9 Ways to Make Your Temporary Renters Love You

We’ve chosen to stay at a series of rental apartments on this trip, especially since Lizzie is with us (second room is necessary for all to sleep well) and we like the ability to cook simple meals in order to skip going out all the time. Okay, and I also like being able to keep a Coke Zero and some non-alcoholic beer cold at all times. We stayed in lovely places each time, but we learned a few things about how a given host/hostess could improve a stay. In no particular order, here’s how to make your short-term renters love their stay.

1. Don’t take too long with introducing them to the place: Your guests are probably tired from their journey, even if it was merely an hour on a train. They want to take off their shoes and have a drink. Show them the various rooms, where dishes are stored, and any quirks (e.g. The TV doesn’t respond to the remote so you’ll need to turn it on via this button. You must close the shutters if the wind picks up or you’ll regret it!) Ask if they have any pressing questions before you leave and be sure to indicate if they should text, email, or send a homing pigeon with further questions.

2. Leave a detailed list of instructions and helpful information – in both the local language and English: Include at least the procedure for checking out/leaving the apartment, any house rules – even if posted on the listing website, and a list of numbers guests would need an in emergency (fire, paramedics, local doctor, pharmacy). Other things we’ve liked are a list of local shops and restaurants our host enjoys, pamphlets for local attractions, how to decipher the laundry machine’s symbols, and a TV channel guide.

3. Clearly post WiFi connection information: Including it in an instruction booklet, posting on the wall in an obvious location, or leaving a tent card are all great ways to do this. (3.b. would be to offer WiFi, even if slow or a limited number of hours it’s on. Few are looking to do work but will probably want to save their International data plan for directions rather than Facebook before bed.)

4. Provide ability to do laundry: This doesn’t mean you have to have a washing machine in the room or even have your guest pay you to do a load, but make sure guests know how they can get their laundry done. Maybe a woman in your village does laundry part time or there’s a laundromat nearby? If no dryer – and, yes, we understand why having a dryer is very rare in Europe – have a clothesline or drying rack guests can use and plenty of clothespins.

5. Fill soap dispensers with hand soap: Not providing toothpaste and shampoo is normal, but guests won’t have to worry about where their body wash is in the suitcase the first time they want to wash their hands after the restroom.

6. Have a guestbook: Places with one will seem more like you’re having guests at your home, not just taking advantage of an extra room you have merely for the purposes of making extra income. Both you and your guests will be able to see where others have traveled from and maybe find out a good attraction or coffee place nearby. One place also had a map with pins to mark their hometowns.

7. Extra blankets and pillows: Some people (like Matt and I) are horrible at sharing blankets, so each place that had an extra one for our house was great. Extra pillows are great for folks who may have back problems.

8. Coffee buys you friends: Only applies if the apartment has a kitchen, obviously. Provide coffee and a way to make it. Instant is fine; Nespresso is heavenly. Tea should be included, too, if you’re expecting guests from tea-prefering countries.

9. Include bonues for families with children: Have a few toys or kid’s movies. Point out the children’s televesion channel, if there is one. Have a nightlight in the “kid’s room.” Have a step-stool for help reaching the bathroom sink or seeing out a picture window. Stock juice and milk in the fridge and individual packages of crackers or fruit. List in the information packet where a playground or public park with a grassy area is located. Have a good area for diaper changes which can be as simple as a waist-height horizontal surface free of trinkets and an extra towel.

La Vie Est Bonne

Picture a poster featuring a cat learning back onto a stone wall, using it as a chaise lounge. It’s got a glass of red wine held aloft and a kooky smile on it’s face. The words at the top: Le vie est bonne a Sarlat. (Life is good in Sarlat.) I must agree.

