Leaving Spain and Couchsurfing in Cologne.
In Cologne for a few days before - with much reluctance! - my final trip back to the States. I'm staying with an amazing Couchsurfing family who have been extremely hospitable, and quite fun to chat with!
After requesting to stay with her, Sil- offered to come pick me up from the airport when I arrived. I've come to find that with Couchsurfing, you really do get some individuals who are just enthusiastic about meeting people from around the world, and also happen to be kind and generous enough to show you around and accommodate you when you're in their city.
I was worried about how I would fine Sil- and her husband at the airport, given that I wouldn't be able to call her on her German number, and she didn't have WhatsApp or iMessage. Sil-, however, seemed totally confident and told me she would see me when I arrived.
Trusting her, I exited the fairly small airport quite smoothly after my flight from Barcelona - and sure enough, Sil- is literally the first person I see, peering around the barrier as I exit the baggage claim area. The only thing she had told me before I arrived was: "I am quite small!" so I knew it was her when I saw the 5-foot-zero woman watchfully guarding the exit area.
I think it said a lot that not only Sil-, but her husband C-, both came to collect me from the airport. It was really welcoming and made me feel like they were truly excited to host me, not just off-handedly offering to come fetch me.
The house was a perfect mix of eclectic collections - from a life-size Lara Croft ceramic figuring standing guard at the veranda entrance, to the paper-maché birds floating in the trees. I was offered a dinner of meats, bread, and cheeses - which I happily accepted. I was given Cologne beer and German chocolates - the perfect evening after a day of flying.
We talked for several hours - mostly politics and politicans - more on that later! When I went to bed, C- even loaned me his tablet for the evening, as I wasn't able to get online on my phone. Don't let people tell you there aren't good, kind souls in this world...