Their Home is Your Home

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Bed and breakfasts give travelers the inside stories on the regions they are visiting

There are many ways to see a country — plane, train or automobile; bike, hike or float, hotel; tent or cruise ship.

My personal favorite is by bed and breakfast. I love to become a part of the country or area I am visiting, and nothing works better than staying in a bed and breakfast.

Bed and breakfast is a fairly general term, referring to establishments that offer sleeping accommodations and breakfast the next morning. What tends to stay in the minds of people who haven’t had a chance to try it is that a bed and breakfast is always a person’s home.

Sometimes, people feel that this can be uncomfortable, as though you are barging in on the host’s life. Nothing is farther from the truth. Proprietors of bed and breakfast are delighted to have guests.

They love to offer their home — and their hospitality — to travelers. It is a wonderful way to visit with local people in a comfortable setting.

The most important feature that I look for when selecting a bed and breakfast is if the room has a private bath. This isn’t always possible, especially in small towns, but travelers must not assume.

Many times, especially in the slower seasons, shared baths may become private if the establishment has only a few guests.

When my husband and I went to England on our honeymoon, we selected a variety of bed and breakfasts to stay in as we drove around the country.

Sometimes, we chose them on name alone, such as Bucher’s Farmhouse (where we discovered that people weren’t almost 6 foot 3 inches when the house was built in the 1600s. My husband had to duck!).

Or we chose by location, such as in Bath, where we stayed in a 1700s mansion just one block from the Crescent.

In Germany, a few years later, we took the bed-and-breakfast route again, this time choosing medieval castles, quaint country inns and people’s homes.

Bed and breakfasts in the United States include quaint New England Inns, charming Victorian homes, rustic ranches and farms, and cozy wine country homes.

When traveling through Spain and Portugal, majestic paradores offer dramatic accommodations.

The food I have had the pleasure of trying has varied, but it is always fun. When my mother and I went to London for my 21st birthday, our host burned the toast every day!

But it was in a bed and breakfast that I discovered how people in England really ate — they eat tomatoes for breakfast and bangers (sausages).

In France, they eat croissants with pats of butter and strong coffee or hot chocolate. Germans enjoy hearty bread, cheese and meat.

And in Topeka, at the Woodward, I have had a delightful oven- baked pancakes with pears. When you travel to a foreign country and stay in American hotels that only offer American food, these culinary treats just aren’t available.

A good travel agency also has terrific access to bed and breakfasts, which can be arranged either with a self-drive car or a car and driver.

A car and driver is desirable in foreign countries where the signs aren’t in English and the cars drive on the other side of the road!

A common misconception is that a person can travel at leisure and simply show up at a bed and breakfast without reservations in any town.

This can be a problem if you arrive late at night, in a small town with only a few bed and breakfasts, and they are all booked up.

Make reservations, even if you call only the day ahead while you are on the road. hk

Exerpted from:
Capital-Journal "Their home is your home". Topeka Capital-Journal, The. 06 Aug, 2009.

Jerry Houman
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