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SaimaAwan

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SaimaAwan

Joined: 18 February 2011

Posts: 39

Posted: 21 March 2011 at 12:10am | IP Logged
The concept is simple: if you are able to find someone to allow you in their home for a night (or more) when you are travelling in an unknown place, then you become a couch surfer. And vice-versa, if you have some space to spare in your home and some kindness in your heart to allow a traveller to spend a night (or more) then you can become a host to a couch surfer. Yes, these are strangers who you will live with or let live just for a short period of time. Sounds absurd, right? With an ever growing distrust amongst us, how is this going to work? Well, it does and 2 million members in 237 countries, a part of the strong couch surfing community is the proof.

My experience has been only as a couch surfer not as a host yet. But as it works, most people first start surfing, meet other surfers and hosts, and then develop the courage to become a host. Yes, of course one needs to be courageous to let a stranger enter their house and let someone sleep the night. There are ways to ensure that the person you are hosting is authentic. The profiles on the couchsurfing.org have a good way of providing enough information about someone to be able to trust them. A personal website/blog is a definite plus and a few references from well connected couch surfers will go some way to helping you find a host. But what I found plays the most important role is writing a personalised request.

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SaimaAwan

Newbie

SaimaAwan

Joined: 18 February 2011

Posts: 39

Posted: 21 March 2011 at 12:11am | IP Logged
A personalised request means that you read the complete profile of the prospective host, understand what that person is like, find some commonalities (interests) that you could perhaps pursue with your host when you meet (cooking, talking about a book/experience/drinking) and then write the request. Also don't forget to answer some hidden question, if any. Smart hosts put those in there just to make sure that a couch surfer has read the profile before making a request.

When you are hosted by a person living in the city, you come to know more about the city but from a different perspective. Of course, the lonely planet guide is a good place to look for information while travelling but what better than local knowledge that can help a traveller. Not all couch surfer hosts need to provide a place to stay for the night, you can volunteer to show the couch surfer around the city or just to meet the traveller for a coffee.

SaimaAwan

Newbie

SaimaAwan

Joined: 18 February 2011

Posts: 39

Posted: 21 March 2011 at 12:11am | IP Logged
In return a couch surfer is not required to do anything special. He may buy the host a drink or go have dinner at nice place but that's only if the surfer wishes to. There is no obligation on the surfer or the host to do anything special. But as it usually happens, you do end up doing lots of interesting things with your host. It can be cooking a meal together, watching a game or a movie, going to the host's favourite places in the city or best of all spending hours talking about random things. Amongst other obvious things the surfer has to be courteous while using someone else's house but if one is a little careful, couch surfing can only be a lot of fun.

I was taken aback by the success of couch surfing. From a traveler's perspective, it couldn't get better: a place to stay and local guidance, and both for free! Stay tuned for more on my experience of couch surfing in Munich, Zurich & Bern.

SaimaAwan

Newbie

SaimaAwan

Joined: 18 February 2011

Posts: 39

Posted: 21 March 2011 at 12:13am | IP Logged
Canada is a land of vast distances and rich natural beauty. Economically and technologically, it resembles its neighbour to the south, the United States, although there are significant differences between the two countries. Canada became a self-governing dominion in 1867 by an act of the British parliament, and is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. By 1931 it was more or less fully independent of the UK. Though a medium sized country by its population, Canada has earned respect on the international stage for its strong diplomatic skills as a kind of "Switzerland of North America", while certainly not as neutral in its international alignment. Domestically, the country has displayed success in negotiating compromises amongst its own culturally and linguistically varied population, a difficult task considering that language, culture, and even history can vary significantly throughout the country. In contrast to the United States' traditional image of itself as a melting pot. Canada prefers to consider and define itself a mosaic of cultures and peoples. Canadians are used to living and interacting with people of different ethnic backgrounds on a daily basis and will usually be quite friendly and understanding if approached in public. You will never look out of place or feel like an unusual sight while traveling Canada, although this will be less so in rural areas such as the Saskatchewan countryside. Canada is very much a multi-cultural nation and Toronto may very well be the most multi-cultural city on the planet! The information below will get you started, but be sure to check the specifics for given regions and cities.

