Day 336: My first tongue taco

Yesterday I moved to a new place. I wanted to find some Couchsurfer to save some money, but it's always so hard. 29 000 hosts in San Francisco - how to choose? And then in the end it turns out most of them never logged in and never hosted anyway. I ended up sending two requests. One of them answered, some guy interested in meditation, "emphatic communication" etc. I wasn't even sure I really felt like staying there, but he didn't have time to host me anyway.

But I found an Airbnb place in a house on top of a hill with a great view over the ocean. I can see the waves from the window now. I share a room with a sweet Indian computer scientist who, like so many people here, has her goal set on working for some startup in Silicon Valley.

Most of the time these few days in San Francisco I've spent in the Mission District, which is an interesting mix of misery and tech. Yesterday evening I went to some taco place that was supposed to be good.

It looked pretty dicey, but I guess that could mean they have great tacos. At least the options were interesting: tongue, brain etc. So I ordered a tongue taco and was just eating it, thinking about whether I should order my first brain taco ever or not when a man came in to ask for leftovers from the other guests.

I don't have any medical training but if I would have guessed I'd say he had lepra. And was probably, like so many others here, living on the street.

If you read about the Mission District online there are lots of articles about gentrification. Makes me wonder what it used to be like.

In the end I decided not to have the brain taco and ordered an UberPool back to my place instead.

UberPool - awesome service! So cheap!

One driver even took me for a small sightseeing. Going home in the evening I shared a car with two tech nerds who in less than 20 minutes managed to cover Pokémon go, VR, autonomous cars, augmented reality, Google glasses, Tesla and Uber.

When I, as the last one, got out on my street the driver said:

- I'm sorry for boring you.

- Well, isn't this what everyone is talking about in this city?

- Not necessarily. This was an unusually nerdy conversation.

Unusually... I kind of doubt that.

Choice of meats

Choice of meats

Just a regular tongue taco

Just a regular tongue taco

The view

The view

Day 335: Sous vide weed

Yesterday I tried Feastly for the first time. It’s a meal sharing platform. Or maybe more of a pop up-restaurant thing.

I found an event in the Mission District, where I stay here in San Fransisco. A potluck ”Benefit Friendsgiving: Celebrating Diversity” dinner. The price was 15 dollars, but most of the money would be donated to some fund for helping new immigrants and the guests where supposed to bring some food, preferably something signifying inclusion and multiculturalism. It sounded very San Fransisco.

I bought some French cheese and bread. I figured that together with the other announced dishes (like falafel and shepherds pie) it would at least be a contribution from another culture.

When I arrived at the venue my first thought was that the chef of the day, Malasiyan Tracy, had a really nice apartment but it turned out to be the Feastly head quarters. It’s a pretty small operation, they have so far only launched in a few US cities and have about 200 meals per month. 

There was a big spacious room with a long table which felt a little empty with only six of us there. Except for Tracy and a woman working for Feastly there were only four guests. It was interesting to hear about how Feastly works. Their events seem to be a lot more curated than the ones I’m used to from AirDine or EatWith. And I have to say I prefer the latter ones.

To me one of the interesting things about the sharing economy is exactly the unpredictability. You never know exactly what you’ll get or who you’ll meet, but that’s the charm of it.

It would definitely have been more personal if the dinner had taken place in Tracys home and I think that it would have made us feel more comfortable as guests too. Now it was more like being on a semi professional dinner. 6-8 pm. Mostly talk about the business model of Feastly. The food weren't super exciting either since there were so few of us who had brought anything to eat.

The two most interesting things that came up was that three of the six women had been married to Israeli men. ”Yeah, but the key word here is ’have been’”, said one of the women, ”Israelis are just very persuasive.”

And then when someone mentioned the upcoming legalization of marijuana and then Tracy said that she’d previously arranged a ”medicated dinner” for Feastly.

Some people can buy it legally for medical reasons. So for this dinner the guests were told to bring their own buds. A true pot luck dinner.

