When in Quebec - A Home-Swap Story

Tonight, I am dreaming of Quebec. For some bizarre reason, Quebec has my heart. I am a Russian, who has settled in the south of the United States, so my passion for Quebec does appear strange, but the first time I set my nomadic foot in Montreal, I knew that I was in love. Just like in all matters of the heart, love - for the most part - cannot be explained. It's chemistry, and you just roll with it.

So I did. In August of 2013 I knew that we had to visit Quebec again. When fall is in the air, that sweet gnawing feeling accompanied by the spicy memories of maple-leaf aroma inevitably comes back to me - and I know - the time has come. Plus, my husband Chris told me that Supertramp was playing a show in Montreal in October, and the family council ruled, "We are heading to Quebec!"

I had been playing around with an idea of swapping homes for quite a while. We live in the south, on a golf course, nestled between Savannah, Georgia, and Jacksonville, Florida, and the pristine Georgia beaches are just a breezy 30-minute drive from our house. I knew that finding a home-swap partner would not be difficult. As a matter of fact, I believe that many of us can do it, but we are just a little bit too cautious about the whole thing. What? Letting strangers come to my house, sleep in my bed and pee in my toilet? Well, yeah, home swapping does involve all of the above, but it can also save you a lot of money. Plus, you will feel as if you actually lived in the place for some time. You will drive or walk to local stores, you will cook food in somebody else's kitchen, you will take your kids to nearby playgrounds to run around with neighbors' kids. In other words, you will get to live in somebody else's shoes for a few magical moments. If you are like me, and it makes your heart beat in ever-growing excitement, read on.

We joined www.homeexchange.com, and our experience was fantastic. The site does charge you 150 USD for annual membership, but if you are planning to travel at least once a year, it will save you a big chunk of change on accommodation. The site administration also vets all their members - that way you can rest assured that no scammers are involved in the whole process. When we found our "perfect couple" - Quebecois husband and wife who were willing to swap homes with us for 3 weeks in October, we were beyond happy. After meeting them on Skype and discussing details, we signed the contract that we had downloaded from the website and started packing!

On an unusually chilly for October Georgia morning, we threw our suitcases into our car and drove off into the adventure land. (Yes, we did drive from Georgia to Quebec for reasons that are too boring to mention here).

If you ever do find yourself driving this route, I would certainly recommend stopping at Lake George and Fort Ticonderoga. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Resort at Lake George, and the view of the crystal-clear lake that unfolds in front of your eyes when you wake up is so breathtaking, the air is so crisp and invigorating, you feel as if you are born again. The burgundy splashes of fall foliage contrasting the cool turquois skies will live in my heart forever - especially considering that our baby Max took his first timid steps in the room of that hotel!

After a long and exhausting 3-day drive, we finally arrived at our destination - a beautiful ski villa in Sainte-An