It was my only child, Cristine, who had the passport in our family of three. She visited Great Britain one year with a high school group. And until my former husband moved on and my new husband Doug moved into my life, I hadn't given much thought to traveling. I had traveled a bit to places like Hawaii and South America where travel was easy as well as not too terribly far from California where we lived at the time.
I should mention that when I married Doug, he lived in Hawaii and I in California. We tried commuting for a long period but it soon wore on us. The ultimate question became: (1) would I close up my law practice and bid farewell to my clients; or (2) would Doug try to break into the communications business in California? I moved to Hawaii.
One day after the move to Hawaii, I was sorting through some papers from my "old life" (I now had more time on my hands) and discovered that we were a few months away from losing a week at our Big Island of Hawaii timeshare and also had a new week still pending. Perplexed, since I was now living in Hawaii and it seemed silly to visit another island, I fished out a catalog of places available for exchange and began a frustrating attempt to exchange Hawaii for some other exotic place in the world. After an hour of realizing that nothing was available, I called the exchange company and spoke with an operator. At first she could not find anything available, until I reluctantly broadened my request to include "anything in Europe." There was a cancellation in Megève in the French Alps--as well as Hinterzarten, Germany--places I'd never heard of--and because I was overwhelmed by the prospect that anything was available, I said "I'll take them both" and we were set.
The following week end we began our virtual exploration of the villages of Megève and Hinterzarten (thank goodness for the internet), trying to work through the details of flights, car rental and what we would do once there. For a reason that still escapes me, I also looked for a site relating to home exchanging. We were wowed by the possibility of being able to visit other countries without having to pay for a place to stay. The dollar to euro ratio was miserably high at the time. We became so absorbed that we spent an entire week end trying to extend our two weeks into a three-week exchange, adding another week in France through the home exchange.*
There were so many possibilities, but after lengthy discussion we narrowed our desire to visiting Paris. About twenty requests were sent to the home exchange site. There are literally thousands of exchangers all over the world and within a day we had an interested family. Their one bedroom Paris apartment was a "second home" and they didn't want to travel to Hawaii at the same time we stayed in their apartment. With family living on the mainland for us to visit and with the timeshare on Big Island, it wasn't a problem for us to entertain a non-simultaneous exchange. So, we now had glorious two weeks to spend in France before going to Germany.
Next post: Zurich.
*By the way, if you visit the home exchange link and want to see our home we are known as house number 38587. You may want to entertain an exchange with us too, one day.