So in other words she’d made a full dinner with dishes containing marijuana, instead of just making the famous brownies. She told me they had used it in bitters for cocktails and in meat dishes. ”I use it like other herbs and it can for example give the dish a more nutty flavour. I have some friends who write a blog about using marijuana in cooking, it’s called Sous Weed”, she told me. ”Actually, since it allows you to control the temperature better, sous vide is a great method for cooking marijuana.”

This city is so hipster.

Multicultural.

Multicultural.

Regular brownies.

Regular brownies.

Love, inclusion and equality in a cake.

Love, inclusion and equality in a cake.

Six women happily not married to Israeli men.

Six women happily not married to Israeli men.

Day 334: What would we do without our mums?

After a day in San Luis Obispo I took another train north, to San Fransisco. The trains here are super slow. But the view was beautiful this time too, with the light from the setting sun on the hills.

The kitchen.

The kitchen.

After more than six hours on the train I arrived to Oakland where I took a Lyft (wish it existed in Sweden!) to the Mission district in San Fransisco, where my accommodation for the night was. Again the neighbourhood didn't look great. I've been surprised this trip of how many homeless people there are in these Californian cities.

It was supposed to be a Victorian house, but on the street it's mostly warehouse types of buildings so like the place in LA there were not really any open bars or stores at 10 pm, which made it look less nice. But once my host opened and I got in everything felt good.

The house is really charming on the inside and my host Jason was super professional. He rents out four rooms in the house and has 765! reviews on Airbnb. Wow!

What I especially like is that it, even though there are so many people staying here, still feels very homey. Jason showed me around - the two bathrooms, my bedroom, the kitchen with espresso machine and things for breakfast - and spent a lot of time to tell me what to do and see in San Fransisco. 

When I told him I'd go to a potluck dinner the next day he gave me a few recommendations for nice places to buy food too.

I tried the Coffee Bar for "working from home" today. Yes, MacBooks everywhere.

I tried the Coffee Bar for "working from home" today. Yes, MacBooks everywhere.

It was fun to meet another dedicated host. Some of the things here are very similar to my own home. Jason showed me where the tea, coffee, mugs and glasses are in the kitchen; that's what I usually do to. He also told me his mum helps him with the guests when he travels. It's the same for me - thanks a million mum!!!

Other things are different but seem like good ideas that I should implement at home. 1) eggs, milk and cereal for the guests. That doesn't cost a lot, but it's a nice gesture for guests who don't feel like going out to buy breakfast. 2) a map of the city on the wall, lots of tourist brochures and even guide books. There is also a little post on the fridge with the address to the nearest food stores. And when I arrived Jason sent me a message with a long list of cafés, bars, restaurants and shopping streets. In short, he provides a lot more information for the guests about things they might need. 3) shampoo etc in the bathroom for guests. Again, it doesn't cost much, but is convenient for the guests that might have forgotten some at home.

So all in all a positive experience. My room is really nice with interesting furniture and a great bed. Although I must say I find San Fransisco rather expensive to stay in. One reason could be that it was very booked when I started looking, only 2 % of all listings left. Wow, on a regular week in November.

All the listings I looked at added cleaning fees and taxes which made the a lot more expensive than they seemed at first. Now I pay about 170 dollars for two nights. In comparison I paid about 60 dollars for one night in Paris, in a nicer neighbourhood. And this was almost the cheapest place I could find. I could have saved about 50 dollars for both nights if I had chosen a bunk bed in a "420 friendly" place but I just felt like finding some calmer place to start with.

For the last two nights I've sent out some Couchsurfing requests, but if I don't get any answers, I might have to take the bunk bed anyway.

Day 334: Uber saved me

View from the train window.

View from the train window.

Ok, this was supposed to be posted on Sunday, but for different reasons it didn't happen, so you'll have to imagine I'm writing this on Sunday morning:

Now I'm heading north after an amazing week with my friends in San Diego. Including my first Thanksgiving ever. That was a great experience, with family, lots of good, mostly Mexican, food and games. We went to the mountains to celebrate Thanksgiving, where it was typical autumn weather and yellow leaves everywhere. Now I'm down by the sea again, and here it's more like a Swedish summer. The view from the train is amazing as the railroad sometimes goes less than 100 meters from the sea. I just saw a few surfers out there in the water!

