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Where is my book?


Ahh…summer vacation. The warmth of the sun on our skin, the sound of the birds and the ocean, the feeling of silky sand between our toes – nothing feels better than a beautiful, sunny summer day to anyone who recently experienced a harsh winter.
When the lazy days of summer arrive, most of us take a vacation. We may head to the beach or a house with a pool, most definitely armed with the joyous anticipation of the hours ahead with our favorite book. With no shame or guilt, we could easily spend hour upon hour reading the latest bestseller by our equally-favorite author on our vacation, the weekends, or while the sun stays out late, keeping us company in our comfy chair.
Some of the best books to read on vacation are heavy on characters and plot and utterly engaging. There’s always an excitement to browse the bestsellers’ lists and see what’s new and exciting.
Here are a few of the latest and greatest and most popular reads out there. Stock piling, hoarding and coveting are allowed.   Happy Reading!

Fiction:
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins – a ‘whodunit” that will keep you guessing through every train ride to and from London.

Finders Keepers by Stephen King – when it’s a King novel, you know there’s a deranged character just waiting in the wings to snap.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – a teenage boy’s life is permanently changed when he and his mother are in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The Nightingale by Kirstin Hannah – the lives of two very different sisters in occupied France during WWII.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. If you haven’t seen the movie, read the book first. Did the husband do away with his wife on their fifth anniversary? Read on and find out.

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.  A blind girl navigates through her young life during the time that the Nazis occupy Paris.

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty (also anything by this author including The Hypnotist’s Love Story, Big Little Lies, and What Alice Forgot) Lives are shattered and tales are intertwined in this modern day tale of mayhem in Australia when a wife discovers too much, too soon.

Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian by E.L. James. OK, you read the first three, you might as well read the fourth. No one will tell.

Non-Fiction: 
Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America by Jill Leovy. For every white woman murdered in Los Angeles, 100 black men were murdered.

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson. Story of the 1915 sinking of the luxury liner on its way from New York to Liverpool.

Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon.  A 30-year historical memoir of the Sonic Youth artist and musician. 

The Brothers: The Road to an American Tragedy by Masha Gessen. A look at the immigrant family of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnev, or better known as the Boston Bombers. 

Cape Town South Africa - fantastic for home exchange



A wonderful place where you can enjoy fabulous food, beaches, stunning scenery, smiling people and very interesting sites - Cape Town.

When first arriving everyone has the impressive view of Table Mountain.  It dominates the landscape with it's size and beauty.  You have the option of taking the cable car up, taking in views of the cape or for the very fit you can hike up.  Either way, once at the top, the experience is wonderful - a nice way to spend an afternoon.  

In the city enjoy the sights and sounds of Victoria and Alfred (V&A)Waterfront. The assortment of shops, restaurants and bars will certainly have something for everyone. Enjoy walking experience the atmosphere and hopefully find something to take home as a memory of your visit to Cape Town.  

From V&A you can catch boats to the famous Robben Island, declared a World Heritage Site in 1999.  Learn about the most famous prisoner here, Nelson Mandela.  


"We had an absolutely wonderful experience in Cape Town.  The home is very spacious, beautifully furnished and very comfortable.  Our very gracious and helpful hosts were there to greet us when we arrived after a 30-hour journey and we spent a few hours with them at their home on our last day in the Western Cape.  
The apartment is ideally located - the building faces the ocean and there are many places to safely walk in the area.  The incredible V & A waterfront is only a 15 minute walk.  There are a couple of good restaurants and cafes just down the road.  We hope to come back some day."  

Thank you to Barbara, an IVHE member, for her kind comments on her recent visit to property #0575 in Cape Town, South Africa.  

Fall into a quiet beach vacation.


