Third Generation Intervac Home Exchange

Beltman the Founder to Beltman the Grandson

Beltman the Founder to Beltman the Grandson

We owe a lot to our organisers who have long been a devoted part of Intervac, Roel and Willemien Eissen among them. They have been responsible for excellent membership development in the Netherlands since 1978. Recently Roel, writing about our history, said:

You can read on our Faces of Intervac page, in 1953, there began formal contact between the Dutch National Teachers Union (NOV) and the Swiss Teachers Union (SLV). At various Congress-Meetings, Mr. Gerrit Beltman for NL and Mr. Lehmann for CH, go to know each other well and privately started to make home-exchange holidays.

This idea of home-exchange worked so well, they extended and developed it further to benefit the members of their Unions. Many successful holidays later this is the seed that has developed into our worldwide Intervac organisation.

All this has struck my mind again, after I had not thought about our history it for some time. However, it suddenly hit my attention when I had a pleasant telephone-conversation some weeks ago with one of our NL-members. The lady just told me, that her husband is a grandson of Mr. Beltman.

Home Exchange - A Family Way of Life.

“Not only has home exchange really enriched our lives with many nice contacts and stories of holidays, friendships, but I am also very pleased to know that the name Beltman is still enthusiastically being used inside Intervac.”

If you are in Spain, France, Italy, South Africa or USA and you are interested in exchanging with our now-famous first-family in the Netherlands, here is a link to their listing.

Reasons to Visit: Bury St. Edmunds

Greene King Brewery Tour

Photo Credit: karen_roe Greene King Brewery Tour 28-07-2011

You might be curious as to why I would want to introduce you to Bury St. Edmunds? It’s a small town in Suffolk and just because the innimitable Bob Hoskins was born there in 1942, or the world premier of Charlie’s Aunt was staged there in 1892, or even further back, in 1818 John Orridge was asked to advise the Empress of Russia on the subject of the ideal prison, and besides all the fascinating historical bits to be explored; I’ll be honest and tell you it was mostly the happy smile on my face when I read that the sensible voters of this town elected (with a majority vote) the Abolish Bury Town Council Party to the Town Council. Yes, folks, that’s via Wikipedia and it’s an admirable act of political silliness that should not go unrewarded.

So, I started looking for more fun and silliness and was not disappointed.

The Clandestine Cake Club

Holy Torte, Batman, The Clandestine Cake Club is a dream come true, and I’d say the Bury St. Edmunds chapter qualifies as a reason to visit. Be still my growling stomach, it looks like the chapter in Bury St. Edmunds is a public one, so maybe, if you contact the organizer you could bring a cake and attend a meeting. A great way to make some new friends. You know, having your cake and tasting theirs too.

Turns out they have chapters worldwide which is making me hungry just thinking about it. Have a look at their Pinterest Board if you dare and then find (or start) a chapter near you.

The Nutshell

The discussion rages on, but according to The Nutshell it’s official: The Guiness Book of World Records says it is the smallest pub in all of Britain. And who cares that I couldn’t find a source link because what’s a good pub without some good gossip and a little gossipy press? It’s not easy to be the owners of such a small bar. The decisions one must make are gargantuan.

To round things out and prove that small must not be lacking The Nutshell has, as every world-class pub must have, a gossipy rumor that it is haunted by a young boy who died there. It is very bad luck to touch the mummified cat hanging above the bar. Trust me, folks, there’s stories, there’s proof. I’m not touching a mummified anything - ewwww.

The Nutshell in Bury St. Edmunds is a No-Miss on any trip to Suffolk.


  • The Christmas Fayre is coming soon : November 27-30, 2014 - Over 300 stalls, world market, stage and street entertainment.
  • Bury St. Edmunds Festival : May 16-19, 2015 (unconfirmed) - 10 days of music, theatere, film and art.
  • And has more here…

More About Bury St. Edmunds

Are You Thinking Suffolk Is Beyond Your Budget?

Here are more possible home exchange partners in Suffolk.

Log in if you would like to contact the owners of these listings. If you’re not already a member - Do join Intervac today. We’d love to visit your home town.

A Reason to Visit: Athens

Athens - Modern Mythos

Photo Credit: deepstereo - Untitled street art (2013) • photo

Art - And By That I Mean Street Art

I know, me too. When I think of Athens I think of ancient art; statues of old faces without noses, scantily clad women with wings and dogs. Clichés, I know, but there they are. Clever travelers know the truth about clichés - they are only a starting point; a reason to get out of the house.

Athens street art scene started in the 90s but since the financial crisis it’s taken off. The creativity hums in the streets and the art that is being made while we sit here, reading and writing, is exciting, thought-provoking, social, political, authentic and life-affirming.

Street art in Athens

photo credit: (left) the euskadi 11 - cc - cropped • (right): Dimitris Kamaras - cc

Street art puts a new face on “old rocks”. Oh, it leaves the rocks stacked by the ancients and mythological rocks pretty much alone, but the buildings on the street, those are taking on a modern patina.

“Graffiti ultimately wins out over proper art because it becomes part of your city, it’s a tool; “I’ll meet you in that pub, you know, the one opposite that wall with a picture of a monkey holding a chainsaw”. I mean, how much more useful can a painting be than that?” ― Banksy, Banging Your Head Against a Brick Wall

Street art in Athens

photo credit: the euskadi 11 - cc

Is street art Greek to you? Ever wonder why in the world…, and who would want to…? Don’t quite know how to appreciate an art form about which that most iconic of street artists once said:

“People look at an oil painting and admire the use of brushstrokes to convey meaning. People look at a graffiti painting and admire the use of a drainpipe to gain access.” ― Banksy, Wall and Piece.

