Home exchangers swap houses all the time, but HomeExchange.com members Agnès and Romina took it a step further…they swapped lives! Read on to discover how they did it.
Romina, from Buenos Aires and Agnès, from Barcelona, work at different branches of the same company and have similar jobs. Wanting to break out of the same routines, they each enrolled in their company’s office exchange program. “The idea was to live the life of another person who holds the same position as you do elsewhere in the world. In the agency we work at, there’s a program that allows us to work from a different office; we just needed to look for someone who would be able to continue our work for two months,” Romina explains.
What’s better than having fun things to do? Having fun free things to do. Welcome to our blog series, 10 Free Things. Today we’re exploring 10 fun and free things to do in Barcelona, an amazing city full of color, culture, and history.
1. Soak up some sun
Barceloneta beach is the city’s most popular, and on weekends you’ll find it full of sunbathing locals. If you’re feeling active, you can swim in the Mediterranean or bike along the promenade, but lying on the sand is just as good.
2. Enjoy free museum days
The Museu Picasso, Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, CaixaForum, Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, and Museu d’Historia de Catalunya each offer free admission on the first Sunday of each month. If you have a sweet tooth but would prefer to spend your money on treats than admission fees, visit the Museu de la Xocolata (Chocolate Museum) on the first Monday of the month for free.
3. Wander up La Rambla
Yes, it’s a little touristy, but strolling along La Rambla is a must-do while in Barcelona. Spend a few hours on this 1 km-long walkway and take in the buzzing atmosphere.
4. Be enchanted at the Font Màgica de Montjuic
This free show runs almost evening, with a fountain full of light, color and music; check out the schedule here. Local tip: keep your belongings close and beware of pickpockets!
5. Get active at Montjuïc
Montjuïc is the perfect place to enjoy a Sunday morning. Many spots in the park offer a wonderful view of the city. Go for a jog, have a picnic, or play table tennis on one of the many free public tables; just ask your exchange partner to lend you a paddle!
6. Party with the locals
Barcelona has so many festivals throughout the year that that it’s worth it to plan a trip around one. One of our favorites is Fiesta Major de Gràcia, a week-long community celebration in August. Visiting at the end of September? Get ready for the city’s largest street party, Barcelona’s La Mercè Festival, which welcomes autumn in with parades, fireworks, street performers, and more.
7. Go street art spotting
The Gothic Quarter is full of street art. The shutters of the shops are the perfect canvas for spray paint artists!
8. Marvel at the human towers
Every Sunday morning in Barcelona brings a remarkably unique experience – watching the centuries-old tradition of building castells. Check the schedule to find out where to see them go up (and hopefully not down!)
9. Experience the markets
Entering a market in Barcelona is a truly local experience. You’ll find all types of food and people from all walks of life at the Mercats de Barcelona. Even if you’re not interested in buying anything (although we bet you won’t leave empty handed), it’s worth it to check out the city’s three most popular markets, La Boqueria, Santa Caterina, and Barceloneta.
10. Keep exploring
There is always something going on in Barcelona! Check this site for free concerts, dancing, and exhibitions.
Previously: 10 Free Things Copenhagen
Meet Christan and Chris from Cape Town, South Africa. Their beautiful home is full of light and thoughtful design touches that make us want to keep exploring!
Names: Christan & Chris
Listing ID: 108630
Number of Exchanges: 7
What has been your favorite exchange so far?
It’s difficult to say! We’ve never had a bad one – they’ve all been great. Our most recent exchanges to Paris and Berlin were fantastic. But Amsterdam and Barcelona were amazing too. It’s impossible to choose!
What’s better than having fun things to do? Having fun free things to do. Welcome to our blog series, 10 Free Things. Today we’re Scandinavia-bound with 10 fun and free things to do in Copenhagen.
1. Visit the National Museum
Denmark’s National Museum has exhibitions ranging from the Stone Age all the way to Modern Danish History. The museum is located in the Prince’s Palace, built in the 1700s to house the Danish Crown Prince Frederik V and Princess Louise. Although its royal days have passed, the Great Hall is still something to marvel at. The National Gallery is also free.
