We’ve just come back from a reconnoitre in Noosa. We’re embarking on a sea change and need to find somewhere to live – quickly. Its very hard to get a sense of what properties are like on the web – photos that make places look bigger than they or a lack of photos (always a worry) and then that more nebulous aspect of how a places feels: is this a place I’d be comfortable in? So a visit is necessary.
We booked an apartment through Airbnb; we’ve been using this site for our overseas travels and have stayed in some wonderful places, including a lovely little apartment on Rue de Rivoli that seemed to epitomise Parisian living (including the 6 flights of narrow circular stairs). Got to feel very much the local.
I like to be able to self-cater, even if that’s just a matter of getting a nice platter of things for lunch or morning coffee/toast. I don’t always want to go out to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. And these days, funds are a bit tight so an apartment where we could fend for ourselves was ideal.
The place we found in Noosa was ideally situated, just back from the main street (which backs on to the main beach), a quick walk to the shopping centre and – big tick – a good bottle shop across the road. Plus it had a nice pool and gym (not that we got to use them this time). However what I discovered (too late) was there were absolutely no provisions for cooking – despite a great BBQ on the balcony. This always astonishes me. How can you expect people to bring their own essentials such as olive oil (any oil would have done) when they’re only staying for a few days? Or do you assume they’re not going to cook? So then why wouldn’t they just stay in a hotel?
Having spent the entire day driving from one side of the Sunshine Coast to the other (back and forth) looking at properties, we felt too exhausted to go out for a meal and instead decided to buy some things to eat in: eye fillet to sear on the BBQ and a mixed green salad and ready made dressing (quelle horreur) plus salt and pepper (these we could either leave behind for the next guests or take with us). But on returning to the apartment we discovered there was no oil – olive or otherwise – with which to sear our steaks. Merde. We improvised by smearing them in the balsamic salad dressing and all was well. But it did strike me as weird that you would provide all these facilities but no essential provisions.
We had a similar experience in Yogyakarta when we rented a house for a week so we could self-cater. I had envisioned trips to the fresh markets, exploring and experimenting with local produce. Ha! Whilst the place had a (limited) range of utensils there were absolutely no provisions: no salt, pepper, sugar, oil. In fact nothing. So we needed to purchase everything, which makes it both impractical and uneconomic for short stays, and again made me wonder why this was so.
If I were to offer my place for travellers I would ensure that there was everything they could possibly need in the way of cooking to make their stay and easy as possible. Again a big tick to the owner of the Paris apartment who not only provided all necessary condiments but also left cereal, porridge, dry and sweet biscuits and a fabulous sort of dried toast that was just perfect to have with our morning cafe au lait. Perhaps it helps to be French.