I'm not sure that it's at all easy to find dishwashing liquid in Cuba. It's certainly imported and expensive. I saw locals do dishes in Ecuador and they had a kind of jar of powder that they put on a dishrag with some water.
That is the kind of things Cubans ask visitors from the Global north to take as a housegift.
Nothing to do with self-catering, but I knew an immigrant fellow in Paris, well into middle age, who was sharing a flat with a couple of other people. One woman put dirty dishes back into the cupboards. He said he wouldn't mind washing them, but it was eeeuuuuwwww.
What would any of you be sure to take or buy for a self-catering kitchen?
Okay, this is uncanny. This morning at 4 a.m., when I was awake due to having gone to bed at 8:30 the night before, I lay there musing about the kind of article I could write on staying in airbnbs. I have my pet peeves about them that need to be aired so that airbnb hosts could hustle to correct these apparently unknown deficiencies, but most of my ire is indeed caused by the kitchens.
So I get up this morning, fire up the computer and find this thread just a-waiting for me!
Just to get this out of the way: LaGatta, if flying, you would not travel with a small, sharp knife or indeed a knife of any kind unless it was in checked luggage. As far as taking anything that might be necessary, the same rule applies as for any packing: don't take it just because it might come in handy. We're no longer allowed enough luggage for that luxury.
Based on my airbnb experience, here is a general observation: Overall, airbnb apartments (hereinafter referred to as "aa" or "aas") in Italy were the cleanest I have encountered. I stayed in seven aas in seven different Italian cities plus one hotel and every one was spick and span. Also, with one exception, they had the most incredibly comfortable mattresses.
Kerouac mentioned the dirty dishes. After turning on the oven in my aa in Balham, a stench filled the apartment. This was because a broiler pan full of drippings and bits from whatever had been cooked in it was in the oven. Nice. (In that same apartment, the vacuum cleaner wouldn't pick up anything, I think because of a broken belt. The owner immediately bought another vacuum, but what's the deal with no one noticing until I did?) After the dirty pan incident, I learned to scrutinize anything in an aa kitchen before using it. I think dishes generally get washed, but sometimes in a lick & a promise kind of way. I've also discovered that some people think it's okay to put the pot used to boil pasta back in the cupboard unwashed because it sort of looks clean.
For whatever reason, England (okay, I've only stayed in two aas there) had the most foodstuffs on hand, although as in all aas, mostly because of stuff left by previous tenants. That said, many airbnb hosts provide a "starter kit", often of breakfast food, which is lovely. The host in the Balham apartment kept me amply supplied with a wide choice of Dolce Gusto capsules, which was hugely appreciated. Until I stayed in Italy, I thought it was almost a rule that every aa would come with a big variety of curry powders. Many aa hosts promise oil, salt, and pepper as a given. No surprise, some countries don't automatically assume "oil" means olive oil. They don't always comply with that, though. The last place I stayed, in Rome, had no oil. I must have had a premonition, because I bought a 100ml bottle of olive oil in Naples specifically to take to Rome.
What I'm working up to is something I'd like to address directly to the Airbnb enterprise. That is, all these eager hosts who excitedly decorate the space they hope will make them a mint, who take pictures of romantic glasses of wine or a steaming cup of coffee next to a perfect croissant in order to seduce renters, need to get their asses into those apartments occasionally and really take stock.
If an apartment has been continuously rented out since 2017, say, things are not as rosy as they once were. Well, I say rosy, but it's obvious some apartment kitchens are stocked with yard sale crap or stuff the owners don't want in their own kitchens. Turning spatulas are often missing, and if they exist, are often the oversized nylon ones and frequently semi-melted. Apartments deficient in common utensils often feature ladles which wouldn't be out of place in a soup kitchen, I suppose for the single reason to keep a kitchen drawer from closing properly. One of the ladle apartments had a saucepan that frightened me every time I had to use it, as the handle was so loose. That same place had a small museum of dried yet stinky sponges. It was the second place I stayed on this trip and I went out and bought a pack of eight kitchen sponges for 2€. I used one there and in each place I stayed afterward except for the one in Verona, where a luxury-brand kitchen sponge still sealed in its wrapping was provided. There was no dish detergent in the Naples apartment, so I got some but left it there. Not the kind of thing I wanted in my suitcase.
