Looking back on each of my trips, what is the most memorable one? Like-minded travel companion? The various immigration stamps on the passport? World famous attraction? Magical nature? A unique exhibition? Or some “wandering” sofa or bed? Yes, they are all unforgettable, but what really fascinates me is the vastness of the world, the diversity of cultures, and the living conditions of different people under different conditions.
I don’t know from which day I fell in love with the travel style of staying in a homestay. Living in the homes of local people and having real connections with them is an attempt to understand the world.
Faroe Islands: living in a musician’s home
When we got out of the car, the host Elin was already waiting for us. I picked up a small pine cone next to the dropped car, the first gift from the Faroe Islands on a rainy winter day.
Elin’s house is at the end of this street. A stone road is paved from the gate of the small courtyard to the front of the small building. The fence carefully surrounds the front and rear yard and this two-story building. The sundries piled up in front of the house are trying their best to create a comfortable living atmosphere for this house.
Closing the door, the heavy rain outside suddenly disappeared. Elin’s room is downstairs, we need to go up one level. Looking at the steep and narrow wooden hollow and curving stairs in front of me, I almost collapsed. The exhaustion of traveling all the way ran out at this moment… After
I packed up everything and hung up the jacket that had shaken off the rain, Elin took the room to pay attention List of items, explain to me one by one: how to use each electrical appliance, who is the original owner of each room, why there is graffiti on the wall, why the bricks peel off… In this self-built small building, a brick One tile is full of traces of years, I listened carefully to her talking about the details that were important or not to us, and felt the memory that time left to the people in this house.
Elin’s home is a simple and compact two-story building. The distribution of rooms is very reasonable. Through the window of the dining room, you can see the mountain at the end of the street; from the back window of the study, you can see the endless sea. The detailed and rich arrangements in the house make people feel warm: candlesticks, hanging paintings, printed tablecloths, coffee stoves, all kinds of exquisite knickknacks, small ornaments and a radio with music flowing all the time, everything is our favorite look.
”You can watch TV and let me teach you how to use it.”
Elin was like a tall elk covered in white patterns, standing beside us, holding the remote control, I felt that the top of my head only reached her waist, I looked up at her who was operating the remote control.
”You can watch movies…” She manipulated the remote control unfamiliarly, like a novice driver who didn’t know how to shift gears. “Oh, maybe you need to pay for it.” After fiddling for a long time, she reluctantly declared that the demonstration failed.
My eyes turned to a corner with electric and acoustic guitars and various tuning equipment, which was particularly eye-catching.
”Are these yours?” I asked.
”Yeah, we occasionally have parties and play music here. I’m a musician.”
It turns out that Elin used to form a band when he was young. No wonder there are pianos, electronic organs, basses, guitars, microphones and high-power in this room. The sound is all there! Compared with the old house full of books and some outdated furniture, these facilities are much more modern.
I looked at her mysterious silver hair and nodded, as if on this island, encountering unusual things is the most daily life. It is hard to imagine that a person on a small North Atlantic island and two Chinese people are connecting at this moment. That night, they were moved by Chopin’s melody together; the next morning, they were awakened by Whitman’s poetry. Art makes the boundaries between people disappear and let us share the same two-story building. How mysterious is the secret.
Rovaniemi: Feel the unique arctic loneliness
I was so excited when our host Reija appeared on the deserted platform accompanied by the fluttering snowflakes!
At 7:30 in the morning, the night was like a black velvet cloth covering the piano, still shrouding Yukino silently. Dim-yellow street lights cast on the ground, and fine snowflakes shone brightly. Did winter open her jewelry box? The eyes are full of ice and snow diamonds belonging to the Arctic Circle.
Although we only had some brief communication online in advance, when we met for the first time, Reija and we were already familiar with each other like old friends. She personally drove to pick up the station, not to mention, and introduced him enthusiastically along the way. Nodding drowsily and drowsily…
Reija’s home is a little far from the city center, in a residential building with very modern facilities, and the overall design follows a minimalist Scandinavian style. Gently open the door, each room and corner has its own warmth. When we were amazed at how clean the room was, we were pulled by Reija and began to familiarize ourselves with the house, the kitchen, bedroom, living room, bathroom, and turned around in turn, quite a bit like “open my east pavilion door and sit on my west pavilion bed”.
I can’t describe Reija’s physical features until now. She is like all grandmothers, warm, delicate and full of warmth. When she was giving me directions, she couldn’t tell the difference between left and right, and she drew every turn with her hands. I listened carefully to her explanation and pretended to know the location of the gas station. I can seem to see a scene where she’s sitting in a rocking chair and knitting a sweater, a cat playing with a ball of wool walks at her feet, and a neighbor in the distance is pushing a thick layer from the roof with a headlamp on. thick snow. I was a little trance-like, feeling like I was living in a fairy tale.
