As I mention on this blog, in terms of accommodation, I typically stay in hostels, guesthouses or budget hotels when I’m traveling. And those options have worked quite well for me over the years, which is exactly why, when I decided to spend my week-long vacation in Ulcinj, Montenegro, I started looking for guesthouses and budget hotels as I normally do.
There were some decent budget options, all of which cost around $15 or $20 per person, but for some reason I had trouble making a decision. And so, I spent even more time on the internet, hoping that the perfect place for my friend and I to stay during this vacation (I don’t always travel alone!) would suddenly pop up onto my screen.
And that’s basically what happened…
At one point, I remembered all of the buzz that’s going around these days about using online short-term apartment rental services when traveling. I had actually visited a couple of these websites before when I was planning trips earlier this year to Vienna, Budapest and Istanbul, but the apartments always seemed too expensive so I never booked anything.
Assuming that I would find the exact same situation with Ulcinj (if I could find any apartments at all for such a small destination), I had a look at airbnb.com just in case.
This is exactly what happened….
- within 2 minutes I found the perfect apartment
- within 3 minutes I had made a booking request
- within 10 minutes I received confirmation of my booking
And what did I end up with?
A one bedroom apartment with two beds, a full kitchen and a terrace overlooking the town and the Adriatic Sea for a price of 30 Euros ($37 USD) per night. Not only that, but I ended up staying in an apartment owned by the sweetest, kindest, most generous couple I have come across in a long, long time.
From the moment we arrived, they invited us into their home, fed us endless slices of some kind of local corn bread, filled our glasses full of fruit juice and water, insisted we throw back a few shots of the local alcohol known as Raki and brought out a large plate of grapes, fresh figs and peaches for us to eat.
And that was before we even checked in.
From then on, every single day during our seven-day stay, either Mrs. or Mr. Redzepagic would inevitably come knocking on our door and hand us yet another plateful of fruit or some freshly baked bread with cheese or a bagful of tomatoes or some more juice. Sometimes they would just come to say hello and check to make sure that we were still enjoying ourselves.
However, the owners only spoke Montenegrin and German (and a handful of Italian words) and not a single word of English. And between my friend and I, we knew about ten words of German which were so embarrassingly basic that I won’t even mention them here.
Yet despite this language problem, whenever we would encounter Mr. or Mrs. Redzepagic, we would always end up in the most pleasant and hilarious twenty-minute conversation, with all those involved constantly laughing and smiling and having a great time. We would all combine every possible language we knew in order to try and communicate and it was common for us to use two or three languages in the same sentence.
I can’t tell you how many times I would say something as absurd as…
“Schlafen dobrou! Today vamos baden.”
Translation: Slept good. Today we go swimming.
Languages used: German Montenegrin! English Spanish German.
In the beginning we struggled but between us nodding along in a convincing manner and the owners speaking as slowly as they possibly could, we managed to survive.
Although, at one point, I asked Mr. Redzepagic if he had any friends in the town of Kotor (the next destination I planned to visit) that had apartments for rent. He quickly answered in a mix of Montenegrin and German and I interpreted his reply as “Yes, give me your dates and I will call my friend.” So, the next day I wrote down the dates I would be in Kotor and handed them to him. He looked at the piece of paper, said “Gut, gut!” (Good, good!) and then handed it back to me. And that was it. Nothing about any friends in Kotor or any apartments for rent.
But regardless, I loved every minute of the interactions we had with this couple and by the end of the week, I actually began to pick up some German, at least enough to turn my fake nods into real nods of understanding. And while we’ll never actually know how successful we were with the communication, I assume it was a good sign that every conversation ended with a handshake or hug and even more smiles.
Either way, this experience was certainly proof that rewarding interactions with locals are still very possible even if you don’t speak the same language!
Did I Mention The View?
Back to the apartment…
I know that I have indeed already displayed a photo of the view we had from the terrace but I’m going to show another one here! Sorry, but the view was just that spectacular…
Combine such a view with having your own private space, private bathroom, full kitchen and every possible amenity of a comfortable apartment and this accommodation option starts to sound remarkably appealing.
When Renting A Short-Term Apartment Makes Sense
I always thought that renting a short-term apartment made sense for big cities and very popular travel destinations. However, it seems that the best apartment deals on a site such as airbnb.com are actually to be had in the smaller, out-of-the-way destinations. In the major cities, the apartments are usually far more expensive than any other budget accommodation options but in an off-the-beaten track location, the prices will naturally be much more affordable as the overall cost of living is usually much lower.
And these are typically the type of destinations where you might want to be a little more comfortable or where there might not even be any hostels or guesthouses around. So if you plan to stay in such a location for a few days or more, it’s hard to beat having your own apartment, especially when, in many cases, the cost is the same as, or even less than, the cost of a hostel if you’re two or more people.
Again, we paid 30 Euros ($36 USD) per night for the apartment in Ulcinj, Montenegro. That’s about $18 USD per person, an amount that most would agree is money well spent for such a place.
As a result, I’m now hooked. Whenever I’m looking for accommodation in off-the-beaten-path destinations in the future, I’ll certainly be adding short-term apartment rentals to the list of options I’ll research.
Have you ever used a short-term apartment rental website? Would you consider using one during your travels?
*This post is not sponsored by anyone. I just happened to use airbnb.com to book the apartment and I wanted to share my positive experience with you.