We’re a little over a week into our family vacation in France and currently relaxing in our rental apartment just outside of centre ville. The village is comprised of yellow, stone houses with dark slate roofs. It’s full of tourists yet still feels like a place people live, not just travel to in order to make money off the tourists. It’s not our first time here, though it’s been nearly 9 years since our last visit, made shortly after I graduated from college. Mind you, I don’t remember much of our last visit. Something about a giant market hall and a walkway slanting up towards a statue of a boy. And lots of duck and walnuts and their related products for sale.

The last week has been rather go-go-go. Matt’s the one who plans our trips and he decided to comprise the first part as a series of two night stays in places we’d not traveled to before: Honfleur and Bayeux in Normandy, Dinan in Brittany, and Amboise in the Loire Valley. It was really an experiment to see if we wanted to visit a given place for longer on a future trip, combined with seeing if Lizzie liked moving around that often. The last half of our trip is two longer stays, both in places we’ve visited – here in Salat and later in Paris. The verdict: Lizzie rather stay in one place for longer and two nights and we’re rather tired of Normandy apple juice and gallette. The chateaux, well, they will probably blur together if we visited more, though I think Matt would have liked some time to do a  formal Loire wine tasting.

Now that we have more than two nights in a place – and in a place with no hard and fast to do list of things to visit or see – we can relax. Cook a meal or two more complicated than eggs. Sleep in. Sit for an afternoon in a park or on the couch, doing not much of anything. The sort of thing you normally do on a long weekend, but without all those pesky chores hanging over your head.

Ahhh, life is good.

(If you want to see photos of our adventures so far, head over to my Instagram for photos and a little review of each day. I may re-post that here but not until we’re back. Trying to avoid the computer as much as I can.)

Week of Review: September 2-8, 2018

Labor Day week is always an odd one. You get a day off, which is great, but it means you feel a day off the entire rest of the week. Tuesday, masked as a Monday.

Life of Lizzie

What a week. We got through her growth spurt to find out this was definitely a brain development phase. She’s been talking almost non-stop, making various levels of sense. She gets distracted halfway through a sentence and restarts. Patience is also thin, with everything being very hard to handle when it doesn’t go her way.

We survived, though, and she even made to her very first movie in a theater with her BFF. Lizzie kept jumping into our laps when there was a loud or otherwise scary bit and doing her normal asking of questions through. Lessons learned: 1. Sit her between us and 2. Remove her light-up shoes before the movie starts.

On the Needles

Lots of knitting this week.

I finished two of the same pattern, Dotted Rays by Stephen West. The first was for Lizzie in Kelborne Wools Mojave, in three color-blocked colors. The second is in the Hot Mama colorway of Periwinkle Sheep Watercolors.

I also got some great FO photos of the three hats I finished recently. These were the Sockhead Slouch in Miss Babs, a simple 1×1 ribbing hat (on the right in the second photo) in Socks That Rock Lightweight in Islands in the Stream, and Wurm in the same yarn.

Adventures

Our adventure this week was down to Florida to visit my parents and to celebrate my birthday. We went to the beach and in the pool, ate seafood and key lime pie, played cards, and enjoyed relaxing. I was also able to get together for coffee with an old friend.

Discoveries

  • Household Name podcast on Stitcher
  • Simply Lemonade rediscovery)

Ugh. Sigh. Oye.

It was very hot and humid this week which meant lots of sweating going to meetings or just existing. Happy for cool bubble baths and iced drinks.

Better Me

Very good weekly this week, in terms of symptoms. Very not good week this week, in terms of healthy food choices. But next week is another chance to make good choices.

On Tap

  • Seeing Hamilton at the Kennedy Center
  • Friend from California visiting
  • Finishing up architecture products for project at work (hopefully)

Yellowstone, Part IV

Our final days were spent in the area everyone goes to – by Old Faithful. I won’t lie, this was my absolute least favorite part of our trip. It was crowded and you had to really work to get away from people. That said, it was really neat to be able to see the world’s most famous geological feature.

One tip – if you climb to the second floor of the Old Faithful Inn and walk to the newer area, you’ll eventually get to a covered porch. From there, you have an excellent, likely totally private, view of Old Faithful. We discovered it by staying just on the other side of that porch and went back multiple times to watch eruptions.

