To close out the 2008 year, we are offering 10 people
opportunity to receive a
free HomeLink Book with a new, web-only membership. Due to
popularity of our similar offer earlier in the year, we have asked for
10 surplus copies of the current HomeLink
Book to be included with our shipment of the next edition.
These should arrive in the next fortnight.
To receive our famous Books with your membership (2 copies per year) normally costs an extra $50 over a standard web-only membership. So, if you've been thinking about joining our community, this is a great opportunity to learn why so many HomeLinkers love the Book. We think you will like the Book so much that you'll want to upgrade your membership to get both copies when you renew your membership next year.
This free Book offer only applies to the first 10 new customers. We encourage you to get in quickly - the last time we offered free surplus Books, they were all snapped up in less than 14 days! Simply click this link to Join Now.
Just a reminder - if you have been thinking of joining our global community some time in 2009, make sure you get in early. Our office is closing for 2 weeks - 20 December to 4 January. Be sure to take advantage of Prime Time, and join before 20 December, so that you will have access to the members areas during your Christmas break, and, so that northern hemisphere members will be able to contact you during their Christmas break.
trust you will enjoy this entertaining account from one very
experienced HomeLinker. This is the second instalment in a
series from Barbara and Brian's "career" with our global
It was now about two years since we had joined Homelink and our two exchanges were very positive.
Then the big day came, and we sold our business and retired in 2000. We bought ourselves a computer and joined the local Seniors computer group to learn how to use it, as I knew we would need it for our Homelink exchanges as they were all now going the internet way.
Our first overseas holiday just happened. We went to a cruise show and decided we would do a cruise along the Alaska coast, but on costing the cruise and airfare etc, found it was going to be expensive. As we wanted to keep our expenses low we looked again at the Homelink site. I could not wait to get started. We had two exchanges for Vancouver for two weeks each, we find Vancouver is a place we get a lot of e-mails from all wanting to exchange. We had both wanted to go to San Francisco, and after looking though the site we found lots of great looking homes to contact. We only sent a couple of e-mails before we had a couple say, "Yes please, we want to come to Australia". They had their holidays then as one of them was a teacher. It fitted in with the Vancouver exchange so we said "yes". One of our friends had just come home from Florida and was telling us about the Epcot centre in Disney World, so what about having a look at homes in Florida. You could not believe it, we got one straight away that fitted in with our other exchanges. This should have been enough for a first overseas exchange but I have a cousin that lives near New York, so we tried to find one near where they live. No luck but we got one near Boston. We also wanted to see the Niagara Falls and we got an exchange about an hours drive away. I had not thought about how we were getting there and on looking at airfares find it is cheaper to get a round the world fare. So this really was the big one!
I could hardly believe the exchanges had all fitted in so well and it had been so easy. With fingers crossed and bags packed we were finally on our way. Brian had bought the biggest suitcase he could find. Not a good idea but we did not know that at the time you learn a lot the more you travel, and when they say "pack light", they really mean it! I had all the names, e-mails phone numbers, and tickets, and we were off.
We left here on 2nd July. Our exchange couple arrived from San Francisco the day before we left. We went to the airport to pick them up and get them settled in our house. We spent the rest of the day with them swapping information, keys etc, that we would all need, and the next morning they drove us to the airport for the start of our big trip.
Our flight to the USA was long but uneventful and we arrived in San Francisco on a bright sunny day. Our exchanger had arranged for his friend to pick us up from the airport and drive us to his home, which was in a very nice street with large homes. All the homes in the USA have flag poles and the American flags were all out as it was 4th July the next day. Our home was a big white hacienda-style home. This house had an alarm system we were not really familiar with them but we had the code so in we went. It is always an adventure getting to your new house, this was just such a lovely spacious home. We were greeted with a large hallway with a big spiral staircase, lovely lounge room, and spacious dining room, all with beautiful old wooden floors. We had a basement which housed among other things the boiler but as it was warm we did not think we would need that. The ground floor was living areas and four very large bedrooms one fitted out as a study with every thing even a shredder machine and two bathrooms upstairs. Downstairs we had a dining room, living room, family room, and big kitchen and eating area and a large outdoor patio, which we only got to eat on once as it was too cold for us. This was a great house, it even had the bus at the end of the street so we could go in to San Francisco in only 20 minutes.
We were very tired but really pleased with our house. They had left us bread, milk, and lots of other goodies to try so we just had a snack and went to bed. We had decided we would use the main bathroom as it had a shower and just shut the door to the en-suite as it only had a bath. A tip - close the doors to the rooms you are not using, the more you use the more you have to clean when you leave.