2. Have a beachside picnic
It’s an easy metro ride to Amager Strand, one of the most popular Copenhagen spots for locals and visitors alike. Pack some lunch and a bottle of wine and spend the afternoon by the clear, blue waters.
Be in the know before you go! Our new series, “Unlocked” will help you live like a local at your next destination. First up: Denmark, courtesy of HomeExchange.com team member and Danish local, Anna.
How to say hello
Hej or Goddag
How to say goodbye
How to say thank you
Danish kroner (DKK)
Favorite national foods
For lunch: Smørrebrød – Danish open sandwiches, with fillings like roast beef, herring, fried fillet of fish, or shrimp. Always with trimmings.
For an evening meal: Frikadeller – meatballs made of veal and pork, served with potatoes and thick gravy. Or roast pork with crisp crackling and red cabbage.
Best month(s) to visit
May – August. But September and October are very beautiful.
Best way to get around
In the cities, a bicycle is definitely the best way to get around (they can be rented). Trains are best for traveling between cities, and some of the smaller islands are connected by ferries.
Danes toast each other when they drink alcohol. You do this by saying Skål! and acknowledging everyone in your group by looking them in the eye and nodding briefly.
Danes do not talk much to strangers, but they don’t mind if you talk to them. It’s considered polite to greet everyone by shaking hands and introducing yourself when you arrive at a dinner or party.
Always stick to the traffic rules when you use a bicycle. Keep up with the flow on the cycle track and don’t insist on cycling side by side with your companion! Never stop suddenly. People can get aggressive if you hold up bicycle traffic.
A novel/film/song to learn more about Denmark
All of Lars von Trier’s films give an insight into the more neurotic side of the Danish psyche. Also, the Oscar-nominated film “The Hunt” (2013) by Thomas Vinterberg is a portrait of life in a small Danish town. Watch the television series “The Killing” for a taste of Denmark’s dark side.
Local websites or inside info for discounts in restaurants, theatre, cinema, etc
Buy tickets for the Royal Danish Ballet at the theatre an hour before performances for discounts.
Lesser-known towns or villages which are worth a visit
Visit one or more of the small Danish islands such as Ærø for their fairytale atmosphere. Bornholm is a larger island that has its own traditions and is really beautiful in summer. And visit the North coast of Zealand or the West coast of Jutland for really beautiful beaches.
The best kept secrets about Denmark
The high-quality food, especially in summer when the fruit and vegetables are in season – try Torvehallerne, a covered market place in the center of Copenhagen.
The museum of modern art, Louisiana, North of Copenhagen (direct trains from Copenhagen). It is perched on the edge of the ocean and is full of really good modern art and modern design, as well as temporary exhibitions. And it’s a lovely, easy way to get out of Copenhagen.
The nudist beach in Tisvilde (and other places). In Tisvilde, you simply keep walking away from the car park, and pretty soon you’ll realize that you arrived at the nudist area.
The most unique thing about Denmark
It’s so small that everything is easily accessible. In the cities you can easily go everywhere by bike, and this means that there are a lot of people in the streets, using the city, and not much going on in the suburbs. So to enjoy Denmark, you have to sit outside a café and just look at the parents and kids in their cargo bikes, the mothers with strollers, and the hipsters drinking coffee. Also, Danes really enjoy the design that the country is famous for. Private homes and public spaces have well thought out interiors.
Common misconceptions about Denmark
The Danish pastries sold outside Denmark are not much like the Danish pastries sold in Denmark. Cheese Danish and almond Danish do not exist here. Also, Danes aren’t cold or rude; they’re shy.
Denmark’s best free activities
The free swimming baths in the harbors in Copenhagen and other cities. The ocean is clean enough to swim in.
Free tours of the Carlsberg breweries with tastings.
