Category Archives: Home/Room Rentals

What A Trip We Had – Uxolo Guesthouse, Johannesburg, Part 2

We arrived in Jo’burg a few days before our son and his family were scheduled to arrive.  I felt that it gave us “older people” a chance to acclimate to the time change and to see a little of Jo’burg.

Months prior I booked the Uxolo Guesthouse through AirBnB.  The guesthouse is located in a residential neighborhood north of the central city.  In my correspondence with Karen Morgan, the owner, she recommended Norman, a driver that her guests use, for transportation to get us from the airport to her home.  We contacted Norman and he agreed to pick us up at OR Tambo Airport and drive us to the Guesthouse for 350 Rand ($35 USD).  As he drove us to the Guesthouse he pointed out the sights and gave us some history about Jo’burg and South Africa.

We pulled up to the Guesthouse and Karen  came out to greet us.  We walked inside and I was excited about the choice I made for our lodging.  The decor was definitely South African.  The home felt very warm and just what we wanted.

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There was even a built in pool in the yard

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We had a large room with a small courtyard with a working water fountain off our room.  The down comforter duvet with the large overstuffed pillows was very inviting.  Our private bathroom had a shower stall which we prefer.  Most homes in South Africa do not have heat but there was an electric portable heater in our room if we needed it – which we didn’t.

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There were many sitting areas in this home that made it comfortable for us.  In addition, she had a pool table in a room overlooking the covered terrace where we would have breakfast every morning.  When it was very cool in the morning, the shades would come down.  Karen’s main rule is not eating in your room (she likes to keep it clean for future guests) so we would bring our snacks to the terrace area to consume.

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Karen went out of her way to be helpful and accommodating to us though in speaking with repeat guests, she does this all the time for all guests when she can.  While we were sitting on the terrace with Norman and Karen, she asked us our plans.  Norman made a suggestion for dinner that night which we followed with an appointed time that he would pick us up.  Karen also made arrangements for me to go on a Soweto Tour and that I would be picked up at the door the next morning by the tour company.  Blogger Hubby wanted to go into Jo’burg to do the HoHo bus tour (Hop On, Hop Off) and Karen drove him to the train station, about 15 minutes away,  to take the Gautrain into the city the next day.

The guesthouse is in a residential neighborhood.  The first thing you notice is walls/fences and security  around the homes with an armed response to a security alarm system.  Our guest home also had a male employee who sat inside the front door all evening long.  Now don’t let this scare you – we never saw any type of violence in South Africa in all the locations we were in but to deny that there is violence in this country would be a fallacy.

We were a five minute walk (and we felt safe) to a local mall that had two grocery stores inside, pharmacy, coffee shops with meals and clothing stores.  We could pick up items that we left at home.  One night we even bought our dinner there at the hot food salad bar section of the grocery store and brought it back to the guest house – and it was good.

The breakfast was a buffet of fresh fruit and juices, tea, coffee, eggs cooked to order, bacon, sausage – a delicious and hearty meal to begin the day off right.

I would highly recommend The Uxolo Guest House in Jo’burg.

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2nd Rental Home in Rincon, Puerto Rico

1.  Spring Break Trip #1 – Rincon, Puerto Rico

2.  Our Home Away Rental in Rincon, Puerto Rico

3.  2nd Rental Home in Rincon, Puerto Rico

4. What to Do in Rincon and the Surrounding Area

As I mentioned earlier, I joined Blogger Daughter and her family in a rental on the beach in Rincon.  Our home was called Casa Serena.  Click here to go to that blog.  Blogger Son #2 and his family also rented a home on the beach about 5 houses down the beach from us – Casa Mac.

Where our home was a duplex side by side, theirs was a 2 story home with the rental on the first floor and the owners quarters on the second floor.  The owners were not there so they had the entire yard to themselves.

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With two homes so close to each other, there were bound to be some comparisons.  We had 3 adults and a baby; they had 4 adults, a teenage and 2 toddlers.  We had a two bedroom, they had a three bedrooms and their rooms were larger than ours.

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One difference they had that I wished we had was that they had a front door and a back door which let in light and breeze.  Their living room was larger and was lighter since they had more windows.  Their livingroom was at the front of the house (street view) and ours was at the back of the house (beach view).  We did not have windows along the side as they did.  As I am getting older, I have begun to realize how important sunlight is to me – it just makes me feel better and happier 🙂

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We had a small kitchen table and 4 chairs, they had 4 stools on the kitchen bar but a larger table outside on the lanai.  We also had a table on the lanai but again for 4 people.

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Since we had a 2 bedroom, that is why seating was arranged for 4 people.  They had a washer and we had a washer and dryer.  We had a much larger yard but they had a larger overhang to help keep out of the noon time sun.  Small differences but sometimes they can be important and make or break a vacation.  Know what you want and what you need.

When you rent a home through VRBO, HomeAway or Vacation Rentals, know what you are looking for, ask questions and read the reviews.  I tend to throw out the truly negative one but if there are multiple negative reviews then that is a home I am not interested in.

This was our second rental through HomeAway but the first one that we have stayed in – the first one we booked we’ll be staying in next month.  We have been very pleased with our experience so far.

 

 

Our Home Away Rental in Rincon, Puerto Rico

1.  Spring Break Trip #1 – Rincon, Puerto Rico

2.  Our Home Away Rental in Rincon, Puerto Rico

3.  2nd Rental Home in Rincon

4.  What to Do in Rincon and the Surrounding Area

The Nitty Gritty of Our Rental

Our homes were located right on the beach in a neighborhood made up of rentals and residents. We were in one side of a duplex. They day after we arrived, the other tenants left so we had the entire yard to ourselves. Even if they had stayed, there was no need for worry as the yard was HUGE.   We had about 12 chaise loungers and 12 chairs in addition to the fold up beach chairs.

