I love Couchsuring. It’s my favorite way to travel, and I’ve never had a problem with it. Until now. Here’s how I nearly got stranded Couchsurfing in Cyprus, and how I was saved.
It’s been some time since I used the Couchsurfing website to find a host. I was hosting myself for three months in Chiang Mai, and then staying with friends in Bucharest. Unfortunately, sometime this year Couchsurfing decided to become money motivated. It’s now a membership platform, and you only get 10 requests to hosts each week without paying for the membership. There have been some cities where I’ve messaged fifty hosts without a response…but that’s another story.
In Cyprus, I sent out my ten requests, and then established a public trip. It got weird almost immediately.
My first response was from Chris Karmani, or “the infamous Chris” as he is known locally. He messaged me almost immediately, saying he or a friend might be able to host me, but definitely wanted to meet up. I thanked him profusely and accepted his help, and then I read his profile. There wasn’t anything alarming in his profile, but way at the bottom there was a small note that he was in the “Nudist” Couchsurfing group. I wrote back to him to clarify that I wasn’t gay, and while I’m willing to try new things, I wasn’t totally comfortable about being nude with another guy while couchsurfing. The request shortly fizzled out. Turns out, he has contacted nearly every traveler going to Cyprus, and local hosts as well, trying to get together with them. Consider yourself warned.
The next host that contacted me was Iro Michael. She said maybe, and then asked me to pay 10 Euro a night, as she usually rents out the room on Airbnb. I said I really didn’t have that, or I would have booked a hostel. She relented and agreed to let me stay for free. I messaged her several more times that day, but she never got back to me, and I ended up staying at a hostel. The next morning, she messaged me saying I could come anytime. I asked her where I should go, but she had disappeared.
Finally two minutes before midnight, she asked me why I had never called her, and the room was now ready for me. I said she had never given me her phone number, and the public transportation had long since ceased for the day. Her neighborhood was several kilometers outside of town, and there was no way to get there. Her next message was the following morning, when she asked me why I didn’t get someone else to call her. With what number?! Then she wanted to know why I didn’t message her back. Really?! Did the five messages I sent not count? Here’s the full conversation:
The evening of the second night, I was searching through Couchsurfing and found that one of the hosts had a hostel, but was allowing people to couchsurf in the back yard, either in a hammock or a tent. Hell yeah! My friends Sarah Funk and her boyfriend dropped me off at Trip Yard Hostel, which gladly gave me one of the tents. Since this is Cyprus, I didn’t need any sleeping bag or blanket, and I actually had the best night sleep on the island! In the morning they let me use their (really clean) bathroom and shower. The hostel has a bunch of Ukrainians running it, and they are really friendly! I’d have been happy to go back and pay for another night (as only the first night was free), but the final host to contact me was my savior.
Artem (his friends call him Artie) was incredibly chill in offering to host me. Originally agreeing to host me for my last two days in Limassol, he was quick to accept me for the third day that Iro was supposed to host me. What’s more, on that day he and his girlfriend came to pick me up at the cafe I was working at and took me on a road trip into the mountains in the middle of Cyprus! We stopped at the amazing Monagri Grape Farm for a free wine tasting, and then drove to the Caledonia Waterfalls where we hiked for over an hour.
That evening, they took me out to the beach where we swam for awhile. Finally, we went to a small, remote village which supposedly had the best pizza on Cyprus. Unfortunately, the pizza parlor was closed, but the little mom and pop restaurant across the street was open. We got the “everything” platter. I can’t even list everything they served us, but I can tell you that I’ve completely fallen in love with Cypriot food! Between the salad, the sausages, the grilled halloumi and roasted chicken, I was in heaven.
For the rest of my stay, Artie went out of his way to help me out. He picked me up from the town center, we made dinner together, he gave me all kinds of advice for Limassol and Cyprus, and we really got along great.
Couchsurfing in Cyprus is definitely possible, but not the easiest. The island is really spread out, public transportation isn’t the best (the locals say it’s horrible), and many of the hosts are out in the villages. My recommendations would be to avoid Chris and Iro, and see if you can get Artie. Don’t forget, you always have a night at Trip Yard as a last resort. Or a first one, because they’re just really cool and you should stay there at least once.
Here’s some extra reading to save hundreds on your next vacation or stage of your journey.