Now is the time to plan an International Vacation Home Exchange (IVHE.com) trip at the beach for that most lovely time of year: Autumn.
There are many advantages to booking a Massachusetts beach destination vacation after the U.S. symbolic end of summer, Labor Day, has come and gone. The weather is still nice (not hot and muggy), the nighttime breezes will cool the house, and the queues outside the most popular ice cream stand are gone.
Add to the above list the following other advantages of hitting the beach communities of Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard after September 7: there’s breathing (and elbow) room on the beaches, streets and bike paths; it’s easier to get a restaurant reservation on Saturday night; and there are plenty of available parking spaces.
Cape Cod, or “The Cape,” is the most Eastern part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and stretches from Woods Hole to Provincetown. This area is a popular summer tourist destination and is known for its outdoor activities such as swimming, sunbathing, boating, fishing, biking, walking, kayaking, and golf. There are more than 25 public, daily-fee golf courses and 15 private courses on Cape Cod.  Martha’s Vineyard, or “The Vineyard” is an island and summer colony located off the coast of Massachusetts. It is 100 square miles and is accessible only by boat or air.  Nantucket, also an island, is 30 miles south of Cape Cod. Its name means “faraway land.” It is also a summer destination, which increases its population from about 15,000 to 50,000.
While out on the Cape, Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket, it’s easy to head out in the cooler autumn air to enjoy one of many fall festivals that take place during this time.
Here’s a quick list of several festivals for the Fall of 2015:

Cape Cod:
The Labor Day Weekend Arts & Crafts Festival in Yarmouth is September 5-6
The 38th Annual Windmill Weekend in Eastham is held September 11
The 6th Annual Cape Cod Wildlife Festival in Cummaquid is September 12
The 27th Annual Cape Cod Glass Show & Sale in Sandwich will be held on September 12-13
The Bourne Scallop Fest is held September 18-20
The Harwich Cranberry Festival is held September 19-20
Truro Treasures Grape Stomp & Music Festival in N. Truro is held September 20
The 4th Annual Cape Cod Brew Fest in Falmouth is September 26

Martha’s Vineyard:
The 20th Annual Labor Day Festival is September 4-6
The Martha’s Vineyard Wind Festival is September 5
Oak Bluffs Celebrates Tivoli Day is held September 19

Nantucket

The 6th Annual Nantucket Maritime Festival held on September 19

Fall Restaurant Week held September 28-October 3

Fall Arts Festival, the “Art of the See” October 2

Home Exchange Video: How It Works


Wouldn't it be great to enjoy hundreds of holiday/vacation homes around the world?  

With IVHE.com you can! We are not suggesting emptying your bank account and retirement savings, we are talking about home exchange!  In fact you will be saving money by leveraging your home to travel to other luxurious locations in vacation destinations.   
Click on the image below and learn about the three types of home exchange membership offered by International Vacation Home Exchange, IVHE.com. 

Just imagine turning your one wonderful vacation/second property into thousands of options around the world, with IVHE home exchanging and trading you can do just that. 
Unlike conventional home exchanges, IVHE allows you to trade vacation homes without the need for both parties to swap at the same time or with each other. It also gives you the flexibility to trade up to a larger home, or take multiple trips to smaller locations.  The choice is yours from city apartments, country estates, safari lodges, yachts and ski lodges.  

Home Exchanging really is a simple way of saving thousands on your vacations. the above is a video on the different types of home swap options that you will enjoy. Let's start travelling. 


Wonderful food, stunning scenery, historic towns and ancient art – does it get any better?


Looking for a location to relax yet also offers you several options for days that you would like to explore?  The Acquitaine region of France is a perfect location.  IVHE members enjoy the region from St Julien de Lampon, between the historic towns of Sarlat and Souillac.  This five bedroom home is moments from the beauty of the Dordogne River with numerous chateaux and gardens nearby.  It is a paradise for walkers ramblers, cyclists; all of us that like exploring the countryside.  
Nearby you can also visit the world-famous prehistoric caves of Lascaux, Les Eyzies de Tayac.
Meet George the owner of this exclusive vacation home in our IVHE interview.  He shares with us thoughts on his travel, some personal experiences and his views on home exchange. 