Yesterday me and my friends went out to drink some beers. San Diego is the mecca of craft beers and it was of course nice to discover this. Although it nearly made me miss the train this morning.

My alarm was set on 5.15, but I snoozed and I woke up at 5.48. My train was leaving at 6.06. OMG! I jumped out of bed, threw on some clothes over the pajamas, grabbed my things and sent for an Uber. Which arrived within five minutes.

But then the driver drove extremely slowly... I saw the minutes go by with increasing frustration. But just as I was about to give up, she pulled up in front of the station. 6.04. I took my bags, ran to the tracks and jumped on the first train I saw without knowing where it was heading.

Luckily it was the right one.

So thanks a lot Uber for saving me! At least I didn't miss my eight hour, 75 dollar, train ride. Even though it would of course have been nice to have had a shower, brushed my teeth, and not wearing a pajamas...

Day 330: Or this one...

"I need help to deliver a chocogram in Flogsta tomorrow, Sunday 20/11. Kan you help me? Contact me and we find a solution together."

Flogsta is even in my home town! I need to get home soon so I don't miss more of these interesting job opportunities.

 

 

Day 329: Another unusual request

Here's another interesting task on Taskrunner that I would have been happy to do if only I would have been at home:

”I need someone who can buy vitamin C for guinea pigs at ’so for pets’ at Östgötagatan 26 and deliver to Allhelgonagatan 3. The task is estimated to take less than 30 minutes.”

Day 328: Surfing in San Diego

Since I'm in San Diego I thought I'd go surfing today. Yay! So I found a surfboard for rent, close to the beach, on Spinlister. Unfortunately the owner was out of town, so no luck there. On the other hand I got a personal mail from Spinlister employee Chris:

"Looking for rides in San Diego?

I noticed you were looking for some rides in San Diego. Here are a few that might be what you're looking for:

https://www.spinlister.com/rides/10059-standuppaddleboard-surf-sup-coronado-ca
https://www.spinlister.com/rides/16738-surfboard-foam-san-diego-ca
https://www.spinlister.com/rides/16737-surfboard-shortboard-san-diego-ca
https://www.spinlister.com/rides/14872-surfboard-shortboard-san-diego-ca
https://www.spinlister.com/rides/8733-surfboard-longboard-san-diego-california

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask!

Best,

Chris"

Well, thanks a lot Chris! But by the time I saw the mail, I had already decided that the waves weren't good enough anyway and had went for a taco and a margarita instead. It felt like a decent alternative.

Day 327: Hugs for 100 kronor

Wow, this was an unusual type of request on Taskrunner

"Hi, I am looking for two extra hands to hug me tomorrow because I cannot do it myself. The job will take approximately 2 hours or until I fall asleep, so better your hug is less time it will take you to complete this task. Understanding of coziness concept & ginger hair are required."

I hope Masa found someone really good at hugging.

 

Day 326: Lady Gaga, senior nomads and more

Wow! I heard that Lady Gaga did a surprise appearance at the last evening of the Airbnb Open. But that time I had already moved on, to see some friends in San Diego. And besides, I've never listened much to Lady Gaga anyway.

But I'm super satisfied with all the other sessions I did go to. Everything from a practical workshop on how to take better photos of your home, to more inspirational talks about topics like "universal belonging" and "urban nomads".

Some of my favourites where these:

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love (and her new book Big Magic, which we received a copy of). She talked about connecting with people in a more authentic way. And how she, instead of asking "where are you from?" or "what do you do?" ask people "what are you most excited about in your life right now?" and some of the answers she'd got.

The senior nomads. A retired couple who sold their house and who has been traveling the world three years living at Airbnb's. Now they've written a book about their experiences. Don't you get homesick? was one of the questions they got. "It's hard to be homesick when you don't have a home."

