Like everything in my life, the decision to visit Portugal just fell out of the sky. After weeks of freezing weather in Slovenia, I needed to get some vitamin D, so I decided to escape the winter and go to a warmer place in Europe. Having only one week to spend for my travel, made me wonder how to get the most out of it in such a short time… But then it hit me “Hey I have a Couchsurf profile, so why not use it!” Couchsurfing is a great way to meet the locals and to get deeper insights of the land that you are visiting. It offers a unique cultural experience that you can’t get if you stay in a hostel or a hotel, so it gives your travel a special cherry topping.
I became a member in 2010 just before traveling to Stockholm. At first, I had some concerns regarding my safety, but It turned out to be totally safe, because the people using it are open-minded and super duper relaxed. At that time it was for free, but when I started to search for a potential host in Lisbon, I found about the new policies… If you want to send more then 10 messages per week (which you have to, when looking for a host), you need to get verified by paying 54€ for a life time. Well I didn’t see that coming, but I didn’t have any other choice, so I went for it.
One week before flying to Lisbon I started to look for a host, and I have to say it was not as easy as I thought it would be. If you want to couchsurf, you need to be persistent and send a LOOOOTS of requests. That is actually the only real downside, because it is not 100% sure if you will get a roof above your head for a night or not. So when planning you trip, make sure to take this into account. This tool is more suitable for spontaneous and flexible travelers and people with iron nerves 🙂 . Requesting a stay with a stranger can be a danger, but the good thing is that you see all the references from other couchsurfers. That’s how you get a picture about the person you want to stay with. I had luck and found a host just one day before coming to Lisbon. In case I wouldn’t, there is always a plan B – Hostel 🙂 .
I first stayed at Pedro’s house and he was so nice to come and picked me up from the airport, because my plane landed quite late so there were no public transport possibilities to come to his place anymore. The next day he took me to viewpoints where I got the whole picture of Lisbon in my eye objective. After that we went to a flea market. For a minimalist like me, there is not much to see or do, so I needed to get away from too much stuff and spend the afternoon alone, discovering Lisbon on foot. I must say it brings you in shape, because even though it doesn’t look “hilly”, it is. You are going up and down and this takes care for your daily workout.
Once I got tired I stopped in a small park and I almost felt like being in the US, because you can’t overlook the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge that looks like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The reason for this lies in the same company that built them: American Bridge Company. Just beside the bridge you see a gigantic Jesus statue which makes you wonder, is this Rio de Janeiro??? The city has a vibrant spirit and I loved it, but not knowing if I have a couch to surf for the next night, was trapped somewhere in the back of my mind, but I stayed relaxed and went with the flow. Wanna know if I got a couch or not? Then stay tuned and check out the outcome of the rest of my Portugal journey on 3. April 😉 .