International Vacation Home Exchange, IVHE.com, has created a podcast series interviewing members on their travel experiences, giving you an opportunity to meet real people that enjoy home swapping travel.  Enjoy these free podcasts at your convenience. 

Golfing while watching the earth move! Big Sky in British Columbia


Self-proclaimed golf nut, Karen Thrall, our guest blogger, shares with us her experience near Whistler Canada.  For luxury exchange properties nearby visit British Columbia, Canada or for more great golf locations visit IVHE.com’s golf pages.  

My good friend and I made the commute to Big Sky Golf Club in Pemberton, British Columbia.  It’s one of his favourite courses, so it was a perfect place to celebrate his birthday!  (I wish I could tell you I “let” the birthday boy win, but his 4 handicap was leading the way…again.)

We witnessed two avalanches while playing.  It’s magnificent to watch the roaring of the snow breaking free from the mountains, pouring down the crevices of the cliffs.  Loud, powerful – stunning!

What a place!  One of the most beautiful courses I've played.  By far, one of BC's best golf havens.  The tranquility and splendour of its surroundings is remarkable.  The snow-capped mountains are your backdrop, towering over you.  Breathtaking.  While you’re visiting Whistler, go experience Big Sky!!  (Maybe I should add a few more exclamation marks for dramatic effect?)

From downtown Vancouver, it’s a 2 hour drive; 30 minutes north of Whistler, BC.  The commute alone is well worth the trip.  Crank up the tunes and cruise this spectacular scenic route.  A memorable golf day awaits you.  As Dorothy so famously coined, “Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore…”  You’re right Dorothy, you’re in Big Sky!  


The course is challenging enough to test your course management skills.  If you’re able to, I highly recommend you take a pull cart and walk the lands.  This way, you’ll soak in more of its attractive features.  I do remember in this particular game, my back nine played better than my front nine.  Took me the front nine to hit my groove.

Excellent customer service is another prime reason to go.  You’ll be warmly welcomed, the staff are helpful and always a pleasure to interact with.

I’ll tell you about the other Whistler courses in a different blog post.  Big Sky gets singled out and deserves its own spotlight.  The locals will tell you the same thing.  It’s well worth the extra 30-minute drive north.  You won’t be disappointed.  Guaranteed.

Promise me you’ll have one day scheduled for Big Sky.  Let me know what you think.  And let me know how you played! 

Thank you Karen for your fantastic blog and photos.   Thinking of visiting Canada, view exclusive homes at Canadian Home Exchange   

Keep Up with Local Customs


You needn’t be a diplomat or foreign secretary to correctly assume that one country’s version of proper conduct is another country’s faux pas.  When traveling to foreign lands, one is encouraged to be a polite guest, as a guest you indeed are.  But while most befitting etiquette is universal (saying please and thank you would certainly come to mind), some countries have their own particular differences when it comes to good manners.

Here are a few examples of what may be deemed, depending upon your own origin, a blooper, gaffe, flub, transgression or social blunder.

China
When visiting the home of a Chinese individual or family, bringing them a small gift is appropriate. However, it is considered bad luck to give clocks as gifts to others, especially to older relatives. And although a lovely idea in other countries, pears do not make great gifts in China, especially on the 15th day of July, as you would be wishing the recipient a happy separation or divorce. Thus, pears should never be given to couples. It would be wise to avoid all pears in China.
When dining, the Chinese host who sits closest to the tea, beer, wine or any type of beverage is the one who pours for others. Like many customs, it is first offered to the most senior person at the table. You, as a guest, should not pour your own drink.
Using chopsticks requires a few pointers, and mostly “don’ts.” Don’t point with them, or gesture with them, or play with them in any fashion. Also, don’t lick them as you would a spoon or use them to stir any dish of food.

