abandoned school (which will be demolished in 2 weeks) and because it is Earth Hour you just turned off all the lights?

Answer: Sardines!

Sardines is reversed hide and seek; one person hides and the rest tries to find him/her. When you've found the person that is hiding you get next to this person untill you've reached the point that one person is looking for everybody.

Both the location and the group of CouchSurfers appeared to be perfect for this game. We've been hiding under the sink, under chairs and even in the shower of the teachers' dressing room in the gym of the school. In the end we got so good that we even managed to let somebody sneak out and come back with chips.

The next step: Sardines on Saturday afternoon on Utrecht Train Station

picture1, picture2, picture3, picture4


Jasper

News from Cs Netherlands (rechterbalk)

Changes on the CouchSurfing Website

Soon there will be some new features implemented on the CouchSurfing Website:

Report Abuse

Website abuse occurs when people use the site in a way that's against the Terms of Use. For some time, CS has given members the option to flag messages as spam. A new tool expands on this concept dramatically. A site-wide automated system that will allow all CouchSurfing members to participate easily in keeping abuse off of the site is being released. Let's hope that it will stop or at least reduce problems such as dating spam and advertisements. In the (near) future you will see a abuse-button on which you can report abuse. It will appear on messages, groups, group posts, event listings and profiles. While protecting the community against abuse, CS will remain dedicated to protecting members' freedom of expression and diversity of opinion. The Member Disputes and Safety Team will be carefully monitoring the system to make sure that it is working properly and isn't being misused.

More information about this feature can be found in the safety newsletter (ook beschikbaar in het Nederlands)

Request Manager

This is a tool that will help you save time and stay organized when sending and responding to CouchRequests. This tool will help you browse both CouchRequests you've received and those you've sent. The Request Manager has a lot of benefits:

  • Clearer communication. When replying to a CouchRequest, a host just marks 'yes', 'no' or 'maybe'. The system will sort the request accordingly.
  • Time saving for busy hosts. You will be able to save template messages as simple as "Sure, I can host you! Here's my phone number!" or as complex as "No, I can't host that weekend, but here's a list of my favorite spots in the city." To get through your responses more quickly, just choose the template of choice and personalize it.
  • More accurate reply rates. Once the day of the CouchSurfer's arrival has passed, a host can no longer reply to the request to boost his/her reply rating. If you receive a request within a week of the arrival date and aren't able to respond in time, it won't affect your reply rate.
  • Better organization. All of your replies will be threaded together for easy reference.

CS Bookmarks

To help you navigate the site more quickly, you can save a page as a bookmark and reach it directly from the navigation bar.

News Channels

We're also launching a redesign for the News Channels. The Channels will now be more prominently featured on the website, with a more appealing layout to improve your reading experience.

New Ways to Donate and Get Verified

Up until now, members could only donate or get verified with a major credit card or debit card. In the next month we're introducing three new methods:

- ACH: a way to send a donation directly from a bank account, in the US and Canada.

- EU Debit: a way to send a donation directly from a bank account, in the European Union.

- Direct Pay (IBAN, Bank Transfers): a way to send a donation through a bank, internationally.

Ideas for meetings

At the last meeting of the Netherlands CS organisation we brainstormed about ideas for possible meetings. Some of those ideas are already being organised and can be found in this newsletter. Some of those ideas can be found below. Do you want to help with organising any of these ideas, contact Liza or any other member of the Netherlands CS Organisation.

- Rubix cube party (come in different colored clothes, leaves in the same color)

- Making up stories, tell them to each other and guess which one is true and which one made-up

- Make pubquizes

- Bike meetings, double city bike tour and meetup half way in between the cities (like Utrecht-Amsterdam, Arnhem-Zwolle, Den Haag-Rotterdam)

- Meetup at the last metro or tram stop

- Singing songs from "Kinderen voor Kinderen"

- Theatersport/improvisation theater

- Sharades (hints)

- International invasions, to (Newcastle, Duisburg, Gent)

- Meetup where you don't know where you will end up: 2x left 1x right for a ... period of time and see where you end up

CouchSurfing in the media

More and more media are noticing CouchSurfing, after 3opreis, Arnon Grunberg in NRC and many more also Elsevier found out about us.

Elsevier recently wrote an article about a CS event in Eindhoven and 'Het Reformatorisch Dagblad' published an interview with Liza

Tilburg CS was in the news twice for so far. A tv show called Campus in Beeld, whose host surfed a couch in this city and an article in the student paper.

