Like I promised, my friend Shawn has written a blog about her experiences during our "house swap". I felt that I may have the better end of the deal seeing as that I was lucky enough to have an amazing home in Southern California....complete with a pool and the SUN, but it seems that Shawn's family had just as much fun...
I have to say, that even now coming back from Germany and having a great experience house exchanging, my friends ask me if I was crazy considering a house exchange for two weeks. Before we left, everyone including my husband kept asking me am I sure about this?
Well if there was any doubt in his mind before we left, he thought it was the best idea after our trip.
I think what made it a success was that first, both Dena and I have friends in a community that we live and lived in and that we had known each other before Dena left, even though we were just acquaintances. Second, I think because we had comparable homes, we knew that our families would be comfortable and that it was an even exchange.
All and all, we had the best experience exchanging homes. My boys loved being able to relax in between our small trips and feel at home, use the bikes and riding by the Rhine, and my husband loved being able to use the car and have all the conveniences of home.
Kaiserswerth is a beautiful village right by the Rhine River with a beautiful bike/walk path along it. Riding down the path with beautiful Rhine on one side and grassy fields and wild flowers and little streams on the other side seemed like something out of a movie. One of the oldest castles Kaiserpfalz Kaiserswerth dating back to the Romans, resides there. The remains of the castle dominate over the village.
We visited Bacharach in the Rhine Valley which was absolutely adorable and picturesque with narrow cobblestone roads and cute cafes and souvenir shops. We visited the castle Burg Stahleck which is now converted into a youth hostel. It was here that we realized how nice german people can be and that maybe they just got a bad wrap. We went to a restaurant with an outside seating that was all full, but the hostess and one of the other waitresses brought an actual table and 4 chairs from inside, out so that we could sit outside. We also made friends with our waitress. She loved my son's curly hair and told us in the bit of English she knew that her 22 year old son also has curls that she adores. By the end of the meal, we took pictures together and she showed us the picture of her two children Gabriell and Anne Cathrin.
We also drove through Mosel Valley and visitedBurg Eltz Castle which truly seemed to be out of story books. The castle tour was fabulous and the views were amazing.
As for the German people, they may not be smiling all the time like we are used to in Southern California, but if they see that at least you are trying to speak German, they become very helpful.