Home Exchange Story: The West Coast of America

Discover home exchange with stories from our members.

Jane and John, two very active members from Scotland, decided to go all out and take a big trip through the USA.  Below see a few of Jane’s comments about their travel with GuestToGuest.

1. Where did you go on home exchange?

This year we made a ‘big trip’ to the west coast of America. Our trip involved planes, trains and automobiles.

2. How did you choose your destination and home exchange?

Our varied destinations were the result of many months of planning and researching. We started with four nights in Chicago at the amazing home of Bill and Marcy which was on the 18th floor of an apartment block beside Lake Michigan. We were attracted to Bill and Marcy’s place because of the convenient location which meant we could walk to all the main attractions of the city. After taking a fabulous two night trip by train from Chicago we arrived at the Seattle home of Andrea and Nick where we enjoyed using their bikes to get around and luxuriated in the lovely warm swimming pool after a day’s whale watching in the Puget Sound. Seattle has been on our bucket list for a few years and it did not disappoint. Our travels then took us via Portland, Eugene, Florence, Sacramento, and Yosemite before we arrived at our final exchange home which was in the pretty town of Sausalito across the bay from San Francisco. Our host was Mark and his home was out of this world. The views from the large picture windows were breathtaking and the location was perfect for us – close enough to the excellent restaurants around the bay and yet a pleasant walk home in the evening. Sausalito was another of our bucket list places to visit and we fell in love with it.

3. What was the conversation like with your host?

All our hosts communicated very well with us. Each one gave us plenty of information about their homes; good directions and really useful local information. Everyone was available by email if we needed help.

4. Your arrival: How was the house? Did you meet your host? Did they give you any gifts or tips for visiting the area?

Bill and Marcy left a lovely note for us detailing the best things to see and do in their neighbourhood and telling us to ‘use anything we needed’ in their well-stocked larder! There was everything we needed in their fridge. Andrea and Nick kindly left us an excellent bottle of wine and some cheese and salmon for our arrival together with breakfast items and organic coffee. On arrival at Mark’s home in Sausalito, we found a comprehensive folder with lots of local information about the best places to eat and drink together with yet another excellent bottle of red wine and instructions to ‘help ourselves to beer and drinks from their cocktail table – which we did! We left some single malt whiskey for them when we left…

5. How did exchanging your home influence your vacation, compared to a traditional vacation rental?

We could not have undertaken such a big trip without making use of home exchanges. We collected some guest points last year and it was great to be able to use them on such a memorable trip. Of course we had to send quite a lot of messages to find accommodation, but we persevered and in the end, everything came together really well.

6. Tell us what you saw during your trip.

What did we see during our trip – where do we start? Chicago’s riverside architecture was stunning; massive Lake Michigan; the plains of Montana; Seattle’s Pike Place Market – full of hustle and bustle with a great atmosphere; the breathtakingly beautiful Chihuly Glass Gardens; humpback whales; the majestic redwood trees; the mighty Pacific Ocean; the Oregon wineries; Yosemite Valley Floor; the Golden Gate Bridge; Alcatraz. More importantly, we met old and new friends and that was perhaps the best part of the trip.

Bonus Question: What is the best memory from your trip?

Pickled grapes recipe

We have so many wonderful memories from our trip but a simple one and one that we shared with friends was our wine tasting experience at the Willamette Valley Vineyard on Oregon where, alongside some amazing wines, we tasted some pickled grapes and cheese. Now, the pickled grapes were so incredibly delicious that I naturally had to ask for the recipe. The chef came out of the kitchen with a printed copy for me – my best souvenir of the whole trip.

 

 

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