An ode to AirBnB

Hey, remember once upon a time when my family spent two weeks in Scandinavia last SUMMER? Yeah, me too, and I'm not going to pull a Paris 2015 and completely ignore that trip, because that trip was the best. We're talking flawless weather, amazing scenery, weird and delicious food, and adventures the Schwegfam will be talking about for years. That said, planning a trip for five is a lot harder than for the three Schwegwomen, especially given I had a lot of pre-existing Paris knowledge and knew next-to-nothing about Scandinavia. 

Let's rewind almost a year back to Thanksgiving 2015. We were all sitting around the family room and kitchen in our pajamas watching the Macy's Parade, when Papa Bear suddenly and authoritatively said, "Okay fam, it's time to talk about our next family trip." Needless to say, our ears all perked up and we immediately tuned out of the parade (sorry, Macy's). What followed was a highly scientific approach in which we each proposed a trip. Me: the UK (Anglophile for LIFE). Jonathan: Austria and Switzerland. Em: Spain and Portugal. Jodes: our eventual winner, Scandinavia. We then ranked trips in order of appeal, assigned a reverse number of points (#1 choice gets 4 points, #2 gets 3, etc) and worked our way down. It ultimately came down to Scandinavia or Austria/Switzerland, and we decided on somewhere none of us had been before: Scandinavia! Next thing I knew, it was 3pm and I was still unshowered, in my pajamas, with a giant Excel spreadsheet and a whole trip itinerary laid out for us. NERD ALERT. 

Traveling with five adults means either paying astronomical hotel costs or getting creative...and with our previous history with AirBnb in Paris and domestically, naturally, we got creative. If you're traveling pretty much anywhere, AirBnb inevitably has amazing options at a wide variety of price points...cheaper than hotels, or total luxury splurges. The added benefit of AirBnb: the local hosts are often incredibly willing to offer tips on restaurants, sights, and getting around. Louise, our Paris AirBnb host, was a dream come true, and we had the same experience getting ready for Scandinavia. 

We started our trip in Reykjavik, which, due to its size, had fewer options for a family of five. Fortunately, we totally lucked out with this gorgeous two-story condo in Laugardalur, a bit outside of downtown Reykjavik. Jodes and Papa Bear had their own room on the main floor, while Jonathan, Emily and I bunked upstairs. 

Fun fact: all those photos were taken around 10pm - we traveled to Iceland in early June, at peak midnight sun season. The condo was as bright and sunny at 2am as it was at 2pm...which made sleeping under a skylight a bit interesting! That said, we got SO lucky with the weather in Iceland...sunny days and low sixties the entire trip. Perfection. 

Needless to say, some of the Schwegs found it easier to sleep in the sunshine than others. Emily and I may have been wide awake, but we enjoyed our discovery of Jonathan's selected reading material for the trip so much that the insomnia/jet lag combo was way worth it. 

What an endless source of entertainment our very own little gentleman abroad is! 

After Iceland, we packed up and headed to Stockholm right in time to escape the rain headed for Reykjavik. Our family had a harder time with Sweden than with Iceland or Norway, largely due to the very distinct neighborhoods of Stockholm proper. At first, we were going to go really wild and stay about 45 minutes outside the city in a villa on a private archipelago into Stockholm by ferry, enjoy sunsets on a dock in the sea, and spend the morning swimming in the ocean and then warming up in the sauna. Fortunately, we decided that we'd rather be more central...although I've still got that archipelago vacation on my bucket list! 

We ended up renting a total wild card apartment near Mariatorget, one of Stockholm's biggest and best-known parks. Conveniently located less than a hundred yards from a Metro station, this apartment might have been Emily's dream home. Billed on AirBnB as a "luxury art inner city apartment," it was very bohemian and covered with random paintings, sculptures and objets d'arts. Absolutely bizarre but such a fun immersion in a totally different way of living than we were used to. 

Having the huge amount of space an AirBnb provided over a hotel came in really handy in Stockholm...the second I woke up on our travel day from Iceland to Sweden, I realized I was really, really sick. The entire time we were in Stockholm, I felt like shit...achy, sniffly, and hacking up a lung/short of breath. I'm pretty sure it was probably bronchitis or pneumonia or the plague...or just a particularly insidious garden-variety cold. Either way, having so much room in our AirBnB meant I had my own room to crash in, and didn't keep everyone up all night coughing. Here's to a good night's sleep curing all. 

Finally, Oslo - my personal favorite of the trip! My mom and I found this gorgeous flat in one of our first searches and fell in love immediately. One of Oslo's greatest charms is how easily walkable the city is...we were staying in the western part of the city, but spent a lot of time strolling the quiet (ritzy) neighborhood and exploring the shops around the flat. The above-ground tram was two minutes away, and the neighborhood we stayed in was quiet and relaxed. The second I saw the giant lilac bushes around the door, I was ready to move in. 

Didn't hurt either that inside was basically a dream. Easily the nicest of the places we stayed, and absolutely perfect for winding down at the end of our trip...we were all a little extra-tired and I was still plague-ridden by the time we arrived in Oslo. 

Hideous, right? 

AirBnb saved us so much money on multiple hotel rooms over the course of the trip! That said, we did end up resorting to hotels in Bergen, on the west coast of Norway, and for our last single night in Oslo - in Bergen, we stayed at the Thon Hotel Bristol, which was perfectly nice for a quick overnight stay (and included breakfast, which Papa Bear loooooved). For our last night in Norway, we got in too late for an AirBnb returning from the fjords, so we stayed in the Frogner House Apartments, a way nicer Residence Inn-type deal. 

Next up for our AirBnB adventures: Christmas in a California wine country villa, and a February wedding in Miami in a penthouse condo on the beach! Here's to traveling in style and living like locals!