STROKES OF GENIUS
In reading Louise Southerden's essay on swimming (Traveller, March 21-22) I was delighted to hear from a kindred water sprite. We also jump in at every opportunity and though not as exotically well-travelled as the author, highlights include: Pont du Gard; Sautadet waterfalls; Galicia; Cintra; any Corsican beach or river; Bohinjska & Blejsko; the middle village of Cinque Terra; secluded calanches anywhere; Vouliagmeni Thermal Spa (little fishies a bonus!) and a tiny deserted cove on Agistri, (my shoestring version of The Big Blue Swim in the Greek Islands); the glacial lakes of Montenegro ... the list is infinite. Closer to home, we reckon Maria Island, in a howling June southerly, beats skinny-dipping in Loch Lomond. PS: Cap & one-piece compulsory in French pools.
G. K. Pentland
LETTER OF THE WEEK
My wife and I recently returned from Africa having been fortunate to see the "big five", a host of other animals in the wild and experience some sensational game parks and lodges.
We were however, not prepared for a two-legged predator in Cape Town City, who within the CBD area, assaulted and then robbed my wife of a necklace of significant (sentimental) value, by ripping it from around her neck and throat.
By some stroke of good fortune a couple of bystanders chased and apprehended the "bad guy", and the broken necklace was returned to my wife. As you may well imagine, the incident invoked considerable distress. The moral of the story is that Cape Town is not quite as safe as supposedly reported, though the City Security Service (yellow/green jackets), and police displayed concern, ensuring that we lodged a complaint.
By contrast, the reaction of the Cape Town Tourist Board to our attempts to report the incident was very unprofessional. Importantly, when out and about (anywhere) keep your valuables out of sight.
Sydney Airport needs more attention than to just the toilets. I recently departed Sydney Airport where a male staff member handling the queue prior to the immigration departure desks barked sternly at passengers as we filed through the line. On my return, a female staff member berated me for standing in the wrong place at a smart gate. I have no doubt their jobs can be frustrating at times, and Australians may be able to laugh off their crankiness as a fellow traveller and I did, but what sort of impression does this leave on visitors to our country, especially those visiting for the first time?
GOOD TIMES, VLAD TIMES
Sonya Szech (Traveller letters, March 28-29) urges readers to avoid Putin's Russia. I sympathise with her personal story, but just as the Australian Government does not echo my views, nor reflect my values, I am sure many Russians do not support their political leader, as evidenced recently by protests over the assassination of Boris Nemtsov.
On a nervous independent trip to Russia 18 months ago we found ordinary citizens to be extraordinarily kind, thoughtful and smilingly helpful. Only a tour guide at the Kremlin spruiked the political line.
If we avoided travelling to all countries with authoritarian governments and questionable human rights, there would be few places to visit.
What travelling has taught us is that, despite those in political power, the everyday denizen in any country desires only peace, shared kindness, and what is best for their children.
It is those people we support.
I sympathise with David Jackson (Traveller Letters, March 28-29) going hungry on a four and a half hour Jetstar flight from Sydney to Perth, but tummies were audibly rumbling on our Singapore to Sydney Jetstar flight, departing 8pm and arriving nine hours later in Melbourne. I naively expected dinner and even a morning snack included in the almost $500 fare. Nyet, nada, zilch – not even a glass of water.
Oh, you could fork out for sandwiches and such but I declined. And no entertainment, unless you count being moved from our supposedly wrongly allocated seats at the rear of the plane because these seats had the ability to curtain off and were required for cabin crew to rest.
Rest from what? Previously on the same leg we'd had a most enjoyable Scoot flight for $138 direct to Sydney (and what about that horrible Jetstar "hall" in Melbourne with totally inadequate seating – an embarrassment).
Sure, we did have to prepay $6.50 extra for our meal on Scoot but were made aware of this upfront and the curry was quite good, thanks very much.
STOP LAUGHING, THIS IS SERIOUS
The letter by Andrew Traill (Rants & raves, March 21-22) pondering the differences between coming to a "stop" and coming to a "complete stop" reminded me of a flight that I took in the US a few years ago where it was announced that we would be "taking off momentarily".
Andrew Traill's letter gave me a wry smile. In my experience when passengers judge the aircraft to be at a "complete stop" or "stopped" there is the sound of seat belts being unfastened before the seat belt sign is turned off. Does this mean passengers are confused between "complete stop" and "stop" or merely relieved to have arrived and impatient to leave the aircraft?
WE WELCOME YOUR TRAVEL-RELATED OPINIONS AND EXPERIENCES
The writer of the letter judged the best of the week will receive a LUXE travel guides box set, valued at $60, including savvy, pocket-sized guides for destinations including Sydney, Melbourne, Hong Kong, London and New York. See luxecityguides.com for more details. Letters may be edited for space, legal or other reasons. Preference will be given to letters of 50-100 words or less. Email us at email@example.com and, importantly, include your name, address and phone number.