Living with the locals


Tandem House programme, May 2016 Mościbrody Manor Estate, Poland.

In 2016 Antony and I did 5 different Angloville programmes (and a Diverbo Englischhausen which I will blog about separately). All the programmes were really enjoyable and a great chance to meet locals. We can highly recommend doing these programmes if you are a native English speaker travelling in Europe! Participating in an Angloville programme usually means spending 5 nights in a resort or hotel in the countryside, where, as native English speakers, you receive all meals and accommodation for free. In return you […]

Workaway at a Wine Hostel, Georgia

A week spent in the stunning wine region of Kakheti, helping out at a wine hostel was just fantastic. We had missed the wine harvest by a few weeks so there weren’t any wine-related things to do (aside from drinking the wine) but we kept busy with various other tasks. Ucha was our host, a young Georgian guy with fantastic English and a relaxed and friendly personality. He opened up his home (which he shared with his father) to many travellers throughout the year […]

Workawaying in Armenia

Campsite, Kapan

We walked across the border from Iran into Armenia and got the visa for Armenia in just a few minutes. After the border guard had spent quite some time admiring our passports (first NZ passport he’d seen) we then had to wait for the exchange guy to finish his coffee break before we could get some local currency and a taxi to nearby Meghri. No-one was in a hurry.  The taxi driver drove incredibly slowly and tried to convince us to let him drive […]

Couchsurfing in an Iranian Village

Biking in the village

Aside from our first 2 weeks on Qeshm island, the following 6 weeks in Iran were almost exclusively spent staying in cities. There was one night in the desert and one other exception- when we couchsurfed in the village Nasrola Mahaleh, (near Fouman) in Gilan Province, with our host Hamed and his parents. This was quite a different experience and just wonderful. The village was in a green rural valley in the north of Iran. Cows and other animals wandered freely along the roads. […]

Iranian Village Wedding

Hamed with his sister and brother in law at the wedding party.

We had the opportunity to attend an Iranian wedding party with our couchsurfing host Hamed. It was just across the road from our host’s house in the village of Nasroleh Mahaleh, near Fouman in Gilan Province. The bride was in a typical white western style wedding dress and had her hair unveiled (!!) but that’s where the similarities with weddings as we know them ended. There were hundreds of people there, it seemed the entire village was present, but instead of sitting around tables, […]

Touchy Feely Mohammad

Cool table at the hairdressers.

In our two months of travel in Iran, we had one rather unusual couchsurf host. We arrived early in the morning after a night bus ride to his city and took a taxi to the house. “Mohammad” came outside and greeted us with hugs which was slightly odd given that we’d just met and we were in Iran where, out of respect, many men won’t even shake an unrelated woman’s hand- rather place their hand on their own heart.  It was around 5 in […]

Fabulous Female CS hosts in Iran

Simin & Roha

We stayed with just two female Couchsurf hosts in Iran. Both were married, well educated, spoke excellent English and had one child each. Their husbands knew very little English but were both the loveliest people. We stayed just one night in Shahrebabak with Somaye, an industrial engineer. This was an exception to our usual 2 night minimum policy. Somaye was recommended to us by a couchsurfer from Bandar Abbas – one we didn’t stay with but who provided us with lots of helpful information. […]

Workawaying in Iran

Enjoying the entertainment at the Restaurant

Imagine my excitement when I first heard about the workaway website, clicked on it and saw a place in Iran profiled on the homepage! It wasn’t just any old place either… it was a restaurant on a beach! What a cool location and a great opportunity to be more than a tourist in this most fascinating country! I wrote to the host almost immediately (this was July 2015) and she must have thought it slightly odd to get a request to workaway with them […]

Couchsurfing with Single Guys in Iran

Host Amir taking a photo of George & Leonie, Rayen.

Most Iranian hosts on the couchsurfing site seem to be single males in their 20s or 30s. I’ve already mentioned a few of them here. All the guys we stayed with had excellent English and all still lived with their parents, except for our host in Tehran. In Kerman we were hosted by Amir, a lovely guy, who hosted us and a German couple in his small room. It was cosy! He owned a mobile phone shop, had an IT background, liked going to […]

A movie mad host, a paraglider, a wrestler & a businessman…

Mohammad, Shiraz

We will not forget any of our couch surf experiences in Iran – from the movie mad Tarantino fan Ahmad in Ahvaz who lived alone with his sweet, illiterate mother, looked a little like Borat, worked as a chemical lab assistant in the petroleum industry and had a friend with an encyclopaedic knowledge about everything, to the former wrestler now hiking guide Mehdi in Dezful, who despite having an Islamic theologian for a father, had no interest in religion. (Phew that was a looong […]