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One of our Ambassadors, Cristina, shared this great story from one of her recenttrips. As she mentions, it's experiences like these that set home swaps apart from traditional holidays.

In the past nine years I have exchanged my home more than 50 times. I have visited many countries, from Canada to Bali, and have met a lot of nice people. But what happened to me in one of my last exchanges had never happened before.

I was exchanging with a very nice couple based in Tel Aviv, Israel. It was a first time for both of us. It was their very first exchange and it was my very first visit in Israel. We were all excited.

The swap itself went very smoothly, we exchanged details and information and arrived at each other's places safely. We kept in touch on an almost daily basis just to catch up and see if we could be of any help. One day I mentioned I was going to visit the Design Museum in Holon, and Dan, my host, suggested I should look for one of the museum guards, whom he had portrayed some time earlier. That's when I realized that all the wonderful paintings at my host's house were his work.

When I expressed my enthusiasm for his art, Dan said I should go through his paintings and pick one, he'd be more than happy to give it to me. What an amazing thing to do! So I went through all the paintings and chose one that I liked and that would be possible for me to carry home.

Unfortunately, when it was time to pack I realized that the painting was not going to fit into my luggage as I had thought, and since it was Sabbath and the end of Pesach, shops were closed. Furthermore, I really had no idea how to find a shop that could prepare the painting so I could take it on an airplane: all the websites were in Hebrew and I cannot read Hebrew. So I had to give up my painting. I thanked Dan and explained the situation.

When I left, the plane I was taking had just arrived from Italy and knowing they were coming back on that flight, at one point, through the window, I even thought I could recognize Dan and his wife Tamar from pictures I had seen at home. I started waving generously at some stranger who was kind enough to wave back - as Dan and Tamar took a later flight, as it turned out.

Anyway, a few weeks later I received a package at home. Guess what it was? The beautiful painting that Dan had so kindly given me. It is now hanging on my wall and reminds me of Dan, Tamar, Tel Aviv and the wonderful exchange we had. Because this is what home swapping is all about.

Check out Cristina's Piedmont penthouse.

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