Member Stories: Zoya

Discover home exchange with GuestToGuest Members

Zoya is a spontaneous adventurer who loves photography, yoga, dancing, music and the arts! She has two beautiful homes in Macedonia and the United States. Zoya is an avid home exchanger and has generously shared her experience for the GuesttoGuest community to follow! 

Where did you go on home exchange?

Paraty, Brazil

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How did you choose your destination and home exchange?

For a long time it had been a dream of mine to visit Brazil during the carnival season. My decision to go this year came about sort of  last minute and I had not planned my itinerary well in advance. I knew that I wanted to explore Rio de Janeiro – the city and the region, and that was my first step. After Rio one of the main sites I wanted to visit was Paraty – a charming UNESCO World Heritage Site town with much history and culture, but also great coastline and beautiful beaches, mountains, rivers… perfect vacation spot after the hustle and bustle of Rio.
I had contacted a few hosts and was happy to receive a positive reply from Adriana and Christophe. Their pousada in Paraty looked lovely, and they were going to be there during my stay so I could meet them and have the benefit of their advice and friendship during my visit.

STAYING AT ADRIANA AND CHRISTOPHE’S MADE ME FEEL LIKE A PART OF A FAMILY, PART OF A NEIGHBORHOOD.

What was the conversation like with your host?

We had a number of messages back and forth and worked it out that since I travel solo I would only really need a bedroom which they were happy to provide. Considering that it was carnival season and they were busy with work in the pousada, they were not able to do a reciprocal exchange, so we agreed to exchange points. I wanted a nice period of rest and relaxation before going back to Rio for the carnival madness, so a period of 6 nights’ stay got arranged.

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

The transfer company van dropped me at the pousada which is located on the outskirts of town in an area called Ponte Branca. I rang the gates and was greeted by my host Adriana. She walked me into a lovely courtyard and to my bedroom door which had a name Nice. I laughed – how nice to be in the nice room:) Well, soon I noticed it was not nice but Nice, as all of the rooms were named after famous towns in Provence, France. The whole pousada is decorated in Provencal style.

 

Adriana was thorough – provided me with my wifi info, maps and brochures, flyers for restaurant recommendations, bus schedule, and everything else I needed. I was shown around the place and I was especially impressed by the patio by the river where we would have breakfast listening to the water flowing each morning. My room was spacious with a comfortable bed, private bathroom with a large shower, and everything else I needed. We chatted a bit and I had a good feeling, as Adriana is a lovely woman, friendly and attentive.

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

Staying at Adriana and Christophe’s made me feel like a part of a family, part of a neighborhood. Coming back to their place was like coming home. They were always there to help me with advice, going out of their way to accommodate my needs, and to be my friends, for a chat or a meal together. They made delicious breakfasts each morning, something I looked forward to and miss already. We had a lot in common and exchanged ideas and experiences. They made my time in Paraty really special.
Moreover, I got to be a part of the neighborhood – got to know some of the neighbors; the bus drivers got to know me and would stop at my stop and tell me it is my turn even if I may have gotten distracted.

FOR A LONG TIME IT HAD BEEN A DREAM OF MINE TO VISIT BRAZIL DURING THE CARNIVAL SEASON.

Tell us about what you saw during your trip.

I spent six lovely days enjoying breakfasts by the river, walks through the historic old town of Paraty and its shops and restaurants, and basking in the sun, swimming and snorkeling in the many beaches and the river waterfalls in this area. Once I took a boat tour to nearby beaches and islands, another time visited nearby towns of Trindade and Paraty Mirim and explored their beaches, and also enjoyed the river waterfalls near the pousada. Learned about the Golden Trail (Caminho do Ouro) and the Guarani ribes living in the area. I participated in a number of pre-carnival blocos (neighborhood parties) and a lovely samba concert in the city square where locals and tourists showed off their samba dancing skills:) All in all had a great time.

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

Many great memories: Being part of the carnival blocos; Sitting on the patio and listening to the river.

Click here to learn more about home exchange.

Before welcoming Zoya in their home, Adriana and Christophe hosted Océane and Alexandre, a couple traveling the world to discover people’s dreams. Read about their experiences with home exchange and follow their adventures!