Hi Viktor! So, how did you learn about Couchsurfing?
That’s a long time ago. At that time Couchsurfing was not on everyone’s lips yet and more of an insider tip. As someone who has always been interested in distant countries, other people and cultures, I heard about it and it immediately aroused my great interest.
Ah! An early adopter! And what made you get so involved?
The then acting Germany Country Ambassador Josh really inspired me when we got to know each other at one of the first CS meetings in my city. I gladly made it my mission to grow Couchsurfing in Germany and especially in our city. Over the years, I have worked on many fronts, contributing locally, nationally and internationally. Now I am active as a German Country Ambassador myself and take care of the communities in the cities of Germany, have an open ear for our City Ambassadors and all members. I help, where I can and do all types of Couchsurfing in my free time.
Cool! And what was your first Couchsurfing experience?
Um, that’s a good question … My first key experience was meeting Sully on a skyscraper roof in Beijing at a CS party. This tall, bearded guy with a brown hat, who used to work as a crab fisherman in Alaska and now taught English in China, was something of a legend in town. Everyone knew Sully and he stood out very well with his size and style. – A lovable person and the best example of how great it is to meet characters who can be very different than you. Years later, we met again in Nanjing and it will not be the last time.
Why did you get involved in the Ambassador program?
Couchsurfing was always a matter of the heart for me. The countless wonderful moments and grateful friendships… I wanted to give back as much as possible and officially pledge allegiance to the community. Since then, I’ve always tried to give a good example for others, to help with big and small difficulties, to organize monthly meetings (now well over 100) and to stay active with Couchsurfing in different phases of my life. The more I did, the more joy and satisfaction it gave me.
And we deeply appreciate that allegiance! What has been your most interesting hosting experience?
Superlatives are always difficult to name, as there were several. Definitively a highlight was a five-headed Swedish metalcore band. Furious looking guys in dark clothes with big tattoos standing in front of my door with a half empty bottle of Jägermeister at midnight. – They were among the friendliest and most grateful Couchsurfers I have met. Later I discovered a number of their MTV clips from Scandinavia. The boys are big there, but were totally down to earth and appreciative for the hospitality in my small two bedroom apartment.
Wow! A metal band from Sweden is quite the experience! And surfing?
There have been several too. Anyway, those are great, where you do a lot with your host … Once I was staying with an over-60 year old gentleman, who described himself as a young hippie, lived in a dreamlike coastal house on the Gulf of Mexico and spontaneously took us on a boat trip with his speedboat. Of course he knew the beautiful places and showed us where the locals like to anchor. After he made a delicious omelette with avocado and cheese for us. – A recipe that I still like to cook after today or as a travel friend of mine said: “I finally know where such an avocado belongs!”
It’s true! The best avocados come from Mexico! Has there been any book that has inspired you or your travels?
I should actually write a travel book myself… I really liked the books of Stephan Orth and Christoph Rehage. Both are Couchsurfers too, globetrotters and my friends as well. – One walks on foot from East China to Germany and the other visits far away countries for months to write down his Couchsurfing impressions. The great thing is that through Couchsurfing you can get to know all sorts of people and there are no barriers, hierarchies or the like. Behind every celebrity is a person like you and me. And everyone has its interesting story to tell the world, worth listening to.
Very true! And a great point, there are so many Couchsurfers who have written incredible books about their travels! So what is one of the craziest things that has happened to you while traveling – give us a preview of your future book!
I was at a Couchsurfing party in a capital city abroad, where I met the son of the Indian ambassador. His excellency traveled to a Nobel Prize giving ceremony over the weekend, and the son, who was also a couch surfer, invited a dozen Couchsurfers to a really cool party at the ambassador’s house in the middle of a mansion neighborhood, past a gatehouse and our own police patrols. The bar was full of the most expensive drinks and in the basement there was a large pool where we jumped in with drinks in hand and clothes on! It seemed like one of those Hollywood movies. Cheers!
Wow! Ok. That is definitely a great story. You’ve convinced me, I’m ready for your book! Moving on, when people come to your city, what is one thing they must see?
During the GDR (German Democratic Republic) era our city was called Karl-Marx-Stadt for 40 years. After the reunification of Germany – the wall fell on my birthday by the way – my birthplace was changed back to Chemnitz. However, the head of Karl Marx has remained – a more than 7-meter-tall bronze sculpture! And behind it is an impressive excerpt from his manifesto. I would slightly modify it and say: “People of all countries, join in couchsurfing!”
The intro to your future book? The Viktor Manifesto! Lastly, what is one piece of advice you would give to new Couchsurfers?
Take time to get to know the site. Check out the help pages (FAQ), which are packed with tips and tricks on all possible Couchsurfing topics. And just visit an event for the beginning. There you can easily make first contacts, complete your profile through new friends and references and feel the spirit. If you want to surf or host someone, check out the profiles and write personal messages. To increase the likelihood of answering, you could filter your search by the last logins. And do not hesitate, if it does not work all right away. Work on your profile and try to empathize with your counterpart. Oh, that was more than one … Sorry and “Happy Surfing”, dear friends!