Would you jump into a car with a stranger in Dresden Germany without knowing anything about him? I bet you might do just that after reading this story.
Back in the summer of 2011 I decided to go travelling in Europe for five weeks. To be honest, I was completely broke at the time thanks to my previous travels, but the travelbug wouldn’t let me be.
“So low budget it is”, I thought to myself. I packed my bags and headed to Germany.
My Slovenian friend decided to join me for two weeks, and with our limited budgets we wanted to try Couchsurfing for the first time ever.
This was a choice dictated not only by shortage of capital but also by the desire to meet new people and find a whole new way of travelling.
To continue with the new policy of hanging out with strangers, we decided to use carpooling instead of trains and buses. There is a great website in Germany (Mitfahrgelegenheit.de) where you can find rides from people who are looking to share the fuel expenses. People are very well organised in Germany when it comes to most things, ridesharing included.
So basically we decided to jump into cars with strangers and spend our nights with people we didn’t know in their houses.
Needless to say this plan was exactly what all girls are always warned not to do!
After staying in Berlin and Leipzig, we decided to go to Dresden Germany. The only problem was we hadn’t been able to find accommodation in Dresden – we were also about to get on the road and wouldn’t be able to use the internet on the way there.
We did not want to relapse into hostel accommodation, so we posted an emergency message on Couchsurfing saying that we were looking for a place to stay for two nights in Dresden and that we were already on our way. We took care to include our phone number on the post.
We arrived in Dresden with no place to stay, and decided to enjoy some Currywurst at the Dresden train station. All of a sudden my phone beeped, practically making me choke on my not-so-great wurst!
We got a message from an unknown party saying they’d pick us up from the station.
We didn’t have internet access to check out who was texting us, so it was going to be totally blind Couchsurfing.
Were we scared to see who would show up? Absolutely we were! We had no pictures, no references, and still we were about to spend two nights at this person’s house.
Picture this: two twenty-something girls standing by the train station in Germany staring at every car anxiously.
Then suddenly, an expensive-looking, shiny black Batmobile-style sportscar pulls over right next to us. We look at each other and then we look at the car. The door opens and out comes a gorgeous twenty-something German guy with a big smile on his face.
“Hi girls, did you send a message on Couchsurfing?”
“Well yes, we certainly did – if you’re here to pick us up with that face and that car!”
Okay, so I didn’t say that out loud, but I did say it in my head. I shared another look with my friend, the kind of look two single girls share when they see a handsome guy.
If he’s handsome he can’t be a murderer, right? To the Batmobile!
We got into the car and started chatting with our new host. Within two minutes all three of us were laughing as if we’d known each other for years.
Soon we arrived at his place and my jaw dropped. There was a big black iron gate in front of us with a huge house and a beautiful yard behind it. Yes, a gate! Who has a gate? Who is this guy? Bruce Wayne?
The gate opened slowly and I started to get suspicious. How could this young guy have a car like that and a place like that?
As it turned out, he couldn’t. The house and the car belonged to his parents. We found out we were about to stay with his family. This information shouldn’t have been a total surprise considering the car and the gate, but still I was a bit nervous to hang out with a strange German family.
We got into the house and our host led us upstairs to a private room filled with fresh linens, towels, the whole nine yards. I couldn’t help wondering how his parents felt about hosting random foreign girls at their pretty house.
We got a tour of the house and on the tour we ran into his parents. We found out they were both doctors and the other building on the yard was their private clinic. For a moment I felt out of place. I’m not very comfortable in very fancy places. If I have to choose between an expensive, top-notch club or a scrubby corner pub, you’ll definitely find me at the pub.
But as we talked with his parents we noticed what wonderful, welcoming people they were. They didn’t speak much English but luckily we knew some German and they knew some English, so it all worked out. At least I like to think they could understand my constant grinning, thumbs up signs, and frequent bursts of “Kuchenschemckt gut!” (supposedly: cake tastes good). Maybe praising their desserts with my mouth full of cake wasn’t the classiest move.
In the morning we were invited to join the family for breakfast. Two low budget travellers in dirty shirts, sitting at a really fancy breakfast table with a German family. It was a bit absurd.
The table was set beautifully with white porcelain dishes. On the table was everything you could imagine – from fresh fruit to piping hot bread just out of the oven. The family was so warm and welcoming that I didn’t feel out of place despite the fancy settings.
The weather during our stay in Dresden was just dreadful.
It was windy, rainy, cold and foggy and there were sharks flying in the air. Okay not sharks, but it was bad!
But thanks to our host, the lack of sunshine wasn’t too bad to deal with. He took as around the town in the Batmobile and the three of us just laughed and laughed until my stomach hurt! There’s no need to do situps when you’re laughing nonstop for days on end!
We visited the Königstein Fortress (one of the largest hilltop fortifications in Europe), and the Zwinger Palace among other Dresden sights.
Those two days in rainy Dresden ended up being so special that I’ll never forget them: the laughter, the hospitality, my poor attempt to speak German with the parents, seeing amazing sights, and the piece de resistance – peeing in the middle of a park (well, in the bushes) because we couldn’t find a toilet, and asking Bruce Wayne to yell out if he saw anyone coming… I bet he won’t forget us either!
This post was written by Sanna Tolmunen, a Finnish communications professional and travel blogger currently doing an internship in Hancock, Michigan. Travelling, films and good stories in all forms are Sanna’s great passions in life. In a way it could be said that good stories are her one passion, as to her, life is a story. This is exactly why she hopes to share great stories around the world through her writing and her blog, Adventures Of A Finn.
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