As an old lady in the Nordic region, Reija’s regional characteristics are very obvious: wearing a long down jacket and heavy cotton boots, she still does things quickly and walks with wind; she stores a lot of quick-frozen wild berries in the refrigerator for I made up for missing out on the taste of polar summer. Eating wild berries mixed with honey, I seem to see an old lady picking fruits in summer, carefully preparing equipment, looking for a destination, picking carefully, and after returning, she takes the trouble to classify and label wild berries and refrigerate them. A busy bear who only stocked up for winter…
But when she’s free, Reija doesn’t show up in the same room as us. Whenever we thought she looked lonely and tried to talk to her, she always left implicitly. Perhaps when being alone becomes a habit, courtesies and greetings become a burden instead. When I met Reija, I discovered that Finns are more open and deeper than I expected.
Copenhagen: Lively atypical Nordic
Compared with the serious and silent Nordic people in the impression, Benjamin, the landlord in Copenhagen, is really lively and cheerful.
When booking the homestay, I almost fell in love with Benjamin’s house at first sight. The simple design and the warm layout have inspired us to choose this house whose price is significantly higher than others. However, after the heat subsided, we realized that the owner of this house was a middle-aged man. My heart beats a little at the fact that I’m about to move into a single man’s home.
Entering the room, Benjamin hadn’t gotten off work yet. The desk and kitchen are all neat and tidy, and the candlesticks and flower clusters are sweet and quiet, which finally relieved my heart that had been hanging for a long time to a certain extent.
”Click”, the door opened. I hurried out.
From the moment we first met, Benjamin started talking endlessly. Whether it’s standing and hanging our clothes, curling up on the couch with a box of chocolates, learning to mix seaweed salad while reading a recipe, or when we’re all sleepy-eyed and mouths full of sandwiches in the morning, or even we He was talking non-stop for a second before closing the door. “I found this super-beautiful marble table at a flea market, and the shipping cost is higher than the price.” “I designed this room myself, isn’t it great?” “I like your scarf, this kind of Yellow is so pretty.” “Oh my God, I like your rhubarb boots too!” With an exaggerated and surprised expression, the middle-aged man with a “glowing” head and a bulging belly in front of him looked rather naughty and cute.
He was very interested in the Pu-erh tea we gave him, and gave him an English afternoon tea in return. He also enthusiastically pointed to the row of mugs on the cabinet and asked me which one I wanted to use.
”I’ve lived in London for 5 years and I really like the way of life, being able to experience a different life.” Clearly, aside from polite greetings, Benjamin really took a deep interest in every detail of our trip.
Benjamin certainly wasn’t content with just knowing my past life, he made a long list for me! From how to rent a bicycle to how to please the stomach, from how to linger on the scenery to how to please the eye, he gave a detailed introduction, not only clearly marked the distance and time, but even added his own preferences and overall evaluation. Lying across the door, on my comfy bed, I got the list from Benjamin via email, and I imagined this hulking guy, devastated by his MBA work, on the other side of the door, nestled on the sofa, Covered with a blanket, drinking milk and beating and introducing to me, how cute is this similar to when I was a child, holding a football while groaning to cope with my homework!
Coming home the next day, Benjamin was eagerly learning to cook in the kitchen, the timer was ticking and the oven was smelling, and we would love to watch him scrambling. However, in the face of a warm invitation, how could we bear to disappoint him even though we had already had a full meal.
Excited, Benjamin frantically rummaged through the dishes, cleaned the knife and fork, cut the salmon while it was still hot, packed the rice, divided the meals one by one, and sprinkled two-color sesame seeds on the rice at the end.
Out of courtesy, we finished our fourth meal of the day with sad faces, but Benjamin, still unfinished, ripped open a bag of peanuts and dumped his head on a plate. Fortunately, his girlfriend, who was far away in Moscow, dialed the phone in time to bring this seemingly never-ending dinner to a decent end. I started to clean up the mess quickly, sneaking out food scraps, washing my cups and dishes, and then going back to my room to wash and rest in a race against time.
Sarajevo: The landlord who quarreled for me
During the trip, I met many homestay hosts, however, I could never find another one who appeared in Dragan’s way.
The cross-border bus from Belgrade to Sarajevo is unusually simple. There are hillsides along the way, the sun is particularly strong, and the car is as hot as a steamer. The chair collapsed and the back leaned forward, as if all the way it was figuring out how to “pump” me out of it. In short, when I finally arrived in Sarajevo excitedly, thinking that I could reach the B&B on foot immediately and lay myself flat on the bed, I suddenly found to my dismay that the bus we arrived at was standing outside the city, a long way from Dragan’s house. 12 km.
This last extremely long 12 kilometers made me fall into the abyss of despair.
Dragan and I started to contact online very early, the trip in August, and the conversation started in June. He ignored the interruption of jet lag, not only answered all my questions patiently and meticulously, but also provided me with help within his ability. There is very little information about the Balkans on the Internet, and timely updates are even scarcer. Many of my questions about routes, itineraries and times are retrieved by Dragan for me, and each time I also attach the websites used by locals intimately. . Later, due to the change of the itinerary, I reduced my order to stay at his house for one night, and he readily agreed without complaining.