The park Kongens Have (King’s Garden) in the center of Copenhagen, where everyone hangs out in the summer. There’s also a nice play area for kids there and a free puppet theatre.
The amusement park Bakken in a large natural park north of Copenhagen – entrance is free, there’s admission for rides.
Free open air film screenings in summer.
In Tivoli Gardens, after paying the admission fee, the Pantomime Theatre and open air concerts are free.
Odds and ends
Denmark is a strange mix of its historic past and the 21st century. When you walk around the cities of Copenhagen, Aarhus, Helsingør, or Odense, you are in the middle of history with Medieval buildings, castles, cobblestones and crooked houses. Traditions like the Royal family, the Royal ballet and Tivoli Gardens are part of life. But at the same time, Danes are a very modern people who enjoy design, travel, and culture. Both sexes work, while 97% of all small kids go to daycare at least part time, so gender equality is almost a reality. Health care and further education are both free, so in general, people are healthy and well-educated.
The idea of arranging a round the world home exchange trip is at once awesome, exciting…and stressful. Not to worry; we’re here to answer your questions and alleviate your anxiety so that you can focus on planning the best vacation ever.
Q: How much time does it take to plan a round the world trip?
A: As much (or as little) as you want! If you want to have everything planned ahead of time or your round the world trip includes home exchanges, you might need to start six months or even a year in advance. But if you prefer to jump right in and be spontaneous, you probably need only a few weeks.
What’s better than having fun things to do? Having fun free things to do. Welcome to our blog series, 10 Free Things. Make the most of the city that never sleeps with 10 fun and free things to do in New York City.
1. Smell the roses at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
The beautiful Brooklyn Botanic Garden is home to a stunning collection of flora, including an impressive array of orchids. Admission is free every Tuesday and on Saturdays from 10am to noon. Tip: Stick with free admission Tuesdays to avoid the crowds.
2. Get a fashion fix
The museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology houses a world-renowned rotating collection of dresses, accessories, photos textiles, and more. Even non-fashionistas are likely to enjoy a peek at the museum’s 250 years of fashion history.
The greatest things always happen during a home exchange! Just ask Corinne, our Dutch Representative for HuizenRuil.com; it was thanks to a great swap in Norway that Corinne joined the HomeExchange.com team.
Corinne first discovered HomeExchange.com in 2006, and after the first swap she, along with her husband and two children, fell in love with the home exchange way of traveling. For their first exchange, they went to New York City…and during their second exchange in Italy, they shared some time with their Italian partners and discovered that they had both swapped with the same New Yorkers!
We caught up with Corinne to learn more about her travels and get some tips for traveling in her home country, The Netherlands.
The most amazing country you have visited so far:
I love Peru, not only for it’s nature but also the spiritual part of the country you can really feel at some places.
A language you love:
English, it brings you everywhere!
Your favorite meal:
The best time of the year to visit The Netherlands:
All year, when the sun is shining.
Three under-the-radar places in the Netherlands where you recommend staying for a home exchange:
I would recommend Hoorn, a golden age city 20 minutes from Amsterdam. Also, explore the North: Groningen, a great town; and also the South, Maastricht, influenced by Belgium and Germany.
Five ways to discover Amsterdam like a local:
1. Visit our National museums.
2. Stroll around in the small streets of the Jordaan.
3. Lay down in the park on a sunny day.
4. Take a boat trip through the canals
5. Sit down at a terrace, ask for a beer, and relax for a couple of hours watching the people pass by.
The top 3 places to eat like a local:
A place to catch a live band:
Paradiso, in Amsterdam
The most amazing thing you have done during a home exchange holiday:
Spent over two weeks in New York City’s upper west side.
Something you always carry in my baggage:
The first thing you do when you arrive to a new exchange home is:
Check out the kitchen and coffee machine!
And the first thing you do when you return home after the exchange:
Make me a cappuccino on my espresso machine.
If you could exchange with any place in the world for a whole year, you would go to:
Want to exchange with Corinne? Check out her listing!