Assumptions about rural area

We have been hosting a room in our house for a few years. We have always had fantastic guests - We are in a small town just south of Saratoga Springs NY where August is the peak of tourist season due to the horse racing. We have hosted people before for the NYS bar exam in Albany but this year the overflow has been scheduled for Saratoga Springs. We accepted a booking for a young man from Lisbon taking the bar. He managed to figure out how to take a bus from JFK to Port Authority to Albany and then a bus to Saratoga Springs. He called on a cell phone to tell me his plan and that involved a taxi from Saratoga Springs to here. I didn’t think fast enough but called him right back to tell him we would pick him up when he got to Saratoga but had to leave a voice mail. It turns out he is traveling without a cell phone and had borrowed one to call me. Without a phone he can’t even call an uber! The bus dropped him off close to us but of course he had no way of knowing that so he asked a couple about where we were and they were kind enough to drop him at our door. He thought he could just hail a taxi from anywhere. That would not work around here. So we drove him to the bar exam and picked him up but his plan for Thursday is to sightsee. How is that even possible in this area without a car? It has been a great visit and he is a terrific young man. Our solution is that my son in law who drives an uber will take him sightseeing on Thursday and just charge him the regular uber fare. The guest is delighted with this solution. I am not asking for advice or anything but I thought it interesting that even though my listing says a car is pretty much needed around here that he, living only in metro areas in Europe, thought he could just get around independently. I have no idea what he would have done without my neighbor’s help and our willingness to chauffeur him to the test. Public transportation around here is pretty non available. We are pretty used to the horse racing crowd in August so this has been a whole new experience for us.


My friends said that the translation bit is not so great and listing etc can easily be confusing. Thank goodness he ended up in a nice spot with good people!


Sounds to me as if the young man was very lucky in the people he met in a difficult situation: your neighbours who took him to your house and you as hosts who were willing to go the extra mile to help him. I’m sure those are the memories he will take from his adventure!


It’s the bit about him not having a mobile that gets me, he must stick out like a sore thumb in Lisbon. He’ll be the only one not glued to a phone when walking and the only one in the cafe not checking their messages every two minutes!



Up here in the southern tip of Maine I’ve dealt with this on occasion too. People from metro areas in Europe have a hard time wrapping their heads around the amount of space there is here in North America.

I once had a lovely older couple visiting the US for the first time from London. They landed in Boston and rented a car. They drove up to Maine, which really, from my perspective, is a short 90 minutes, but they honestly thought it would take them a half hour. They were so cute.

And yes, people who live in cities have difficulty understanding the lack of public transportation we have out here in the “sticks”. :smile:


Perhaps he’s smart and was counting on the goodness of people. Most people would help a lost soul and he knew that : )

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I am sure he has one but when I asked him about it he said that the directions for the bar was that he was not allowed to bring a cell phone. I can only guess that he thought that meant not just to the test but to the country? I don’t really get it.

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Hopefully he will pass the bar!

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@Chloe Had a similar experience with some distant relatives visiting USA for first time and who were also planning on seeing us for a quick visit some years ago. They thought they would do something in the morning, and another at noon and another that evening - but it was in FL and it was a 5-6+ hr drive between each stop. They didn’t even get the scale of FL as compared to Sweden, let alone the whole USA.

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In 2017 I had a lovely older couple and a sister/sister-in-law who got off a cruise ship in Southampton, hired a car and somehow drove here via Brighton. They got lost in Brighton and ended up here four hours later looking for somewhere to stay. They thought The Chance Inn, next door, would be a cutesy place to stay; an Inn surely has rooms? Fortunately I could take them in. They were indeed my first guests and started me on my journey.

The following morning over breakfast, I learned detail of how they had got lost several times, that they hadn’t realised that “England” was quite so big and rural, and that they were planning on driving up to London today, as my heart sank to my boots. It sank through the floor when they told me where they were staying in London that night; just off a very busy arterial road, with a monstrous roundabout to navigate, and that’s once they were in Central London. They thought the trip would take about an hour, including dropping their hire car off.

I spent an hour gently dissuading them, on the grounds that they would be putting their mental health at risk! I suggested the high speed train but they had too much luggage to carry safely, so we ended up with the car dropped off at the local office, and a taxi into London from a firm I know well. By the time they left here. they hit rush hour in London, and the whole journey took four hours. They were so relieved that I had stopped them driving, they sent me £50 via the taxi driver, and tipped him “very well indeed”.

So it works both ways. Some Americans think Little England is just that!

@JohnF , my fellow Londoner. They were staying just off Highbury Corner but had to take the hire car to Edgeware Road , then get the tube back to Highbury&Islington…

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Possibly. He’s Portuguese, and they are some of the most lovely, hospitable, friendly people in the world. Perhaps he just thought everyone is like the Portuguese! Nice to learn of such good folk though.


That doesn’t compute. Sweden is 900 miles long and 300 miles wide compared to Florida being 500 miles long and 160 miles wide.


How kind of you to help this fella out, he may well have struggled without you going that extra mile as a host! It’s nice of your neighbour and son-in-law to step in too.

If your listing points out a car is required there’s not much else you can do to forewarn non-drivers, aside from reiterate the point when they make a booking a request!

I’m sure this young man will be very grateful for your assistance and will hopefully leave a glowing review.

Actually he is from the Netherlands but lives in Portugal. I had not even realized how impossible it is to get around without a car or phone. There are a few places to walk to but not many.

Although I haven’t met him yet, I anticipated this city slicker when I wrote our “getting around” section. I acknowledge it has probably never been read before:

Getting Around
A vehicle is necessary; there is no public transportation and it is not a pedestrian area. Three vehicles can park on concrete pads. There is ample overflow parking on compact gravel. It is a short 1 mile walk to the town of xxxxxxxxx from here, but it is not pedestrian friendly, especially where you have to cross the river.

I get it because I lived in europe… i.e. (some) People from Europe don’t understand that we can fit most of the EU inside of one state. They have no concept that driving across the state is like driving halfway cross their country, or all the way across several countries.


I used to point out that the nearest bus stop was 2km away and a car was required to get here or I could pick them up from the nearest train station 40km away for a fee. I had no takers so I dropped it. I did have one chap who lived 50km away who got his mum to drop him and his dog off and pick them up a week later. He had some issues but was an excellent guest.

and for the record as much ribbing as Americans rightfully get for being geographically challenged, I can’t tell you how many giggles I got for being asked if Texas is close to New York or Chicago (the two most likely places for a European to have a relative living, evidently based on my sample size of one lol).


I had a bf in London who once mentioned the “small bitey dogs on Edgeware Road”. We had no idea what he was talking about but it became the phrase my best friend would repeat every time his name came up. I just remember the Argos.

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I think I can help to explain that to you, @LoneStar. In Europe, we don’t see any problem with driving distances. (Isn’t Chicago only about 1000 miles from Texas?) Many Europeans would rather drive than fly - for a long time we’ve been conscious of ‘flygskam’; flight-shaming. It’s just an eco thing difference, I guess.

I remember when I was first in the States being amazed that there were flights from Miami, for example, to Orlando - I think that’s only a couple of hundred miles. The idea of flying between the two places is bonkers to me.

What makes me chuckle is when Americans hear my accent and realise that I’m English - I get 'Oh, my cousin lives in London - do you know her?"

One, I am from 200 miles away from London and two, I think London has about 8 million inhabitants - so it’s unlikely :slight_smile: