I just ran into a friend and they asked me how my recent 5-week trip to Spain and Morocco trip went. I have to say that it was amazing, tiring, fun and SO culturally rewarding. I really feel that we lived like locals and got to know the people, the food, and the culture of the Spain. I even got into political discusssions about the Catalonian push for independence from Spain.
My daughter and I spent almost 4 weeks going from house to house in Seville, Malaga, Chinchilla (Albacete) and Barcelona. We used home exchange websites to facilitate the hospitality exchanges which provided free places for us to stay in these amazing cities. Three of the families had already stayed with us in the past year, one (in Seville) we had never met.
The family in Seville was a wonderful woman, Karin and her 9-year old son. My favorite part was getting to know Karin, a remarkable woman. Ellie’s favorite was probably the carriage ride through town. See my blog posts on each city for details about each stay.
Malaga was so amazing thanks to our home exchange friends Mathilde, Matheo and Olivia (9). They “gave us” their apartment and stayed in their parents apartment two doors down. We saw them some days, most evenings and weekends and did so much together. Ellie really loved playing with Olivia, and REALLY loved walking their dog Romeo. They took us to local towns, cooked for us, took us to their swim club, and really made us feel welcome. Ellie loved playing on the playground in front of the apartment. There were so many great moments, one of them a girls night out while Matheo watched the girls.
Chinchilla was an amazing surprise. I thought the house was in Albacete, but that was just the closest train stop. Our home and host were both wonderful beyond words. We stayed with Monica and her 4-year old son. She picked us up, made us really feel at home and provided an amazing village experience. My favorite was getting a night out with her as Ellie had her FIRST sleepover ever with a new friend from the town. My second favorite was the beauty of the town. Ellie’s best part was probably the sleepover!
Barcelona, Barcelona. I forgot what a great city it is – I haven’t been since 2003. Our friends live smack in the middle of the city in a 7-story building, not far from Avenida Diagonal. They “gave us” their apartment for 10 days and “moved into” their parents’ penthouse apartment. Our first weekend was spent with them at Port Aventura, an amusement park an hour away in Tarragona. The second weekend they took us all around the city to their favorite spots. My favorite was having a long holiday meal with the parents. I would love to go back and visit them too! Ellie loved the scooter she found in the apartment – she scooted all around town for a week.
None of these unforgettable moments would have been possible without these home/hospitality exchanges. We also spent a week in Marrakesh, Morocco but stayed in a resort. We don’t know the Moroccan people or culture, we merely observed a thin layer from the perspective of a tourist.
If you are like me and prefer a more authentic travel experience, stay tuned for more travel adventures.