• Couchsurfing Summer Learning Moment 2015

    July 21, 2016 | Trip Recaps
  • Please select a day or scroll down to read entire post
  • Day 1 • July 16, 2016

    Well, another summer adventure has begun! However, unlike in the past, this adventure has a new twist: the concept of couchsurfing!! If you don’t know what couchsurfing is, it’s basically staying at someone’s house, on their couch, or in their spare bedroom, or wherever they have space. There’s a website called www.couchsurfing.com, and it’s possible to host people in your local city, be hosted by someone in a city where you travel, or even to hang out with locals or travelers from different cities. So, I find myself in Westerville, Ohio with the really wonderful host Leslie for my first, and hopefully not my last, couchsurfing experience!

    Thursday night, I set out, and took an 18-hour Greyhound bus ride from Boston to Columbus, Ohio. The bus was pretty uncomfortable, and at midnight, I enjoyed a burger and fries in the Albany, New York bus terminal. I had to transfer buses just once, in Cleveland, Ohio and arrived in Columbus at 2:00 PM Friday afternoon.

  • Day 2 • July 17, 2016

    A photo of downtown Westerville. Westerville is a northeastern suburb of Columbus. The population was 36,120 at the 2010 census.Westerville was once known as

    Upon arrival into Columbus, Leslie picked me up and we went to this amazing fast food restaurant called the Steak n' Shake! The burger was great, as I had not eaten since that meal in Albany, and the peanut butter shake was out of this world. Then, we came to the house, I learned my way around, and it was great to relax and enjoy a few drinks out on the porch.

    Last night, the fun began! We walked around downtown Westerville, and man downtown is so close to their house! There are several restaurants, a very good donut shop that is actually better than Crispy Cream, and several shops. We ate dinner at an Italian restaurant, and the pasta with salmon was okay, but not great. After dinner, I went to a bar called Jimmy V’s. I hung out with some of Leslie’s friends, and it reminded me of Washington, DC, because everyone here is so nice and accepting! It was amazing and I got back to the house at 1:30 AM. Tomorrow, I’m sure that there will be more surprises!!

  • Day 3 • July 18, 2016

    Today, I got up early, enjoyed some great coffee, and some donuts, made fresh daily from a shop right down the street! This place is even better than Krispy Cream. The glazed and the chocolate with sprinkles were the best. After that, I met up with a friend, Penney, who also lives in Columbus. I had lunch at Arby’s, then spent some time at her pool. It was very hot, about 90 degrees, so it was great to enjoy time by the pool relaxing and catching up.

    That afternoon, Penney took me to Easton, which is a massive shopping center with every single store that you can imagine! They even have their own zip code. They have both an outdoor and an indoor section, and it was great to walk around, and I bought a candle for the couchsurfing hosts. To end the day, we went to the Crazy Mule, a bar between Columbus and Westerville and we enjoyed a few beers out on their patio.

    That night, we all chatted on their great porch for a while. This porch is covered, so you can’t get wet from rain or anything, and it was great to just talk and drink together. I went out with Leslie and her family to a restaurant called the Rusty Bucket. This restaurant had everything from burgers, to steaks, to salads, and pasta. I enjoyed some wine and pesto chicken pasta, and it was great. It was interesting, since we had about 10 people. But it wasn’t chaotic! Everything worked out perfectly. To end the night, some friends and I walked down to the brew pub at the end of their street and tried the flight, where you can try five of their homemade beers and pick the best one. I think my favorite was the IPA, so I had one and it was great. By this time, it was midnight, so that was another full day of action and excitement in this awesome town of Westerville!!

  • Day 4 • July 19, 2016

    Zoombezi Bay is a 22.7 acre water park owned by the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium near Powell, Ohio just north of Columbus. The park sits on the site of the former Wyandot Lake Amusement Park, which was purchased by the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in 2006. Zoombezi Bay opened to the public on May 26, 2008, and currently ranks as one of the Midwest's most popular water parks, attracting more than 400,000 visitors annually.

