We exchanged keys and he went to catch a plane for Barcelona. Later, we were exchanging photos via WhatsApp, of them on the Barceloneta beach and me on the red carpet, haha.

Katarina, recently went on her first home exchange trip. Here, she shares her experience about what it was like to visit Berlin as a home exchanger.

Travel to Germany

What do you like about home exchanging?

I love how the world seems so much closer with my HomeExchange account. I get exchange requests from Vietnam, Guatemala, Australia; basically from all over the globe. Although I’m obviously not going to exchange with everyone, I have a constant fuel for daydreaming and for making plans for the future.

I also love the personal contact and a possibility to meet new, unexpected people. A few weeks ago we also hosted another family in a non-simultaneous exchange and it was great. We became friends instantly and basically spent the whole week together. I would always choose staying at an actual real home over staying in a hotel!

Where did you go on your home exchange, and how long did you stay?

I went to Berlin, for a long weekend getaway. I stayed for 4 days, from Thursday to Sunday.

What was the purpose of your trip?

I went to Berlinale, the Film Festival. Also, to get to know Berlin since I’ve never been there before.

I traveled with two of my friends from Barcelona and we met there with a friend who came from Croatia.

Berlin Berlinale
My first home exchange in Berlin, Germany

What was your favorite part of your Berlinale experience?

For me, Berlinale was a unique experience to see movies that you might not get the chance to see anywhere else. My favorite moment was the assistance to the world premier of a movie “Sworn Virgin”, an emotional story about an Albanian woman in search of her sexuality.

I also liked Wim Wenders’ movie “Every Thing Will Be Fine”. My only regret is that I didn’t get to see the winner, the Iranian movie Taxi.

Live like a local in Berlin

Please describe the home you stayed at… What was it like?

Berlin Home Exchange
Nice and cozy home exchange in Berlin

The home was really nice and cozy. It was well situated in a building with a nice patio and an outside elevator. In the apartment we had everything we needed, our hosts even left us a box of chocolates, as if they knew me hahah.

Was this a hosted swap? What was your exchange family like?

As it was a simultaneous exchange I met only Rodrigo, we exchanged keys and he went to catch a plane for Barcelona. Later, we were exchanging photos via WhatsApp, of them on the Barceloneta beach and me on the red carpet, haha.

Experiencing life like a local with HomeExchange

What was it like to live like a local in Berlin? How did this compare to staying in a hotel/hostel?

Living like local was great! It’s not only that you’re not paying for the apartment you’re staying at, it’s a completely different experience. You stay in a real home, with real things, you get to know your hosts (you get an idea about them even if they’re absent). It’s kind of a special feeling of living someone else’s life for a few days. You sleep in their bed, use their shampoo, drink their tea and say hi to their neighbors. I felt much more integrated and less tourist than when I stay at a hotel.

I want to repeat my Berlin experience and find someone who would exchange with us for a month or so. Maybe next year..

Do you have any tips for anyone traveling to Berlin?

My favorite tips following my home exchange in Berlin

I’d definitely recommend taking a long walk through the picturesque Berlin neighborhoods. We got really lucky with the weather, it was cold but there was no snow and it was sunny during our whole stay (which is practically a miracle for Berlin in February). So, I might recommend going in spring or summer to enjoy the city completely.

Just to point out some places:

berlin travel tips
Me dreaming of another home exchange!

– Window-shopping in Mitte neighborhood (there are many original small shops)
– Dinner at Long March Canteen (a great Asian restaurant; try ribs with honey)
Bauhaus Museum (I bought some really cool poster reproductions from the 20s)
– Brunch at Nest (on a sunny Saturday morning)
– Walk through Tiergarten Park (there’s also a nice flea market nearby on Sundays)
– Visiting East Side Gallery (famous remains of the Berlin wall with the graffiti art)

Visit Germany with HomeExchange