How We AirBnB

I started listening to the podcast “How I Built This” back in June when I was taking Lincoln to and fro baby survival swimming lessons. Finally I had discovered a podcast that was interesting to me and that I could glean an unknown tidbit to share with Daniel (who seems to have already heard about everything) at mealtime. One of my favorite episodes was when the host, Guy Raz, interviewed the founder of AirBnB. We have been using lodgings from AirBnB since our first time to Europe in 2013 and the story of how Joe Gebbia and his business partner first started this slightly unusual and strange idea of renting out your own room/apartment/home was fascinating to me. Their idea was originally based around renting a bed out during conferences when hundreds of people would be flooding a town for an event. Never did they expect it to grow as it has. Remember, this was back when staying with strangers you met online was a little shady and plain…weird. But somehow, it has become common place and a growing venture all around the world.

Some of the locations we’ve stayed at are apartments attached to the owner’s home, or are completely separate apartments, or full homes as in the case here in Sweden. It was a spacious house in a quiet neighborhood and we felt right at home.


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One of the main features an AirBnB offers is the ability to cook our own meals. When doing serious site-seeing during the day, we do breakfast and supper at the apartment/house and try to keep our dining out to one meal a day which would be lunch.

However, AirBnB’s are consistently inconsistent with how well their kitchens are stocked. As an example, the apartment we stayed at in Paris had the best knives we’ve ever used. In fact, Daniel bought the exact one they had once we got back to the States to have for ourselves. We credited the fine cookware in the Paris apartment to it being…Paris! But the apartment our friends stayed in Paris just last year was quite the opposite and they had to go out and purchase a paring knife for their stay!  So over the years we’ve learned to bring a few of our personal kitchen’s favorites if possible.

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Tips for Making your AirBnB even more like home:

  • Bring your favorite kitchen utensils if possible. Daniel brought his own coffee grinder (similar one here) and I brought two of my favorite rubber spatulas. If we weren’t packing so minimally with carry-ons only, we would have brought our chef knife and a vegetable peeler. That was a plus about driving to Canada last fall: we could take otherwise hazardous and sharp objects along with us.
  • I’m not sure what it is with Europe, but in my experience, they don’t have washcloths. Take note, if that’s what you typically wash with or use in the States. There may be a larger sized towel-ish type of cloth, but nothing similar to a typical washcloth, in a reasonable size, ie: not hand towel size that slaps across your back like a beach towel. If anyone has any insight on this fact, I’d love to know about it. Let me know in the comments: What do Europeans use to wash their face with?! Why are there no hand-sized washcloths in the bathrooms?
  • Netflix is our main entertainment in the evenings if we aren’t tuckered out at the end of the day. Currently our show of choice is “Anne with an E.” We sometimes have to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) or a SSH (Secure Shell) connection to make Netflix think we’re still in the States. If we want to use the larger TV screen at the AirBnB, Daniel likes to bring along an HDMI cable to connect the laptop to the TV.
  • Most grocery stores in Europe do not provide grocery bags for free. So it’s nice to have a largish bag of some sort that you can take empty to the store and fill it with your groceries after paying.
  • Speaking of groceries, enter, our go-to AirBnB dessert recipe: Decadent Flourless Brownies. We often want something sweet in the evenings, but may not have an entire cupboard full of baking ingredients. Cocoa, sugar, butter and eggs are all you need for this recipe and are typically items that don’t cost much and can be used up fairly quickly.
  • For us Americans who use Fahrenheit, remember that 176° Celsius is approximately 350° Fahrenheit.
  • Supper meals are kept pretty simple when we’re gone during the day and come back starving because we walked 6+ miles. Basically it’s a meat, a starch and a vegetable. We like to buy groceries day by day so we can keep track of how much we have and don’t overbuy. I hate wasting food and having to throw it out on our last day because we didn’t eat it all. It’s best to buy things that will for sure be used in one meal and be very realistic with how much food you and your group will eat. #noleftovers
  • Meal ideas include:
    • Ground beef with spaghetti sauce, instant rice (or pasta, if you prefer) and a frozen vegetable such as broccoli.
    • A new meal we loved with the girls in Norway and Sweden was Thai Curry. We used chicken or ground beef and made a sauce with a can of coconut milk and a couple spoonfuls of Red Thai Curry paste. We served it with sliced cucumbers, shredded cabbage (find the smallest possible!), green onions, cilantro and lime over instant rice.
    • If you have extra of those fresh items, you can use them for a taco flavored meal the next evening. Just add cheese, salsa and fresh tomatoes. Maybe even a bag of chips if you can eat them all.
    • We also like chicken thighs, cut up and served with a butter/white wine sauce and fresh sauteed mushrooms. Again, served with instant rice. (It’s fast, what can I say?)
    • Sweet potato hash with some sausage and a fried egg on top is divine. One of my favorite dishes ever.
    • Fish doesn’t require a long cooking time and is very tasty served with rice, fresh lemon juice and a side veggie. OR, try fish tacos with leftover green onions and cabbage. You can make a nice sauce with some yogurt and lime juice.
    • We use a lot of frozen vegetables since they don’t require any washing, chopping or dicing come supper time.

