With more dash than cash it's hard to fulfill your traveling needs...Thinking of the top '100 places you should see before you die' always makes my tummy churn and my face green with envy.
After a wonderful vacation in the Fatherland -which cost a bomb- I had a brainwave. Somewhere and somehow I had heard about swapping homes. Well, on TV families are known to even swap spouses. With a little bit of investigation (thank you Mr. Google!), I found several websites that facilitate home exchanges. Looking at all the beautiful homes worldwide nurtured my travel bug that bit me years ago. He started to grow and make himself heard: If you swap houses with some of these people, you can stay longer. Hey, there is a way to swap cars too. That takes a big load of your pocket book. The bug could no longer be ignored.
I was all for it immediately.
But: I hear you ask a) do you want strangers in your house? b) even sleep in your bed? Guess, how many different people share a hotel bed over time? c) What about valuables and personal stuff? Well, lock precious things away! And if a glass or a vase breaks, or a book gets mislaid...so be it. In any case, people have insurance.
Well, we women can be very persuasive with the right arguments and the right open-minded partner who wants to please his wife who now lives a long way from her home country...
That's how it all started. Hey, Europe here we come: The Intrepid home swappers! The world is your oyster- if you like oysters.
Home Swapping is a bit like Internet dating. After crafting a compelling personal profile, you click though gazillions of pictures and prospects; you wait for responses or actively approach potential partners. You communicate with the ones you like and choose, getting to know the other side. If both parties agree about the time frame for an exchange, you sign a contract and are free to travel.
“Let’s do it!”
We felt like kids in a candy-store: all these great places and houses all around the world up for grabs at the click of a mouse.
After six seasons of exciting exchanges and trips to Europe, we are now seasoned homeswappers.
This summer took us to two destinations in Germany, Berlin and the Black Forest, and also to Luxembourg.
We traveled in June and had planned a stay of three weeks. Our adopted home was a penthouse with two huge terraces on the outskirts of Berlin in the high end suburb of Zehlendorf. The weather was a beautiful 80 degrees and the air was full of wonderful jasmine scent. The American Confederate Jasmine has a similar strong fragrance but looks slightly different, a climber whereas the German variety is a shrub.
We learned that Berlin has more bridges (969) than Paris or even Venice (410). The most beautiful one is the Oberbaumbrücke where in the1800s citizens threw felled trees and logs into the water to make boats pay a tariff on their passage over the river.
Two sites not to be missed when visiting Berlin is the Gendarmenmarkt (Gendarmes Market from “Gens des armes”) in the center of Berlin and as such in the heart of Europe. It started as a market for fresh country wares where also soldiers paraded their horses, musicians played and tight rope walkers showed their skills.
When the wall came down, Leonard Bernstein directed Beethoven's 9th here, or the Ode to Joy. He modified the words of the German text from "Freude schoener Götterfunken" to "Freiheit schöner Götterfunken", ie. Freedom to Joy.
Potsdam’s Dutch Quarter and Schloss Sanssouci are architectural gems not to be missed.
If you have the chance of staying in a place for several weeks at no costs, you can see so much. I ‘d love to tell you so much more about Berlin as well as our next stop in the beautiful Black Forest and after that, the Grand Dutchy of Luxembourg.
If you’re interested, go to my bog: www.Intrepidhomeswappers.blogspot.com or get the full picture from my eBook for $0.99.
We are now planning next year’s swaps already which will lead us to Italy’s coast and the French Atlantic coast. Happy Home Swapping!
Educated in Germany with a Master’s Degree in English, Siggy Buckley lived in Ireland for over 15 years, first teaching at the University of Limerick as an adjunct professor, while building up an organic farm. She later ran her own businesses in Dublin before coming to the USA in 2003. In 2005, Siggy married an American and pursued her life-long dream of writing.
Among her previous publications is the autobiographic novel Next Time Lucky: How to Find your Mr. Right. She also created a series of travelogues about home swapping Intrepid Home Swapping- Insider Secrets for Successful Homeswapping. “Her latest book is called “I once had a Farm in Ireland: Living the Organic Life style” available on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2cSbOjl.