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We also had 2 hammocks.

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One of the great things about the yard is that there was a sunny side and a shady side. I like the sunny side and Blogger Hubby likes the shady side. We also had two enclosed outside showers to wash the sand off and a water bucket to wash our feet off before we went in the house. The yard was fenced in and we only had to walk 4 steps down to be on the beach.

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When we were there, the back yard was all grass except for a concrete walk way.  The beach itself was about 15 feet of sand before we actually went into the Caribbean. Little bit of trivia here – Puerto Rico sits by a trench where there are two moving tectonic plates. The eastern side of the island is in the Atlantic while the western side is in the Caribbean.

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We entered into the water and as you walk out you’ll notice that there is a rock shelf with some small growth on it. It was not slippery to us though the rock does have deep cracks in it. Do not step into the crack. The water is clear enough that you can see these cracks. After you pass the rock shelf, you have sandy beach again until you get to the drop off. Our family liked to snorkel here at the drop off where they saw all different types of fish. Our guest home provided boogie boards, noodles, sand toys, inflatables, a high chair, a booster seat and a pack and play. That made it so much easier for Blogger Daughter.

The home had 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, a combination kitchen, dining room and family room. It wasn’t a large space but then we weren’t there often. It was large enough for what we needed. No central air but there were fans and window a/c units in each room.

We were within walking distance of a grocery store though we did use our car to go to that one as well as another grocery store.  Great bakeries and pastry shops were nearby as well.  We found a fruit/vegetable vendor by the side of the road and every day we would get ripe, delicious pineapple, large avocados, fresh mini bananas still on the stalk (or is it called hand), freshly picked cilantro and so much more.  Our owner even gave us the name of a local fisherman would bring us fresh fish if we wanted it.

Next – Blogger Son #2 rental

 

 

 

Spring Break Trip #1 – Rincon, Puerto Rico

1.  Spring Break Trip #1 – Rincon, Puerto Rico

2.  Our Home Away Rental, Rincon, Puerto Rico

3.  2nd Home Rental in Rincon

4. What to do in Rincon and the Surrounding Area

 

The Beginning

When Blogger Son #2 told me that he and his family were renting a house in Puerto Rico I was very happy for them and a little envious that I wasn’t going along – after all, who doesn’t love a little spring breaking?  I must have said something to Blogger Daughter who, a few weeks later announced that she and her family were also going to Puerto Rico and would I like to come with them.  Would I – what a silly question.

 

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Blogger Son had rented a home through Home Away right on the beach in Rincon, Puerto Rico which is on the northwestern coast of the island.  Blogger Daughter was able to rent one a few doors down.  Being with two of my three children, three of my four grandchildren plus son’s mother-in-law (who I really like to spend time with), her husband and their 14 year old nephew – it sounded like this was going to be a fantastic family trip.

 

How We Got There

We were able to find tickets on US Airways for about $300 roundtrip from Richmond, VA to San Juan via Philly.  We were all going to be on the same plane from Richmond to Philly but then Blogger Son and his family were scheduled to take an earlier flight from Philly to San Juan than we were.  We just didn’t feel comfortable with a 45 minute connection and traveling with a 10 month old.  We all arrived at the Richmond Airport at 6:30 AM to find that our flight to Philly would be late…. late enough that we would miss our connecting flight to San Juan.  They quickly rerouted us through Charlotte, which just made more sense to us anyway.  The problem was that the flight was leaving in about 25 minutes but they didn’t want to load our luggage since we had less than their required 30 minutes.  Son was able to get on just fine but they gave us some difficulty.  I mentioned to the agent that we were all together – all eleven of us.  I think that did it because before you knew it, a supervisor okayed it.  I was disappointed that we didn’t receive an email, text message, tweet or smoke signal letting us know of the situation.  We could have arrived earlier, reserved our seats or have them protect us on this earlier flight to Charlotte.  Disappointed in US Airways.

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We, and at least 3 others including one in a wheel chair,  raced to security and made the flight just fine.  We all breathed a sigh of relief as we got settled into our seats.  Once in Charlotte we found that we had about an hour connection before our flight.  That gave those of us who didn’t get the boarding passes in Richmond time to get them.  All the time we took when we booked the seats to get the seats where we wanted and with whom went out the window.  We were just glad to get seats.

All the kids were good on the flight and it was a faster flight since we were now on a much larger airplane.  There was a time when we had some turbulence.  Two in our group were in the aisles changing seats and the flights attendants told them to sit in the aisle and to hold on.  It was really rocking – going up and down and side to side.  After about 7 minutes it was over and was smooth sailing the rest of the way to San Juan.

After getting our luggage (mine was easy to spot with the decorative duct tape) and picking up the rental car, we were on our way.  Our first stop was Fort Buchanan so I could stock up on groceries at the Commissary.  If you travel with any active duty or retired duty military personnel, I always advise stopping off at a military installation to get groceries, liquor/beer/wine or discounted tickets to local events.  The base is about 15 minutes from the airport and was on our way to Rincon.

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Rincon is about 2 1/2 hours from San Juan and there is a closer airport to it, Aguadilla, which US Airways doesn’t fly into.  I understand that Jet Blue does and so does United though after a quick look, it seems like all the United flights arrive at 1:30 AM.

Next up, our homes on the beach.