Readers' travel tips: Avoiding train fines in Italy - you have to judge it right

TIP OF THE WEEK: FINE TRAIN RIDE

Four of us on a local train from Florence to Pisa encountered a zealous inspector. We had not validated our tickets, we were unaware of the strict rule.

A youngish, uniformed and aggressive enforcer demanded we pay (right now) an astronomical fine. I simply refused and he told us: "we must exit the train". He marched us ignorant tourists off at the next station, so there we waited and caught the next train, validated our tickets and went on our way. Of course tourists staring down officialdom can sometimes end badly. You have to judge it right.

Mike Robertson

Kirrawee, NSW

RETURN TO EGYPT

My wife and I have just returned from a 10-day trip to Egypt. We both had a fabulous time and felt very safe. If anyone is thinking of visiting Egypt then do not be put off by the issue of safety. Our hotels had 24-hour security and all vehicles were thoroughly searched before entering. The people were very friendly and keen to help. Our guide who accompanied us for the duration of our tour made sure that we were extremely well looked after. He was also very keen that we tell others about our experience so that his side of the tourist industry can once again start growing. The other interesting tip he gave us was to let people know that it is very quick and easy to purchase a visa on arrival. It is also cheaper than getting it before you leave Australia.

Barry Stubbs

West Hobart

KNOW YOUR RULES

I had a similar experience to that of T. Burns (Tripologist, November 25), when I purchased liquor at Sydney airport for a trip to the United States. I was assured that, if the bottle was sealed in a special bag (for which I had to pay extra), it was permissible to take it on the plane with me. Nevertheless, at my transfer in Hong Kong, the bottle was confiscated. In my case, I lodged a complaint with the vendor and received not only an apology but a full refund of my purchase price. Perhaps, it is excusable for sales staff in Munich not to know the rules for Australian flights, but it is absurd that Sydney staff should not know the rules for flights to the US.

Bruce Hyland, Woy Woy, NSW

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CANYON GAP

Despite having chronicled some amazing American canyons (Traveller 10, November 25) one you have missed is the Black Canyon of the Gunnison River in south Western Colorado. It is incredible in that it is only a few hundred metres across but almost a thousand metres deep with sheer cliffs to the river below. It is surrounded by a picturesque national park enhanced by its isolation. It is truly spectacular.

Bruce McLean, Orange, NSW

BAG LIMITS

Recently I tried to arrange an extra piece of luggage on a Qantas London/Sydney flight for my granddaughter. I found an extra suitcase, 25 kilograms, would cost £825. Buying an available seat on the same flight would have cost £806. I understand the airlines wanting to keep weight down, but this cost is punitive rather than deterrent. She sent her extra things home via a postal service. Should I have bought a seat for the luggage? This presumably would have meant an item of any weight could be in the seat, and be entitled to 30 kilograms in the hold, plus 7 kilograms carry-on, plus meals etc. In comparison, travelling to the United States entitles you to twice the luggage allowance that you get to Europe, and airlines seem able to cope.

Mary Poirrier, Wahroonga, NSW

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