What I’ve Learned Renting Places to Stay

I struggled to come up with a title for this post… Mainly because there are unrelated lessons learned here. Hopefully, some of this information will help someone somewhere as you plan a trip. I am a little over renting flats/apartments right now and I’ll explain why.

Just like hotels, renting a place to stay (usually a home) from an individual has hidden fees. I just booked a condo for my stay in Bass Lake, CA for the Yosemite Half Marathon in October. I found a 2-bedroom condo listed for $150/night. Sounds like a great deal, right? Well, it really ended up a little over $300/night because I got hit with:

  1. $125 cleaning fee
  2. $60 linen package
  3. $75 processing fee
  4. $60 in taxes and service fee

I can live with some extra fees, but when it ends up doubling the price and then they tell you to bring your own paper towels, it’s not cool. I think this is the worst I’ve run into. Usually, the fees aren’t so many or so much, and seem relatively reasonable. I guess the plus is we have 2 bedrooms and a kitchen. It feel like that was a con, though, and I’m really not too pleased. Lesson learned – Try to get the details before you book instead of doing what I did, which was clicking on the “book it” button first.

We recently went to Hong Kong. We rented a 3-bedroom flat not too far from the Causeway Bay subway station. The flat was big – a rarity in Hong Kong. However, the flat didn’t have a washer/dryer. If you are planning to stay somewhere for over a week, you probably want a washer/dryer for towels and clothes. Make sure you read all the details… I asked before we left so we knew there was no washer. We planned for clothing properly. However, towels can get a bit funky… And, no way to wash those. 😦 I got a recommendation for a laundromat, but who wants to spend a couple of hours of vacation time doing laundry? If I’d been smarter, I would have searched for a drop-off laundry service in advance. So, first lesson learned on this trip – make sure you have a laundry plan.

On this trip, our flat was definitely as-pictured. However, I add a couple of words of caution here. Most of these pictures (not just on this trip) were taken when they first started renting or they just did some renovations, so there is usually some wear and tear. In our case, due to the heat and humidity Hong Kong has to offer, cracked paint and the like. Didn’t make a difference to us per se, but it could make a difference to some.

There was only one picture of this rental from the street. And, now I know that it was taken somewhat down the street looking back at the entrance, which is obscured by cars. That doesn’t sound like such a big deal, right? Well………. The entrance to this building was in a little alleyway that was constantly filled with rubbish. And, there were odd mattresses stacked up near the door of our flat. Wonder why they didn’t share those pictures. I think they belonged to the convalescent home across the hall. But, that didn’t take the disappointment away from the trashy entrances and exits we got to make every day. Second lesson learned – Look for places that have clear pictures of the entrances. That may not always be easy, but I think it would make your stay better.

Since I am ending this ramble about my Hong Kong trip, I’ll share my moment of zen:

 

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Tian Tan Buddha on Lantau Island

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It’s Hot in Hong Kong

We are visiting Hong Kong right now. Visiting with family and doing requisite touristy things… 🙂

This morning, I braved the heat and humidity to go for a run. At 7:30am, it was already 75F and about 1000% humidity. Not hyperbolic at all!! I went toVictoria Park and ran the designated jogging loop. 

Jogging Trail

Jogging Trail


I did 5 loops, which came out to a little over 2 miles and called it quits. Holy ****, I thought I was going to pass out. I am not made for this… I do my best running at 55F. I am proud to say that I’ve now gone for runs in Madrid, London, and now Hong Kong. Woohoo! Maybe I’ll feel brave and do one more before we leave. 

After my Hong Kong Run

After my Hong Kong Run


Stay healthy!

My First Trail Run – Finally!

I feel like I got my Saucony Peregrin trail running shoes a really long time ago… A scheduling problem here and an injury there, and I finally, finally got to take them on my first official trail run yesterday. On Mother’s Day – because that’s what I asked for.

With help like this, how could I refuse? (He’s 3, so it was the thought that counts. 🙂 )

Getting my shoe tied

Getting my shoe tied


I was a little nervous so I took it easy. 3 miles – 1 mile up, 1 mile flat-ISH, and 1 mile down. It was lovely and fun and exhilarating. 

At the start

At the start


The signage was daunting, but the only real wildlife I saw other than birds were to fluffy-tailed bunnies. There were a couple of tree roots that looked suspicious from a distance, but no rattlesnakes. Yay! And, I only came close to losing my balance once. 🙂

 Mountain lions, huh?

Mountain lions, huh?

Wait! What?

Wait! What?


I was impressed with my new trail shoes. They had great grip and felt incredibly light. They were breathable and flexible. The shoe laces are braided, which required me to double knot them so they wouldn’t come untied. That’s a minor issue, though. And, I can’t blame the shoes for almost losing my balance – first lesson learned is that you need to keep an eye on the actual trail. Lots of things to watch out for, so… do watch out for them. Rocks, dips, roots… That kind of thing.

Edgewood Park is lovely.  Once you get up the hill a ways, the views are gorgeous. I am a morning runner, so mornings work for me on many levels. I’d also say mornings are best at this park because it gets a little crowded. My first visit to this park was in the afternoon and the parking lot was full and there were a fair number of people milling about. I am not surprised about that given how nice this park is. We did see some runners that afternoon and it looked frustrating trying to get around all of us lollygaggers.

Rolling hills

Rolling hills

Perplexing Peanut Butter

Ok, so peanut butter isn’t really perplexing, but…

It’s hard to determine which peanut butter to buy. I’ve been buying Jiff Natural, which is “low sodium” and seems healthier than “regular” peanut butters. However, I recently read that the sugar added to peanut butter is “bad” and you should only go with peanut butter made with “natural” ingredients. So many quotation marks!

So! What did I do? I bought some natural peanut butter – only peanuts and salt. Well! It was more like peanut soup. I had to stir for at least 5 minutes to get it to a decent consistency. And, let’s face it… It wasn’t all that exciting. Yes, it tasted like peanuts, but the soupiness didn’t make for good PB&Js. Just ask my toddler. 🙂

Then, I took a gander at the nutrition information on both peanut butters and, while the ingredients were indeed different, the overall nutritional benefits/detriments/whatever seemed about the same.

Choosing a peanut butter

Choosing a peanut butter


Jif Natural ingredients: Peanuts, Sugar, Palm Oil, Salt, Molasses

Nutrition information for a 2 tbsp serving:

  • Calories: 190
  • Fat calories: 130
  • Total fat: 24%
    • Saturated fat: 15%
  • Cholesterol: 0%
  • Sodium: 3%
  • Total carbs: 3%
    • Dietary fiber: 10%
  • Protein: 7g

Open Nature ingredients: Peanuts, Salt

Nutrition information for a 2 tbsp serving:

  • Calories: 200
  • Fat calories: 140
  • Total fat: 25%
    • Saturated fat: 15%
  • Cholesterol: 0%
  • Sodium: 5%
  • Total carbs: 2%
    • Dietary fiber: 8%
  • Protein: 7g

Given the above, I’m going back to the Jif Natural with the sugar. It tastes better and appears to be on par with the natural stuff from a bottom-line nutritional perspective. And, one more plus? I don’t have to stir it for more than a few seconds. It does have some separation, but nothing like the natural stuff.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite peanut butter? What do you think about natural vs. more processed? Let me know in the comments.

Stay healthy!