France

A glass of wine half-filled is considered appropriate when dining out or at a dinner party. It’s considered bad manners to fill a wine glass to the brim.
When dining, remember to keep your hands above the table.  Resting both hands in your lap is not appropriate.
When slicing cheese, don't cut off the point (or "nose" as it is called).
If you normally like coffee or tea with your dessert, you should know that it is customary in France to order these beverages after dessert has been eaten.
Eating on the street or “on the run” has generally been considered gauche in France, although you do see people nowadays drinking coffee while walking.

Italy

Similar to France, it is appropriate to keep your hands visible while dining. It is thought to be bad manners to rest them out of sight on your lap.
Also similar to France, most Italians do not have coffee before or with a meal, only after, as it is seen as a digestive.  And for those cappuccino lovers, order it only in the morning as you will show your naïveté in all things Italian if you order it after dinner. Order espresso instead.
As is customary in many countries if visiting someone’s home, do bring a small gift such as flowers or chocolates. It is appropriate to giftwrap them, but not in black and gold paper, which is used for funerals. Along those same lines, don’t bring chrysanthemums as a gift, as they are reserved for funeral services.

Greece
When traveling in Greece, it is fine to say the word “OK,” but don’t make the signal using your hand and finger. It is considered indecent to do so.And it’s OK (spoken, not signaled) to be 30 minutes late to someone’s home if you are invited for dinner. It’s actually the norm and you would be perceived as a conscientious guest and punctual.

Meet the IVHE.com Team – Fay Abrahamsson


Get to know a little more about each of the International Vacation Home Exchange team members.  In this post we have a fun interview with blogger and website editor Fay Abrahamsson, one of our newest colleagues.

What do you do at IVHE.com?
I write a variety of articles (blogs) for the IVHE.com website. Each week, I try to find topics related to travel, IVHE.com properties and destinations, and other subjects that will be of interest to IVHE.com members and those preparing for or setting off on an IVHE vacation. I also perform some general editing tasks for the IVHE.com site.

Tell us more about yourself
I’m an award-winning writer and editor who has spent most of her career writing for magazines, newspapers and online news sites. I have covered a variety of topics such as politics, education, environmental issues, crime, human interest, etc. In the past, I had a syndicated column called “In the Kitchen with Fay” that focused on cooking, recipes and entertaining. I believe my love of writing originates from a life-long love of books and reading. I have my mother to thank for all the times she read to me and drove me to our local library so I could pile my book bag to the top with my treasured reads. My favorite genre is fictional crime and mysteries and my favorite authors are Jeffrey Archer, John Grisham, Stuart Woods, James Patterson, Mary Higgins Clark, Sidney Sheldon and Sue Grafton, to name just a few. I especially love books that involve a series of continuing characters. It’s like sitting with an old friend when you read the next book in the series. Audio books are also my favorite. In addition, I formed a neighborhood book club. There are about 10 of us who meet every five weeks at one of our homes where we have a glass of wine, something to eat, and discuss our chosen book. Four years later, we are still going strong!  The majority of the books we’ve read are memorable, but the friendships we have formed are priceless.

Where do you call home?
Beautiful and historic Connecticut, USA, is where I reside with my husband and two Labrador Retrievers. We spend most of our free time renovating our house and taming our 3.75 acres of land. I was raised in Massachusetts and have lived in New Hampshire, New York, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia and Georgia.

Are there any properties or destinations that you keep dreaming about?
As some of my fellow IVHE.com colleagues have also noted, Paris is tops on my list. I’ve been to the City of Lights in the past, but the next time I go I want to live more like a Parisian. I think an IVHE.com city apartment is a great idea! I want to shop each day for bread, cheese and wine, and sit on my balcony and people-watch. My husband and I would also love to explore Prague, Venice, Switzerland and The Netherlands. We have travelled to the European countries of England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, France and Sweden; have explored parts of Mexico and Canada, and have traveled a good portion of the USA. While on vacation we love to explore off-the-beaten-path cafes and restaurants, art galleries and antique shops.

Name your favorite activity outside of work.
I enjoy cooking and hosting dinners at my home for friends and family, visiting local farmers’ markets and wineries, reading, and watching marathon TV series such as Downton Abbey, Mad Men, Mr. Selfridge and The Good Wife.

