NOT SO NEW
In response to the Savvy Traveller article on “the new Airbnb” (Traveller, August 6) while it may be “new” it certainly is not improved. My wife and I have been using Airbnb for more than a decade and have stayed in over two dozen rentals in Australia, Europe and Southeast Asia. There is no longer a filter for a lift or elevator and once upon a time there was a “keyword” option. We used to be able to easily find an apartment with either a balcony or a terrace, but alas no more. As to the latter, we have contacted Airbnb on several occasions and have received no satisfactory explanation. Now you have to scroll through hundreds of ads to try and locate these facilities which is frustrating and very time consuming. Other platforms such as vrbo.com have these options. What has happened?
Thracy Vinga, Coburg, Vic
LETTER OF THE WEEK
NAME THAT TUNE
Your enjoyable cover story (Traveller, July 30) about matching America’s classic songs with its greatest places contained some gems and a few omissions. May I offer an alternative song list imbued with celebration and also romance, nostalgia and introspection? For all the romantics out there we must not forget I Left My Heart In San Francisco. And whether you are 99 Miles from LA or driving along the Ventura Highway you may like to sing-along with John Denver’s ode to West Virginia, Take Me Home, Country Roads. Then it’s a hard choice between Midnight Train To Georgia and Georgia On My Mind as both songs offer a deep and poignant narrative. Or you might like to welcome a new day with the uplifting Good Morning Baltimore from the musical Hairspray. For those interested in a more mystical and darker stroll in the French Quarter of New Orleans then Sting’s Moon over Bourbon Street is the song for you.
Peter Khoury, Wyoming, NSW
RIGHT ON TRACKER
I bought an Apple Airtag tracker for my checked luggage and, as a result, during my recent transit through Sydney I could see on boarding my connecting flight to Darwin that my bag was not aboard the plane. I told the Qantas customer service desk I needed the bag as I had a Qantas international connecting flight out of Darwin and I was categorically assured that it would be loaded. It wasn’t. Now I’m overseas and after two days have not received a single word from Qantas, let alone compensation. I’m just lucky that Alex, an airport employee, says he will call me when it arrives so I can collect it from the airport.
Simon Benedict, Docklands, Vic
My wife and I were recently lining up for our return flight back to Sydney from Alice Springs when we received bad news from our daughter that our much loved nine-year-old Labrador had just died. It was a great shock and although upset, we continued to board the Qantas flight. From the moment we showed the boarding pass and continued to find our seats, the Qantas staff observed our apparent distress and asked what was causing it. Tearily, we shared the bad news. What followed was great customer empathy and kindness by the on-board crew to the point of even sharing their own dog stories which helped us get through the flight back to Sydney. Qantas may have its detractors and complainers about its current performance as an on-time airline, but we can only praise flight crew for their care and consideration shown to us over the two and half hour flight home.
Allan Scadden, Earlwood, NSW
JUDI, JUDI, JUDI
For many years I have been constantly asked and at times energetically pursued along streets by people hoping I was Dame Judi Dench. (Traveller, August 13 and July 30) From the ancient pyramids of Saqqara in Egypt, throughout Europe, the UK, Japan and Australia and many other places we have visited, it has at times felt relentless. Whilst walking in the Yorkshire Dales some years ago one man called out as he approached “I am hoping to go down on my knees and bow to Dame Judi”. A little later, as we were lunching in an atmospheric pub, the wait staff constantly came up to our table to inquire if everything was good. When we went to pay the bill the maitre’d asked hopefully if I was really Judi Dench — apparently they had all been taking bets on the possibility.
Margaret Woods, Fitzroy, Vic
SOAK IT UP
I’m with Ben Groundwater, (Traveller, July 16) that some of the best memories from travel are the ones when you just sit and be, not racing around ticking off the list of things to see. It’s just fascinating to stop, soak in the atmosphere and watch the world go by while sipping on a coffee or an aperitif. Really there is nothing better.
Lisa Clarke, Watsons Bay, NSW
100% PURE FRUSTRATION
After 90 minutes spent trying to upload my International COVID Vaccination Certificate for my New Zealand Travel Declaration, I rang the NZ Travel Declaration hotline. After half an hour on the phone, it turns out that the maximum number of doses you should fill in the form is “two”. Of course, the form doesn’t tell you that, so if you put in “four”, including your two boosters, it will refuse to upload your certificate. But it won’t tell you why. And if you try to type in the month of your vaccinations, forget about typing “08” for August. No, you have to type “Aug” and again it doesn’t tell you that. You need to figure it out after it refuses to load that page. New Zealand: fabulous country, utterly stupid bureaucracy (and I’m allowed to say that as it’s my homeland).