 

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The granola pictured here wasn’t used in the brownie recipe I mentioned. Just to clarify. It makes a simple breakfast paired with some thick, creamy, Turkish-style yogurt though.

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Check out the fridge (on the left) and the freezer (on the right) in our Swedish kitchen.

  • If we’re staying somewhere more than just a couple nights, we always try to get a house with a washing machine. A dryer isn’t as important for us since we seem to be pros at shrinking all our clothes when we get too close to one. But yes. Look for washing machines when searching for a good AirBnB.

This particular washing machine (on the bottom in the picture below) had us all stumped for a while. We searched high and low, literally, for detergent and could not find any. There were no boxes or containers in the cupboards and I couldn’t imagine our host not having any on hand to wash their own clothes. Eventually a little door near the floor on the washer was discovered and voilà! Detergent already IN the washer. Daniel then used a YouTube video from the company, explaining how to program it using the pre-loaded detergent and we started our first load.

This upright freezer looking box was a clothes dryer as well, but one where you just drape the clothes over the rods and hot air blows down from the top. Just close the door and let it heat.
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My laundry helper.

Any other tips you would include for staying at an AirBnB?

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Doing the Lasts

The last week in New Zealand had come. We were doing all the things we usually did, but for the last time. It was fun; full of laughter and smiles, but with a foreboding feeling of “this is ending.” Of course, we had an exciting trip home to look forward to, with a lot more new firsts, but the truth was, we were really going to miss New Zealand.

So we filled the last few days with things we wanted to do again, or even for the first time, like touring the Pic’s Peanut Butter Factory. It was a really fun little tour, with the best tour guide ever. Unfortunately we didn’t take any pictures. :(

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Following the factory tour we had to have fish and chips one last time at the beach. Of course, with more L & P to drink.

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The following day was Saturday, and the last chance to visit Nelson’s Farmer’s Market. It turned out to be a lovely day and Maria and I got some shopping done for gifts and such to take home.

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We tasted the carmalised almonds and crepes too.

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We had walked past this bead shop many a time, but had never gone in. Oh my goodness…thousands and thousands of beads of ALL types in there!

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It was coming to the end of the winter poppies, but they were still beautiful at the base of the Cathedral’s hill.

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Back home, I decided to try a new recipe for supper and of course, needed about 4 more hands to get everything done in time for our company. Good thing there were 4 extra hands ready and willing to help.

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Our company was Steve and Sharon, who we met at church many weeks before. It was another fun evening with Kiwi friends.

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Kiwi Food and Playground Fun

After returning from our road trip, we basically stuck close to home and did some fun stuff in Nelson. One of those things was trying Hokey Pokey ice cream, which is a Kiwi classic. Lydia says it tastes like Lucky Charms, when in fact, it’s “gold nuggets” of honeycomb stirred into vanilla ice cream. Note the picture of Pancake Rocks on the front:02-033
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Wes specifically looked up which grocer might have a dairy-free option, and I simply loved the container of what he found. Plus, the contents were mighty tasty too.

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I had this funny hankering for peanut butter and I think it might have stemmed from us passing the Pic’s factory a few times coming in and out of Nelson. Indeed, this hit the spot. No need to only enjoy it here though, they ship to the USA!03-030

Another popular Kiwi thing is L & P carbonated beverage. It’s a lemon flavored pop, similar to Sprite or something, but I think it tastes more lemony and “real”. I like how the website describes it as, “World famous in New Zealand.” :) We paired it with some fish and chips at the Nelson beach, before heading to the playground for some playing.06-001
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It might look like Natasha is doing the sole job of holding Myah up, but Lydia was literally about a foot away with her arm out to grab Myah. Neither girl was very stable and specifically when slightly “attached” as in a hug, any secure feelings quickly leave.
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Daniel and Wes had some fun too…
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En Route to the South

We did a lot of driving on our second day out and about. It was raining most of the ride but we still saw fantastic scenery. Of which I am not posting pictures of, because pictures from moving cars are not high quality. So here we have a few “stills” from the journey southward.

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Repeated listening to audio books in the back seat of our car, while Myah’s car seat repeatedly slid sideways on the many curves in Wes and Lydia’s car.01-017

 

Our chivalrous men fixing supper in another Holiday House in Te Anau, while we girls did laundry and warmed up by the cozy wood stove. This meal, I must say, was delicious. Wes even grilled schnitzel out in the rain.

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In Which We Receive Visitors

The day had arrived. Daniel’s sister Lydia and her husband and our niece came all the way down to see us and our adopted country. After they were kind-of-sort-of revived from lack of sleep (but not jet lag!) from a crazy journey and multiple flights, we showed them the town of Nelson. We started with some cherry blossoms at Fairfield House08-016

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Basically, we just wandered around taking pictures of everything. :)03-006

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Afterwards we headed downtown and while the little ones sat nicely in the trailer, the guys bought us hot pies which we had for our supper.

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They’re filled with meat mince, and you can get some with steak, mince and cheese, chicken and cranberries, etc… Just take them home (in a slightly frozen state) and heat them in the oven till nicely browned and toasty. It’s a Kiwi thing! 12-043