Tours Travel Story: CouchSurfing, Geocaching and Hitchhiking to fairy tale castles!
In February, Gianluigi and I stayed at a stranger’s home and searched for treasure chests in Tours: a really unusual, but exciting way to discover a city!
Never heard about Couchsurfing? It is a social platform providing members to “surf” on couches at a host’s home. The real purpose is to make “real” contacts with people by meeting or living with them. So, locals help you discover their city in an authentic way.
In addition, you exchange ideas with different people and get to know different lifestyles. For people who prefer independent travel, less in a “commercial way”, and have a small budget, it is one of the best ways to experience a country and its people.
After having sent some requests to members, finally Sang and Aurelien accepted our request to stay at their home for 3 nights. The sweet Vietnamese French couple offered us a single room with a double bed in the inner centre!
We enjoyed walking in the old town, it is beautiful!
Then, Gianluigi showed me an exciting outdoor activity: Geocaching. Participants with the application use a GPS receiver to hide and seek little containers, anywhere in the world. Sometimes you have to follow a series of clues to find boxes, in which you can find little objects, letters, tasks… On a paper roll, you can trace back the date and name of people who found the box before you. An exciting game for adventurers!
We found the first box in the church St. Julien, carefully hidden in a hole of the building.
A second treasure chest was so well hidden that we couldn’t find it.
The third box took us half an hour as it was cleverly hidden: as a magnet under a public bank.
People who hide them, give hints to facilitate the search! A box can sometimes be just near you, but you don’t find them. Believe me, it is a great feeling.
When you find a box: you are happy like a little kid!!!
For the last night, we prepared a dinner for our great hosts. Gianluigi cooked Spaghetti Carbonara à la Italian grandmother, without cream fraiche ! Onions made me cry, but it was worth it to learn a new dish!
We spent a wonderful time with Sang and Aurélien, shared a lot of nice moments and interesting conversations. Thank you for your great hospitality!
Gianluigi, is my Italian neighbour of the student residence. I never thought that we could become such close friends! In fact, we got on well from the start – “colpo di fulmine” , HAHA!
You proved to me, that the “chemistry” (philosophy, character, mentality..) between 2 people is so much more important than the language! My Erasmus in Poitiers was so much fun with you, I really miss the crazy spontaneous actions! Now you are back in Pizza’s hometown, Naples, so I wish you all the best and see you soon! Thanks for meeting you.
Tours: Second stay
Besides the Hitchhiking adventure, I am so excited to tell you about my strange coincidences related to my return to Tours. My friends, now hold on tight!
One week before my return in May, I coincidentally was at Aga’s party, a Taiwanese patissier who invited a lot of people for the tasting of his amazing 12 cakes!
The crazy thing: I didn’t know this man well nor was I invited by him. But thanks to Gwenola, who gives us both personal French lessons for a coffee, I could join the party. As she couldn’t come, she arranged with Aga that I could take part instead of her. Who would say no to delicious cakes and meeting new people?
At the “Cake” party I coincidentally met Dopy, a middle-aged man from Tours. I had already sent him a CouchSurfing request for my first stay in his city. At that time, he couldn’t host us. After my first stay in Tours, he wanted to meet up with me in Poitiers, as he often worked there, but unfortunately we didn’t manage to do it.
Finally, “destiny” wanted us to meet at Aga who again had already been hosted through Couch Surfing by Dopy ! After talking endlessly to each other, we noticed how similar we were. I felt like I had already known him a long time ago !
The second adventure to Tours was very spontaneous and I had a Spanish travel mate with me: my neighbour Àngela, a lovely future nurse! We booked our lift (BlaBlacar) just one day before our departure and haven’t made any plans so far.
It was hard to find a host for 2 people at short time. So, we slept under the bridge.
Haha, no I am joking 😀 Guess where we slept in the end? At my first host’s home in Tours: Sang and Aurélien who heartily welcomed my new companion Àngela and me again!
When we arrived in the city we met Dopy, my “soulmate”. We walked along the riverside of the Loire and ended up at , they call it, the place of the monster!
The Monster was chasing after us!!
Suddenly a funny thing happened: We passed by the place where Gianluigi and I found our third “Geocache” under the bank.
Memories of my first stay in Tours came up to me, and I wanted to look if the box was still there. I started telling Dopy about the outdoor game.
What a surprise: he turns out to be a big GEO – CATCHER Player!
All boxes that we found the first time were not there anymore. But we found one behind a traffic sign, camouflaged as a magnet.
As I’ve heard about beautiful castles around the “Loire Valley”, I had the idea to visit them. But we had neither a car nor a bike, and the public transport in France can sometimes be very annoying! Spontaneously, I suggested to Àngela to hitchhike and she accepted the challenge. Even though she has never done it before, she was courageous and trusted me. What for a superwoman (she calls herself so)! 😀
(Did you notice that we wrote the city TOURS wrong ? Such a shame on us! :D)
And so, we stood at the side of the road with the cardboard sign and our thumbs stretched out. It was fun to give Ángela instructions. Haha. And so the result was quite impressive: after only 5 minutes, a friendly woman picked us up, taking us directly to the Villandry Castle!
Villandry Castle is simply amazing!
The next day, we had an incredible encounter while hitchhiking to the Amboise Castle:
After not even 10 minutes, Jessica, an energetic woman, wanted to take us half the way. But as she found us both “lovely”, she invited us to her house: we met her husband Jonathan and had a drink together. Afterwards, she also took the extra road by driving us directly to Amboise! Before our departure, the sweet couple gave us their address and invited us to stay with them, if we came back! We were completely astonished by their hospitality! Thanks for meeting you, Jessica and Jonathan.
A hint from me: Hitchhiking with a girl not only saves you time, but also gets you “sympathy points” ! 😛
It is absolutely worth it to visit the fairy-tale castles around the “Loire Valley” as you can feel that great magnificence of the Renaissance and they play an important role in french history.
There are still 19 other castles along the river Loire that you can visit such as Château d’Azay-le-Rideau, Chenonceau, Chaumont etc. !
We were not only travelling in the region of the Centre-Val de Loire, but also in the culinary world: We tasted Syrian food at a friend’s restaurant of Sang and Aurélien and we went on a culinary journey to Ethiopia with Dopy and his Couch Surfer from Spain.
As a farewell to our wonderful hosts, Àngela and I prepared a lunch: a chocolate cake, Spanish Tortillas, including the 3 ingredients that make without doubt every French happy: good cheese, baguette and wine! We spent a nice afternoon with their friends playing “mini” table tennis and funny society games!
Again, a big hug to Sang and Aurélien for your great hospitality! Maybe see you a third time ? Then, I’ll bring you definitely another nice person! :’D
Àngela, tu eres una mariposa loca, te echo de menos ! Aaah…tengo todavía el vidéo como te mutas en una caballo y en un perro peligroso? Tu te acuerdas? Haha 😀