Pam Kershaw, Collingwood, Vic
FIT FOR PURPOSE
Lee Tulloch writes (Traveller, July 30), “if we both have properly fitted masks, the chances of catching anything, including colds, is much slimmer.” My recent return trip Melbourne Coolangatta with two separate airlines (three days apart) demonstrates what an important issue this is with many passengers’ masks not fitted correctly or not worn at all. I tested positive to COVID-19 two days later. Airlines have been allowed to recommence normal operations without passengers having to social distance, which allows them to fill their planes. Passengers are required to wear a properly fitted mask, covering nose and mouth, while on the plane. Airlines do not enforce this for some reason. Why?
Michael Freudenstein, Rosewhite, Vic
TIP OF THE WEEK
For those of you who have been to Paris many times and are looking for something different, I can recommend the Museum of Architecture (citedelarchitecture.fr) at the Trocadero in Paris. It’s a collection of replicas and original buildings and decorations from the Middle Ages until modern times. It has frescoes, sculptures, paintings, models and much more. Some of the replicas only exist as the original building has been destroyed. The museum also has exhibitions and one to look forward to is the art deco one later this year. From inside the museum the windows offer fabulous views of Paris, particularly the Eiffel Tower just over the river and outside are the fabulous fountains of the Trocadero.
Elaine Hoyle, Avalon Beach, NSW
ON THE CASE
As a tourist guide for inbound travellers, over the years I have dealt with many instances of passengers missing luggage (mostly black bags). My advice is don’t opt for a black bag — let your luggage stand out. Try and have a bright coloured case and consider sticking contrasting coloured duct tape across the front, back, sides, top and bottom. Your case will be unique and stand out on the carousel at any angle. I have used this method successfully and have even received compliments from check-in staff. Finally, name tags can and do come off so attach two.
AngelaTurek, Killara, NSW
This octogenarian is considering a three-week visit to Europe but my knowledge of Europe is a complete blank, apart from visiting Paris some years ago for a particular event. The idea of visiting several countries over three weeks doesn’t appeal as I would prefer to spend four or five days getting to experience the culture of each place. Suggestions please for a once-in-a-lifetime visit.
David Lloyd, Northwood, NSW
DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT
Following Larry Stillman’s advice (Traveller, August 6) should you find yourself in a hospital in Italy, if you do travel there remember to take your Medicare card. The reciprocal arrangement between Australia and Italy meant Medicare covered costs for ambulance and hospital treatment for my mother following a bad bike fall a few years ago. She only had to claim the cost of a neck brace on her travel insurance. If you are the accompanying traveller and have to pay for a hotel to be with the injured person in Venice hospital, get a hospital letter explaining the relationship in order to be exempted from paying the local hotel tax. Do check terms of travel insurance carefully so the doctor statements for adjusted return flight costs are reimbursed, as seeking explanatory letters at a later date can be difficult.
Polly Seidler, Darlinghurst, NSW
YOU PAY, WE ALL PAY
While fancy Bali resorts can organise fast track-style airport service (Traveller, August 6) we should acknowledge it for what it really is. Paying $50 cash, per person, to avoid four separate queues (proof of vaccination, visa payment, immigration and finally customs) provides an incentive for airport authorities to maintain the mess that is Bali airport. Australians should be supporting the Balinese people rebuild after COVID rather than paying cash bribes to skip airport queues.
Simon Benedict, Docklands, Vic
ON THE RAILS
I have had, within limits, a really interesting travel life and now, at nearly 80, I want to spend time going local. Travelling by train is at the head of my list. I need single train travel accommodation at a reasonable price but am finding a reasonable price hard to come by. If anyone knows which trains value and accommodate older single people in terms of service and cost, please let me know.
Carol Oliver, Carlton, Vic
WRITE TO US AND WIN
The Letter of the Week writer wins Hardie Grant travel books worth more than $100. For August, that includes Explore Australia 2022; Ultimate Road Trips USA & Canada; and World Cocktail Adventures. See hardiegrant.com
The Tip of the Week writer wins Lonely Planet books more than $100. Get under the skin of some of the world’s favourite cities with Lonely Planet’s ground-breaking new Experience Guides. Each guide lets the reader discover the unique personality of each city, with first-hand experiences from locals, off-beat day trips and a fresh outlook on well-known sites. RRP$34.99 each. See shop.lonelyplanet.com
THE FUTURE OF TRAVEL: YOUR VERDICT
Dear readers, we’re planning a special 15-year anniversary edition of Traveller and we’d like to hear your thoughts about the future of travel. What are your hopes, dreams and, yes, fears and concerns? How can the world travel better and how will we be travelling in 15 years time (that is, 2037)? Where do you still want to go and what do you want to see and experience? We’ll publish the best letters with the writers each receiving the prize of a Lonely Planet travel book. Write to us by no later than Friday, August 12 (see the details below).
HOW TO WRITE TO US
We give preference to letters of 100 words or fewer and they may be edited for space, legal or other reasons. Please use full sentences, don’t use textspeak and don’t include attachments. Email us at [email protected] and, importantly, include your name, address and phone number.