When I started planning my trip to Germany, I only had two places in mind: Munich and Berlin. It’s a huge country, so I figured there had to be other interesting places near those cities. At first I made it a point to set foot in at least one medieval castle. Hohenzollern looked like the best one. I did some research. It’s near Stuttgart which is only about 2-3 hours away from Munich by bus. I also figured out how to get to the castle, it was quite easy. I just need to take a train with one or two transfers depending on the time of day (basically you just need to get to the central train station and head to Hechingen Station from there). So I bought a bus ticket to Stuttgart two days before (again, Flixbus offers the best rates!). I also paid for a dorm bed in a hostel. But I had a massive hangover when I woke up that morning in Munich. When I arrived in Stuttgart, i was in no mood to see a castle even if it was only a little over an hour away by train. Since I could only spend two days in Stuttgart, I had to scrap my plans. So to cut the story short, the purpose of my stay in Stuttgart was just to rest at re-energize lol. I didn’t see the medieval castle that i was totally looking forward to when i planned this trip. I didn’t even get to see the attractions in the city.
Now the reason why I couldn’t extend my stay in Stuttgart was because i already confirmed my stay with a couchsurfing host in Nuremberg. It would be really rude to cancel at the very last minute, especially if that person is nice enough to let you stay at his place even if you barely have any feedback on the app. Besides, my reason to extend my stay was quite flimsy. Hey man, hope you don’t mind if I don’t show up. Got a massive hangover the day before and I just really have to see this huge castle. Yeah. I’m gonna sound like an ass.
The reason why I wanted to stop by Nuremberg was to see another castle. It may not be as huge as Hohenzollern, but it was also built during the medieval period. It also played a significant part during World War II. It would be great to have a firmer grasp on that period in history. Now, since hostels are fairly expensive in this part of Europe (a dorm bed costs about 20-30 euros… not much, but that amount adds up after a few days), I tried looking for hosts on the couchsurfing app. Couchsurfing these days is kind of a mixed bag. If you get to chat with those people who have been members for years, they will tell you how much it has changed. During its early years, it was about getting to know locals, it was about immersing oneself in a different culture. Getting free food and lodging are only bonuses. Nowadays, a lot of people create accounts simply to find a free place to stay. I’ve spoken with a number of old members who are getting tired of people who come and go as they please without making any effort to get to know their host. And there are so many new members, mostly men, who use the app for hooking up. You can easily spot their profiles. Men who have only hosted women raise suspicions. And when you check out their profile and the sleeping arrangement is on a shared bed, that pretty much confirms it. Maybe it’s just me, but if i wanted to hook up with someone, i’d rather use Tinder. That way, your intentions are clear from the get go. There’s no room for any misunderstanding. I’ve used the couchsurfing app many times while traveling to meet up with fellow travelers and locals for drinks, and i hear a lot of stories from women. I’ve heard several from men too. The thing is, a lot of backpackers are traveling on a tight budget. And they can be easy prey due to desperation. If a person is nice enough to let you stay at his place for free and give you food, some couchsurfers find it really hard to say no when the host wants to have sex, especially if they are running out of money and they have no place to go. The sad fact is, these folks still get to host a lot of desperate backpackers. You’re gonna see a lot of nudists on the app too. I’ve received a number of invites. I don’t really mind them because they state their conditions on their profiles. And they’re not forcing anyone to go nude. But it’s still surprising they they get to host so many people. One dude had almost 200 reviews lol. And I’ve spoken with one guy who stayed with a nudist who was hosting 4 other people at that time. He said it was awkward as hell but he was okay with it because he was already running out of cash lol. I like the concept of couchsurfing, but when I hear stories like these I realize that it’s not all good. Sometimes it gets awkward, sometimes it gets weird. And sometimes it can be disgusting.
