Being a homestay host is a great opportunity to meet travellers from all over the world. You get to share your hometown, culture and customs while learning about those of your guest. This is certainly true for our Japanese host Tomoko who has been hosting guests for the last six years.
She has stayed in contact with many of her guests after forming friendships with them during their time in her Tokyo homestay. Indeed the bond between host and guest is so strong that Tomoko's daughter even became engaged to one of the guests who stayed with them in their home.
Tomoko recently visited Europe to celebrate her daughter's engagement and visited many of her previous guests while she was there.
I started my trip in Bordeaux, a city renowned for its fabulous wines but also the city where my daughter calls home right now while she finishes her studies. Having recovered from the long flight from Tokyo, I met with Nicole, a former guest who stayed with her sisters and her niece almost two years ago.
It was great to catch up with her, I’ve visited her sister in Paris twice and her niece has stayed with us twice but it was our first time visiting Nicole in her hometown!
We met up in a cafe in central Bordeaux, which happened to be the exact spot that my daughter and her fiancé went after he had proposed to her! They didn’t realise that until a few minutes before leaving. How could they forget? Nicole was so nice and we had a great time getting together again.
It was great to be able to visit Nicole and see her in her own town as she had experienced with our family in Tokyo. During our time in Bordeaux, my daughter and her fiancé Florian, a former homestay guest of ours from France, showed me their favourite parts of the city and all the local sights. It was fantastic to see them for myself and to be able to discover the local culture.
Our next stop was Vienna. It was just beautiful! I found it to be full of grandeur and culture, it was simply magnificent. We were fascinated and enchanted by the city, especially the abundance of art and music. The highlight of Vienna for me was definitely watching a live ballet performance, something I'd always wanted to see.
After Vienna, we returned to Paris before venturing on to Strasbourg. Taking TGV train from Paris Gare de l'Est to Strasbourg was an impressive experience. As soon as we stepped on the platform of the station, we were greeted by Richard with a warm, big smile.
He had stayed with us some time ago and we've stayed in touch ever since. It was brilliant to see him again in person.
Richard drove us to his house, where his family welcomed us with a homemade black forest gâteau, a cake made using a liquor from home-grown herbs. It was delicious! Richard took us on a tour of his town and also another local village up the hillside. It was great to discover all the little villages and to see the spectacular views from the top.
It was something you would never get to experience unless you were with a local.
Richard made a lovely dinner, the specialty of the region which was good to try. We had a great time talking, drinking and sharing our memories from the days we spent together in Japan. Everything was superb! We feel so grateful that we could meet such nice people through Homestay.com.
We took advantage of being in Strasbourg to meet up with another guest, Lena, who had stayed with us twice before. It was fantastic for her to show us around her hometown and to catch up in person.
We celebrated our reunion at her home over a glass of European beer after Lena showed her favourite parts of the city. Lena even has a cat “Mochi” which she named after Japanese sweets, he's simply adorable.
After a brilliant time in Strasbourg, we then made our way back to Paris to see Ornella who stayed with us for a month last summer. She’s so funny and a great Japanese speaker. She took us to a cafe in the Marais district. Its decor was so interesting with thousands of old posters and signs all over the walls. They served huge pieces of cakes, so huge that most of the customers there can't even finish them.
After some delicious nibbles, Ornella took us shopping which was another highlight of our time in Paris.
We wrapped up our rendezvous with Japanese cuisine in the heart of Paris near Opéra. We’d a fantastic time and will definitely visit her again!
Apart from catching up with all the guests, the main purpose for my trip was always my daughter's engagement party where I would meet her fiancé Florian's extended family and celebrate with them. This main event took place in Nice on the Côte d'Azur in the south of France.
My husband flew all the way from Japan just for the celebration so he met us after our travels and we made our way to Nice as a family.
Florian's family gave us the warmest welcome as usual. It always feels like we're meeting old friends every time we see them. The celebration took place in the family's villa and we were all excited to celebrate the coming together of our two families.
My daughter wore a traditional Kimono to mark the occasion which Florian's family particularly enjoyed. I even took special lessons to be able to dress her in the Kimono for the party! It was a fantastic event and a great occasion that saw us bring our two families and cultures together.
Being a host family opens a door to the world you could never know or experience in your everyday life! It enriches your day, brings you fun, happiness and makes you feel needed in a meaningful way.
I'm always asked about becoming a homestay host and I would definitely recommend signing up if you have extra room. It really works for me and it might bring you some unexpected luck as it did my daughter meeting her future husband Florian!
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