By Hollee Thornton
About a year ago my youngest brother (and the baby of the family) got married. It had been 10 years since the last family wedding and it was a great excuse for my family to gather from all parts of the globe and head to San Diego for an epic wedding weekend.
We’re in the thick of cycling season, particularly in Europe, which is arguably the greatest hub for fans of two-wheeling. Lycra-clad athletes are out in full colorful splendor on almost every paved roadway (and plenty of unpaved backroads too), pitting themselves against the relentlessness of gravity and mercilessness of the elements.
Last-minute vacations sound scary, but they don’t have to be! HomeExchange can help quickly convert spontaneous ideas into exciting getaways.
We checked HomeExchange’s “last-minute exchange” box and it worked! We received two exchange requests from Paris, including one for only three days later, which we declined. We’re always looking for weekends in Paris though because grandma lives there. And the apartment we chose in Paris was located right on the bus route that passes by her home — very convenient for us and impossible to refuse! We had to move fast to prepare our home and the children were very helpful. We stayed up late for two nights in order to organize everything! The only sour note was that our garden went “untamed,” since we had no time to mow it. Despite this, the Parisians were delighted by it. They ate outside and even had some barbecues! Meanwhile, we spent a longer weekend than usual with grandma! When we returned home, our house was impeccable.
What young princesses and princes haven’t imagined living in the mysterious world of castles and crowns?
Here are nine magical palaces in Spain and Portugal where a home exchange in the vicinity can lead to a royal adventure!
Castillo de Cardona (Barcelona, Catalonia)
Crows wheel above the restored stone ramparts of this hilltop fortress that guards against invading hordes (but guests are totally welcome!). Dwellers in the valley below seem to agree that building Cardona Castle in 886 AD was one of Wilfred the Hairy’s best ideas. Today, it is considered an important symbol of Catalan nationalism.
The keys to this kingdom are within grasp with our 950+ Listings in Barcelona!
“The first thing I do when I arrive at a new exchange home: Visit the house and the neighborhood. Then I find a market and do the food shopping so that I feel at home.” Mirey, Istanbul, Turkey
Market shopping – having the time to peruse and appreciate local goods – is one of the great charms of staying in an exchange home. Here is a handful of the world’s revered markets most beloved by HomeExchange Members.
Portobello Road Market, London, England, United Kingdom
One of London’s most renowned markets, this bustling bastion of buying specializes in second-hand clothes and antiques. This Notting Hill market offers many products and benefits by being in a trendy neighborhood rife with pubs and boutiques. Every August, the Portobello Film Festival is held here, too – so now you know where to buy your vintage movie-going outfit!
Visit more markets with our 650+ Listings in London!
Following a Dream
Steve is currently following his dream to do something big, to have life stories for his grandchildren and to be proud of who he is and what he has done. The sky is the limit if you believe in yourself, is the motto of this young man, owner of a pizza store. Read More
During major events held in large urban centers – or, really, at any time of year – sometimes taking accommodation in neighboring communities promises greater options, peace of mind, freedom of choice and fair pricing.
For some people, there’s powerful appeal to being in the thick of things – such as living a few steps from an Olympic Village at the height of the games, or finding a bed that’s an easy walk from the main stage of an annual festival. For other people, however, such hubbub has serious disadvantages. The noise and crowds can be relentless, the nonstop competition for restaurant reservations can be tiresome, and the price gouging can dent one’s faith in humanity.
A strong consideration for the latter set, but also a sincere recommendation to the former, is the value of setting up shop in a location convenient to the center of activity – accessible via direct line on mass transit, for example – but far enough from the hustle and bustle to promise greater options, peace of mind, freedom of choice and fair pricing.
A Hospitality Exchange is when members host each other in their homes as house guests. Hospitality exchanges can offer more flexibility and this form of exchange has a variety of benefits, language immersion, local-knowledge rich tour guides, and sometimes perfectly matched playmates.
We have asked some of the HomeExchange.com Members who are open to do Hospitality Exchanges to tell us about it. Here’s what they told us… Read More