Letters: Don't drive in Italy

Driven to distraction

While agreeing with Michael Lane about lane hogging and accelerating to prevent overtaking in Australia, he must have been driving in a different Italy from the one I have lived in and visited many times (Traveller Letters, January 19-20, 26-27 and February 2-3). While driving there in the past two years alone, my wife and I have experienced being shunted off the road by a four-wheel-drive overtaking in a dangerous manner, motorists overtaking on high-speed secondary roads when there is no space, tailgating, and seeing an old man on a bicycle run down as he made his way from the shops. We stopped to help, a policeman arrived and even after we provided the offender's registration details, the officer shrugged his shoulders and, despite our protestations, drove away. The old man went to hospital. Speed traps are minimal and speeding is rife and careless. Do yourself a favour - fly or go by train.

- William Tuck

Take the hard road

Diane McDonald and her paying guests ("New paths to enlightenment", Traveller, February 2-3) are mistaken if they think they are having an authentic Camino walking experience in Europe while staying in hotels and having their luggage transported for them. Enduring privation is the very essence of the Camino; stripping one's life down to essential needs and bringing mindfulness to the journey, not just arriving at the destination, is the point of it.

- Maxine Hardinge

Savings set in train

More permutations to add to David Whitley's advice about the British train network ("Right track for savings", Traveller, February 2-3). At daysoutguide.co.uk, you can find information about the GroupSave deal for travel at off-peak times through the south-east, and savings on ticket costs to attractions such as the London Eye or London Urban Adventures (urbanadventures.com) walking tours when you show valid British Rail tickets.

- Tony Carne

Look beyond Lima

Lance Richardson writes, excuse the pun, a "dry" account of Peru's Nazca Desert, with not even a mention of the famous Pisco Sour ("Drawn to conclusions", Traveller, January 19-20). Despite this, it was refreshing to see an account that went beyond the sites of Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca and the Amazon. I want to inspire readers to consider travelling to the deserts and beaches north of the capital, Lima, as well as to the north's ancient Chimu cities, colonial cities and the Moche pyramids. You will also see the everyday culture of modern Peruvians. I fly from Melbourne or Sydney to Los Angeles, then direct from LA to Lima. When travelling north from Lima, I suggest flying with StarPeru (starperu.com) or TACA Airlines (taca.com) to Trujillo (one hour) or to Piura (90 minutes). Overnight bus service Cruz del Sur (www.cruzdelsur.com.pe) is safe, has first-class reclining beds, and really is a great experience.

- Julia Bull

Climb with a safety net

Concerning Yasmin Hogan's request for insurance that covers Australians while mountain climbing in Europe (Traveller Letters, January 26-27), I frequently climb in various parts of the world, including Europe. Consider taking out general travel insurance combined with becoming a member of the Austrian Alpine Club, Britannia section (aacuk.org.uk), which includes mountaineering insurance that would be suitable for an ascent of Mont Blanc. I usually do it that way.

- Amelia Powys

High price for stilted snaps

Interesting to see the article mentioning the "mesmerising stilt fishermen" of Ahangama on Sri Lanka's south coast (Room Service, January 26-27). I recently passed through this area on the way from Galle to Mirissa, when some stilt fishermen demanded 2000 rupees ($15) in return for taking a photo of them. I went on my way. A few kilometres down the road, a group of stilt fishermen were grateful for 100 rupees. But, then again, if you're a traveller willing to pay $200 a night for a hotel room in Sri Lanka, as the article mentions, it probably doesn't matter.

- Terry Kilmartin

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