Prismatic Spring

The Prismatic Springs are a series of, well, springs located just down the road from Old Faithful. They’re famous for the large, multi-colored springs. Yes, it’s crowded and unless you go after the new overlook opens, you can’t get very close. I’d say this is skippable if you’re able to walk the entire 4 mile round-trip to the Morning Glory spring in the Back Basin. Think carefully before visiting.

Prismatic Spring

Prismatic Spring

Back Basin

No more words from me, just lots and lots of photos of gysers from the back-basin, home of Old Faithful.

Back Basin

Back Basin

Mammouth Spring

Just before you exit the park into the town of West Yellowstone is Mammouth Spring. I don’t even know how to describe it, other than out-of-this-world strange.

Mammoth Hot Springs

Well, that’s it. Hope you enjoyed this little view into this most famous of US National Parks!

Yellowstone, Part II

The second segment of our Yellowtsone visit was based out of the Teddy Roosevelt Lodge area. Much less populated with tourists than other parts of the park, this was the sight of the very first National Park lodge. We stayed in the cabins – you can’t actually stay in the lodge itself, it’s just a restaurant and small gift shop – and enjoyed the less populated area.

From the porch of Roosevelt Lodge

Best Picnic Spot

Just a few miles down the main road from the lodge was this great picnic area. With a very clean composting toilet and plentiful picnic tables, we had our breakfast there eavery morning we were in the area.

Lamar Valley

I’ll admit half the reason I remember the name of this part of the park is I kept thinking of Lavar Burton. I know, not the same name, but it did make the Reading Rainbow theme song get stuck in my head for a few days.

The valley is known for its excellent chances of sighting animals, particularly bison and pronghorn, but occasionally wild swans (yes, really), moose, or other critters.

Lamar Valley

Lamar Valley

Lamar Valley (Pronghorn)

Lamar Valley

Tower Fall

I’ll be honest, I don’t remember Tower Falls at all, just that we went there. But, hey, look, a photo I thought to label right after we got back!

Tower Falls

Norris Basin

Matt’s dad and Lizzie walked with us on the short part of the basin train (about 1/2 mile) but left Matt and I do to do the 2 or so mile loop ourselves. It was crowded on the first part of the trail but very quickly thinned out to almost no one after that.

Tower Falls

Norris Basin

One Old Tree

Not far from where we were staying was this petrified tree. It’s not a great thing to see, but certainly worth the short drive.

Chuck Wagon Dinner

Somehow, Lizzie managed to figure out what it meant that we were going on a chuck wagon dinner our last night in the Roosevelt area. It’s what it sounds like – you take horse-drawn carriages (with 40 of your closest friends with you in said carriage) to a remote area where “cowboys” cook you a chuck wagon-style feast of steak and the fixins’. They sing cowboy songs and tell corny stories. She was excited about the experience and even more excited when it was happening.


(Really, she loved it. This was taken when the temperature had dropped and we hadn’t yet convinced her to put her hoodie on.)


(The wagons)

(Meeting one of the horses, wearing my hat)

(Cowboy songs)

Next time – we wrap things up by Old Faithful

Yellowstone – Pt 1

In June, we spent a total of 7 days in Yellowstone National Park with my in-laws. Because it was such a long trip and the park is so very diverse in its sites, I’ve breaking up the trip into three parts based on where we stayed – Lake Yellowstone, Teddy Roosevelt, Old Faithful

Getting Oriented

Due to the very large size of the part, we broke up our trip by stating three nights at Lake Yellowstone (in the much-cheaper cabins rather than the hotel), two nights the Teddy Roosevelt Lodge cabins, and two nights at the Old Faithful Inn. If you remove the distance we drove from the airport and around Grand Teton – you can see photos from that part of the trip here – we drove nearly 500 miles in the park. While it seems a little strange, I admit, to move three times, it really was all of that unpacking.

