My wife was standing with the luggage at her feet at Barcelona Sants railway station. She momentarily turned her head to look at the departures board and a backpack containing our two passports, flight tickets, the equivalent of $600 and valuable belongings went missing. Fortunately, the critical documents were scanned onto a flash drive.
We understood the insurance claim to be a mere formality. Not so; there is an exclusion which states that if the luggage was unsupervised, the claim cannot be settled. They assessed my wife's head turning as "non-supervision" even though the luggage was at foot. They also stated that she not only should have witnessed the crime, but tried to stop the thief – only to leave the other luggage for an accomplice or risk violence? Buyer beware, I thought the definition of "unsupervised" meant physically walking away.
Chas Becket, Paynesville, VIC
LETTER OF THE WEEK: SHAKEN, BUT NOT STIRRED
A big thank you to Stray Travel for the wonderful service we received when we got caught up in the Kaikoura earthquake in New Zealand on November 14. We were informed daily by our brilliant bus driver, Pickles, as to what the current situation was and what Stray were trying to arrange in order to evacuate us from the town. Within 24 hours we were flown out by charter to Christchurch. We were a party of five women aged 53 to 63 and had great fun aboard Happy's bus for the rest of our trip. We enjoyed the company of much younger travellers and would recommend this tour company for people of any age.
Maria Murphy, Williamstown, VIC
I find Traveller informative and entertaining. However, I am a mostly a solo traveller and it seems to me that solos are the pariah of the travel industry. Almost all holidays are "twin share" and on checking the "single supplement" the cost is extremely high.
I do not fancy sharing accommodation with a stranger! It is a rare occasion for a "no single supplement" holiday to be found. Norwegian Cruise Line I am pleased to say have studio cabins for singles at little or no extra cost on their ship Epic but I cannot see that it comes to Australian ports.
Jennifer Dodd, Blue Bay, NSW
From the editor: If you visit traveller.com.au and search "solo" there are quite a few tips and ideas, including for cruises.
I booked my 82-year-old, wheelchair-bound mother on special assistance with Qantas, on return Sydney-Melbourne flights. The teams were consistently helpful and patient. Thank you all for making it possible for her to travel; without your exceptional service, her days of travelling on an extended stay with us would be over.
Karen Woo, Ascot Vale, VIC
Here are two experiences different to those Patrick Sayers described about Rio in (Traveller letters: April 9). When unable to locate an ATM at night, my wife approached a young couple on the street. The woman escorted us two blocks to her bank, gained access to the ATM for us, then wished us a good stay in Rio, and departed with her husband. I wondered how often a random act of kindness like that might happen in Australia.
On the return bus from Sugarloaf Mountain, I was horrified when the driver took a different route. I was totally lost. I spoke no Portuguese, so I tried sign language with a young guy next to me. His Portuguese response didn't help. Ten minutes later the young guy tapped my shoulder, pointed out the front of the bus and then to the door. We were at the metro stop.
Moral of the story – take stringent security provisions in the most dangerous city in the world, but rest assured, the great majority of the locals are kind and compassionate.
Brian Lee, Donvale, VIC
Your reviewer was very unlucky with his "old plane" on Malaysian Airlines. I have flown Sydney to Kuala Lumpur return on Malaysian Airlines a few times in the last year and one of my main reasons for choosing Malaysian Airlines is their fully flat bed seats which are more "top notch" than Qantas. As with any airline, the service depends on the particular crew, but I have always found it to be fine. For their competitive pricing and seat comfort, Malaysian Airlines deserves at least four out of five.
Victoria Tennant, Neutral Bay, NSW
NOT SO HOT IDEA
The little signs in motels encouraging guests to "save our precious water" are almost amusing, especially when it takes three minutes for the hot water to arrive when showering.
Jen Gladstones, Heidelberg, VIC
NO SUNSHINE HERE
Having read Christine Smith's letter about her experience at Sunshine Coast Airport, (Traveller letters, December 3), I can empathise. While Christine's problem was with arrival, ours was with departure. In the same half hour, two flights were departing for Melbourne, two flights for Sydney and one for New Zealand.
There was only one security gate in operation and it took us longer to get through security than it took us to fly to Sydney. We can't wait for the new airport to be operational in 2020.
Jane Dalziell, Marcus Beach, QLD