New 'rules' for traveling (and Couchsurfing) in India

For everybody who is planning to surf couches in India this summer, here's something to keep in mind:

In the aftermath of the recent terror attacks & keeping in view the not-so-good geo-political relationships, the government has decided to become more stringent on rules regarding stay of foreigners in India. It comes down to a form of mandatory registration. More info below.

The Foreigners Registration Act (FRA) states the rules & regulations to be followed by all hotels, hostels, resorts, private homes (which is the category CS hosts are in), Dormitories etc. The "C" Form, which is available in all police stations has to be filled out by the visitor. The "C" Form collects the details of the passport of the foreigner, where he/she is coming from and the duration of his/her stay. The details should be signed off by the host who is accommodating them.

If anybody is accommodating a foreign guest on a personal visit in his or her house, they should also inform the police department as per the Foreign Registration Rules. Failure to provide information to the authorities by the hosts would invite a punishment of imprisonment up to five years and a fine.

It comes down to this: Filling out the C Form is a formality (whenever you check into a hotel they will photocopy your passport & make you sign the C form). If you don't stay in a hotel, you'll have to do it yourself. Doing this is your own choice, but the request will be to follow the law and make yourself and your host safer in the city.

Hope this brings the clarity to all those who are going to be hosts & surfers in India...

Source: Priya

Major events roadmap

Do you like Sinterklaas in Rotterdam or Midsummernight in Utrecht a lot and are you looking for big CouchSurfing events in other countries? A couchsurfer from Italy made a google-map with a list of major events planned for 2010. See the list here

Nomadic adventures (linkerbalk)

Do you have a nice travelstory? Tell us!

Interview with Marc

From now on in every newsletter we want to introduced you to people who travelled and/or couchsurfed a lot recently. We hope this will inspire you for your future travelplans. This edition we'll start with Marc, originally from the Netherlands, but currently living in Berlin

1. How did you find out about CouchSurfing?

An Amsterdam friend of mine had been hosting people already for some time, and he kept bugging me with saying it is really something I should do. So I finally signed up and I was gone: totally fell in love with the concept, the openness and the trust between people who are everywhere just that: people.

2. How did you participate in CS until now?

I have mostly been a nomad until now. 4 years ago I left Holland with the idea to travel for maximum a year. It became 2 and then 3 and then 4...... I met hundreds of CS'ers, people who hosted me, who I traveled with, who I did activities with, who I met on meetings, parties, took a bike tour with, hitchhiked with, walked through the desert with and even hosted in a temporary home I had :) It is just amazing that there is a community of people all over the world (that is still growing!) who want to share their life, their experiences, their everything

3. How do you combine traveling with your professional life?

This question is a typical northwest-European question, that is only asked by people from there :-) If you are traveling in other places in the world, you will never get that question. You will hear questions like: what did you learn as a human, what kind of people did you meet, what amazing experiences do you have if you travel so long etc. I'll answer the question like this: Actually, if you travel outside of the 'material' western world, you discover how hospitable people are. Especially in the African, Arabian and East-european societies people invite you all the time for tea, dinner or to stay over, also outside of CS. And in these cultures it is often an offense to do something back, so you have a hard time spending money! Also: Traveling over land by hitchhiking, local buses, local trains is extremely cheap and beautiful: the whole fact of traveling 'slow' makes you really get to know the countries, the people and the culture. OK OK, if you really want to know: I worked and saved some money before I departed, and because I have a free job (I am a teacher/director of theatre, circus and voice) it is quite easy for me to work on the road (but I didn't really need to).

4. What is the most special experience you ever had through CouchSurfing?

That's a difficult question, I had so many amazing experiences:

- Being hosted in an Hotel in Jordan, because the CS member was the owner.

- Climbing the Tablemountain in Capetown in midst of the day in summer (stupid!) with a local guy from the townships.

- After a 42 hours drive in a 'bush-taxi' from Guinnee via Senegal to Gambia being invited to a wedding of the brother of a CS'er. The whole high-society of Gambia and Sierra-Leone turned out to be at this wedding, and 2 smelly CS'ers.

- Hitchhiking all over Moldova, because my host didn't feel like staying in the capital and going to school.