The session "Expanding your mind through travel" with Jason Silva, futurist and host of National Geograpics "Brain Games", and Steven Kotler, cofounder of the Flow Genome project. They talked about how traveling and adventures release signal substances in the brain and in a way alters our state of consciousness. It's a way of breaking away from reality, helps your brain to connect ideas and be more creative, and helps you to be more in the present. I couldn't do a fair summary of the whole talk here, but many of the ideas they brought up was mindblowing.

Elisabeth Gilbert

Elisabeth Gilbert

Brian Chesky and Gwyneth Paltrow talking about entrepreneurship.

Brian Chesky and Gwyneth Paltrow talking about entrepreneurship.

The senior nomads. 125 Airbnb's in over three years.

The senior nomads. 125 Airbnb's in over three years.

"Tell me your travel story and I'll write a haiku about it."

"Tell me your travel story and I'll write a haiku about it."

Day 324: Boobie time

I have to say it's been an amazing experience to be at a conference with 7000 Airbnb hosts who all are curious and open to strangers. Everywhere I went there were people who would say hi and start a conversation with you.

Like the blonde woman in her 70s who I bumped into yesterday. She asked me where I was from and then told me she was half Swiss, half German. "But I've been living in the US 53 years. Already when I was 13 I knew I wanted to explore the world. I came here in the early 1960's because where I came from you didn't have many opportunities if you were poor, but I knew that here you could do better if you were hard working and smart. Especially if you're smart."

Then she went on talking about all the things she didn't like about her new home country. The school system, the lack of environmentalism, the junk food.

Now she was living in northern California in a farm.

"I have cows, sheep, goats. The kids love it there. Sometimes guests arrive late. I need to get up early so at nine I'm in my jammies. Then I ask them: "You wanna see some boobie time? Come by at seven tomorrow morning." I mean the goats, of course. I have a milking machine, but if the guests want they can try to hand milk them. Do you know who are best at milking? Kids, six-seven years old. It comes natural for them, for some reason.

Then I have rabbits too. They're just opening their eyes now. That's when they're cutest. But later I eat them of course. I say that to the guests: 'They're cute now. And they taste good later.' "

Day 322: First day of AirbnbOpen

Yesterday was the first day of the conference. Mostly registration and stuff. But I love it! There are so many nice people, and it's great to meet other hosts and talk about things such as which is the best colour for towels. White (because you can bleach them)? Or dark colours (because it's harder to see stains)?

Here are some of the people I talked to:

A woman in her 60's. Social worker from Seattle. Started being an Airbnb host to get an extra income after retirement. And to keep young by meeting people. We talked about how having guests in your home makes you more open to other people. "I'm a little introvert, I wouldn't have been talking to you unless I had had this experience", she told me.

A couple, about 70 years, also from Seattle. They rent out five houses on an island where you can see orcas. It turned out the husband was also celebrating his birthday, so someone suggested we should start singing Happy Birthday and see how many would join. It didn't happen.

A man from California. When he heard I'm from Sweden he told me he had a Swedish couple as guests and showed me pictures of them. He had gone with them to the sea and told me he really liked hanging out with his guests and show them things. One guest was a teacher who was only going to stay three days, but decided to stay for a whole year. When we said goodbye he handed me a note with his phone number, "we are bunch that's gonna have breakfast tomorrow, just call me if you wanna join".

A man who saw my superhost badge (he had one too). "Congratulations on being a super host. My great, great grandfather was from Sweden. Jag talar inte svenska. Välkommen till Los Angeles."

In the line for the Thai food truck a Russian man asking me what pad thai is. He's the manager of 20 Airbnb apartments in Moscow. Was traveling to LA with his son.

A Norwegian couple from Bergen. They rented out a house there. Which is the best season in Bergen, I asked. The summer, they told me.

An woman from Buenos Aires who had been an Airbnb host for six years. She was very engaged in connecting hosts there and creating joint events for guests, such as asados. She also told me they sometimes buy sheets or other necessities together to get a better deal. She had one listing, but was super engaged in being a host and had been to all three Airbnb Open conferences. "Every year I take a photo with Brian Chesky. I need to do that tomorrow."