However, that vague worry still exists: Dragan’s avatar is a cool blue classic car, mine is a male skydiving, we have never met in real images, so, far from the screen Who is the person I’m talking to?
The cross-border bus unloaded us and our luggage on the side of the road and turned around and left. A layer of yellow smoke rose from the road, and when I looked around, there was not a single tall building, not even a decent station platform. I opened the mobile phone map to confirm repeatedly, constantly refreshed the GPS positioning, took out the compass and looked at it again and again, and finally determined that I was not in the wrong place. The bus had already left, and no one around could understand English. Seeing that the second-to-last taxi was also driven away, I quickly jumped into the last taxi without thinking.
”Dragan, I’m in a taxi. I’ll be there in 15 minutes. But I don’t have any coins in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Can you go downstairs and pick me up? I’ll give you the money back when I find a currency exchange shop.” Dragan suddenly became my emergency contact, can he see my information in time? Will he be downstairs on time? My request has exceeded his obligations as a landlord, not to mention he told me a few days ago that he might work overtime today.
”I’m already downstairs, tell me what car you’re in.” The phone rang suddenly, thank God.
The taxi went a long way, and I finally saw this burly middle-aged Slavic man for the first time downstairs from Dragan’s house.
Unexpectedly, before he even took a look at the smile I gave him, he went straight to quarrel with the taxi driver. Although he couldn’t understand what they were arguing about, he could roughly guess from the excited tone, exaggerated gestures, and angry expressions that Dragan decided that the driver had taken a detour and was only willing to pay half the fare, and the driver was uncompromising. Just like that, the two big Slavs were blushing and each made exaggerated gestures. I was really afraid that they would stretch their arms and throw fists at each other. Because Dragan never gave in, spread his hands and put on an expression of “just give it, love it or not”, the driver had no choice but to snatched the coins from his hand cursingly and drove away.
”I’m sorry, I mean, I’m sorry,” I said to Dragan.
”I’m sorry, I was so rude just now. The first time we met, I turned out to be like this.” Dragan didn’t seem to take the matter of standing up for me. Help me with my luggage.
Every time I said a word, Dragan threw something at me. The film director of Bosnia and Herzegovina, like me, a diligent teacher of the people, was always afraid that his students would not learn something. As long as I show even the slightest interest in the culture of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dragan will immediately feed me enough information, postcards on the bookshelf, pictures in the room, recipes on the kitchen counter, living in Dragan Home is like living in a palace of knowledge.
I stumbled upon the secret of the Bosnian computer keyboard: Since Bosnian has a different number of letters and pronunciations than English, the keyboard used in Bosnia and Herzegovina is very different from our common keyboard alphabet. I accidentally mentioned this discovery, and Dragan immediately took the note and taught me letter by letter, patiently correcting my pronunciation. “Wow, a lot of letters sound like Russian.” Although I learned three and forgot two, I was still excited about my new discovery.
”Yeah, it’s all Slavic.” Dragan said seriously.
”Ah, write my name here in Chinese.” He suddenly became interested, and his eyes flashed with the light of a little boy.
”Drag… with? Root?” I was so anxious that my face was flushed, and what did I care about “xin, da, ya”! I didn’t expect it to be so difficult to translate people’s names. How did the graceful and beautiful names such as “Florence” and “Emerald” come to be thought of? Why can’t I even surrender the homophonic “dragon” in front of me? Who just said boldly that he is a language teacher?
”Drag root.” I was so ashamed that I could only write these two words.
”Write your name here too.” “Draggen” pointed to another blank space.
”Fan Beiming.” I was as solemn as a child on the first day of elementary school.
When I was done, Dragan had another childlike smile and solemnly pinned the note to the wall.
The huge contrast between body and behavior makes Dragan look cute, not at all as serious and scary as when he first met him and quarreled with people. With a soft heart, he also raised a big cat named “Mika”. Just like that, when we were all at home, Dragan was either looking for Mika or me. Sometimes Mika leaned in through the crack of the door and squatted down beside me. In the evening, Dragan clenched the remote control early and told me with great excitement that the “European Cup” was about to start.
This Dragan, who is in his 40s and has two daughters abroad, actually lives like a clear big boy. Yesterday he was sulking about his rudeness in front of me, and today he happily wants to share all the stories with me. Now, I glue my eyes to the TV, fix my eyes on the football game, and regret for a long time that I missed a goal when I went to fetch water.
The hour hand pointed to 20:30 and I had to go, I was going to the bus station to catch the night bus to Croatia. Unexpectedly, he who was still addicted to the game just now suddenly turned off the TV, picked up the key on the table, and wanted to get up and send me off. This time, he helped me with my luggage.
”We will meet again, welcome to Sarajevo again, and Mika and I will welcome you again. I will also find a chance to go to China, and we will definitely meet again.” Dragan blew a kiss at me from a distance, then turned around disappeared into the night.