- After walking for days through the Negev desert getting a shower at a CS'er who was also a 'national trail angel'.

5. What is the most special place you ever visited?

Pffff, same problem as above.. If I really have to choose: Visiting the San people (Bushman) in the Kalahari desert in Namibia. These people are so amazing: If you look into their eyes, you see a deep wisdom and the fire of a child at the same moment. I was able to speak with them, because their second language after their own (the language with the 12 'clicks') is Afrikaans, which is related to Dutch! Because it was apparent there were no young girls walking around with babies, like you expect of 'tribe' people, I asked why. Their answer: We don't get children before the age of 30, because then you are wise enough not to project your problems on your children. .... I rest my case

6. What is your favorite means of travel?

Hitchhiking. Slow, really being inside of the country, meeting locals. The best way! Once I had a ticket from Hamburg to Israel because it was the cheapest I found. The only thing was that I was in Porto, Portugal. :-) I already booked a Ryanair ticket from Portugal to Hamburg via London. And then I got an offer to drive with truck drivers from Portugal via Belgium to Hamburg, so of course I didn't use my ticket!!!

7. What should every traveler bring in his/her suitcase?

- Book: the little Prince - Object: a red nose - Paper and marker for Hitchhiking - Not enough money, so you will improvise The suitcase itself should be small and < 15 kg. I had many cases that I took my day pack to visit someone for a few days, and I ended up traveling with it for many weeks. It made me realize I actually didn't need the stuff in my 'big' bag :-)

8. what would your advise be to other (new) travelers?

- Always follow your intuition. It is always right! (No need for explanations) - Travel slow!!!! Stay for a long time in a country! I tried to be for at least 6 weeks, or even a few months, because you slowly sink into the local culture and really start to understand on a deeper level about the people, the land, the culture. - Never by return tickets (or worse: RTW tickets). Because I followed my intuition, I ended up in places and with people I couldn't have planned at all on forehand.


If you follow the flow of life and surrender, it will show you the beauty of what traveling is really about: the Journey inside.

Marc

Hitchhiking from Bremen to Stockholm

Check the weblog of Tommy for more.

I hitchhiked up to Stockholm, because the only home I have is the road. It took me three days to get to Stockholm for one reason, and one alone: Some hitchhiking places in Sweden suck. It took me a while to realise that in Scandinavia on-ramps with your thumb out are actually better than their gas stations which are often at least a km from the highway, small, and frequented by locals, not long-distance drivers.

The first day of the hitch up was really lucky. Even though it ook me 3 or 4 hours to get out of Bremen, right before Kiel I met Jørg. Jørg is a German guy from Dortmund, moving to Sortland, up north in Norway (Yeah, it's pretty far up). He had all his stuff with him and he was taking the ferry from Kiel to Gøteborg. Since he was paying the same amount regardless of the amount of people in his car, he had no problem bringing me along.

photo My free bed on the right. Jørg on his on the left.

The next day, the ferry docked at 9 and by 9 30 we were on our way North, where I got stuck for a long time before moving on to Karlstad, where I pulled some strings to stay a night with Elina's boyfriend's friend's neighbor. (Elina being my host in Stockholm, whom I hadn't met yet, technically making Marion Carel's friend's boyfriend's friend's neighbor. Then of course true to my nature, I left the very instrument used for the pulling of aforementioned strings (read: my phone) in Karlstad.

So after a romantic 5 days in Stockholm, I had to pick up my phone again and finally go home. No way was I going to find an excuse to spend even more time in a meter of snow.

Exotic couches (linkerbalk)

Do you have a nice hosting story? Tell us!

Couchpicture

Who can beat 8 people?

Interview with a 'exotic host'

From now on every newsletter we want to introduce you to people in the Netherlands who host a lot. We hope this will inspire you for your future hosting experiences. This edition we'll start with Gerard from Bergschenhoek, near Rotterdam.

Kinderdijk

1 How did you find out about CouchSurfing?

In September 2006 I red an article about CS in a local newspaper. I got interested and got some information from an experienced Couch-Surfer: Urbian Fitz-James. He spoke so enthusiastic that I made a CS profile for myself the same evening.

