We kicked of our ‘Round the World in Home Exchange Challenge’ in Portland, Oregon – a fantastic place to start any sort of adventure! Portland is a foodie’s heaven; you’ll be spoilt for choice whether tempted by eclectic mix of street carts with fresh, low-cost cuisine from all round the globe or bar snacks in one of the many microbreweries springing up all over town. Portland is a very walkable city, with forest parks littered throughout the metropolitan area and attractive paths alongside the river. A great place to spend a warm afternoon is the magnificent Rose Test Garden, where you can admire hundreds of varieties of roses and views across the city.
Next city stop was PV (as it’s known to its friends), a bustling city right on the beach. Take an evening stroll along the boardwalk to watch street theatre and dance performances before stopping for a margarita on the sand. You’ll see unusual sculptures dotted all along the walkway as well as the equally impressive, (although slightly less permanent!) turrets and buttresses of candlelit sand sculptures flickering in the twilight.
Most visitors pass through Papete en route to the islands, but the capital of French Polynesia has its own charms. Singing and dancing is a big part of island life, but if you can’t find time for one of the colourfully costumed shows performed on the site of ancient ruins, you can still get a snapshot of local musical culture. Smiling bands with drums and ukuleles are never far away, welcoming you to the island on the streets and in the markets. On the weekend, local folks dress up in their Sunday best and attend one of the city’s many churches. Apart from witnessing a selection of hats to rival those
you’d expect to see at Royal Ascot, the highlight is the singing. With all the doors and windows flung wide open, the sounds of the choirs drifting across the city are heavenly.
Across the Pacific Ocean and we arrived at Auckland, the city of sails. Our early spring visit certainly lived up to its breezy reputation! Auckland has a wide variety of great little neighbourhoods, all with a slightly different vibe. Ponsonby is great for boutique shopping and restaurants or, over on the north shore, Takapuna has a pretty beach and lively bars. With so much coastline, Auckland is perfect for hopping on a boat to explore the wineries and bush walks of Waiheke Island or simply enjoying a coffee and people-watching in one of the harbour-side cafes.
The towns of the Gold Coast have merged into a sprawling city which is wedged between the hinterland of bush and mountains and miles of gorgeous beaches. This is where we found out latest and most unusual home exchange, a 6 berth motor home! One of the biggest attractions here are the theme parks. We may be a little nostalgic for a roaring fires and snow scenes as Christmas approaches but a perfect way to make the most of festivities down-under will be a visit to ‘Wet ‘n’ Wild World.’ No doubt a day of gentle drifting along the lazy river followed by screaming down 80 metre looping chutes will remind us that Christmas in the sunshine isn’t so bad after all!
We are Psychologist Hannah and IT expert Chris and we’ve spent 5 years traveling the world whilst running our own business. Home exchanging has been a big part of making that happen! You can learn the 7 refreshing ‘get there quick’ shortcuts to creating your own location independent lifestyle from our loveplaywork.com homepage. You can also follow us on Twitter for updates.