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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To the Land of Pippi

8.5.2017

We finished our time in Oslo toting all our gear along with us since we were catching the bus to Gothenburg, Sweden mid-day.


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Coffee was beckoning us, so we tried some at Stockfleths. I sat outside with the kiddos while the girls enjoyed a more quiet downstairs seating area with free wifi.

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Lunch was another kebab restaurant right near the city central and that’s where Natasha chased pigeons and Lincoln was assumed to be Norwegian by a local artist with a gallery there. She was chatting away to him and when she directed a question to me, I responded in English. She then exclaimed, “Oh! I was speaking Norwegian-he looks so Norwegian!”

The bus ride was approximately 3 1/2 hours long and memorable, to say the least. There were several young children and 3 of them screamed/cried/and didn’t nap for the majority of the ride. One of them, being our youngest. If Lincoln wasn’t crying, the one or two in front of us were alternately crying. Sometimes Lincoln and one of the other youngsters got into cahoots and decided to match tones simultaneously. It was one of those parenting moments when you don’t know whether to laugh or cry. I chose to laugh outwardly and cry inwardly. Lincoln finally fell asleep in the carrier, but wow. That bus ride wore me out.

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A rare calm moment on the bus.

Our arrival in Gothenburg was still eventful. The bus terminal is right next to a mall, so we left our luggage near a play area so Natasha could play, while Daniel went in search of groceries and the girls went in search of bathrooms. This in itself was quite a feat. The bathrooms required payment, but wouldn’t take credit card. That meant coins were needed, in the Swedish krone. However, since we just arrived, we didn’t have any and the mall bank ATM had just closed. They finally found a ATM which provided the needed $, but then had to purchase something in the mall to break down the cash. What an ordeal to simply use the WC! Meanwhile, my eyes were busy darting back and forth between our two piles of luggage, my two children, a random dog with its not-so-attentive owner, numerous other children and people who I felt were sitting too close to our bags. It was crazy.

I was so glad to see the girls and Daniel reappear and we quickly headed out to the bus to take us to our next AirBnB house. It was about 25 minutes outside of Gothenburg in the small village Kvisljungeby and so much more peaceful than the chaotic mall. We got off a bus stop too soon and it felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. We weren’t, but it did require extra walking to get to our house.

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Teamwork, folks. That’s how we carry groceries.

Thus, we met Sweden. The AirBnB house was so spacious compared to the tiny Oslo apartment; it was a welcome relief to spread out for our stay. Here’s a picture from later in our visit:

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24-ish Hours in Oslo: Norwegian Folk Museum

8.4.2017

Oslo’s Viking Ship Museum was something we thought we wanted to see. I mean, there aren’t any viking ships where I live in the States. However, once we made it to the museum, we realized it didn’t look like it was worth our 100 NOK ($12.50) to enter. Mind you, there are a few preserved viking ships housed there. You can see one from the gift shop right inside the door, as well as go up the stairs to see it from above for no cost.

If you decide to go though:

  •  Take the 30 bus towards Bygdøy from Rådhuset (City Hall) to Vikingskipshuset. Get off right there and stay on that side of the street. We mistakenly followed the signs with a ship on them that took us to the opposite side of the street and up the hill a ways. Save your walking for other sites and don’t repeat after us.
  • Tip: There are free bathrooms down one level, including a diaper changing station.

We decided to walk back to the previous bus stop (Folkemuseet) to the Folk Museum and we were all quite pleased with that decision as we got to see so much more for only a slightly higher entrance fee. (130 NOK for adults.)


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The very tidy, organized garden with defined borders is the French style. The more brambly, wild looking one in the background is the English style. I like them both.

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This was a schoolhouse with a traditional sod roof and it was used as recently as the 1960’s, which I found very interesting.

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The classroom was the main portion of the space inside and built into a back corner was a small room for the teacher as her living quarters.


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One of the main things we wanted to see while in Oslo was a Stave church. There is one right here on the museum property and it’s open to go inside for awe-inspiring architecture. It’s about 700 years old and covered in tar.

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Right nearby is a more intricately decorated storage shed I’ve ever seen anywhere. We paused for a picture in between rain clouds and dealt with a grumpy 7 year old. I tickled her to get her to smile for at least one picture.

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Photo by Maria

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As we meandered along, we caught some details of Scandinavian life years ago. There was a lefsa baking demonstration, and some folk dancing in one building. Typically the dancing is outside but was moved indoors because of the rain. Natasha enjoyed peeking into as many storage sheds as possible and climbing as many steps as she could. I liked the dairy barn and the quieter way of living represented. One thing we didn’t understand though was if the Vikings and their descendants were/are so tall, why are the doorways so short? :)

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Loved the swinging baby cradle.

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24-ish Hours in Oslo: The Fortress

8.4.2017

Akershus Fortress was our next destination since we were now powered up with caffeine. It’s a good thing too, since all fortresses seem to be built on a hill. Hmm…

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Photo by Melody

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There are guards who take their job pretty seriously, and in the case below, stared down at the youngster on the hillside until the trespasser climbed down the forbidden hill. 17-IMG_5501

We got our first group photo here. From left to right: Lyn, Melody, Maria (or Mia, as she is commonly known these days), me and half of Lincoln, Natasha and Daniel.

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Where did she learn to pose like this? #dramatic

 

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Photo by Natasha

Turns out we girls (and Lincoln) sat here an unnecessary length of time waiting on Daniel who was researching where to have lunch, when he simply wasn’t sure where we were. Ah well, Lincoln amused the other visitors with his cheesy grins.

 

 

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From here we headed to a kebab restaurant, one of the more cheaper options for eating out in Norway. Food is always a very good idea.

24-ish Hours in Oslo: First Up, Coffee

8.4.2017

Despite some of us not getting much rest during the night due to jet lag, we woke ready to tackle the day and first on our list to find was: Coffee. I just happened to read about Tim Wendelboe coffee on this blogpost and fortunately it wasn’t that far of a walk from our AirBnB apartment. It turned out to have the best coffee to date, from our travels in Norway and Sweden with the girls. No wonder; Tim Wendelboe has won numerous awards, including World Barista Champion in 2004. He was there at the shop when we stopped in this particular morning and our visit there was a highlight of our time in Oslo.

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Natasha requested her own cup of something, and Daniel ordered a cold brew coffee for her and me. It came in wine glasses. Just how classy is that?

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Photo by: LynnRaine

 

We were joking that we girls would want to do some shopping at some point because we like to take something home from the places we visit. Daniel said that buying stuff isn’t typically what he thinks of doing, however, after he purchased some coffee, he said, “Okay, I guess I do buy coffee.”
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The view from Tim Wendelboe’s Espresso Bar doorway

The next stop was for SIM cards at MyCall for those who wanted one. They are fairly reasonable here and makes communication between parties much easier when WiFi isn’t available. Turns out though that WiFi was fairly easy to find; almost every coffee shop, restaurant, mall, etc… seems to have a guest network.