THAT'S THE SPIRIT I
I returned recently from Sydney flying Qantas. The queues were extremely long and the machines to check in my luggage were either busy or out of order. My exhaustion must have been visible as a roving Qantas attendant offered to help. On discovering my flight was delayed an hour and a half she phoned through to put me on an earlier flight and changed the seat so I would have easy access. Her final assistance was to bypass the long queue and take me straight to the X-ray machines. Many thanks from a grateful senior travelling alone.
Anne Kelso, Balwyn, VIC
THAT'S THE SPIRIT II
Here's another positive Qantas story, following Jenny Abraham's letter (Traveller Letters, June 4). I just love our national airline. I am an anxious flyer and have had to take a couple of flights recently for work. I mentioned to an attendant that I was pretty nervous (this was also during Sydney's recent weather 'events'), and she was amazing. She regularly checked in during the (very short) flight and offered me additional snack and drinks. If I could, I would never fly with anyone else (is there anything better than seeing the Flying Kangaroo symbol at an international airport?).
Jo Lees, Rockdale, NSW
LETTER OF THE WEEK
BLAST FROM THE PAST
Thank you for the wonderful story on the boot of Italy (Traveller, June 4) which brought back memories of my many travels in this region. It was on my last trip that I discovered the archaeological wonders of Herculaneum, the city which was also destroyed along with Pompeii by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD. My friend and our guide were the only visitors the day we visited and had the run of these amazing ruins. Please put Herculaneum on your bucket list if you plan to visit the boot of Italy. There is less tourist traffic there and fantastic photo opportunities will await you.
Christine Tiley, Albany Creek, QLD
DON'T QUEUE HERE
Your article, "The art of being Dutch" (Traveller, June 4) was thoroughly accurate and entertaining except for one small detail. Just as there is no German word for "fluffy" (thank you, Blackadder), there is no Dutch word for "queue". As Ben Coates, author of the book Why the Dutch are Different, explains, if you decide to live or stay for an extended time in the Netherlands, you have to learn to push or be prepared for disappointment. Our experience confirms this, having lived in Maastricht for half a year in 2019. One other trait of the Dutch is that they deem it their right to participate in any private conversation that is occuring near them. They have an infinite curiosity about other peoples' lives.
Rob Scott, Niddrie, VIC
Hans van den Tillaart (Traveller Letters, June 4) mentions a recent trip back to Holland. With respect, I'd like to point out there is no such country as "Holland". Except from 1806 to 1815 when Napoleon imposed the name "Kingdom of Holland", it has never been called Holland. Its correct name is the "Kingdom of Netherlands". The Dutch government in 2019 also instructed Dutch manufacturers and the tourism industry to cease using the word Holland in their advertising. The Dutch often use Holland when speaking in English but never when using another language. So, it's Netherlands (Nederland). Not Holland. And please, that includes newspaper journalists.
Ross Allan, Castlemaine, VIC
OFF YER BIKE
Andrew Bain, in his story on cycling holidays (Traveller, May 28) must have found another Southern Highland, NSW, in an almost-parallel universe to the one I inhabit. My Southern Highlands has few roads that are safe or enjoyable for cyclists. Except for the Illawarra Highway, the usual Southern Highlands road is narrow, pot-holed or completely crumbled and without a rideable shoulder. Or it is a heavily-trafficked road between main centres. I know of just two off-road cycle/footpaths, each a few kilometres long, but neither is particularly rewarding to ride. Apart from riding in the Morton National Park and the Penrose State Forest, I confine my riding to very quiet local roads around my hometown.
Robert Arthurson, Bundanoon, NSW
When Denise Williamson (Traveller Letters, May 28) next travels, can I suggest that she considers taking with her an Australian-made Scrubba Wash Bag. This "portable washing machine" takes up little space and is not heavy. By packing less and washing often she should be able to cut down on the amount of luggage she flies with. Liquid laundry detergent can be easily purchased at the destination, or, at a pinch, hotel bathroom body wash can be used. The less possessions you travel with, the more convenient and environmentally friendly your trip will be.
Nick Bocock, Kiama, NSW
Either Alan Gibson (Traveller Letters, June 4) does not have a dog or he has one that is very adaptable. While there are good "pet hotels" around, they are expensive and not many of them - and many dogs suffer from separation anxiety and would rather be with their owners, no matter how luxurious the alternative.