The Australian man living in Berlin who had 70 listings in Spain. Oh, wow, 70 listings! "Yes, I thought it was a lot, until I heard about someone who had 500." He had, like me, started having guests in his home, six years ago, but had now turned hosting into a business. "I miss that way of hosting a little bit."

The young guy from Beijing in a red hipster beanie, glasses and denim shirt who told me he had seven listings, among them a traditional Chinese house. "Have you been in Beijing? You must go!"

It's amazing to see such diversity among the hosts. Everyone have different stories, ages, nationalities and there is everything from hosts like me who rent out a room in their own home to people who have grown a business from this. I love it!

IMG_6655.JPG

Day 322: My new friend Tibby

Maybe this neighbourhood is not so bad after all. This morning I wore my 366 Days of Sharing t-shirt, when a man, 60-70 years old, on the corner called "366?... Every fourth year!".

Tonight when I was going out I saw him again.

- Still 366 days? Where are you from?

- Sweden.

- Sweden. I was there 1969.

- Oh, how was it?

- Great. It was in the summer, we went to the mountains and it was snowing. But be careful, this is not Sweden. But there are some nice people in this neighbourhood.

He starts describing the people in the building.

- I have the shop around the corner if you need anything. What do you think of the new president?

- I don't know really. He seems crazy.

- Well, it's better than a real crook. And if he's not good, we can always elect someone else in four years.

We've now reached his car.

- My name is Tibby. This is my shop, it's open from 8 in the morning til 5 pm. If you need help with anything.

- Thank you, that's very nice.

- Everyone needs a friend sometimes. Especially if you're in a foreign country.

Day 322: Great place to stay. If you're homeless

So, yes, the accommodation...

I choose a cheap (25 dollars per night) place downtown LA about 15 minutes walk from where the Airbnb Open conference I'm here for is taking place. "The Fashion District" sounded good. There would be bunk beds in a shared room, but I'm fine with that.

Well... bunk beds, yes. But I didn't count on 34 people in two rooms sharing two bathrooms and one kitchen. And loud AC all the night - I'm glad I brought ear plugs. Ok, the hosts who are there are nice and friendly and keep the place clean, but I think 25 bucks for a mattress in a dorm is a little bit overpriced. Regarding safety, there is no place where I can lock my things in. On the other hand, I guess the risk of theft is pretty low, since the other guests seem decent and everyone has their own MacBook anyway... And it's an interesting experience trying this type of accommodation too, all other Airbnb places I've stayed in have been more personal, a home, this is something completely different, but seems a lot more common here. 

And the neighbourhood... Before I arrived I got a message from the owner of the place: "Keep in mind, that it's an old building in the process of being converted from it's industrial roots, but it's also safe and secure and there is a host present to help you out with everything. If you are on foot from downtown LA, I recommend walking down 8th st. until you get onto Towne. The building is on 8th and Towne."

Well... the place is located in a building that was probably nice once, but like most houses here is very worn down. I haven't seen so much of that conversion yet. A couple of blocks away there are people with carts tenting in the street or sleeping wrapped in cardboard. I understand why walking there on 8th is recommended, because if you take Towne Avenue you'd walk through Skid Row, one of the more infamous neighbourhoods (I tried that in daylight, not recommended). According to wikipedia Skid Row "contains one of the largest stable populations (between 3,000 and 6,000) of homeless people in the United States". That's two blocks away. And outside my place there are no night open bars, restaurants or shops whatsoever, so the whole block is dark after sunset.

In other words it doesn't look too safe. The first night I was even worried to go out after dark. So I asked one of the hosts present at the place (not the guy owning the apartment).

- Is it safe around here?

- Yeah, sure, don't worry. The floral market is close and this is the fashion district.

Eh, well, fashion district... if you by fashion mean textile wholesale shops and cheap 3-T-shirts-for-10-bucks stores.

