Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Live Like a Local / VRBO

Last year, right around this time, we were solidifying our plans to stay in New York City for the summer.  Our motto for the summer was, "Live like locals." When we travel, we like to try to experience a destination from a local point of view.  There is nothing quite like exploring the real life essence of a booming city,  balmy beach town, or quaint country village. Touristy stuff is often overpriced and overrated.

In order to achieve our goal, we decided to give Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBO) a try.  We knew that we needed to find a place to rent for at least a month. It had to sleep 6 people, be kid friendly, and have amenities such as a kitchen and laundry facility. We found VRBO to be a very user friendly website chalk full of great pictures and reviews of vacation rentals.  From sprawling ranches to urban flats, VRBO offers much to the shelter seeking traveler.

We were surprised at the ease in which we were able to identify a property of interest, contact the owner, and secure a rental agreement.  The whole process was seamless and we found a gem of a place to "live" for the summer!  I recently was asked by the owners of the property to write a review of our experience.

In July of 2013, our family of 6 stayed in Manhattan. We wanted to live like locals and desired to stay in a residence rather than a hotel. We found a gem of a brownstone in Central Harlem to rent! Located in the Upper West side a few short blocks from Central Park and Morningside Park we were steps from gardens, lagoons, hiking and playgrounds galore. The city beckoned us to explore her offerings daily with the subway just a two minute stroll from the house. We were fortunate to be a few short stops away from museums, shopping, Broadway, all things tourist :-). We often preferred to stay in the neighborhood enjoying the local wares. With Bier International an urban beer garden, Harlem Shambles the local butcher shop, and a gourmet grocery store just around the corner we felt right at home. Speaking of home, the brownstone is a true work of art, yet so comfortable and homey. The owners were a delight to work with. It was evident that they love their home and their city. Our kids (ages 4-15) loved the spaciousness of the home. With a fort in the backyard (yes, a backyard!), the home theatre complete with projector, and a late night cookie delivery service our kids were smitten. The balcony herb garden and friendly neighbors made the stay extra special. Who wouldn't love watching fire flies dance in the air while eating tacos with freshly picked cilantro and chatting with NYC locals? I highly recommend this amazing home for anyone who wants to visit the Big Apple and live like local.
Recommended for: Romantic getaway, adventure seekers, tourists without a car, families with young children, sightseeing, girls' getaway.
The brownstone we rented was featured in the New York Times and you can read more about it and catch some super photos of it by clicking here
Oh, and the good news is that you can rent this gorgeous home this summer if you want to "live like a local" in NYC. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Places to Pee

When we were in New York last summer, one thing that really was not fun was when one of our little monkeys had to use the bathroom and it was always like a total emergency, "I have to go right now!" situation.  We found ourselves scrambling to find bathrooms on several occasions.  More than once, we had to inconvenience an-oh-so-friendly store clerk and use a gross toilet in the back of some random CVS.  My favorite was the grocery store in Brooklyn where the customer service gal handed me a HUGE key ring with a single key attached. I guess they had lost the key one time too many. She meant business when she looked straight at me, gave me that key, and told me to return it when we were finished. All the while, her right eye twitched.

What I would have given for this app that just launched recently! AIRPNP is a clever and useful app that will be sure to save some butts (pun intended) all over the world. Take a look at some of the fancy loos out there just awaiting your arrival. You can click on the pictures to enlarge and read all the details about each bathroom for hire.

In Union Square New York City, you can pet an adorable pooch before and after you "freshen up".

And who wouldn't want to relieve themselves in this Brooklyn mansion? 

This one is my favorite so far! In Europe, you just have to wade on into the sea and let it fly. Oh my!  That has got to be some nasty water.  

There a hundreds of bathrooms for rent or free world wide.  You can download the app, peruse the map, and find that perfect spot to do your business. So, what are your thoughts on these rental pottys?  Would you rent one?  Would you rent yours out?