Cheapskate Tip – Pack a Cooler

Oh, a big tip before we get started. At the start of our trip, we did a big run to a local Super Walmart and picked up a cooler, breakfast foods (cereal, milk, bagels, cream cheese), lunch foods (bread, lunch meat, chips), and drinks (soda, milk for Lizzie, beer for the adults). Yes, we bought a cooler which we then gave away to a surprised yet happy hotel employee at the end of the trip. It saved us soooo much money eating nearly all of our breakfasts and lunches “from the van,” as Matt’s dad put it.

Teton to Lake Yellowstone

Because the park borders literally touch (northern border of Grand Teton, southern border of Yellowstone), it took us only a few hours to make our way to the Lake Yellowstone area from where we’d stayed the last few nights in Teton.

We started by stopping at the very first of the geyser basins. We had Lizzie in our carrier backpack for this one as we had no clue how she would be about staying on the boardwalks and paying careful attention that no one else, well, knocked her off of them.

(These signs are everyone for a reason!)

(That’s Matt in the blue shirt, with everyone else who was staying carefully back from the elk that was hanging out, having a snack.)

Driving Tour – Girls Only

Our first full day in the area, Matt and his dad went on a photo tour, so his mom, Lizzie, and I did our own tour of the area, driving from the Lake Yellowstone Hotel down to the Canyon area, about an hour if you drove straight there.

Our main stop was at the Mud Springs area, full of gysers and springs full of, well, mud. And, whew, was it smelly!


(This little guy is Moosey who Lizzie was given by an employee for not begging to have her Mom-Mom buy her everything in the gift store. In an attempt to keep her engaged, we took photos of and with him on our drive.)

(Named “Dragons Mouth Spring” because, well, it sounds like a dragon when the water comes rushing out of it)

(Walking with Mom-Mom)

(Required “I made it here!” sign picture)

Matt got us reservations in the cabin area at the Lake because they’re literally right behind the hotel and significantly cheaper. We chose units with en suites as Lizzie was just starting potty training and, well, his parents are late 60s/early 70s.

Artist’s Point

There’s a canyon that’s known as Artist’s Point (or something like that, where did my notes go??) famous for it’s colorful rainbow display that happens a few times a day, when the light is justtt right.

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

(I was too busy chasing Lizzie around to get a photo of that magical moment, but the scene was lovely enough with no special colors.)

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

We followed the suggestion from a guidebook and went back the first few places you can park to see the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. While still crowded, we were able to find a spot after not much driving around.

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

Next time: Teddy Roosevelt Lodge area
 

 

 

Grand Teton

This blog post was supposed to be about our recent trip to the UK…then I was going through my photos and realized I never posted anything about our trip to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, back in June. So, now we find ourselves here…Grand Teton.

Grand Teton is located wholly in the state of Wyoming and found justttt south of Yellowstone National Park. We stayed in one of the park’s cabins for three nights which gave us time to explore most of the part’s roads and a bit of its backcountry (via hikes).

The focus of the park is the Tetons themselves, a part of the Rockies with very tall peaks but almost no foothills to speak of. The largest is named, not surprisingly, Grand Teton. They are, in short, breathtaking.

Snake River viewpoint

Ansel Adams took a very famous photo from this overlook of the Snake River. I didn’t even try to re-create it, but took my own photo.

Lakeshore

Matt and Lizzie hanging out at the docks on Jenny Lake, close to where we stayed and just at the end of a parking lot with one of the park’s concession areas.

Trip means I take photos of Matt as he takes photos.

One of the most famous non-natural sites of the park: the old barn which was part of a Mormon settlement that didn’t last particularly long due to the very short growing season and very cold winters.

Along the shores of Jenny Lake

Lizzie walked about a third of our hike from Jenny Lake up to Hidden Falls.

Way back from Hidden Falls

Another Fidden Falls hike view

And, to end my post, some other beautiful views I can’t place…