I cannot agree with the Emirates Flight Test by Belinda Jackson (Traveller, October 19). My wife and I recently travelled on two of Emirates A380 aircraft and found the experience extremely disappointing on both. The economy class seats were extremely uncomfortable. They may have been suitable for a three and four hour flight but not for flights of 13 to 14 hours duration. On both aircraft, the overhead reading lights were misdirected, making it impossible to read when the cabin lights were dimmed. Some of the lights landed on the head of the passenger in the seat in front, others on the passenger in the adjacent seat, while others lit up the aisle between the rows of seats. On top of that, dinner was served at 2am Dubai time, shortly after take off – a totally inappropriate time for a meal. We will be having second thoughts about travelling with Emirates again. We would give a rating of two, not the four and a half awarded by Belinda.
Ian Green, Castle Hill, NSW
TRIUMPH OVER TRAGEDY
I was delighted to read Michael Gebicki's plan to visit Poland in 2020 to trace his father's story (Traveller, October 30). Having gone with my sisters and an aunt to my grandmother's home town in April this year, I can attest that few travel experiences can compare to the emotion of walking the streets of a town where my ancestors walked, especially knowing the effort that went into eradicating all traces of my family (and thousands upon thousands of others) in the Holocaust. Yes, there is enormous sadness in much of Poland's recent history, but for the first time in my life I felt the incredible uplifting of spirit that came with the realisation that I was proof of a miraculous and unlikely survival story. So many family trees died within its borders but you and I are the green shoots that grow against the odds. Travel well, Mr Gebicki. Poland is beautiful, fascinating and tragic. It is a must for all travellers.
Darren Isenberg, Randwick, NSW
The best souvenirs (Traveller, October 26) are memories. At St Peter's in Rome, we were so early we were alone in the square. We noticed the then Pontiff leaning from his window smoking a cigarette – he saw us and waved. Talking with a local in a tiny inn we found when driving during winter, along the west coast of Scotland; staying with a welcoming family in a remote part of Crete and learning how to drink raki; watching giggling schoolgirls taking photos of my red haired husband at a country railway station in Japan. Memories - they're far better than any selfie, snowdome or tatty T-shirt any day.
Patricia Slidziunas, Woonona, NSW
I am picky when it comes to souvenirs. My criteria must be that it be very small, it must be evocative, must be produced locally, must support a local community or be from a "fair trade" retailer or for fundraising purposes such as the Red Cross, Oxfam or UNICEF. Seek and ye shall find
Judith English, Hornsby Heights, NSW
In September, my husband and l travelled through the "five Stans", with Kalpak Travel, on their 22 day "Best of Central Asia" tour. The trip was comprehensive, varied and exciting. We flew over some spectacular and high mountains when approaching Dushanbe. We drove into the pristine alpine country of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and later, through the desert in Turkmenistan in four wheel drive vehicles. We stayed in yurts as well as luxurious hotels, and tented near the Darvaza Crater. There are the amazing modern cities of Nur Sultan (formerly Astana ) and Ashgabat, and the stunningly beautiful and historic madrassas, minarets, mosques and mausoleums in Uzbekistan. We saw canyons, azure glacial lakes, edelweiss and the flat steppe of Kazakhstan and so much more. The food was fresh and delicious. The tour leader and the guides were excellent, and we were welcomed wherever we went.
Sue Fraser, Greendale, VIC
Check-in's regular Spotlight item (Traveller, October 12) featured a lovely photo of the pool and upper decks of the Oceania Riviera, deck chairs only, no tables and chairs . Two years ago my wife and I spent 10 days in a penthouse suite on the Oceania Marina. It was plush and excellent, however our enjoyment was spoilt by the lack of tables and chairs on which to sit and talk with others. Look at the photo - not every wants to lie in isolation.
Paul and Heather O'Connor, Hawker, ACT
RIGHT OF REFUSAL
Star Alliance Gold passengers have never had access to Changi Airport's SilverKris Lounge (Traveller letters, October 26). Instead they are directed to the Star Alliance Gold lounge (currently closed) on the Singapore Airlines website. Scoot is not in the Star Alliance (regardless of ownership), so your writer should be refused, and certainly not allowed to the pictured first lounge. This is a delightful haven of calm at Singapore, with dining better than many restaurants. It totally devalues the experience for passengers in business - and certainly first class – if other passengers gatecrash a lounge when they have no right. Well done Singapore Airlines for saying no.
J. Lorkin, Sydney, NSW
A few years back, we chose a five hour lay-over in Hong Kong, rather than two hours where stress levels are elevated and there's a higher risk of missing the connecting London flight. Ah, no problem, we had Virgin Atlantic lounge access to smooth things. However, nowhere on websites or in booking documentation, not even the small print, did it mention that the lounge tailored its opening hours to flight times, in our case, an almost useless two hours prior to the onward flight.
Brian Jones, Leura, NSW
LOST IN TRANSLATION
On our cruise on an Italian ship, the first two questions in the onboard quiz (Traveller letters, October 26) on the first day were ones that amused us: "How many bones are there in a gee-rarf-ees neck? " The second one was "What nationality was Mika Hakkenen?" I was the only one who knew and said that he was Finnish. "No", she said. "He was Finland". We never went to her quiz again.
Valmai Maher, Lane Cove, NSW
HIGH TIME FOR A DRINK
I enjoyed reading Ben Groundwater's article on the art of the spritz (Traveller, October 19). I have recently returned from a hiking trip in the Dolomites and enjoyed Aperol spritz at some of the rifugios after a hard day's walk - a perfect drink for the mountains, too.
Janette Asche, Caindooroopilly, QLD
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