Street art in Athens

photo credit: Bryce Edwardscc

Curious For More?

Here is an opportunity for anyone curious about street art and the people who make it: Discover the Streets with a Street Art Guided Tour from Alternative_Athens. Your guide achilles speaks super English and is a street artist himself. His walking tour lasts 3 hours and you can be very sure that you’ll experience Athens in a way your friends, who spent all their time cruising museums and ruins didn’t. Learn more about contemporary Greek society first hand. Discuss their politics, their worldview, ask questions and get personal answers from the streets.

And when you get back, please write to me and tell me how you liked it, what you learned and what surprised you the most.

Are You Thinking Athens Is Beyond Your Budget?

Here are some possible home exchange partners in Athens.

Log in if you would like to contact the owners of these listings. If you’re not already a member - Do join Intervac today. We’d love to visit your home town.

More About Street Art in Athens

Meeting Belgium's Member Advisory Board

Meeting the Belgian Member Advisory Board

Photo credit: Jempi and Yolande de Cooman (Intervac BE) + the Belgian Member Advisory Board

On Saturday I had the very great pleasure of sitting together with Intervac Belgium’s Member Advisory Board for coffee and lunch. They were in Stuttgart on a weekend getaway to exchange ideas in a relaxing setting, do some sightseeing and they didn’t even think of letting strikes at the Deutsche Bahn get in the way.

We agreed to meet at 9:30 in the morning at a bistro nearby. The owners were very kind and agreed to open early just for us and to cook us a wonderful Käsespätzle lunch. We got started very nearly on time even though most of our group had to take the scenic route to a neighboring village and then on to our meeting place by car and foot. They were real troopers!

We chatted a long time about their needs and wishes for our online system, how to make this blog something useful for our members, but also for those of you who don’t know much about home exchanging. They told me stories of welcome gifts from partners and friendships sealed by nice touches and common experience.

Looking for an Amsterdam Weekend Exchange?

Lies Thru a Lens by danrocha via photopin

Photo credit: danrocha - Lies Thru a Lens

If you are, our member Patrice Grellet has a recommendation for you.

Bonjour, J’ai effectué récemment un échange avec Bob Stevens et de la famille NL0342. Tout s’est très bien passé. Leur appartement à Amsterdam est très confortable, paisible (avec un très beau jardin), à une distance raisonnable du centre ville (transports très pratiques). Je le recommande pour un long week-end aux Pays-bas. GRELLET Patrice (FR080584)

And once again, this time in English.

Hello, I recently made ​​an exchange with Bob Stevens and family NL0342. Everything went very well. Their apartment in Amsterdam is very comfortable, quiet (with a beautiful garden) and a reasonable distance from the city center (very convenient transportation). I recommend it for a long weekend in the Netherlands.

BBC Home Swap TV Series

Hey GB Members, you may be interested in following this up!

A new BBC television series is looking for sociable people who want to try out a home swap in a great British location.

Do you live in a lovely home or in a terrific location? Would you like to swap your property to have a memorable experience in a fantastic part of Britain? If you’d like to taste superb local cuisine and take part in fabulous activities that go beyond the guide book, then we want to hear from you!

For an application form or just an initial chat please email Kieran McCarthy (the assistant producer) at with your contact details or call us on 07944 794 088

The closing date is 31 Aug, 2014

First Exchange - Two Weeks in Amsterdam

Inscrit en octobre 2013, nous venons d'effectuer nos 2 premiers échanges d'une semaine chacun, mais consécutifs, à Amsterdam. En tant que nouveaux venus, le site Intervac, la fonctionnalité du site ainsi que les quelques échanges par mail avec lntervac France ont parfaitement répondu à nos attentes et questions qui se sont posées au fur et à mesure de la mise en place de ces deux échanges consécutifs. Les 2 échanges se sont extrémement bien déroulé, deux très belles semaines en famille au Pays-Bas. Nous nous questionnions depuis plusieurs années sur la possibilité d'échanges de maison, nous avons franchi le pas en octobre 2013, et maintenant, nous nous demandons pourquoi nous ne l'avons pas fait avant! - Arnaud et Gaëlle (FR1000492)

An English Translation…

We joined Intervac in October 2013 and we have just made our first two exchanges of one week each. They were consecutive exchanges with familes in Amsterdam. As newcomers to the Intervac website we are fully satisfied with the site's functionality. We have also exchanged a few emails with Intervac France and received help and answers to our questions. This also fully met our expectations. Our two exchanges went extremely smoothly and we enjoyed two beautiful weeks with families in the Netherlands. We we questioned for several years whether or not to try the possibility of exchangeing our home. We made ​​the leap in October 2013, and now we wonder why we have not done before!

Exchange Agreements - Continued

Step 3 in the exchange agreement process explained.

Step 3 in the exchange agreement process explained.

Today, we’re continuing the in-depth FAQ section about the exchange agreement process.

Today’s addition is a new article on sending and reviewing exchange terms. Click on over and let me know if you have questions or suggestions for improvements.

The final installment: Signing Your Exchange Agreement is already in draft form and I hope to have it out to you all early next week. Thanks for reading and please let me know in the comments any time you have questions.