2 What makes your couch special?

My guest(s) get their own room: I have a guestroom with a nice bed, next to the bathroom. I prefer one or two guests at a time, so I can give them a lot of attention. I wanna be social with my guests: We have meals together and I show them around. I live between Rotterdam and The Hague; also Delft and Gouda are quite close by. I love to tell them about the Dutch history, culture and way of thinking: liberal and independent. I show them the typically Dutch landscape 'polder below sea-level' and let them taste Dutch specialties like 'stroopwafel', 'kroket', 'drop' and 'poffertjes'.

3 Tell about a special person you hosted?

In 2008 I was Couch-Surfing myself in Brazil. I also visited the Amazon's-region, with Manaus as capital. There, in the jungle, I found a Couch-Surfer: André, a 21-year-old, who picked me up from the airport, helped me as much as he could and showed me around. This young man spoke.. Dutch! He visited our beautiful country three times already, each time for several weeks, and fell in love with the Netherlands. In January 2009 he stayed at my place for three weeks and we had a wonderful time together. We still are in contact.

4 What place near your couch would you recommend everybody to visit?

A very nice small town is Delft: very Dutch, full of history, lots of things to see and to do. I love to show my guests around at the 'Grote Markt'. Tell them about the royal graves in the 'Nieuwe Kerk', Hugo de Groot, Vermeer and the old houses and town-hall. There are nice bars, restaurants, souvenir-shops and terraces in Delft.

5 What do you like to see in a good CouchSurf request?

In a good Couch-Surf request the guest writes about himself (or herself) and tells me why he wants to come to the Netherlands. I always give newbies the benefit of the doubt and welcome young starters in our CS community.

6 Which sort of guests do you prefer?

I prefer guests who don't come for the red-light district and the cannabis! I love guests who are interested in the Dutch way of living, way of thinking, culture and who want to get shown around. Guests who let me decide where to go see the most and have the nicest time.

7 Which host should we interview in the next newsletter?

I suggest to interview Urbian Fitz-James, mentioned before. He got me interested in CS and helped me the first year with advice and recommended me as starting host to guests.

CS house

CouchSurfing house #1 – Casa Merode in Tilburg

What do you get when you combine five CouchSurfers, liters of coffee, a vegetable garden, a crossword puzzle in the toilet and lots of people coming in and going out every day? Casa Merode (CM) is the one and only CS-house in Tilburg. All inhabitants are members of CouchSurfing and enjoy having guests.

“We can refer to ourselves as a CS house, but we are more like a collective of nice people who just live together and happened to members of CouchSurfing.” Sofia, from Sweden, is the only ‘real foreigner’ living in Casa Merode. The other housemates (Lukas, Erik, Susy and Bram) love to travel and don’t mind speaking English when she’s around (and sometimes even when she’s not), but are all born in The Netherlands.

“This house feels like an international home” is something we have all said on several occasions. It’s almost like a family, with lots of respect and love. We cook, eat and hang out together, we look out for each other. There’s no stupid cleaning schedules and fights about who drank someone else’s milk. We use common sense and the simple rule ‘if you finish something, replace it’.

And then there’s CouchSurfing. Tilburg does not get a whole lot of travelers coming through, but it’s very nice to have some guests once in a while. Casa Merode has an average of 2 guests a month. But we would like some more! So, this is an official statement for everyone who reads this: If you’d like to stay, or just drop by in our house in Tilburg, send one of us a message through CS!

Susanne/SusyQ

More about Casa Merode: Two guys from Campus in Beeld (tv programme in Nijmegen) surfed our couch a few weeks ago and it’s to be found on Youtube now. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4aqRyTeNy8 Also we’ve been interviewed for a local student-paper (in Dutch). http://www.uvt.nl/univers/nieuws/0910/09/onderdak.html And then there’s our CS-group http://www.couchsurfing.org/group.html?gid=22894 and Wiki http://couchwiki.org/en/Casa_Merode .

Noot voor Jasper: foto’s kun je vinden op Lukas’ of Sofia’s profiel Lukas: http://www.couchsurfing.org/profile.html?id=2O0CHTP Susy: http://www.couchsurfing.org/people/susyq/ Sofia: http://www.couchsurfing.org/profile.html?id=31A8KCF Erik: http://www.couchsurfing.org/profile.html?id=2Y73UWF Bram: http://www.couchsurfing.org/profile.html?id=4SR4UY5

traveltip (linkerbalk)

Get a phone without SIM-lock and get a new SIM-card whenever you enter a country in which you plan to stay for more than 5 days. It saves you (and your CS-hosts) loads of money.