Home Exchange Friendships and “Gezellig” canal cruising in Amsterdam
Last summer we enjoyed a great home swap in the bohemian quarter of De Pijp in Amsterdam. Upon our return we also got to meet our host Lotte as their flight back to Amsterdam was later in the evening.
We shared a drink or two in her garden, we swapped fun and interesting stories of our stay in each other’s homes. A slightly surreal experience but a very enjoyable one. Subsequently, we remained friends and kept in touch through GuestToGuest facebook groups and Skype. Today I am so delighted that we got to meet each other and share our experiences.
This year although she wasn’t able to swap, we made sure to meet up and spend time together. It was a lovely experience and we both agreed that staying in each other’s homes had given us a natural bond.
She was able to offer us helpful advice about local non-touristy areas and it made our journey a much richer experience, giving us a feeling of being in “a home away from home”, with a familiar face welcoming us.
With her helpful tips, we were able to discover cafes, bars and areas of the city we would never have found on our own. Always ask your hosts for suggestions, not only will they be delighted to talk about their city and show you around but also you get what no tourist staying at hotels get* *“A local Experience”
So not being able to swap with Lotte this trip turned out to be a bonus as it not only gave us the opportunity to meet up with her but also the chance for us to stay in another home in a newer area of Amsterdam called ‘Oost’, which was the hip Eastern part of the city.
We were told that is was an ethnically diverse and a very lively district. On exploring the place it had beautifully wide streets, lined with trees and lovely 19th-century buildings and lots of places to do independent shopping, eating and drinking.
The beautiful Oosterpark was just around the corner from us as was the amazingly eccentric Volkshotel, just minutes away. Here we were able to enjoy our breakfast on the perfect rooftop buffet bar and we soaked up its ultra cool vibe in the evening. It also had glass-box meditation rooms, a shop in a caravan and rooftop hot tubs. It had to be one of the city’s coolest places and we felt privileged to have free access to its facilities as a visitor alongside having our own cozy home at Elien’s place too.
This year we decided again to take the morning flights home so we could get to meet our new home swappers Elien and Annabel. And just as we’d done the year before we shared a drink and some tales of our adventures in each other’s cities. We soon decided that once again we had made a great friendship bond and that we would keep in touch and either swap or meet up again soon.
We all decided that it takes a certain person to be interested and willing to open up their homes, and these are often, the most open-minded, positive and welcoming people you can meet.
So here’s to another amazing friendship that would never have happened without GuestToGuest