Magical! That's the best way I can describe this exchange as well as this family in one word. This is what home exchange is all about...here are all the reasons:
1. It started when another exchange of ours cancelled. I had carefully researched that one to find a place where we could have some very low-key, relaxed family time while one of us recovered from a medical procedure. We had guests staying at our place and had to figure something out. The fairly last minute cancellation was one day before Denise posted on PLU offering her home as a hospitality stay for someone who wanted to care for their chickens. Perfect! So generous and the timing was meant to be!
2. It was terrible weather in Europe and it rained every day. And this exchange was so lovely, it didn't even matter! The Dissman home is so warm. We loved their chickens. There are gigantic windows (the photos don't even do it justice) with gorgeous views of the hills. Their wood burning stove is so very cozy. They have board games and a poker set that we ended up playing daily, the best walk in shower, an awesome bean-to-cup coffee machine, and a huge Samsung the Frame TV. There was nothing more we could have wanted.
3. Every wall is filled with beautiful things, especially Denise's own paintings. Truly, it felt like every inch of this place was oozing with the life and love of this family. We didn't meet in person and yet by the end, they felt like good (old) friends and I know when we meet it will feel like a reunion.
4. Their town of Gummersbach has never been on our radar and I can't imagine we would have ever had the opportunity to go there without Denise's suggestion. This exchange gave us the chance to explore a region that is so pretty in fall and is so close to so many cities (Cologne, Bonn, Dusseldorf, etc), but really nice on its own also. Frank even got us tickets to a handball match that was so exciting, we were screaming in the stands. Pretty sure we were the only tourists in Gummersbach that weekend - not many other ways that one can experience this without exchanging.
5. Denise has put together the most comprehensive and insightful home manual I have ever seen, and I say this after 20+ years of home exchanging... It has about 50 pages of EVERYTHING you could want - restaurants, activities, detailed day trips, city favorites, shops, German ways of living - there was nothing she didn't help us with. There was even a comprehensive guide to home exchanging and a huge promo for PLU in case they have guests who aren't on the site yet :)
I am probably taking up all the space on the PLU reviews page so will round this off, even though there is so much more I can say. But the last point is that Denise, Frank and their kids are some of the warmest and kindest people we have met and we are so grateful to have stayed here! If you get the chance to go there, take it!