He continued:

- This is better than San Fran. A lot of people who use drugs there. *making a gesture like shooting drugs*. Here it’s just prostitution.

- Uh-huh.

- And homeless people. They all come to California. There's no better place to be homeless than here. On the East coast they will tell them to leave. And in Texas they will shoot them. It’s more relaxed here.

Relaxed. Awesome.

Bunk beds

Bunk beds

Cozyness

Cozyness

Everything is bilingual

Everything is bilingual

"My" street

"My" street

Coffee shop in the ground floor. Pay phone... seriously?

Coffee shop in the ground floor. Pay phone... seriously?

The fashion district

The fashion district

Textile shop in the house

Textile shop in the house

No place like California to be homeless

No place like California to be homeless

Roof top panorama. Nice view over down town. Note the pigeon cages to the left on the roof. Someone is raising pigeons here. For meat? Post?

Roof top panorama. Nice view over down town. Note the pigeon cages to the left on the roof. Someone is raising pigeons here. For meat? Post?

So all in all, maybe the biggest risk at this place is catching the bird flu...

 

 

 

Day 322: My first Lyft

After the ordeal at the airport I decided to use Lyft for the first time. It worked great! Nothing to complain about there. I downloaded the app, requested a ride. My driver Le'Jon arrived in his silver Chevrolet Malibu after about 15 minutes and drove me to my accomodation (about 30 min) for 29 dollars.

After a while I started seeing a lot of homeless people preparing their shelters for the night. When he started turning around corners I got a bit worried, and yes, this was my neighbourhood. He drove up in front of a dark building, in a dark street. No stores, bars or restaurants what so ever.

- Are you sure it's here? he asked.

- I think so.

- Is there anyone you can call? I don't want to leave you on the street here.

So I called the number I had got from the Airbnb host, and yes, it turned out it was the right place. Unfortunately. But thanks a lot to Le'Jon who waited until he was sure I was let in and not alone.

Day 321: Welcome to America

Yesterday evening I arrived to LAX airport. It's always a lovely experience going through the US immigration control. After a ten hour flight and being up for almost 24 hours it's time for the small interrogation.

- What's the purpose of your trip?

- Vacation.

- For how long are you staying?

- About two weeks.

- You don't know? You don't have a return ticket?

- No, not yet.

- Did you know that under the ESTA visa waiver program it's required to have a return ticket?

- No I didn't know that.

- Where are you staying?

- In Los Angeles.

- Which county?

- I don't know.

- You don't know?

- No...

- Where are you staying?

- It's downtown LA.

- How do you know it's downtown?

- I saw it on the map.

- You saw it on the map?

- Yes.

- Do you have the map?

- I'm not sure, I might have it in the phone.

- Can you show me the map?

- I'm not sure I have it actually..

- So you don't have a return ticket. That means we might have to deport you.

- Could I buy a ticket online?

- That's not up to me. I'll send you to the office. What's that? *points to a band aid on my finger*

- I cut myself.

- How?

- When cooking.

- Ok, listen to me. Whatever you do, don't remove it. Don't touch anything with your finger.

- Eh, ok.

- Now do the finger prints. And don't touch the pad with your finger! Hold it like this. Look at me. Thumb in like this. Now practice here first...

- Ok...

- Why did you not buy a return ticket?

- Because I wasn't sure when I wanted to go back.

- What's the purpose of the trip?

- Vacation.

- What's your job.

- I'm a freelance writer.

- You're writing from here?

- I have a blog... I will write some things for the blog.

- You're a journalist? That means you should have a journalist visa.

- Well... I'm not really a journalist... and I don't plan to do any work for contractors here.

- That's what you're saying, and I believe you. But we can't know that for sure.

 

The picture is taken before the immigration control. When I didn't have words such as 'deportation' and 'cavity search' on my mind.

The picture is taken before the immigration control. When I didn't have words such as 'deportation' and 'cavity search' on my mind.

