So, how’s the surfing been?

7 July 2011

I haven’t written about the couchsurfing yet, right? This was, aside from my PhD seminar (this was great by the way, motivating, inspiring and reassuring, I seem to find my feet within the group and the project slowly but surely), another exciting aspect of my trip. And it was a positive experience allround. The family with whom I stayed welcomed me warmly, the mum and I hit it off together the first evening — we talked for hours :). Her two daughters are lovely girls and the three of them plus their gorgeous and incredibly well trained dog make a great family. I felt very much at ease at their cosy place full of all sorts of pets — apart from the dog, there were 4 cuddly guinea pigs, a shy budgie and rats (luckily they were way out my sight). Lucy would have absolutely adored the place! In fact, she got an invite from the my hostess straight away and I am pretty certain that the girls would get on very well. I am very happy with the couchsurfing experience and will certainly do it again. I think it’s pretty safe as long as you choose your host with a bit of care and sense for personal safety, because at the end of the day you have nothing but people’s references and their profiles to go by. I only searched for female hosts who were at least 36 or older and were able to provide a bed in a separate room. I know, I am picky, but at the end of the day I was not travelling for pleasure (not exclusively, anyway 🙂 ) and wanted to be fresh and well rested in the mornings. During my time in Graz I also met another lovely couchsurfer for coffee. We chatted for about 2 hours over coffee in a wonderful garden café and she shared her extensive experiences of couchsurfing with me. Afterwards she showed me some interesting spots in Graz. I am sure, she would have given me a wonderful tour of the whole town and was, in fact, ready to do so, but I was so tired after the three days of my seminar and meeting so many people, that I preferred to hang out at the café in the shade of a beautiful chestnut tree.
My next seminar in Graz will be in December. I am still contemplating whether to go or not, because if the weather is as bad as it has been last year, I would not fancy the journey. But people have assured me that last year’s snow was quite an exception… but can I really trust them? I’m not sure, because their forecasts are probably as accurate as those made by bearded little Swiss oddballs who live in remote mountain villages and who predict the weather by means of icicles on waterfalls, by stroking the fur on a cow’s back, or by studying the nightsky… and who are fiercely proud of their traditional wisdom. These people exist, it is all true, as one of my fellow (Swiss) PhD students told me on the train back to Zurich.
Now that I am back in Lyon, I am as busy as ever — the school holidays have started, so we end up at the local swimming pool pretty much every day. Lucy is getting fit, I am getting tanned… Luckily I will get some work done next week, as Lucy will be attending sports day camps in Lyon to keep her entertained (and wear her out a bit 😉 ). Linus will be in England all week next week. He is leaving early tomorrow morning on the train. It’s the first time he is travelling all by himself to London, so he is as excited as I am … though we probably are excited for different reasons :).
Anyway, I hope he is going to have a great time back in the UK with his old friends, I wish I could have gone too, but it’s not in the budget. Instead we have something else planned: Rolf will be attending a conference in Paris. Just on a whim, we decided that Lucy and I will tag along on Friday morning next week (the train tickets were REALLY cheap), and the three of us will spend a day together to see sights that we did not get to see last year. Lucy and I will be having an ‘all girls’ day’ on Saturday, before hopping back on the train to Lyon, where we will (hopefully) be reunited with Linus at the train station…

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