…no, the title isn’t what you think it is.
While in Zagreb for my holidays in May and June, I spent the first two nights Couchsurfing at someone’s home. Prior to that, I’d reached out to hosts in regards to staying with them, but many were either busy, out of town, or already hosting someone. I had this problem in Dubrovnik and Split which I eventually just did hostels, but I found my luck when one of the Zagreb hosts I’d messaged agreed to let me stay with him.
It was interesting, because he’d originally declined my request since I’d proposed three nights. But he messaged and said that he would be willing to host the first two nights. I didn’t mind, as I would have a place to stay and meet locals, all the while save a bit on accommodation. With that, I accepted his offer while still in Split, and I was ready to meet him when I arrived.
I got to Zagreb close to 13:00, and my host picked me up from the main bus station from which I was coming. My host, whom I’ll call “B,” greeted me with a handshake, and we drove to his flat– along the way, we made small talk as we got to know each other. B was in his early thirties and wasn’t actually Croatian, but originally from Israel– he’d been living in Zagreb for about two years, but prior to that had lived all over the world: London, New York, Belgrade, etc. Through our initial conversations, B seemed quite laid-back, albeit a bit distant– I understood, though, as we’d just met and were still getting to know each other.
Besides the fact that B wasn’t Croatian, I also discovered that he didn’t actually live in the city center– of course, he’d told me beforehand he didn’t, but I didn’t expect him to live within the county, which was quite massive. We even spent a good 20-25 minutes on the highway getting to his flat, but knowing that you get what you get with Couchsurfing, I was accepting of it– getting into the center for sightseeing would be a pain, but at least accommodation was free.
We arrived at B’s flat, which was surprisingly nice and spacious. I even got my own bed, a massive one that easily fit two people. He had to go back to work, as he’d picked me up during his lunch break– I opted just to stay in, as he lived too far to get to the center that afternoon, and I was tired from traveling that day. That said, I waited for him to get off work to hang out and otherwise spend time as a good guest.
B returned past 21:00, and we spent the night in, chatting some more. He offered whiskey as an apéritif, then red wine. The first thing that caught me off-guard was that he winked at me as we clinked glasses– I don’t know if it was a flirtatious move or something innocuous, but all the same it was a bit strange. Little did I know that he would do it several more times with every drink we had.
After talking for a couple of hours, I was getting a bit tired (and a bit tipsy), but B proposed that we watch a show together. I’ve Couchsurfed with hosts whom I spent time watching films or series with, but with B having winked at me, I was starting to feel a bit apprehensive about watching with him. Not only that, but he proposed that we watch in his bedroom– in his bed.
Now, I should’ve listened to my gut and said “no” to his offer, let alone cancel the stay and find someplace else to go. But the combination of it 1) being late at night, 2) being super far from the center, i.e. virtually isolated, and 3) having second thoughts that his proposal might, in fact, be harmless, I agreed to join him for the show.
Looking back, this whole ordeal screams “Netflix and Chill,” something which I never thought I’d get into. As I got into his bed, I did my best to remain calm, as “chill” as he did, all the while making sure to keep a distance from him. I also bunched up the sheets between me and him, in case he tried to do any funny business later. He opened up his laptop, and we soon dove into an episode of Westworld. As we watched, I made sure to stay alert, in case something were to happen.
About halfway into the episode, B fell asleep. Once I heard him snoring, it was my cue to slip out of bed and go to my own bed next door to sleep. Of course, I didn’t get the best sleep, as my mind was preoccupied at just how strange (even a bit creepy) B was. I still had one more night with him, and I was wondering whether it was worth staying when I evidently felt so uncomfortable. In the end, I decided to stay and hope that nothing further would happen.
The next morning, B had to go to work, and I was to get ready to head into town to explore Zagreb. As we were getting ready, however, he told me that he’d gotten sunburned on his back a couple of days before, and he asked me if I could rub Aloe Vera on him. I felt uncomfortable once more, as I didn’t know him well, and it was a very-strange request to ask of a *female* surfer– question is, would he have asked a *male* guest to do the same? Looking back on it, I wouldn’t think so.
Even more so, the area that he was asking me to apply was just below the back of the neck which, for any reasonably-flexible person, could be easily reached. I had the feeling that he just wanted me to touch him, but in any case, I applied the Aloe Vera on the sunburned area, making sure to do it as quickly as possible so as to not give him any more ideas.
Any case, he left for work afterwards. He’d also given me his second set of keys so I could leave and return whenever I wanted. I left after him and spent the day sightseeing in the center. I returned to his flat in the early evening, and he soon came home from work around 21:00.
As we’d done the night before, we had drinks, first getting a pint at a nearby bar, then whiskey and wine back in his flat. We talked for a couple of hours until just past midnight, when we decided to turn in. As I was getting ready for bed, B was already in his bed and asked if I wanted to “chill” with him in his bed. Once more, I felt really uneasy, but I did my best to play it smooth, and politely decline. He accepted it, and I felt *slightly* more comfortable sleeping that night.
I was actually glad to be leaving the next morning, as my two nights with B were up. He drove me into the city, dropping me off and saying goodbye. I headed into town, where I spent the last night at a hostel in the center (and no creepy people, thank goodness!).
Overall, I’m incredibly glad that nothing had happened during that stay. It was unbelievable, because his Couchsurfing profile had ZERO indication that he would be so strange– there were no negative/neutral References, his profile seemed normal, and I detected nothing. I suppose the only hints would be that all of his guests were young females and that his profile wasn’t so detailed, but it still boggled me that he would turn out to be “that kind of guy” (especially after alcohol).
I don’t know if he knew that I felt uncomfortable with him, but even if he did, I don’t care– he wasn’t a bad guy, and he didn’t do anything with me, let alone push it. All the same, the fact that he “wanted something more” was unsettling and, even though we ended up giving each other positive References on the website, I wouldn’t choose to stay with him again.
Have you had any interesting Couchsurfing experiences before? Let me know!