I felt as if every question was a trick question that I could give the wrong answer to. So I did at least three things wrong: I cut my finger when cooking. I didn't have a return ticket. And I didn't apply for a journalist visa/mention that I might write some things while here. Maybe I should have stated that I'm here for a business trip, since I'm going to an Airbnb conference, but no one is paying me anything to be here and I have a hard time myself knowing what is my job and what is now these days, so I didn't even think too much about it.

With that I was sent to the office where I waited about an hour, until immigration officer Finkelstein made a new interrogation.

- Where are you from?

- Sweden.

- How's Sweden today.

- Snowy.

- Good. Or, maybe it's better here.

- What's the purpose of your trip?

- Vacation.

- What will you do here?

- See some friends.

- How long are you staying.

- About two weeks... well, actually, that's the thing, I didn't buy a return ticket... that's why they sent me here.

- Why didn't you buy a return ticket.

- Because I wasn't sure when I wanted to go back.

- But it's more expensive to buy two single tickets?

- Actually not with Norwegian.

- But what if the flights are full.

- I checked and there seemed to be a lot of empty seats.

- Why do you have to be back in two weeks.

- Well... it's not like I really have to be back... but I should go home and get some work done.

- Why do I get an impression that there was a problem with your work here.

- Well, they asked me about my job and I said I'm a freelance writer. If I find something interesting here I might write about it when I get home, but I'm not planning on really working here.

- Hm, ok.

- When was the last time you were in the states?

- Three-four years ago?

- How long did you stay then?

- A week.

- Have you been in Los Angeles before.

- Yes, in 1986.

- What is the longest time you have spent in the US?

- Five weeks.

- Where do your friends live?

- San Diego.

- What kind of transportation are you planning on taking from the airport.

- I thought I might take a cab.

- To San Diego?!

- Well, no, I'm staying in Los Angeles for a few days first.

- What are you doing in Los Angeles.

- Some shopping...

 

Which is not really what I had planned, but it seemed like the easiest answer. It was too late to start trying to explain the Airbnb conference, my blog etc. But anyway, Finkelstein seemed to be happy with my answers, stamped my passport and let me leave, even without purchasing a return ticket.

My thoughts on the whole thing is this: The US immigration rules are clearly not adapted to a world with more freelancers and urban nomads.

And I should be more careful when traveling next time. Being a Swedish citizen I probably got the nice treatment. And am happy not thinking too much about what happened to the people who where taken into the room behind this office...

Nothing makes you appreciate the Schengen agreement more than arriving to the US without a return ticket and with a small cut in a finger.

 

Day 316: Art, food and city tour

When in Amsterdam I decided to try the platform EatWith. I had a few different meal sharing apps to choose between, but found a lunch and city tour that sounded interesting. NEW! Walking tour with Dutch lunch at a local! (red-light district, city centre, museumsquare, canals, architecture).

28 Euros for three hours walk and lunch wasn't super cheap, but an ok price. At 11 am I met Petra, my guide, at the Rijksmuseum. Then she took me for a walk about 1-2 hours. She was very flexible regarding what I was interested in doing." Just let me know if you want to look at any stores. Or if I walk too fast." It was more like taking a walk with a friend, than with a regular tour guide. But with local knowledge. She told me a little bit about the history of different districts of Amsterdam, about hidden churches, and other things I didn't know before. But we also went to an exclusive clothing store with young dutch designers where we spent some time looking at clothes.

After that we walked to her apartment, which was located in the old harbour, now a gentrified area with chic apartments in the old warehouses. Petra is an artist and I had the opportunity to walk around and look at her work, which was very interesting. Then we had Dutch sandwiches for lunch. I can see why the Dutch cuisine is not as famous a the Italian, French or Japanese. But I won't blame Petra for that, the chocolate sprinkles sandwich was the best one I have had.

 

 

 

Day 314: Why doesn't ride sharing work better in Sweden?

Ok, I realize this will seem a little bit incoherent, but I'm in the Netherlands at the moment. I'm visiting a friend in Rotterdam and I haven't done a lot here that I can blog about. But I decided to at least take a day to do some things in Amsterdam. So yesterday morning I took a Blablacar from Rotterdam to Amsterdam.

