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Movies, dining and things to do / Spokane and North Idaho

Time to take in the Big Apple

In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, I'll be in New York, spending time with my daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren. So I'll be blogging from there.

One thing for travelers: our Airbnb experience.

Not familiar with Airbnb? Well, click here to get an explanation. Or here to get access. But my advice? Be careful. We had tried to book several places in New York, near where my daughter and her family live in Brooklyn. Most were already taken, though we learned later that part of the problem we faced involved our not knowing the tricks (which involve having references and/or providing enough of a profile to let people know you are not creeps).

But even then, you're not going to get a guarantee. The place we did book was nothing like it was advertised. It sat on the fourth floor of an elevatorless building (no surprise), located at a rather dicey corner of buildings in an even dicier section of the borough. Worse, the stairwell was paint-spattered and littered (and at one point, we found a plastic baggie of some white-powdery-looking stuff that we couldn't identify - if you know what I mean).

And the apartment itself? Bare to the max, with only overhead lighting (no lamps), a kitchen with no utensils, a bed on the floor with only a sheet. One look at we decided we just weren't going to stay there. And we're still negotiating with Airbnb and the apartment's owner about getting back at least some of our money (which we had paid in advance).

Are we spoiled? Maybe, though we have stayed in a low-rent hotel in what used to be known as Hell's Kitchen, not to mention London, Rome, Guadalajara and Beijing. My complaint is that the place didn't compare at all to the way it had been advertised. And for the price ($135 a night), we could have booked a hotel in Manhattan.

So use Airbnb. My friend Leslie Kelly is a big proponent of it. Just make sure you know what you're getting into.

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