How an Airbnb disaster led to a beautiful friendship

Garrett Gardner


When a substantial plumbing disaster strikes, most Airbnb friends would pack their baggage and need their revenue back again, while their hosts would glumly compose off their gains and try to fail to remember about it.

But for German vacationers Elke Thau-Montgomery and Rudi Thau, and their American hosts Beth Ann Moon and Jennifer Steinberg, a calamitous Airbnb predicament turned into a continent-spanning, five-several years-and-counting friendship.

Florida-centered couple Beth and Jennifer outlined the apartment linked to their dwelling on Airbnb for the first time in 2017. Beth and Jennifer are gay, and were being wary about homophobia from their friends (Beth jokes that she hid from the initially few bookers.)

But attendees from the US and beyond came and went, and mainly saved to by themselves.

Elke and Rudi stood out from the beginning. They had been helpful and calm, and arrived bearing a bottle of gin as a gift.

Elke and Rudi were being captivated to Beth and Jennifer’s Airbnb because of its area – close to the Everglades in the southern idea of Florida – and Beth and Jennifer’s inviting backyard pool.

But what sealed the deal was the Volkswagen Beetle parked exterior. The German pair figured any individual with a VW Beetle was possible to be on their wavelength.

“Let’s go there, they need to be pleasant people today,” Elke recollects considering.

When Elke and Rudi presented their hosts with the gin, Beth went into the dwelling and brought out another bottle from the exact distillery, about double the dimension.

“We had been laughing at every single other,” suggests Elke.

“We hit it off as soon as they arrived,” suggests Beth.

The two couples finished up sitting outdoors all evening, consuming and chatting.

“It was really the initial time that we had ever connected with men and women that ended up listed here,” says Jennifer. “They ended up just like us, we had so a lot of matters in frequent.”

Beth Ann Moon (left) and Jennifer Steinberg (right) opened up their home to Airbnb guests in 2017.

But then a few of times later, catastrophe strike. The plumbing in the Airbnb stopped operating. To deal with the problem, Jennifer and Beth had to utilize emergency contractors who promptly switched off the drinking water source, and dug a large gap in the backyard.

“They jack hammered the outside the house, simply because the floor is manufactured of coral rock,” describes Jennifer. “It was rather an interruption. Elke and Rudi couldn’t use the lavatory. It was a undesirable condition.”

Jennifer and Beth have been apologetic. They expected their German visitors would be absent by the following morning.

“Most people today, I assume, that ended up at an Airbnb would demand their revenue again and demand that we get a lodge for them,” suggests Jennifer. “I did not know what to count on. And the up coming factor I understood, they were in our backyard making us a fireplace pit.”

Rudi and Elke manufactured it obvious they weren’t heading anyplace unless Jennifer and Beth required them to. The Germans weren’t rattled by the mishap, acquiring it entertaining extra than just about anything else.

Elke says they just felt undesirable for their hosts and their plumbing issues. The hearth pit was the first in a collection of sort gestures that Elke and Rudi hoped would cheer up a panicked Beth and Jennifer.

And alternatively than driving their company out the door, the crisis only brought the two partners nearer.

“They just became our these types of near pals,” states Jennifer.”They understood we were upset. And they experimented with to do things around our home to make us sense happy. And they did not go anywhere. They stuck with us.”

An arrangement was shortly labored out whereby Rudi and Elke could make use of loos in the major property. Evenings have been expended sitting about the new hearth pit. The two bottles of gin have been emptied, as the two couples whiled absent several hours talking about cooking, family members, travels, their respective international locations and cultures and their thoughts on daily life, politics and friendship.

“We all kind of imagine the same about things – politics, cultural issues and things,” says Elke. “We related and that was awesome.”

Here's Elke teaching Jennifer how to make German apple strudel.

Elke and Rudi ended up avid travelers who constantly greeted Airbnb hosts with heat and friendliness. But they’d never bonded with everyone in the way they bonded with Jennifer and Beth.

“We didn’t have an working experience like this right before and we’re extremely grateful for it, to get some superb buddies out of that,” suggests Elke.

“I’ll convey to you that I in no way experienced that working experience with any one,” agrees Jennifer. “Due to our ages, we by no means truly expected to make these shut close friends so late in life.”

As Elke and Rudi’s vacation wound to a close, ideas began brewing for Beth and Jennifer to visit Rudi and Elke in Bavaria. In advance of the German tourists left, the People booked flights for later that 12 months.

The foursome parted as close buddies. And when Rudi and Elke ended up back again home in Germany, Beth and Jennifer refunded their continue to be.

“We realized they would not take it if we did it even though they ended up here,” claims Jennifer.

Rudi and Elke have this maypole in their backyard. It's topped with an illustration of their loved ones, including Beth and Jennifer.

Various months later on, the two partners reunited in Germany like no time experienced passed. Jennifer and Beth liked seeing the region by means of the eyes of persons who dwell there. They also popped more than to Austria and the Czech Republic.

“Neither one of us had at any time been to Europe,” suggests Jennifer. “We’ve just been viewing the environment and it’s mainly because of Rudi and Elke. There is not any way that we could have ever carried out, what we have accomplished and what we have witnessed in Europe on our very own.”

From there, a custom was founded. Every single wintertime, Elke and Rudi expend an extended holiday vacation with Beth and Jennifer. And in the slide, the Us citizens return the check out.

Beth and Jennifer no for a longer time hire their space out on Airbnb – it’s reserved for Elke and Rudi, additionally they’ve due to the fact adopted canines.

Five a long time on from their to start with assembly, the couples’ beloved kinds have also achieved and bonded. Today, Rudi, Elke, Jennifer and Beth see on their own as a single extended, cross-continental family.

“Even when we go to Germany, their family members is our household,” claims Beth.

Rudi and Elke erected a homemade maypole (a tall picket pole ordinarily utilized in European folk festivals) in their garden in Bavaria, topped with a picture of their household. Obviously, Jennifer and Beth are included in the illustration.

“It’s just these kinds of a type illustration or image of our combined cultures and how we sense about just about every other like family,” claims Jennifer.

While the two partners bonded from day 1, they credit rating the plumbing mishap for cementing their friendship, at minimum in aspect.

“I really don’t know if I can say any one particular point was the alchemy that clicked, due to the fact it just took place. But I assume it was the plumbing,” suggests Jennifer. “Maybe we’d be pals in any case. But if we hadn’t had a crisis to get as a result of together, it wouldn’t have been the similar.”

“Besides that chemistry involving individuals, I do consider it is a minor little bit the way also we reacted to this very little mishap with the plumbers,” states Elke. “Rudi and I tried out to consider it with a good deal of humor, because matters come about, it is just the way of lifestyle.”

Ideal now, Rudi and Elke are going to Beth and Jennifer in the US, and the group are active organizing a summer months 2023 Croatia family vacation. When the mates aren’t physically alongside one another, they capture up by using common video clip phone calls. They see on their own as not just very best pals, but surrogate family.

And they are delighted that travel – and extra particularly, a vacation mishap – brought them together.

“Travel, and you learn,” is how Rudi sums it up.

“You never ever know who you are going to satisfy,” suggests Jennifer “Just be open-minded, and allow people today into your heart. These chance encounters can alter somebody’s existence, and Rudi and Elke have unquestionably changed my lifetime. It is not usually about romance. It’s about folks and the electricity they have and how you just never ever know.”

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