My first experience couch surfing in Europe came in Turkey. Ok, technically it wasn't Europe, it was the other side of the Bosphorus, on the Asian side of the continent; but it was my first country on my Eurotrip, so I'm counting it.
This post is the first part of a series on My First CouchSurfing Experience.
I wanted to branch out on my own and explore the Cappadocia region, famous for the fairy chimneys.
In Istanbul I spent 2 days camped in an undercover rooftop bar in Sultanahmet, making small-talk with the barman, and biding my time sending Couch Requests to hosts within 20-50km of Cappadocia.
I must have sent 2 dozen requests, without much luck (for more tips on having success with your requests see Creating a Profile that Gets You Noticed).
Since I didn't know much at all about Cappadocia, I didn't want to just get an overnight bus out there and start looking for accommodation. I was still finding my feet as a traveller. I did take a look at hotels, hostels, and B&Bs around Goreme; some even within the rocks themselves. Local tour operators in Istanbul wanted too much money for a few days of exploring the region, so I was hoping on some success with CouchSurfing.
Luckily, one of my requests received a reply. A married couple agreed to host me for a few days, Fatma and Caglar, they also agreed to pick me up from the bus stop in Acıgöl.
Looking back on my original request now, and the thread of questions I bombarded my host with, I laugh at how insecure and anxious I was.
I was catching a bus from Istanbul to Acıgöl, arriving 8am, without any real idea of what I was doing. I was petrified.
What if they didn't show up?
What if I missed the stop?
I asked the driver to let me know when we got near Acıgöl, I assumed it was a small community bus stop and not a big city bus station. I was right.
The driver was confused as to why I would want to get off in the middle of nowhere. In his broken English he said
You should depart in Goreme. All tourists go to Goreme. Nothing in Acıgöl for you.
Still, I insisted "my friend lives in Acıgöl".
In Acıgöl, he called up the bus for me to get off. On looking out the window, we were in the middle of nowhere, Turkey.
I only had a moment to decide. Get off in the middle of nowhere, or stay on til the next big stop?
I kept with my promise to meet my host, got off the bus, and collected my bag.
Acıgöl is a small town in Nevşehir Province of Turkey and has a population of around 5,000; with one main street, a half dozen shops, and a mosque. Mostly a farming community, with lots of land around being worked by farmers and their wives. There is very little traffic, no traffic lights; and even the odd tumble-weed blowing past.
The kind of place where it's not uncommon to see farmers with their donkeys, women working pick-axes in the field to break up rocks and harvest crops, the odd antique tractor here-or-there.
I crossed my fingers that CouchSurfing was the right choice.
Photos are Creative Commons licensed. Photos from the first 3 months of my travels were unfortunately stolen.