    Today, Leslie and I went to Columbus’s awesome water park, Zoombezi Bay. They had both tube slides, as well as body slides. The slides had turns, drops, and the water temperature was perfect! We tried all of the slides, and my favorite was the body slide, which is the highest and the fastest in the park. It went straight down, and the whole ride lasted about five seconds! Additionally, several of the tube slides went into a tunnel, and one of them went uphill. While the park closed for a half hour because of the threat of thunder, we had a great time, and we finished all of the slides before it really did begin to storm and the park closed for the day.

    That night, I went down with Leslie’s son Haydon to the Bag of Nails Pub, where they have great fish and chip! It was great to just relax, have a beer as well, and end a great day. Tomorrow is the final full day of this great couchsurfing learning moment here in Westerville, and it’s crazy that the time has flown by so fast!!

  • Day 5 • July 20, 2016

    A nightime photo of the Short North Arches, centered on the main strip of High Street immediately north of downtown Columbus Ohio and extending until just south of the Ohio State University campus area. It is an easy walk from the convention center or Nationwide Arena district to the north. The Short North is often crowded on weekends, particularly during the monthly

    To begin the last day of this amazing Learning Moment, I ate breakfast at The Grill, which is a diner right by Leslie’s antique shop where she works. She owns the shop as well! Also, it is worth noting here that her husband drives everywhere, even if it's two feet down the road. For example, Leslie walked me to the diner, then her husband drove down to get me, then drove me back to the shop, even though when we walked it was only about two minutes no foolin!! I enjoyed a reuben and hand-cut fries.

    After that, Leslie and I made our way to North Market, which closely resembles Faneuil Hall in Boston. It’s a big building, full of food stalls. However, the big difference is that North Market, in addition to having hot food, also has many stalls where you can buy food to take home, such as pastas. I actually bought a great hot sauce. At the stall, they had hot sauces from 1-12, with 12 being the hottest. I tried the number 7, and man was that hot already!! So I bought the one that was a 4, which was a garlic type of sauce. It’s great! I also enjoyed a coffee and Leslie got a chocolate Belgian waffle. It was also much more laid back than Faneuil Hall, with many less tourists.

    After that, we walked High Street, which is the main street in this district of Columbus. We stopped off at a bar, I got a beer for much cheaper than in Boston, and we made our way to Hyde Park Steakhouse for the farewell dinner! At this steakhouse, usually you get the steak, and every other item is extra. However, since it was early in the day, we did very well. They had a happy hour special. It started with lobster bisque which was great, then two twin filet mignons that were six ounces in total, and garlic mashed potatoes. Because I also wanted to try some of the sauces and creamed spinach from the regular menu, we got those as extra items, but it didn’t cost nearly as much if we had gotten the regular steakhouse fair. My friend Penney told me that the steaks alone were about $25 or $30, but it turned out that they were about $50 apiece, so we did very well with this deal! Then, we went back to the house and I spent more time with Leslie friends, and we all said good-bye. It is so hard to believe that tomorrow I will be flying back to Boston!!

  • Day 6 • July 21, 2016

    This morning, I enjoyed donuts one last time from that awesome bakery at about 8:00 AM, and left for the Columbus Airport at about 9:00 AM. I was able to get there in plenty of time, and unlike Boston Logan Airport, this airport only has one terminal, so it was easy to check my bag and go through security. After that, I enjoyed a French dip sandwich at the Columbus Brewing Company, as well as a Starbuck’s coffee. While I was waiting at the gate, I heard that the flight to Washington, DC was delayed until about 1:00 PM. I was told that if I missed the 2:30 shuttle flight to Boston from Washington, I would make the 3:30, and my bag would make it on that one, so not to worry. At last, we left at 1:00, and got to Washington DC at about 2:10 PM. Fortunately, the 2:30 flight to Boston was already boarding, and it was only three gates away from where we landed, so I made it after all, as did my bag. We arrived at Logan at about 3:45, I got my bag, and got home at about 6:00!! I am totally couchsurfing again in the future!!

  • 1 comment

    Ian – this is a great post! Sounds like so much fun! Are you leaving reviews on Yelp (yelp.com) of the restaurants and bars you go to? It’d be really cool for them to see what was accessible and what could be improved from your view – also just what you thought of the food, drinks and service like every other yelper writes:) So glad you’re blogging still! Hugs, – Xenia