Any comments for our IVHE.com members?

I’d love to hear your suggestions for future articles!  Just “comment” on any of the blogs with your ideas for subjects you’d like me to write about. I’d love to hear from you. 

Do you dream of traveling the world?


Gary Voss, an experienced home exchanger, was recently interviewed by Jennie Carr at Silver Travel Advisors on their radio show in the United Kingdom.  Listen to the interview. 
Gary talks about the advantages of owning a vacation home but also how he and his wife, Wendy were initially hesitant in making the major purchase of a second home.  Once they found International Vacation Home Exchange, IVHE.com, they realised they can unlock the value in their second home and begin to travel the world.  Hear about how he and his family now enjoy new vacations through house swapping in various countries and new hear about further destinations that are on his bucket list
Gary also touches on how IVHE brings together a community of like-minded people, making travel affordable and opening up new destinations that they have only dreamed about.
Gary and Wendy own a lovely villa in Barbados which has become a favorite location amongst IVHE members.  The following is an extract of one of the comments left in the IVHE Guestbook about their villa Rainbow Coral. 
You can't be anywhere in this villa, and not hear the lovely music of the waves breaking. From most of the rooms, you have the views of the Caribbean Sea and a blue sky, and you may find yourself counting how many different shades of blue and green are before you.
The complex has a wonderful pool, set in a tropical garden. There is easy access to a secluded, white sand beach with some shade from the palm trees in the later afternoon.  The bus to most points on the island stops just outside the villa on the road, and exploring Barbados couldn't be easier--no need to rent a car at all.
We really enjoyed this villa, and couldn't quite get enough of sitting on the balcony, relaxing on the pretty wicker furniture, just listening to the waves and enjoying a rum punch or two as we were cooled by the ever present trade winds. The owner, Gary, called during our stay to ensure that we were having a great time, and that all was well. I highly recommend this property!

Cool New Travel Products


There are travel-related products available online that can make your vacation and the travel to and from your destination a bit easier, just like walking down “Easy Street.”  These products can help keep you safe, dry, warm and connected.
Here’s a quick look at some of the more interesting and innovative products to try:

A small, yet versatile Color-Coded Adapter from Flight001 will make finding and using the right adapter as easy as knowing four different colors:  Traveling to Sweden, Russia or Poland? You’ll need the green piece. Heading to USA, Brazil or China? You’ll need the blue piece. The adapter works in 150 countries. Cost: $25

A versatile Women’s Jacket that is lightweight, windproof, waterproof, breathable and stylish is hard to find! This “Vassan” style from Penfield fits the bill. It comes in an array of colors and has tons of pockets and a hood. This is the type of jacket that you’ll never want to leave at home. Cost: $170

Just for kids (or teens or seniors!) is this neat paper craft project that needs no scissors or glue to assemble! From the company called PaperPunk are dozens of innovative paper toys that your kids can transform from flat to 3D. It will keep them busy on long car trips or rainy days at the beach. Cost: in the $9-16 range per piece.

There are all sorts of ways to safeguard your money while traveling, one of which is hiding it in your own belt!  PacSafe makes a Cash-safe, Anti-Theft Travel Belt Wallet.  The belt is 1” wide, black, metal-free for airport ease, adjustable and will fit most figures and pant styles.  $17

With our love of tech products comes the need to keep them charged.  Nokia has invented a Portable Wireless Charging Plate that uses the new Qi technology. You place your smartphone on the pad for recharging. Imagine no cables snaking their way from one side of a café to the other! Cost: $70

Attention all foodies! No need to panic that you’ll have to live without your organic ginger or wasabi powder for 10 days. With the Mobile Foodie Survival Kit from Flight001, you have a tiny, travel-size set of 13 organic herbs and spices at your fingertips. About the size of an extra-long magic marker, this gourmet essential will hardly take up any room in your bag or carryon. Cost: $28


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