Airbnbs are a ‘living hell’ if you live next door

SPARE A THOUGHT

With accredited accommodation providers having been smashed by COVID I sincerely wish that travellers would support those directly employed in the accommodation sector now that travel restrictions are lifting. Residents hate Airbnb and its ilk’s penetration of our residential buildings and suburbs and our courts, in fact, judge mixing holiday rentals with permanent residents to be “fundamentally incompatible”. Neighbours call them a living hell. With housing availability and affordability so critical for so many, please, act responsibly when travelling. These multi-billion dollar foreign owned booking platforms deserve no place whatsoever in our homes.

Trish Burt, The Rocks. NSW

LETTER OF THE WEEK

MIGHT OF THE DOLOMITES

Having enjoyed the Dolomites region as described in Lissa Christopher’s article (Traveller, October 16), I can highly recommend it for a summer hiking, cycling or even as a lazy holiday. However, Lissa failed to mention that although the Groednertal/Val Gardena is in Italy, it is the province of South Tyrol, where the principal and widely-spoken official language is German.

The culture is much closer to Austrian than Italian. There are comfortable places in the 25 kilometres valley, starting at about $150 per night in the three towns of Sankt Ulrich, Sankt Cristina in Groeden and Wolkenstein. We had dinner, bed, and breakfast for $250 per night for two in Sankt Ulrich in a comfortable, family-run hotel. Driving four hours from Milan north-east to the valley is an unnecessary burden, and a car is not needed to get around. Take the train to Waidbruck and then the Number 350 bus to Sankt Ulrich.

South Tyrol has an excellent public transport system. Buses are cheap and frequent, and a three-day or seven-day travel pass (Mobilcard) is available with unlimited travel by bus and train anywhere in South Tyrol. A seven-day pass costs $45.. Access to the Seiser Alm, the Seceda and the other higher areas such as the Sellajoch is by cable car. Discounted three-day and five-day passes are available for unlimited access to many of these areas. Pack a jumper, sunscreen and a hat.

Harvey Gough, Chirnside Park, VIC

DUTCH MISTREAT

For many years I have been booking most accommodations here and overseas through Booking.com. I have found them to be reliable and cost effective. I am in Sydney and a couple of months ago I reserved hotel accommodation for my family in Queensland. I surprisingly found that on this occasion to receive my usual discount I had to pay up front. At the payment page I could then pay either by credit card (normally used) or PayPal. This time I chose PayPal. A few days later I was shocked to discover that my credit card had been charged a $41 “overseas transaction fee.” I have now found, after many frustrating phone calls, that this charge was levied because Booking.com runs its payments division from the Netherlands. At no point was this clearly disclosed on the Booking.com web page. Lesson learned.

Peter Smithson, Rozelle, NSW

CLEARING THE AIR

“The View from Here” does look hopeful as outlined by Lee Tulloch in her column (Traveller, October 30). It is existential, not political. Bravo Lee.

Yvonne Jessup, Byron Bay, NSW

NO LECTURES, PLEASE

I was taken aback when I read Lee Tulloch’s recent column, “There’s Hope In This Time Of Change” (Traveller, October 30). Lee made the following statement at the end of this article: “The biggest lever we can pull is to vote out governments that not only refuse to take clear action on climate now but actively promote policies that propel us towards a dystopian future. This is not political. It’s existential”. Lee’s statement was 100 per cent political. She should not be lecturing us to vote out this current government.

Olga Rudyk, Port Melbourne ,VIC

COUNTER CULTURE

I have to disagree with the comment by Tim Richards in his train journeys article that all railway station coffee is terrible. While travelling across Sicily, I had excellent espresso for one euro in station cafes and bars, standing at zinc-covered counters along with the friendly locals.

John Woodward, Ashfield, NSW

BACK ON TRACK

Tim Richards rekindled a desire to travel by train once more. One of the loveliest train journeys I have experienced, the trip from Bergen to Oslo during winter. We could leave our luggage safely at the carriage entrance, our seats were comfortable with huge windows allowing us to marvel at the winter wonderland. Free coffee was available as well as food in a canteen area. We had booked online to secure a good seat however tickets can be bought at Oslo and Bergen stations. Another fabulous trip can be taken between Munich and Venice. This one was overnight and we discovered the seats could be drawn out so we could sleep but who would want to sleep when passing through such ever-changing scenery.

Patricia Slidziunas, Woonona, NSW

MISSED TRAIN

I can’t believe you omitted the Rocky Mountaineer in Traveller’s feature of the world’s great train journeys. My family and I spent a sublime two days travelling from Lake Louise to Vancouver on the Rocky Mountaineer a few years ago. It was an altogether too short but arguably most memorable part of our North American trip which took in Banff, Whistler (Vancouver) and Seattle, themselves no slouches in the memory-making stakes.

David Beins, Cooks Hill, NSW

EDITOR’S NOTE The story was an edited extract of Tim Richards’ book Ultimate Train Journeys: World (Hardie Grant) which does include the magnificent Rocky Mountaineer.

CANCEL THAT CANCELLATION

Jacky McCarroll’s experience with her credit card application refusal (Traveller Letters, October 22) is not an isolated one. My wife and I are both retired and have had credit card applications refused by three different providers. Despite having a superannuation “income” above what they say they require you to have, it doesn’t count as it is not income from a job. Other friends have had the same experience. Retired travellers are advised to not cancel your cards. We’re glad we didn’t.

Brett Gore, Morpeth, NSW

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