Canada's official measurement is metric, however many people, especially those aged 40 and over, will still use the imperial system for many things. One of the most common holdovers from the imperial system is the use of feet and inches for measurement of distances and heights, and especially the use of pounds and ounces for weights, even among younger Canadians. You will still hear older Canadians use the term 'mile' when referring to informal distances, and may also give temperatures in fahrenheit. All weather forcasts will be in C.

Trying to distill the climate of Canada into an easy-to-understand statement is impossible, given the vast area that this country occupies. Much of southern Ontario has a climate similar to the northeastern United States. On the other hand, Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut, is just south of the Arctic Circle and remains very cold for most of the year.

However, as most of the Canadian population resides within a few hundred kilometers of Canada's border with the United States Edmonton and Calgary being the only major cities that aren't, visitors to most cities will most likely not have to endure the weather that accompanies a trip to the northern territories. In fact, summers can be hot in parts of Canada. Summer temperatures over 35C (95F) are not unusual in extreme Southern Ontario and the southern Interior of British Columbia, with Osoyoosbeing the hot spot of Canada. Toronto's climate is only slightly cooler than many cities in the northeastern United States, and summers in the southern parts of Ontarioand Quebec are often hot and humid. In the BC (British Columbian) Interior, Alberta and Saskatchewan, the humidity is often low during the summer, even during hot weather. In the winter, Southern Ontario is only slightly cooler than the northeastern United States, but temperatures under -20C (14F) are not uncommon.


Toronto's Pearson International Airport is the main regional airport serving Canada's largest city, as a result it is reasonably well served by flights from cities across Canada as well as many American cities and several European, Asian, Latin American, African and Oceanian cities. A short Mississauga airport taxi ride from anywhere in Mississauga could make your travel more fascinating . The climate in Canada also depends on how close to the coast you travel. If you are traveling by air you should go to Toronto, there you will need airport taxi. Many inland cities, especially those in the Prairies, experience extreme changes in weather.Winnipeg, Manitoba  has hot summers that can easily exceed 35C (95F), yet experiences very cold winters where temperatures around -40C (-40F) are not uncommon. The hottest temperature in Canadian ever recorded was in southern Saskatchewan, at 45C (113F). Conversely, southern coastal cities in British Columbia are generally milder year-round and get little snow. The Atlantic Provinces are usually not as cold as the Prairies and the Territories although they constantly experience temperatures below zero in the winter. The Atlantic Provinces are also well known to experience many blizzards during the winter season. In British Columbia, Vancouver and Victoria are temperate and get very little snow, and seldom experience temperatures below 0C or above 27C (32-80F).

There are many forms of transportation in the city of Toronto. These include highways and public transit. Toronto's primary airport is Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ), which is along the western boundary with Mississauga. Toronto airport taxi is a service which allows you to travel throughout Toronto and surrounding arias in reasonable rent. Toronto also has an extensive network of bicycle lanes and multi-use trails and paths, which are used by cyclists in the city to get from place to place safely. Toronto is largely built on a grid-based road system with a few notable exceptions. These include streets such as Davenport Road and Vaughan Road, which follow an old native trail,[2] while others, such as Kingston Road, were originally constructed to link Toronto with other settlements in Ontario. The downtown core is built to a fine grain, human scale, mostly consisting of four lane arterial and collector roads. Outside the downtown core, most arterial roads have two or three lanes of traffic in each direction. Toronto's road system was mainly designed for cars, and is quite easy to navigate. There are some anomalies; for example, Lawrence Avenue and St. Clair Avenue are both split into two sections by the Don Valley, and, in the case of St. Clair Avenue, the drive between the two sections is almost 15 minutes. Roads sometimes change names, and the 1998 Amalgamation has caused some doubling in road names, although this is usually confined to smaller, more residential, roads.


Apart from having usually milder temperatures year-round than the interior areas of Canada, coastal areas can have very high rainfall. Areas such as coastal British Columbia get some of the highest rainfall in Canada, but it can be very dry in the southern BC Interior due to the Coastal Mountains acting as a rain shadow. It is also popular with the highest tourists. The wind can be a big factor on the Canadian Prairies because there are wide open areas not unlike those in the Midwest states of the US, and makes for unpleasant windchills during cold weather in the winter. The average temperature is typically colder in Canada than in the US and Western Europe as a whole, so bring your jacket if visiting between October and May, and early and later than this if visiting areas further north. The rest of the year, in most of the country, daytime highs are generally above 15C (60F).


Edited by SaimaAwan - 21 March 2011 at 12:30am

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