GOING PUBLIC I
I've been living in Munich, Germany for 14 years and can see the need to pay for the use of public toilets (Traveller letters, February 8). The reason is simple: it is a strong measure against homeless people camping out in the toilet stalls; men with illicit repute looking for "actions" at the urinals and in the toilet stalls; yobs vandalising the facilities by damaging or destroying the facilities, such as stuffing the toilet rolls in the toilets and letting them flood; and people taking drugs and dozing off.
The problem had gotten out of control at many public toilets in Munich's subway stations, with frequent closure of facilities for repair and cleaning.
In 2015, Munich instituted city-wide renovations of subway station facilities and hired a private contractor to operate and service them. After installing turnstyles and requiring payment (all accept credit and debit cards), the above-mentioned issues declined greatly.
OLIVER MARKWIRTH, MUNICH, GERMANY
GOING PUBLIC II
It's not surprising Australians have a reputation of being the tightest nation on earth when travelling. We refuse to tip in cultures where it is the norm and good etiquette and now we baulk at coughing up a humble euro, 50 cents or a few pence to use a well-managed public WC.
VICTORIA WATTS, GORDON, NSW
GOING PUBLIC III
Andrew Traill is completely correct about paying for toilets. The price to use the toilet at a bus station in Oslo was about $A4. If that's not outrageous, I don't know what is.
I wrote an email of complaint and mentioned that public toilets are free everywhere in Australia and generally fairly clean. In their response, they indicated they thought the equivalent of 20 Norwegian crowns to use a toilet was "about right".
Clearly they're living in their own little Norske bubble because I'm sure no-one outside Norway thinks that's reasonable.
PHILIP RICH, GEELONG WEST, VIC
LETTER OF THE WEEK: DOMESTIC BLISS
My husband and I have just returned from a few days at Huskisson on the NSW South Coast to show our support for the area. Whilst Huskisson was not directly fire affected, the tourism industry has suffered enormously.
Tour operators who've spent months planning for the major January spike told us average tourist numbers had dropped from 350 per day to as low as six on some days during January. Our accommodation provider also reported an 80 per cent drop in bookings for the same period. We ate, drank, bought clothes, books, and souvenirs and went on tours.
What a fantastic visit it was with the friendly locals genuinely grateful to have visitors in the town. Next week we are heading to the NSW mountain towns of Batlow and Tumbarumba which were badly hit by fires with some major orchards lost along with many homes, farms and stock. We will spend some more time and money there and no doubt return home with some local wines and other goodies.
All money spent in these areas means families are able to put food on the table and businesses can rebuild.
JOANNE LLOYD, WAGGA WAGGA, NSW
SANTE FE CLAUSE
It was great to revisit a bit of New Mexico through your cover story by Catherine Marshall (Traveller, February 8) as I had a short visit to Santa Fe in mid-December 2018.
While there I took a half day tour to Georgia O'Keeffe Country, visiting among other things the museum/gallery in Abiquiu and also the Ghost Ranch. While this was a nice way to spend a day, there are plenty of other things that make Santa Fe a great place to visit, including the secret entrance to the wartime Manhattan Project site, the oldest government building in the US, Chuck Jones' (of Bugs Bunny fame) gallery and the adobe buildings
Best of all is the New Mexico food: enchilada, burrito, posole, frito pie, all accompanied by red or green chile (that's the official NM spelling of the hot stuff).
JIM MAUNDER, MONT ALBERT NORTH, VIC
HAMBURG WITH THE LOT
I must take issue with your description of Hamburg as a mere "stopover" (Traveller, February 8). The Hanseatic city of Hamburg has a great deal more to offer, including museums of art, decorative arts, ethnology, and history.
There's also the nightlife, particularly Skt Pauli; splendid parks such as Planten und Blomen and those along the Elbe River; excellent hotels, restaurants and shopping.
The Hamburg State Opera (until recently helmed by our own Simone Young) is one of the best in the world, as is the Philharmonic Orchestra.
There are also boat tours on the Alster lakes, the vibrant harbour along the Elbe to Blankenese and across to the Altes Land where half-timbered houses hide behind dykes in a cloud of cherry blossoms in spring. And, as I'm sure the guide would have pointed out, the Nikolaikirche was kept as a stabilised ruin to remember the horrors of war.
MARINA GARLICK, BALMAIN, NSW
My pedantic self must point out an error in Steve Meacham's article on Port Macquarie (Traveller, February 8). Dorothea Mackellar's poem My Country does not begin with the words "I love a sunburnt country"; that line starts the second verse. The poem's first two lines are: "The love of field and coppice,/of green and shaded lanes".
JENNY GRAY, SYDNEY, NSW
Imagine my chagrin, as we approached our seats, two rows up from the rear toilets, on a flight from Kruger National Park to Cape Town, discovering a locker bursting with expensive luggage and nowhere to store our own.
Wheeling around, I gave my nearest neighbours a withering look, uttered a few choice epithets under my breath. I must have sounded agitated, because a friendly flight attendant appeared at my side and proceeded to find a couple of niches for our gear.
Suitably relieved, I resolved to hold my fire and identify the culprit(s) when the plane landed. Soon after rolling to a stop, the aisles filling with those desperate to be in the frontline assault on the baggage carousel, a hand appeared above us to extract the offending items from "our" locker. I calmly drew breath, determined to maintain decorum as I turned to face my target. Forget the venom, the residual angst and, most certainly, the disappearing rights of the passenger in economy. I was staring at the smiling face of the same flight attendant who had secreted our luggage elsewhere in the plane.
ALAN HILL, TOOWOOMBA, QLD
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