Saturday, June 22, 2013

Me about Couchsurfing on

Michaela Grill, 25 is originally from Austria has done a number of travelling internships as part of her studies, as well as studying in Mexico, Madrid, Berlin and spent a gap year travelling across four different continents. She now lives in London and volunteered to talk to us about her experiences couchsurfing.

Live like a local
Me and my cousin in Kurdistan, being invited by a lovely family in Howraman Valley just across the border from Iraq

It’s About People

Couchsurfing ( was a real help when I was a student. It’s not just that I didn’t have the money for a fancy hotel. I just didn’t need to stay somewhere like that. I wanted to get out and have experiences with the locals and try alternative accommodation. I love meeting up with people in their home town and getting involved in discussions about relationships, religion, culture, even food and drink. These type of experiences are very unique and you can’t get them in a hotel.
"These type of experiences are very unique and you can’t get them in a hotel."
I’ve become very close to some of the people I stayed with and some of them have even stayed with me. But everyone is different. There’s no standard experience. When I am planning to travel somewhere I’ll post who I am, and what I love to do. I also add that I am independent but would love someone to show me around. That way people don’t feel as though they have to be babysitting you.
I’ve stayed on couches, in spare rooms, even on a waterbed once. It usually works out well but you have to be open and willing to connect, even if takes a little bit of work, although you can usually tell by reading someone’s profile if you will get on.

Safety Tips

As a woman it is important to think about safety. I always look at the references. There are three types: positive, neutral and negative. Obviously you look twice at someone with a negative review, but do read it carefully, if they have 50 good reviews and one bad review because the traveller thought the place was too small, then you use your own judgement. I also look at how active they are and how many friends they have. If they’ve been on there a while and have no pictures or profile then I am wary. Another thing I do is suggest we meet up for drinks first, that way I don’t have to commit myself straight away and can get a hostel if something doesn’t feel right.
That said, I have always felt very safe, perhaps because I do take the time to check people out like this.
 Turkey Watching the sunset in Turkey

Making The Most Of It

TurkeyChapada Diamantina National Park, Brazil

You really have to be open to whatever comes up in an experience like this. Sometimes you might get breakfast made for you or prepare brunch together ... sometimes not. Every experience is different." I always try to do something as a thank you. I might take a small gift from my home country or make sure I get the bill if we are out shopping. In short, I don’t want them to spend a lot of extra money on my behalf.
I’ve been doing this for four years now and met people of all ages - from 18 right through to people in their 60s. In Belgium I met a couple with a two year old daughter. They did this because they thought it was great for her to experience people from many different cultures.
For a male's perspective you can also read about Gilxs Wendes couch surfing experience, Couchsurfing Is More Than Just A Bed.

I Did It: Michaela Grill

Michaela Grill
Michaela, 25 who is originally from Austria, has worked and studied in a number of cities around the world including Madrid and Berlin. She has an appetite for travelling, seeing new places, meeting interesting people and spending time getting to know the locals of all the places she visits.

Me about Couchsurfing on

Have a look at this article to read more about Couchsurfing and my varied experience, meeting people from all over the world and from a wide range of different backgrounds:

I Did It: Michaela Grill

Michaela GrillMichaela, 25 who is originally from Austria, has worked and studied in a number of cities around the world including Madrid and Berlin. She has an appetite for travelling, seeing new places, meeting interesting people and spending time getting to know the locals of all the places she visits.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Bonjour de PROVENCE

A fabulous Birthday Trip to Southern France and Monaco ...

... Nice, Villefranche-sur-Mer, Grasse, Gorges du Verdon, Luberón, Aix-en-Provence, Marseille et les Calanques :)

After arriving at the Airport Nice - Côte d'Azur and getting a nice Ford Fiesta rental car I took the beautiful Promenade des Anglais along the coast, passing by the famous Hotel Negresco as well as the harbour and straight on to a quaint little Villefranche-sur-Mer ... a former fishermens' village :)

Als ich um die Mittagszeit am Flughafen Nizza - Côte d'Azur ankomme hole ich erstmal unser Mietauto ab und dann geht's los ueber die schoene "Promenade des Anglais" am Meer entlang durch Nizza nach Villefranche-sur-Mer, einem kleinen netten Oertchen ausserhalb von Nizza ... eine super Einstimmung auf diesen tollen Urlaub :)
Dort treffe ich meine Eltern die schon am Vortag angekommen sind und einen Tag lang Monaco entdecken!

Splendid weather, delicious food and nice people throughout the whole of our trip (except maybe some of the waiters in restaurants and cafés ... ;)
After a first lovely dinner and bottle of wine just next to the sea, we started our road trip northwest towards Grasse - City of Perfumes !

Les Gorges du Verdon
Grand Canyon of Europe

St. Marie de Moustiers is where we stay overnight today ... built into the rocks and a river coming into the village through a waterfall, flowers everywhere and it indeed feels as we'd travel in time - 300 years back or so :))
Ein wunderschoenes Fleckchen im suedlichen Frankreich, wo man sich auch gleich an paar Jahrhunderte zurueckversetzt findet :)

Saignon - built on top of a beautiful rock ... we enjoy an amazing view all over the region of Luberon National Park !!

Auch dieses recht laendliche Gebiet ist wunderbar auf einem Roadtrip zu entdecken. Viele alte Haeuser sind in die Felsen hineingebaut, die Bauwerke ganzer Staedtchen mit den beruehmten Ockerfarben bemalt!

Amazing Ocre Mountains!!!

Aix-en-Provence ... "Traumstadt der Franzosen" laut unserem Reisefuehrer ... wunderschoene Stadt, super Flair aber fuer uns hat's dann auf Grund der wieder mal überbeschäftigten Kellner doch keine Foie Gras, Cassoulet, Escargot de vins und Creme Brulee gegeben ;(

Breakfast in Marseille around the Old Harbour !!!
...admiring the arts in the European Cultural Capital 2013...

Zurueck am Meer an der Kueste zwischen Marseille und Nizza herrscht herrlichstes Wetter und ungetruebter Sonnenschein. Nach einem Croissant mit Café Fruehstueck in Marseille geht's los in die Calanques. Das sind zerklueftete Felsbuchten mit wunderschoen tuerkisblauem Meer... Fotos davon kommen noch!!

Les Calanques - Felsbuchten und türkis-blaues Meer!

With my head full of new beautiful  images, great activities, sunny weather and a few bits wiser I arrive back in London just when the sun sets and tinges the sky in beautiful fiery-purply colours around ten in the evening ...
Thank you Mama and Papa !!!

Mit meinem Kopf voller neuer Bilder und schoenen Erinnerungen, viel Action, sonnigem Wetter und wiedermal ein bisschen weiser komme ich zurueck nach London gerade als die Sonne um zehn Uhr abends am Horizont verschwindet und diesen dabei in herrlich rot-violette Farben tunkt...

Vielen Dank fuer diese tolle Reise Mama und Papa !!!