As is normal for me I had to get up in the night to use the bathroom which as we were not using the en-suite was down the hall.. totally forgetting the alarm system. And yes, you guessed it .. off it went! Well, it was lights flashing outside, the lot. Such a racket! It was also connected to the alarm company, so the next thing we get a phone call from the alarm company! Well we were both up now and more than a bit dozy from lack of sleep, so when answering the phone questions like "What is the phone number?", well, we did not know, could not remember without getting out our diary to look. By this time the company just said OK. We must have sounded a bit strange as we just got in bed and just getting back to sleep when we heard a very large knocking on the front door. I dug Brian in the ribs and said "You go", so off down the stairs he went to answer the door more than a bit apprehensive while I in my nightie stood on the stairs. On opening the door we were confronted by two police bristling with weapons asking who we were, what we were doing there, etc. After seeing our passports and us a sorry sight looking very tired and sorry for ourselves, they just had a laugh and said have a good holiday. But the whole thing the first night on our big overseas holiday in a strange house in a strange country .. it was all a bit unsettling, and not a very good start to our holiday.
We were a very tired couple the next day walking down to the end of our street but the houses all had great gardens, green lawns, and the flowers were blooming. The stars-and-stripes flags were all blowing in the wind, it was sunny and warm and so we were feeling good.
I like shopping overseas as they have such a lot of different food and things on the shelves. We also needed to see if the credit card worked, always good to know and "phew", yes it worked just like home. What a relief! They tell you at the bank it will be good but nice to know it really works. We had a quiet couple of days before we went in to the city.
While we were there we wanted to go to Alcatraz, and we were lucky as our exchanger offered to get the tickets for us. We just payed him when we saw him as the tickets are very hard to get. They are often sold out for days in advance. These are the little things that make the home exchanging so good.
It was from this exchanger that we got a tip about saving the commission on our money. We decided how much we wanted in US dollars, and he brought it with him when he came over to Australia. We then just looked up the exchange rate that day and exchanged our money thus saving the commission. We have only done this with a couple of people as some people do not seem to be comfortable with it, and you do have to see your exchanger at the start of your holiday but it works very well.
We had four weeks in San Francisco. One weekend we drove down to Carmel and stayed with an old friend. They live in a golf complex and have the great American dream ranch house just the nicest house you could imagine. We had a wonderful visit with them. One of the things we like about exchanging is meeting a lot of people and catching up on old friends. It just makes our exchanges so friendly and you do not feel isolated in a strange country or place.
Another bonus with this house was they are in a farm cooperative, and buy all their fruit and vegetables through this scheme. Their home is the distribution point for the local people and although we did not have to do anything, as the neighbour across the road was in charge of it while they were away, we seemed to wind up getting several more than the one box that was ours as it was the school holidays and a lot of people were away. So we had a lot of free fruit and vegetables and I was trying to think of ways to cook with all the vegetables we were getting. A very healthy household.
We had a exceptionally good exchange here, we had enjoyed our visit immensely, so we said goodbye to the little squirrels that we saw everyday as it was time to pack up again. I leave the day before our flight free to clean, wash, and pack, and get ready for our next exchange which was in Vancouver, Canada. We had to call a door-to-door airport connection.. our exchanger left the number for us so it was easy to get to the airport but quite expensive.
The airport was crowded when we arrived. When we went to check in to the international terminal we were told that this flight was leaving from the domestic terminal! So it was a bit stressful finding the other terminal pulling our bags with time running out but we made it ...
(to be continued)
Barbara and Brian
"Oh, it’s big all right. Damn big. And we’re not referring to Canada’s size (a whopping 10 million sq km, making it the world’s second-largest country). What we’re talking about here is the handle on a Canadian beer case – big enough to fit your hands, even with mittens on. If you think that’s impressive, consider Canada’s other mondo attributes. Its terrain is filled with them, from mammoth mountains to hulking glaciers to immense polychromatic skies. Then there are the creatures that roam the terrain and its waterways – grizzly bear, moose, polar bear, humpback whales – each one huger than the next." - lonely planet
What better time to have a home exchange holiday in beautiful
Canada than now,
with the skiing season just beginning! Of course, there are
many who say that the best time to visit Canada and really experience
its natural grandeur is during the northern summer. Either
way, now is a great time to take advantage of reduced airfares and book
yourself a Canadian escape.
Another great aspect of home exchanging to Canada is the people. Perhaps it is our shared British colonial roots? We don't know. All we know is that we always seem to "gel" instantly with Canadians, and are confident that you will too.