Traveller letters: You must have a thin skin if this article offended you

NUMBERS GAME

I read with sadness Sue Nelson's letter. How awful to have such thin skin and feel she was being targeted with uncomplimentary ageism in Brian Johnston's article on choosing cruises.

I am almost 70 and I do not give a fig about age. I found Brian's story extremely helpful. I would loathe choosing an unsuitable shipping line and end up stuck on a cruise with families with umpteen unsupervised children in tow. Give me a child-free zone any time.

I look forward with interest to Brian's next article.

Tony Curtis, Ballarat Central, VIC

Read Brian Johnston's article on choosing the right cruise for your age group

LETTER OF THE WEEK: THE ROARING SEVENTIES (AND EIGHTIES)

Hear, hear Sue Nelson (Traveller letters, October 21). If of reasonable health for age and brain function in gear, do it alone. Who needs an escort if above facilities intact?

My backpacking plans in my 20s were interrupted by marriage and family, so long-planned travel was undertaken in my mid-70s with accommodation at hostels and local travel arrangements made before leaving Australia.

From John o' Groats in northern Scotland and to France, Switzerland, Germany, Venice and Austria, I spent a marvellous nine weeks in northern autumn using local train and bus transport where meeting local people was the norm.

Yes, sometimes I made errors in planning but that usually resulted in serendipitous outcomes. My only stipulation now is to arrange a walking escort around all international airports when booking flights. On my last journey in November (aged 84), I was hoodwinked at Johannesburg by an information officer who retained my passport until I gave him Australian dollars.

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Daphne Roper, New Lambton, NSW

SNAP DECISIONS

In response to Ian Dunbar's query on photographing the locals without permission (Rants & raves, October 21), I am most inclined to quote Clive James from the fifth instalment of his memoirs, The Blaze of Obscurity

Speaking of filming the Maasai while in the Maasai Mara, he bemoans the cost to their budget because of their excellent business acumen.

He continued, "at home in their huts, the Maasai charged serious money even to be looked at, let alone photographed. Recently, a German tourist had snapped a Maasai warrior without making a deal first. The tourist went home with a hole in his shoulder, made by a spear".

I think in this instance, if not always, an "ask first" policy is both most polite and advisable.

Adam Gordon, South Coogee, NSW

Ian Dunbar, would you feel totally comfortable if a tourist pointed a camera lens at you while going about your day-to-day stuff? It's surely common courtesy to ask before "targeting" someone with your Nikon.

Arch Cruttenden, Tugun, QLD

I agree with Ian Dunbar – ask first unless the photo op has been organised by the tour guide. I took a photograph of a Ugandan woman and her two children and she agreed. I paid her even though not asked to do so.

She seemed very happy with 1000 Ugandan shillings; at the time, that was worth $A0.60 (I still feel guilty). I was asked by a tour guide in Kenya not to take a photograph of a man in Arab-style clothing leading camels alongside the vehicle we were riding in. I refrained from the photograph but the camel herder shook his fist at me anyway!

David Davies, Callala Beach, NSW

HOT TIP

I spent 12 days in Bologna last September (Traveller, October 21). Glorious. It was hot though and visiting a month later might have been better.

I can recommend the Una Hotel directly opposite Stazione Centrale for great staff, breakfast and a fantastic restaurant, a hidden secret with regional dishes a speciality.

From the station you can take day trips to places like Modena, Ferrara and Parma and come back to a relaxing meal. The first stop for the tourist bus is down the street outside the ice cream shop. Just wait for the first of the day and you're off.

Loucille McGinley, Brighton East, VIC

ROCK ON

Thank you so much for your feature on Longitude 131 (Traveller, October 21). We spent New Year's Eve there 10 years ago and it is still one of the most stunning beautiful places we have stayed in.

The luxury tents are amazing, as is the main room and pool with food to die for. The Dune House looks a very special addition to an already fabulous concept. We can not recommend it too highly. 

Victoria Watts, Gordon, NSW

CONNOR JOB

I was delighted to see the picture of Mount Connor in the "Where?" item in Check-in (Traveller, October 7). On a trip to Alice Springs and Uluru in August, our coach driver, en route to Uluru, pointed out Mount Connor.

According to him, travellers on the road see Mount Connor, think they've seen Uluru, decide there's no need to pay park fees to see it, turn around and go back to town. Well, that's what he claimed. He called it "Mount Fooluru".

Merryn Parnell, Warriewood, NSW

FEEL GOOD FACTOR

Many holidaymakers will be tempted by reasonably priced tours to interesting destinations where they will be kept away from unpleasant sites with their guides diplomatically unable to answer "difficult" questions. 

We need compulsory coding displayed on all holiday packages, with ethical and eco-tourism displaying a high star rating.

To feel really good about your holiday travel, go for a double E.

Sheila Benning, Bowral, NSW

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