Couchsurfing is a unique experience not only for the possibility of traveling for little but also for the opportunity to meet people who were perfect strangers before the trip.
At the hospitality site, which has over two million members, there are many Albanians residing in Albania and other countries in the world.
Hospitality is one of the founding components of Albanian culture. In fact, this characteristic trait of many Albanian cities is almost always emphasized in all the books that speak of the country of the eagles.
Anyone of us who grew up in Albania will be able to witness the great comings and goings of relatives and friends for any event. A birth, a wedding, an engagement, a circumcision, a baptism or any other party, has always been a good opportunity to open doors and receive guests. Almost always in the Albanian houses there is the "guest room" and it is the best furnished room in perfect order.
After the 90 years, one third of the Albanians emigrated to Italy, Greece, USA, Germany and other parts of the globe, bringing with them all the stories and traditions of the mythical hospitality that distinguishes our land. In the 2005 I came across almost by chance in a site that puts hospitality at the center of its goals.
Is calledand now I use it for over 5 years. Literally it means "surfing the sofa", or rather going from sofa to sofa.
At first I thought it couldn't be true. You sign up, offering a description of yourself and you can decide whether to host travelers who are passing through your area, and at the same time ask for hospitality around the world to people you don't even know.
The site's vision is clear: “Let's imagine a world where everyone can explore and travel and create meaningful connections with the people they meet and the places they visit. Building meaningful connections between different cultures allows us to respond to diversity with curiosity, appreciating and respecting it.
Appreciating diversity spreads tolerance and creates a global community ". It is the best synthesis to describe the reasons why a person travels asking for hospitality in the countries where he goes. The site has over 2 millions of members worldwide and in Italy there are over 55 thousand. The former are the USA with over 400 thousand members, closely followed by Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Canada.
In this enormous experience, Albanians living in Albania could not be missing, but also those who live around the world. Currently the registered on the site who live in Albania are over 287 present mainly in Tirana, Shkodra, Vlorë, Berat and Durazzo. For example, Ida, an English teacher who lives in Berat, "the city of a thousand windows", a UNESCO heritage site in central-southern Albania, has enrolled in couchsurfing following the advice of her Canadian boyfriend.
Instead Zhuljeta of Tirana, works in an NGO that deals with the integration of deaf people, and likes to travel. "3 years ago I wanted to take a vacation with a friend of mine in Australia and considering the price of the trip, we were looking for a cheap way to stay overnight," he tells us, "and an Australian friend of mine living in the Czech Republic suggested that I sign up for couchsurfing" .
His Albanian friends claimed that it was folly to go home to complete strangers. But after the first trip, Zhuljeta continued without stopping. "All my experiences turned out to be very positive and I made some good friends. In this way your world widens. I think that even in the years to come, I will be hosting people from all over the world in my house, in my room, in the car, and even in a shack if the other solutions were not available, ”concludes Zhuljeta smiling.
Many Albanians living outside their borders are also very active and seem to have found the ancient sanctity of Albanian hospitality in this very modern site.
This is the case of Erald, electronic engineer, born in Tirana but in Italy by 1998. After living for 12 years in Modena, he moved to Milan recently. He has known couchsurfing through a television report and immediately came to mind the Albanian saying "A doni miq or zoti i shtëpisë ?!", difficult to render in Italian but which literally means "You want guests or ladies of the house".
"I was hosted in Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, and other countries - he says - and I hosted people from China, Serbia, Great Britain and elsewhere". The most significant experience was when the host boy in Nice immediately gave him a copy of his house keys, so he could return whenever he wanted. Erald likes couchsurfing because in the cities where he goes there are only "souvenir photos left, but also friendships and nice evenings with people who are local".
Another couchsurfer is Ervis who lives at 13 years in one of the most beautiful countryside of Tuscany, Certaldo, Boccaccio's native city. He met the site by chance when he and his friend went on vacation to Iceland. He often uses it because he is very interested in meeting people he does not know with whom he is bound by a passion for travel. The most significant experience was in Germany.
A boy who had hosted him in the evening, the next morning he went to work, leaving him a written note: "I didn't want to wake you because you seemed tired. When you go out, pull the door well behind you and if you want to stay still you are welcome. " For Ervis, a rare thing nowadays. How to blame him!
Obviously they could not miss experiences from across the Channel. Briseida lives in Birmingham and works in the field of economics. He met couchsurfing when he lived in Milan, thanks to his roommate who was a member. All his experiences have been fantastic and he has known interesting people and says he is convinced of making more use of them in the future. "I remember once when we were in Padua with three other friends where we met other couchsurfers and we visited the city together - he tells us - it was a beautiful experience and I think the people who visit the site are available and open minded".
There are also many foreigners who have visited Albania through this method and continue to do so today. Their impressions that are read by scrolling through the pages of the site are always positive, as indeed the 95% of the experiences that one generally has on all the experiences on a global scale.
This is not just a way to travel cheaply, but something that goes further. We know the traditions of the places where we go, we live the daily life of all people, outside the often stereotyped tourist routes and above all we understand that humanity is so similar, despite all the apparent differences.
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