for someone else's? Well, when you do a house swap (my favorite site is homeforexchange.com, you kind of get to do that. Sleep in their bed. Look at their photographs. Peruse their bookshelf. (But I promise--no looking in the bedside table drawers!). Beyond the house itself, each swap usually comes with exhaustive lists of local restaurants, the best markets, walks, beaches--mostly things you won't get in any guidebook. And sometimes, friendships develop from these swaps. My hubby and I still see a young woman we met through a swap we did in Brazil (we traded my modest 1 bedroom apartment for a studio in Rio and a fab beach house in Sao Paolo. Not a bad deal). I'm starting to develop a bit of an email friendship with the lovely couple, Avril and David, who swapped with us recently--they spent a few weeks at my pad on the upper west side and a few days at the lake; we settled into their funky, comfy apartment in the wonderful neighborhood of Neve Tzedek, in Tel Aviv. And now, I get to read about their impressions of New York City on David's cool blog, Tel Aviv Rooftop. Turns out we were having parallel experiences. My hubby and I were amazed by the friendliness of Tel Avivians--so unlike New Yorkers, we thought! A & D were amazed by the kindness and generosity of NYers (you guessed it: so unlike citizens of their country). Pretty funny. I say it's the "vacation state of mind" most of us bring to travel: When you're away from home and routine, your eyes are open, your senses are alert and you are drinking in experiences. It's hard for others not to be attracted to that kind of openness. When I get back from vacation, for the first few days, I catch myself smiling at strangers in the street and expecting to strike up conversations (not always a good idea in the city), until I get back into my "I'm in a hurry--don't bother me" mentality. Sigh. It's nice to know that all of us--my s.o. and I and David and his wife--brought out the best in our respective city dwellers--and maybe ourselves.
Take a look at the amazing photographs taken by David of NYC and our little house by the lake. Fresh eyes, indeed.