Anyway, you all get the picture. I am still a strong advocate of staying in self-catering apartments. Furthermore, I have mostly been quite happy with the way cleaning staff prepared the apartments for my stay. But they can only work with what the owners give them and the owners are not always going in and testing the taps, bouncing on the mattresses, sniffing the pillows, and inventorying the cabinets as they should.
Bixa, I would most definitely never wilfully carry a sharp knive onto a plane. I say wilfully because I did that accidentally once - it was not discovered at Amsteram in dam or London, but finally at Ottawa, before my final (very short) transfer. Obviously they confiscated it, and I apologised. I really had no idea it was in my bag - I put my hand in every compartment, but somehow missed it. Of course those things go in checked luggage. If in Paris, I can easily buy an Opinel knife nearby, but I found nothing appropriate in Amsterdam.
My husband has a corkscrew in a manicure set I bought him a long time ago as a Christmas stocking stuffer gift, I make sure that gets packed in our checked bag. As I have mentioned previously, I still will check one bag, not confident enough to do carry-on only, someday!
We have only stayed in 2 airbnbs. Our first was in Costa Rica. A wonderful first experience. There was nothing missing that we needed, the kitchen was stocked with a good pantry filled with spices, oils, dishes, pots, pans and utensils. Plenty of towels, pillows and bedding. The villa was impeccably clean and they were adamant that it be left the same and came to check before we left. The friends we went with have gone back to Costa Rica the past 2 years and stayed at different locations and have enjoyed their Airbnb but had similar complaints that Bixa encountered, just little things that seemed unnecessary.
Our second was in Venice. Again, everything you could possibly need. When reading the reviews the only negative comments were from people charged a cleaning fee (as noted in the agreement) for leaving dirty dishes. This made no sense to me, there was even a dishwasher.
I do look forward to future apartment stays and will search out ones that have a washer/dryer. I do bring a bottle of instant decaffeinated coffee and tea bags, whether staying in a hotel room or Airbnb, a comfort from home.
Post by cheerypeabrain on Jun 15, 2019 20:14:23 GMT
We tend to stay in the UK these days and hire apartments, challets or cottages. The kitchens are usually pretty well stocked with utensils etc but we invariably take EVERYTHING with us that we may need. I also expect a much higher standard of cleanliness than I probably do at home...so spend ages cleaning before we start using anything. It's a good way of looking for things like cracked cups or damaged appliances etc that we could end up being mistakenly charged for. (not that this has ever happened!)
When you go abroad, there are also things that are different from home so that might cause some difficulties. I am thinking in particular of friends from Quebec who rented an airbnb in Paris. When I went to see them there, I wondered why one woman was pouring hot water out of a pot holding it with a dishtowel. She complained that the pots had no handles. But I found a clip-on handle that fit all the pots. She had seen it but had no idea what it was.
Well my standards are pretty low re Air BnB ( or other rentals ) cleanliness . As I spend 4- 6 months of the year knee deep in mud and hay accompanied by a lab (dog) this has long inured me to dust/ dirt. But last year one particular Air BNB in France did test me ... It went something like this
medieval house ..rain storm ...located next to a river... 6 am need to pee with no glasses... what is that dark area in loo?... never mind got to pee... do the job... flush ... check all good ... scream ... poor ratty peering over the edge desperately trying to scramble out . Bang down the lid and exit.
All I could think then and now was thank god it did not bite my nether regions
Anyway the grateful owner ( grateful as I did not mention it in the review ) has offered me a free return visit . Maybe ...
not an airbnb, and not in the loo, but rats entered the room i rented in cusco at night, until i nailed something underneath the door to close the gap through which they entered. from then on, i only heard them moving about underneath the floor ... ah yes, and for the first few days, i didn't have a light i could turn on, either - the light switch was several metres from the bed, and i did not dare go there in the dark with rats around, and back then of course my mobile phone didn't have a proper lamp, just the dim greenish light from the small screen ...