So because we are relatively poor yet love to travel, Hubba-hubba and I have been looking at different options. Since lodging is usually your first or second largest expense, we were considering ways to cut down on the cost. Since we will have Mr. Personality along, hotels such as the one we stayed in while visiting Chicago are no longer an option. It was recommended in the Frommer's guide as a low-budget favorite, yet one night we swear we heard someone getting mugged in the alley that backed up to the hotel.
Like I said, not exactly an option.
And, I am really not a low-budget hotel type of person. I like things fairly clean and shiny, not with rust stains on the tub, or a bathroom that once functioned as a closet, which was the case with the hotel we stayed at in New Orleans. We could barely lift up our arms to wash our hair in that shower, it was that small. Good times.
Anyhoo, we had heard of vacation home exchanges, and I went and visited this site which seems to be one of the more well-known and reputable internet brokers. I thought, we are in a prime location here, close to everything in SoCal. You know, the old less than forty minutes from everything.
But then I began looking at some of the homes and got a bit intimidated. I mean, some of these are just gorgeous. Palaces of taste and refinement. Then there's our place. Not that there is anything wrong with it, but compared to some of these residences, it is just a dump.
Technically, this is what our little blurb to advertise our townhouse could look like without any untruth being told:
Light and airy two bedroom two bath townhouse. Situated on a hill above a forested park, bask in the 180 degree mountain and city lights view. Located on a quiet, private street in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Orange County, you will be within a fifteen minute drive to Disneyland, museums, shopping, nightlife, and recreation. The master bedroom with vaulted ceilings features a private bath, California King bed, antique mirror and a huge picture window to enjoy the view. The second bedroom is very spacious and features a double bed, along with ample storage space and many toys. Private community pool within walking distance. Relax out on the large enclosed patio for dinner, surrounded by lavender and hydrangeas and lit by hanging Moroccan lanterns.
Not too shabby sounding, eh?
I can just picture the couple from France whose farmhouse in Provence we are staying at walks in and realizes they've been had. They would probably agree more with this description:
Tiny 1100 square foot shack with too many windows! You will not be able to escape from the view, even if you wanted to. The surrounding neighborhood is one of the best, but the immediate housing community is situated in what is surely the ghetto of this exclusive zip code. Technically, you will be fifteen minutes away from all that, but just try and get anywhere with the traffic! The master bedroom "suite" contains the bathroom and not much else other than that California King. And that picture window lets in so much sun in the morning, you will think it is 12 noon at 6am! The second bedroom is pretty roomy, but just ty and deal with all the toys! Everywhere there are toys. Trying to make your way into the closet without stepping on something may prove a bit of a challenge. The patio is a vast expanse of concrete with a dining set that is at least a dozen years old. And looks it. If one of the straps breaks, just glue it back on, that's what we do! The glue is located on the second shelf above the refrigerator. The lavender and hydrangea are located in the ugliest planter ever seen by human eyes. Please watch out for the sand that has been thrown all over the concrete by the youngest resident, it gets a little slippery. Just make sure you wear shoes with some traction and you'll be fine. As for the Moroccan lanterns, they're good as long as you don't mind a little rust. The pool is a bit small and is usually as hot as bathwater not to mention the chaise lounges and chairs being the original ones from when the development was first built. Almost thirty years ago. But that makes them vintage! Oh, and just pretend you don't see the scuff marks on the furniture from all the toys being thrown, the broken towel rack in the guest bathroom, or all those stains on the white carpeting. They're from markers, we swear! Watch out for the sofa, you may need assistance getting out of it, as the foam decided to just give up supporting any more weight. Oh yeah, and the antique mirror? It's less than a foot long and six inches wide. Good luck even spotting it.
C'mon, any takers?