I love how great this platform is working in many places. There were about five rides every morning to choose from. Departing from slightly different parts of the city, but with similar prices. I paid 5 Euros to the driver, plus a fee to Blablacar of 1.60 Euros. All in all 6.60 Euros, which is super competitive compared to the trains that costs almost 20 Euros for the same trip.

And everything worked great. The driver was a researcher from Pakistan who had been living in the Netherlands for six years. He told me he spoke almost no Dutch. Which was of course no problem for me. And then there was another passenger as well, a Dutch guy working in a bar. He was very talkative, and entertained the rest of us for the one and a half hour ride.

The driver dropped us off in the outskirts of Amsterdam and the bar guy offered to take me to the Rijksmuseum where I had an appointment. That was of great help. Not the least since I couldn't pay with a credit card on the tram and didn't have cash, so he paid for my ticket. When we arrived in the city, I said I'd go have a coffee first and he came along. So I had the opportunity of paying him back, and then he walked with me all the way to the person I was meeting. Super nice!

And since I was very happy with the driver we agreed that I would also go back to Rotterdam with him in the evening.

Everything worked perfect and I saved more than 20 Euros. And the driver said he could almost finance his expenses for the car by doing this.

It's an awesome system. But for some reason ride sharing seems to be growing very slowly in Sweden. I always have a hard time to find rides to where I'm going. Why? It's not like the public transportation is working great all the time...

 

Day 306: California here I come!

At least soon! In the end of the month I will go to Los Angeles for Airbnb Open which seems to be an awesome event! I really look forward to meeting other Airbnb hosts and get lots of inspiration on hosting and related things. There are speakers such as Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, architect Frank Gehry and Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love. (Which is a book I was recommended to read when starting this project. It's about a woman in her thirties who is not happy with her current life situation and decides to do something completely different for a year. (In her case live four months in Italy, India and Bali respectively.) Yes, it sounds familiar... )

And then my plan is to to to San Fransisco which in many ways is the capital of the sharing economy. Lots of sharing platforms were created in the Bay Area and I hope it will give me the opportunity to try some services that I can't find at home.

And then hopefully I will have some time to go surfing. Trading the grey skies of November Sweden for the sunny days of southern California doesn't sound that bad...

 

 

Day 298: All these apps

With only 68 days to go I'm getting a little bit stressed out by all the apps I have left to test. So just in case I won't have time to try them all, here are a few tips for you that are especially great when traveling.

JetSmarter, the jet plane sharing service. One year membership for 12 000 USD is slightly over my budget for this project...

Accomodation apps, such as Wimdu, HouseTrip or Misterbnb. Well, maybe the "stay like a gay local" is not for me.

The boat renting app Click & Boat.

At home restaurants such as VizEat, EatWith, Cookapp and Feastly.

Maybe you know of other sharing platforms that I haven't tried so far? Please write a comment and I'll see what I can do.

 

Day 292: Ridesharing, apples and new guests

Finally, for the first time this year I found someone who wanted to do ride sharing from Uppsala to Stockholm. And since I wanted to try it I had to get up at six to get the ride at seven. Everything worked great! It was a nice guy who picked me up close to where I live and didn't even want to get paid. But I still gave him some money for gas and some apples. 

He had thought about that most cars you see on the high way have no passengers and decided to offer to add his trips in the GoMore app. Nice initiative! Hope more do the same. 

At lunch I gave a talk about my project at Epicenter, a start up hub in Stockholm. It's always very interesting to hear the comments from the audience and to meet new people. Today I got in contact with two sharing services that I haven't used so far. Awesome!

After that I went home (train this time) to clean a guest room and meet the new guests for today, two Australian guys who booked earlier today (unusally late). They sleep in the guest room with a 1.20 m bed: "we are happy to share a bed because we are good mates but we are not gay". 

And then someone came to get some of the apples I posted in Olio yesterday. Wow, this app was just launched in Sweden and seems to work pretty well already. It would be interesting to know if their marketing is different from that of other apps?