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Norfolk Home Exchange Offer - Your Thoughts?

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Nov 29th, 2011, 09:02 AM
  #1
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Norfolk Home Exchange Offer - Your Thoughts?

We're discussing a possible home exchange with a couple from Norfolk, VA for a month sometime in the spring or fall. I understand the summer is hot and humid.

What months would be the best time to visit?

Is there enough to keep two travelers busy for a month? Is the town interesting in itself or will we find ourselves always in a car doing day trips somewhere?

We enjoy museums, pretty walks, love to look at architecture, interesting restaurants, historical sites, meandering around and doing things at a very leisured pace. Not particularly beach people at all. One day looking at the beach would suffice. Nor are we shoppers so if there is an outlet mall nearby, we are not interested.

Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks very much.

Annetti
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Nov 29th, 2011, 11:06 AM
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I passed through Norfolk in the fall, late October, and the weather was nice. They have a beautiful zoo. Norfolk is about an hour from Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown. That could keep you busy for a day or two. It is also about 2 hours from Washington, DC. We parked in Old Town Alexandria and took the Metro into DC.
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Nov 29th, 2011, 06:43 PM
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Thank you, gardendiva. Anyone else out there to continue the discussion?
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Nov 30th, 2011, 05:50 AM
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I like Norfolk but I wonder how you chose it. If I was going to spend a month in a small Virginia city I might choose Charlottesville or Alexandria over Norfolk but I'm not you.

What neighborhood is the house in? My first choice would be Ghent. It's a cute neighborhood and close to some of the shopping and restaurant areas. You'll want to visit the zoo, Nauticus (the marine museum), the botanical garden (especially if you come when the azaleas are in bloom.) You can take a boat across to Portsmouth and take day trips to Virginia Beach, the Eastern Shore, Williamsburg, and Richmond.

Norfolk has some good restaurants, Richmond has more.

The best time to come would be the end of April and beginning of May or October.

I hope Judy sees this. She could comment more on the city.
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Nov 30th, 2011, 08:47 AM
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Birdie, Thank you for your thoughts. Home exchange is not like choosing a hotel where one can pick the exact location, thus one often ends up in a city or place that is off the tourist radar. So though another city or town might be a better choice, it may not be on offer for an exchange.
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Nov 30th, 2011, 09:47 AM
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I thought that may be the case annetti. I think Norfolk would be a good base to explore this part of the country from. Where are you from? If you haven't been in the south for the azaleas, then spring would probably be the best time for you to come.
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Nov 30th, 2011, 10:50 AM
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Thank you, Birdie. We're from Southern California. Have seen so little of the US South, just a couple days in Williamsburg and DC as a child. Spring sounds nice; and Southern Calif looks great at that time of the year. Everything is still green from the winter rains and the weather is nice as well, so that may appeal to our prospective home exchangers.
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Dec 1st, 2011, 05:11 AM
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Hi annetti, can you tell us where the home is in Norfolk? As Birdie noted, that can make a difference. If you'd like to e-mail the address to me (my e-mail address is on my profile) I'm happy to drive by and let you know what the neighborhood looks like.

I would add the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk and the Contemporary Art Museum in Virginia Beach to Birdie's list of attractions. The Virginia Arts Festival is in May http://www.vafest.org/2012/index.php as well as some good outdoor art shows.
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Dec 1st, 2011, 05:23 AM
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annetti, if you end up coming to Norfolk, keep posting and we'll be happy to help you with day trips, restaurants, etc. I don't come to the US forum a lot but if it's tagged Virginia, I usually find the post eventually.
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Dec 1st, 2011, 09:32 AM
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Hi Judy and Birdie, The couple live in Larchmont; they tell us they are near Old Dominion University, and often walk along the Lafayette River. Do you know the neighborhood? Judy, thanks for your offer and the additional information.
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Dec 1st, 2011, 10:25 AM
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annetti, Larchmont is a very nice residential neighborhood. We have some friends who live there. The homes are mostly older on fairly large lots and many are on the Lafayette River.

Does a car come with the exchange? Norfolk does not have terrific public transportation and many of the places you'll want to see are in nearby cities. I know that there is a bus line between ODU and downtown Norfolk but that would be pretty limiting if that's your only choice!
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Dec 1st, 2011, 10:39 AM
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Thanks, Judy. The pictures look very nice. No car exchange, but we plan on renting one.

Now waiting on some more details to make a decision, but definitely leaning towards accepting. I see Norfolk has an international airport, but no direct flights from LAX. The only connecting flights leave LAX at 6am or 7am, way too early for us. How far are we from Wash DC? Would that work , flying into DC and then take a train or rent a car from there?
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Dec 1st, 2011, 10:40 AM
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annetti - someone has home exchange quesitions:

http://www.fodors.com/community/fodo...s-418915-2.cfm
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Dec 1st, 2011, 11:04 AM
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DC is about a 3 1/2 hour drive from Norfolk. You'd be better off driving than taking the train as right now I don't think the train comes any closer than Newport News....if you get a ticket to Norfolk, they bus you from there! I've heard that's changing but not sure when.

The only "international" flights in or out of Norfolk are charters to the Caribbean.

As I'm typing this I'm reminded of how transportation challenged this area is!
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Dec 1st, 2011, 11:41 AM
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Judy, Thanks again.I've checked out one flight travel site - the odd thing is that it is about $150 or so cheaper to fly directly to Norfolk per person(with a plane change) than to fly directly to DC. And that is not adding on the cost of driving (both physically and monetarily) to Norfolk from DC. I just hate getting to LAX by 4 or 5am, not to mention what time we'd have to wake up to fly in to Norfolk. Oh well, jumping the gun. I have not confirmed the exchange, yet. Will worry about it later.
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Dec 1st, 2011, 11:43 AM
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BTW, Judy if you want to talk about a transportation challenged area - consider LA in the running for bad transport, though it is improving. . .
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Dec 1st, 2011, 11:46 AM
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DebitNM- Thank you for thinking of me as the resident Fodor's home exchange expert. The poster has posted the question on two different boards. Someone else alerted me to his/her question on the Travel Tips Board. I made some suggestions then.
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Dec 1st, 2011, 12:47 PM
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You are still my go to gal should I work up the nerve to house exchange; you are my hero!
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Dec 1st, 2011, 05:54 PM
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Thank you, DebitNM. I think New Mexico would be very attractive for home exchanging. Consider it. Go on some of the websites suggested like www.intervac.net or www.homelink.org You can see the offerings as a visitor. The names and addresses are blocked, but the pictures and locations can be seen.

Home exchanging in general has been pretty terrific, though like all things, not every exchange has been perfect. You are still dealing with people and people as we know are not always kind and reliable. No serious problems, just occasional annoyances in 2 or 3 cases, but out of 24 exchanges that's pretty good numbers.
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Dec 1st, 2011, 06:31 PM
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annetti, have you checked Southwest? They fly into ORF from LAX.
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