Couchsurfing: Siblings Mandy and Sven of Berlin – US East Coast Tour

Vinny, Mandy and Sven
Vinny, Mandy and Sven grab dinner to-go from Duckweed Urban Grocer while cruising around using Coast Bike Share.

Siblings Mandy and Sven Schulze have traveled together before. Last time it was the west coast of the United States. They live and work in Berlin. Mandy is the one with the powerful travel bug. Just last year she spent nearly eight months traveling mostly solo to cities across South East Asia and Australia. Mandy’s career in online marketing and project management along with teaching aerobics and Tae Bo classes allows flexibility to set her own schedule and travel between jobs. She prefers experiencing the world over collecting “stuff” at home.

I met them on day seven of what would be a 24 day journey along the east coast of the United States from the Florida Keys to New York City. They are couch surfing whenever possible along the route in the hopes of meeting new friends, practicing their English and learning more about the culture.

They arrived in Miami and began their journey with stops in Key Largo, Islamorada and Marathon Key. In Fort Myers they strolled the Six Mile Cypress Slough (pronounced “slew”), a wetland area made up of over 3,400 acres and a diverse population of plants and animals. In Saint Petersburg they visited The Pier, rode the trolley and strolled through the downtown district before heading to St Pete Beach so they could see the Gulf of Mexico even though the weather was unseasonably cold.

They arrived much later than expected on Saturday night because they enjoyed the cold day at the beach so much. They caught up with me at the Krewe of the Knights of Sant’ Yago, Knight Parade commonly referred to as the Gasparilla Night Parade in Ybor City where they missed most of the parade but really enjoyed the festive atmosphere.

Mandy is the planner of the two and Sunday her goal was to have them see dolphins. Clearwater was the TripAdvisor recommendation but would have taken them away from Tampa all day. On my local recommendation they opted for the dolphin cruise from the Florida Aquarium in Downtown Tampa so more sights could be seen. While the dolphins were not plentiful or close by they did get to see some.

They rest of the visit was spent vagabonding around downtown to various sites and historical places to get a feel for the city. Catching sunset in Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park was a highlight and relaxing end to their day.

The next morning we said farewell as new friends as Mandy prepared to navigate the coming days of quick hops up the coast towards the cold north east. Next up, St Augustine, followed by Savannah and Charleston in the south and few days in Washington, DC before ending their journey in New York City. This trip is going by fast for them as they cover a great distance and dozen cities with not enough time to enjoy them as much as they would like. March 3rd they leave New York for Germany. They will be home again having made new friends across an ocean that span much of the coast.

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