This morning we’re packing up and heading out of SF and on our final trek south to our end station in LA.
Was Air B’nB any good?
Let’s start with our Air B’n’B rental. Overall I think the Air B’n’B experience is a good one in terms of interaction over the site and the booking process. Given the hotel prices in San Francisco, I also think the price we paid for a large studio apartment was reasonable value for money. You can rent somewhere very cheap but we had stayed at the higher end.
Nevertheless, I have some reservations. The main one being that as most of the rentals are not covered by any regulations you are a little bit exposed. Two examples. Once we received the check-in details from the owner we were told not to mention to building security in the block that we were staying that we were Air B’n’B guest but rather we should just say we were “staying with friends”. Not a drama but a little uncomfortable nonetheless. Secondly, arranging to meet the owner to collect the keys is a bit of a pfaff. In our case, it went relatively smoothly. Thirdly, because you are not normally renting from a professional landlord you are not quite sure what facilities will be available. Ours were good although we had no toaster (a bit odd) and some other basics were missing. Again, probably all reflected in the price and at the end of the day a good learning. Finally, although we say that the apartment was very close to the city we did not know it was in a slightly dodgy area which meant we did not feel safe walking back at night (not a problem as we generally took a taxi and the building itself was very good with 24-hour security.) That did not show up on the reviews as, unlike TripAdvisor, reviews on Air B’n’B are not anonymous so I wonder whether there is a greater tendency not to post bad reviews.
So the key question is would we use Air B’n’B again? Yes, I think we would if the price differential was significant. I think this has been a good learning experience and having booked once I know now exactly the sort of questions I would ask and what I would look for.
And what about San Francisco?
We’ve enjoyed our four days but not to the extent that I would be rushing back. I think our first-day impressions have stuck with us and while there are iconic things to see here overall the city feels a bit dirty which is added to by the number of people wandering the streets.
So we head out of the city and begin our journey south. Our first night is in Carmel and we decide to take the slightly longer route down highway 1 which runs down the coast starting at Half Moon Bay. While not spectacular, it’s nice to see the coast and there a few worthwhile stopping off points. Monterey feels a lot more like the California we were expecting and we decide to spend the afternoon exploring 17-mile drive which is a coastal road that runs through the US Open accredited Gold
course, Pebbles Beach. There are lots of stop-offs along the way either to take photos or to wander on the beach. The Golf course looks really spectacular but it might be beyond my ability and is definitely beyond my budget (a round of 18 holes costs $525 but I suspect the issue would be not whether you could afford it but whether you could do the course justice – there seemed to be no shortage of takers). One of the highlights of our trip so far.
We’re staying overnight in Carmel which is a hilly and exclusive little town at the end of the 17-mile drive and our accommodation for the evening is Carmel Country Inn, a nice little B&B / small hotel just a short walk from Carmel town center. I think the town center is worth a visit as it has a lot of little boutique shops, art galleries and wineries all at outrageous prices for an early retiree (we see a simplistic painting of two dogs for $58,000) but nice to potter around in. While we’re there we have dinner at the number one rated trip advisor restaurant Yafa which is a kind of Lebanese / Mediterranean mish-mash but rather good and reasonably priced at the same time (reasonable is a relative term so reckon on around $150 for dinner for 4 – main course only). Overall I like Carmel a lot but it feels a little untypical i.e its a little bit Truman show.