October 5, 2008

Upper Class CouchSurfing
Odorheiu Secuiesc, Romania

Our top shelf guestroom

Without question the most beautiful guestroom that we've CouchSurfed to date has to be here in Odorheiu Secuiesc (another Hungarian enclave in Transylvania). Inside it, the space feels like we're living a cozy room at a ski resort, or a little wooden cabin somewhere in the snowy woods. We're definitely at the upper class end of the CouchSurfing spectrum here, inside a recently built home on a gentle hill overlooking the city.

Our new hosts are Janos and Ary (his girlfriend of ten years or so). Janos' father built most of the home himself, which sits on a sizable plot of land (complete with orchard). The topmost story of the home (the third) is built out of a really gorgeous shade of wood that feels like you're inside a sphere of gold. The primary living space in this section of the house is so large that Janos easily uses it as an indoor basketball half-court.

Several rooms branch off from this level, with another pair (including our bedroom) found after taking a flight of stairs to the upper level.

The house is overwhelmingly comfortable and clean, with Janos' parents (living below) sporting the great personalities that you always wanted your best friend's folks to have.

Prized among all other things in the home seem to be Janos and Ary's twin dogs. I think the two feel more strongly about their dogs than most people do their children—with a photo collection of their births and subsequent growth that probably surpasses the one that I've got of my own son.

The pair of animals (clearly purebred), came from a dog that Janos used to show competitively. Of course Janos doesn't do the dog show thing any longer—in fact, I don't think he really does much of anything these days. It was probably just another hobby that came and went in his life (though pedigreed dog shows aren't exactly on the same casual level as coin collecting is).

But the big twist for us here is that both our hosts are hardcore vegans. Being the carnivores that we are, I think that Tatiana and I could adapt our standard recipe book to cook a few vegetarian dishes, but to not use things like butter, eggs, or cheese? Yeah, we're totally screwed in the kitchen.

I think it absolutely amazing that Janos was not only able to meet a girl that was down with the vegan lifestyle, but that he actually found one that he like and thought attractive enough to make a girlfriend out of. I mean, I'm talking about a fraction of a fraction of a percentage of Romanian women here.

The importance of meat in this county is about on par with that of Argentina (although replace the focus on the delicious Argentine cow with that of the Romanian pig for the purposes of this example). The culture of grilling meat is strong in this country, and I can't imagine how hard it must be to step away from such a thing—social suicide. Not once did I ever meet a male vegetarian or vegan in Argentina, and I'm quite surprised to have done as much here.

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