In our final house swap on this month-long Spain adventure we’re staying in Granada at the home of a man I met through the website GuestToGuest. This site uses Guest Points as the currency of exchange, allowing members to earn points by hosting people in their home and then spending those points in any place listed on the site. It’s a form of non-simultaneous home exchange.
We earned some Guest Points a few months ago when a French couple stayed in our flat for a week while we were away visiting a friend. We spent some of those points for this four night stay in Granada.
This was an interesting swap because the person we were swapping with was in town during our stay. He offered to vacate his home for our use, but as it’s a 3 bedroom 2 bathroom place, I told him we didn’t mind if he stayed. I like meeting locals while traveling, and figured we’d have a love of travel in common so it was a good bet we’d get along. And as an added bonus, he offered to take us to tour nearby towns on the weekend. In the end he was only there two of the nights so we did get half the time alone.
I have mixed feelings about this approach, which is similar to a hospitality exchange. On the one hand our host was super nice, he made us dinner one night, and offered lots of advice about places to go and things to see. On the other hand, because he only spoke Spanish (with a heavy southern Spain accent), I spent a lot of time working to understand him and translate for my wife. This was less relaxing than staying alone in a home. I love all the Spanish practice I got on this trip, and even started dreaming a bit in Spanish by the end, but it’s exhausting paying so much attention just to talk.
Overall I think a hospitality stay is a bit of a risk with a potential big payoff: you might really get along with the host(s) and end up with new friends, or you might be sad you are staying with a stranger you don’t particularly like.
The flat we stayed in was in a big apartment complex, well situated for Granada sightseeing, and comfortable and quiet. Once again we were able to buy breakfast and lunch foods at the grocery store to save money, though eating out is quite cheap in Granada because you get free tapas with any drink. You just order a caña (small glass of beer) and they bring you a plate of food with it (often allowing you to pick which item you want). I had some amazing tapas and some that were just ok, but they were all free. And the drinks are very cheap by American standards: €2 for a beer and €3.50 for a glass of wine.
Granada summary: good use of guest points in a city where I couldn’t find anyone for a simultaneous home exchange. And this adorable, tasty and affordable city should be included in any visit to Spain.