Dave Torr, Werribee, VIC
SUCH A CARRY ON
Andrew Newman-Martin (Traveller Letters, June 4) clearly is one of those travellers who don't bother reading the carry-on luggage requirements (weight, dimensions, number of pieces) stated by airlines. He complains about people arriving with multiple pieces of luggage, taking up the overhead bins and simultaneously unable to lift them into the bins due to the weight. Seriously? If these problems are so pervasive, complain to the aircrew and to the airline. Personally, I've always read the requirements for carry-on luggage very carefully so that I don't inconvenience any other passengers. The only time I may struggle to place my usually six kilo backpack into the overhead bin is when the bin is very far above my head, as I'm only 1.55 metres tall. And in that case, it's probably a kind thing to offer to help someone in such a situation.
Heather D'Cruz, Geelong West, VIC
READER TIP OF THE WEEK
John Sorrentino wrote of his difficulty finding a motel in Bendigo (Traveller Letters, June 12) that would allow him to bring his chihuahua with him. I phoned the Oval Motel in Bendigo last year to enquire if my toy poodle puppy could stay with us, advising the dog was house-trained and well-behaved. Our pup was able to stay with us and sleep in her travel crate. The next time I phoned Oval for a booking I was politely asked if Mimi would be travelling with us. Oval is a very comfortable and welcoming family-owned and run motel and we have returned several times.
Karen Hawkey, Point Cook, Vic
A great cover story by your writer Paul Chai on travelling with pets (Traveller, June 12). One tip for travellers with pets is to contact the property directly, even after searching for pet friendly accommodation. We have been nearly caught out on several occasions, with the worst offender being bookings.com. On a trip to Bendigo, Victoria, last year none of the four of the listed "dog friendly" properties that came up would accept our chihuahua.
John Sorrentino, Alphington, VIC
DON'T BE SNIFFY
Please don't ignore private accommodation providers like me who state "no pets" on their booking sites and on their front doors. In my case it's not because I don't like animals but due to the fact that I'm highly allergic to them.
Clare Day, Heidelberg Heights, VIC
Be warned. I lodged my passport renewal form today, June 2, and was informed by Australia Post not to expect to receive it for 10 weeks, repeat 10 weeks.
Colin Parks, Canberra, ACT
In response to the letter about comfort items we love to take on our travels (Traveller Letters, June 4), whenever we travel, whether domestic or internationally, I take a bar of Cussons Imperial Leather Soap in its plastic soap dish, then in a ziplock bag. Hotel bathrooms provide small bars of soap which are appreciated but are used up too quickly (and a little fiddly to begin with). The regular size Cussons bar often lasts the entire week's stay, and can be brought home. Its aroma is familiar; the brand always represented luxury and even now, travel is a luxury and not to be taken for granted.
Belinda Coombs, Ermington NSW
I totally agree with Alan Thomas (Traveller Letters, June 4). I booked a Qantas business rewards flight to Chicago via Hong Kong last October, flying with Cathay Pacific. I chose this obscure route to finally get to Boston as the rewards routes via Los Angeles had no business seats on offer. I was paying for the Chicago to Boston leg. A month ago I received notification that the rewards leg to Hong Kong was changed to a day earlier. All fine with me. Then my booking dropped off my frequent flyer account. Six very lengthy phone calls to Qantas, one of two-and-a-half hours, ensued to try and find the missing booking. No luck until the seventh call when I was finally told the problem: Cathay has pulled out of flights to Chicago. I was then offered another Qantas rewards flight to Chicago but it was such a long, circuitous route, with two overnight stops that it made me tired thinking about it. So I requested that the rewards flight be cancelled. No notification of this was received after two weeks so another lengthy call to Qantas entailed with my points finally refunded. I have now booked my flight to Boston one way with Air Canada at a cost of $8,000 after this giant Qantas muck up.
Christina Westmore-Peyton, Kew East, VIC
I've always loved getting the jump start on a new city and watching it wake up with a morning jog. As a result, I've always made room for my pair of runners in my bag. Seeing the locals open up their cafes, orienting yourself with a city's river over a sunrise, seeing a day start to bustle at a main station or locating the popular tourist sites was a joy on a quiet, chilly Europe morning.
Josh Hammann, Wollongong, NSW
LIFE ON THE EDGE
If your main aim on your travels is to explore the smaller old towns with complex narrow streets, choose a chain hotel like Ibis on the periphery. Basic but pleasant, clean and easy to find. But beware of leaving your car on the street and anything of value inside, as locks are quickly broken.
Deirdre Baker, Thornbury, VIC
WIN A SET OF TRAVEL BOOKS
The Letter of the Week writer wins Hardie Grant travel books worth more than $100. For June, that includes Ultimate Cycling Trips: Australia by Andrew Bain; On the Himalayan Trail by Romy Gill; and Rewilding Kids Australia by Melissa Mylchreest.
The Tip of the Week writer wins a set of three great Lonely Planet travel books, including Ultimate Australia Travel List, The Travel Book and Armchair Explorer.
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