LETTER OF THE WEEK
ROOMS FOR IMPROVEMENT
After the past 50-plus days spent staying in quality international hotels I would like to suggest that many need to return to the basics.
First and foremost a hotel is a place to sleep. Sleep requires an absence of noise plus darkness and comfort. Money spent on a fancy foyer, or someone to open the door for you, would be much better invested in double glazing, soft noise-absorbing decor and the absence of echo chambers otherwise known as light wells.
Rooms often have no curtains on door windows, "art" windows and even skylights. Curtains don't close or even cover windows. Then there is the Christmas tree of LEDs that give you the choice of daylight or no aircon.
As for comfort, we get the ubiquitous doona between two sheets no matter the climate. So it's aircon on Arctic or freeze in a sheet. Just a blanket as well would offer some choice.
Do management ever sleep in their own hotels?
Ron Thomas, Kalorama, VIC
A MATTER OF TASTE I
I read with a sinking heart the views of some letters in last weeks (Traveller letters, January 19) about the excess of articles mentioning local food, quirky cafes, strange drinks and their sometime memorable inhabitants.
You can visit museums, galleries, grand houses to your heart's content. Personally, I feel I have visited so many I am in danger of becoming an exhibit. What are your memories of those trips long after you are back at home?
For me it is that wonderful little gite, with a cassoulet, a carafe of the best vin d' table, served by the very proper madame.
The giggling young girl serving us enormous whole steamed fragrant fish on the banks of the Chao Phraya river at Ayutthaya.
And not to forget the best scallop pie in the world at the milk bar in Bicheno, Tasmania, baked fresh on the premises.
Vive la difference.
Andy Gillespie, Mosman, NSW
A MATTER OF TASTE II
Oh dear. Poor Elizabeth Proude (Traveller letters, January 19),
Have you never savoured the delights of a bahn mi in Hoi An, okonomiyaki in Hiroshima, crusty chorizo paella in Madrid or even a reuben sandwich in New York? My list is endless.
Food is such an important and unmissable part of the whole travel experience. Sure, we also love and wouldn't miss experiences such as attractions, people, temples and art galleries, etc, but to leave only one per cent of your time for the food?
D. Hill, Kew, VIC
SPREAD THE WORD
Like Jill Dupleix (Traveller, January 19) I, too, have a list but I also have a spreadsheet with a detailed clothing list.
My spreadsheet, updated for destination and season, has been the subject of many a joke for many years. However, last year my mother died five days before I was due to fly to Morocco and her funeral was the day before.
My spreadsheet saved the day and we managed to board that plane with everything we needed and everything done that needed to be done.
Barbara Beard, Springwood, NSW
I GO TO RIO, BRO
We recently flew Air New Zealand from Brisbane to Rio de Janeiro via Buenos Aires.
On arrival in Buenos Aires, we were met and advised that our connecting Aerolineas Argentinas flight had been cancelled due to strike action but that Air New Zealand had rebooked us on an Emirates flight leaving slightly later.
Air New Zealand had already emailed a new e-ticket to us and arranged for baggage transfer to the new flight. All we needed to do was present the new e-ticket at the Emirates gate on our iPad, and be issued with new boarding passes.
The whole experience was seamless, highly efficient and an example of service excellence by Air New Zealand.
Wayne Murphy, Bardon, QLD
The article about Gulliver's Gate in Manhattan (Traveller, January 12) was interesting. However there is another museum of miniatures in Lyon, France. It is called Musee Miniature et Cinema at 60 Rue Saint Jean.
It is a unique collection of miniature scenes including the interiors of houses, restaurants and various other buildings and is completely absorbing.
As well as these, there are also special effects and demonstrations of movie-making techniques, including one of the beasts from the Alien films. This hidden gem is in Lyon's old quarter, and a fabulous find for the unwary.
Margot Pope, Springwood, NSW
I was surprised to read the negative comments in Traveller letters about the lost and found department at Melbourne Airport.
I recently left my house keys in a security check tray at Melbourne Airport. I later spoke to a helpful contact at the airport who explained where to send a self-addressed envelope so the keys could be returned to me.
I recovered my keys in Sydney almost before my wife found out I'd lost them.
Kim Buddee, Roseville, NSW
A BIT OF STICK
I have recently visited Cambodia and Vietnam, where, in Phnom Penh, Saigon and Da Nang, we encountered clean new airports and were treated with courtesy and efficiency.
What a contrast to Sydney Airport. When we arrived, our taxi was unable to access the departures terminal as it was over-burdened with vehicles and their passengers for flights.
Instead, we were directed to the far side of the car park building and had to walk some 10 minutes to the terminal. I am 91 years old and my daughter, nursing a recently fractured ankle, was walking with a stick.
Jean Morey, Mona Vale, NSW
SEAT OF THE PROBLEM
There have been a number of recent letters about blocked toilets with the blame being put on the airlines and poor maintenance.
This is a major inconvenience for those affected, but unfortunately the problems are often caused by passengers flushing items that should not be going into the toilet.
Many times these get wedged further down the system and require a lengthy process to remove them, which may not be possible without causing significant delays to the flight.
It's hard to know for sure if the toilet design on the A380 contributes to the problems, but the larger number of passengers on an A380 means there is an increased chance someone will ignore the signs and flush an item to block the system.
Talking to the maintenance staff, they have revealed causes such as nappies, cloth hand towels, plastic items, discarded toothpaste tubes and large sanitary pads.
Scott Mendham, Surry Hills, NSW
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