Post image for Berlin 2011:  Meeting our exchange partners

Berlin 2011: Meeting our exchange partners

by John Mensinger on July 2, 2011


We always meet our house swap partners in advance, as you know from a previous post. One potential problem with these meetings is your partners may be busy preparing their home for the exchange or getting ready for the trip. This was the case with our German hosts. A friend, Lola met us at the airport and drove us home.

We were pleased that the home, neighborhood, and family exceeded our high expectations. The apartment had been recently renovated with new oak floors, the walls were finished with a variety of terra cotta hues, and the bathroom was new. The kitchen couldn’t have been newer as it was finished the day we arrived. The building was over 100 years old, with walls more than a foot thick. A balcony overlooked an interior courtyard with trees, flowers, and vines.

We walked a few blocks to a neighborhood restaurant that turned out to be a cooking school. Over a long lunch of German specialties such as white asparagus and schnitzel we got to know Heidi, our host, her son Wolfgang, a friend of his, and Lola.

The next 24 hours we enjoyed Berlin while our hosts prepared for the trip. Heidi and I sat down and answered questions about our homes, cars, and travel plans. Wolfgang arranged a barbecue with several of his friends. Julia and I were impressed with their charm and ability to speak English. They were well educated and well traveled. My daughter Margo, 17, enjoyed these young adults. I was pleased that Margo went out clubbing with them but wouldn’t have objected if they had returned home earlier than 6am the next morning.

We briefly met Otto, the husband, who had work to do before the family left on a 10 week vacation (they have three exchanges in the USA this summer). I admired his rapport with his 3 year old son. We also met Otto’s office colleagues who along with Wolfgang and Lola provided us with considerable help, support, and advice.



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