So yeah I mentioned that I didn’t have much feedback yet. I only had feedback from a couple of fellow travelers I’ve met and I understand feedback like that doesn’t amount to much. If you want to be hosted by those who have been members for a couple of years (and it would be best to have them as hosts since they stick to the old concept of couchsurfing), you need to have reviews from both hosts and surfers. I only had two reviews from hosts and no reviews from surfers. Now that raises a red flag for the old school members. If you’ve never hosted before and only have reviews from hosts, you could be one of those people who are only looking for a free place to stay. Now what could you do to convince them otherwise? Write a personal request, do not send out generic ones. They have their interests on their profiles. Bring those up. Tell them why you want to stay with them instead of other people. It would be easier of course if you share common interests. You can give that as a reason. That’s why I only send requests to people i have common interests with. That would also ensure that there would be less awkward silences when you stay with them since you’ll have something to talk about. That’s what i did and I got a host in both Nuremberg and Berlin. Now, searching based on similar interests alone won’t ensure you’ll get a host. You have to look at their entire profiles. As I’ve mentioned above, if you’re also a guy, some dude who only hosts women would most probably decline your request. If the sleeping arrangement is a shared bed, then your request will definitely be ignored if he’s a straight dude lol. Also check if they have a lot of feedback from surfers. Those who have no feedback from surfers are unlikely to host. Generally, it’s harder for guys to find hosts. One traveler I met in Australia summed it up perfectly. Most women would rather host women. It makes them feel safer i guess. And most men would rather host women too. This dude has basically given up on couchsurfing. He says it’s easier to use Tinder to find a free place to stay, just make sure to always swipe right lol. I’m not giving up on it though. In most countries hostels are cheap so that’s always my first option for lodging. But i do send out a couple of requests in every country i visit. If someone would host me, then great. After all, the best way to immerse oneself in a certain place is to make friends with someone who’s local. Couchsurfing is still one of the best ways to do that.
This post was supposed to be about Nuremberg, I dunno why i ended up talking about Couchsurfing lol. So yeah, Nuremberg is awesome. I haven’t seen much of the country, but out of the places I’ve visited in Germany this is my favorite. The city isn’t too big, so it’s not as chaotic as Berlin. If you plan on heading here, stay close to the old part of town. You’ll feel as if you went back in time as you’re strolling through those alleys. The Hauptmarkt is bustling with activity especially on weekends. Lots of stalls sell different stuff, you’re bound to buy something as a souvenir. There are a number of churches in the area with marvelous architecture. Don’t miss the Saint Lawrence Church and the Church of Our Lady. The highlight of the old part of town is the Nuremberg Castle. You might be underwhelmed if you’re expecting a massive structure. It’s free if you just want to roam outside. It’s also worth a visit for the amazing views of the city since it’s located on top of a hill.
If you’re into arts and culture. the National Germanic Museum is a must visit. It houses the country’s largest art and culture collection consisting of numerous paintings and sculptures. The architecture outside is also really cool.
Nuremberg is also known for its significance during the Nazi regime. This was where the Nazis held their conventions and rallies. It was also the headquarters of the military district during the second World War. It’s also where the Nazi war criminals were brought to trial. If you want to learn more about this dark period in German history, then the Documentation Center Nazi Party Rally Grounds is a must visit. I was initially hesitant to visit this place because visiting places about dark chapters in human history can be really depressing, but I’m really glad I did. I was able to learn so much about this period in history, a lot of which I haven’t heard before. The museum is actually located inside a renovated part of the Nazi Party Rally Grounds. If you just want to visit the rally grounds, you can roam around the area for free. In its present state, it can be quite foreboding especially on a gloomy day.
I’ve learned a lot of new things during my trip to Nuremberg, I guess that’s why it’s my favorite place in Germany. And yeah, having an awesome couchsurfing host certainly helped. Though it’s not as popular as Munich or Berlin, it has many unique attractions. I believe it’s a must visit for all travelers who find themselves in the eastern part of Germany, especially for those people who want to learn a lot about German history.