Room for change at any age
I feared I might be the oldest Airbnb traveller as I tried the new way of arranging accommodation.
Aged 66, my main criterion for choice was a private room and that was easily arranged for my destinations. Other needs were Wi-Fi access and the ability to cook my own meals in a kitchen if I so wished. Tinned cassoulet with lentils became a popular choice.
My first experience in Paris was a difficult start as the unit was hard to find. It was in a group of multi-storey blocks and nobody said there were two buildings with the same number facing different streets. The security guards didn’t seem to mind me going backwards and forwards trying to sort out a stressful situation. I had visions of sleeping on the street but eventually found the place.
It was a two-level apartment with several bedrooms and locked doors. The host insisted I wash my saucepans before eating a prepared meal and that was a small imposition. She was a history teacher and her place was full of books; there were even bookcases in the toilets.
Last-minute instructions were provided for access to the unit in Madrid. I received these at the airport before my flight and because the owner was not going to be home for my arrival they were quite important. As it turned out my room was spacious and well furnished. The location had many offerings including a coffee shop that sold a croissant (as good as one from Paris), coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice for the equivalent of $4. What a bargain!
My Rome address, in the suburb of Trastevere, was like a bed and breakfast but without breakfast. The host provided a panettone as a welcome gift for each room and this lasted for the length of my stay. It was an occasional afternoon tea treat and snack for breakfast.
Wi-Fi became an essential part of my travels to get information about local transport connections, opening times and information for museums, or just communicating with my host who might not be available at every moment of the day.
My three weeks in Europe were economical (about the same as a week in Byron Bay by my calculations) and enjoyable. And, to my relief, my age was no barrier.
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