Melbourne Airport security should take a bow. Its system out-performed that of Adelaide, Sydney, Dallas, New York and Los Angeles.
It not only detected my two hip replacement but also my small nail scissors. I had unsuccessfully searched for the latter in my potential hand luggage before setting out on an overseas trip a few weeks back.
While I and the other airports failed to find them, Melbourne did, and very politely too. I felt very safe on my short trip home to Adelaide.
Barbara Biggins, Lockleys, SA
LETTER OF THE WEEK
I LOVE LUCY
My wife and I have recently completed a fascinating journey through parts of Ethiopia.
Among the places we visited were Lalibela, home of the astounding monolithic and cave Coptic churches dating from the ninth century AD and the Simien Mountains National Park, the second listed UNESCO World Heritage site after Yellowstone in the US.
Our trip included a three-day guided trek through the Tigray mountains near Adigrat, with scenery and geology to rival the Grand Canyon albeit with far fewer people.
No visit would be complete without some time at the National museum in Addis Ababa which houses the 3.2-million-year-old hominid fossil remains of Australopithecus afarensis, better known as Lucy.
Travelling in Ethiopia is not as easy and predictable as some other destinations but with resilience and patience it is a most rewarding experience.
Some confronting images of poverty, disadvantage and child labour will remain with us. With 80 per cent of the population still living in the countryside and relying on farming it can be a precarious existence.
The government is popular, with a recently elected progressive prime minister and women holding key roles including president and chief justice. Regional differences and loyalties remain difficult to reconcile but there is a feeling of optimism about the future.
Les Lambert, Wangaratta, VIC
BACON AND DREGS
My wife and I were careful with our bags, passports, and credit cards while travelling in Rome but in Bologna we let our guard down, even if only momentarily.
You won’t believe this: in the hotel, at breakfast, my wife had her handbag stolen from near her feet. What we did not know was that this hotel allowed people to come in off the street for breakfast, pay for it, have breakfast (and then leave with your handbag).
Nonetheless, the people of Bologna are charming and kind. There is much to see in this beautiful university town.
Gideon Goosen, Lapstone, NSW
Lesley Heffernan of Narooma (Rants & raves, November 3) writes that she’s surprised that, despite her efforts, none of her postcards, bar one, from Cuba have arrived.
There is a simple reason I believe based on my own travel experiences over the decades. In poor countries, and Cuba is one, to boost their income postal clerks, and workers at some hotels, do not frank the stamps on any letters or postcards but simply remove the stamps to resell to boost their income and then throw away the cards.
Once in India I decided to send some clothes and other items onwards to India, and being a stamp collector at the time, I asked for as many stamps as possible on the parcel.
The postal clerk duly went about the process of franking the stamps as I watched. Checking after he finished I found that he had missed a few.
I pointed this out to him and with a great big smile he said “sorry sahib” and he franked them.
Wayne Stinson, Merimbula, NSW
Like Alison Stewart in her article (Traveller, November 10), we took the train from Copenhagen over the bridge to Malmo in southern Sweden.
Unlike her, we didn’t expect to be able to pay for things there in euros or Danish currency. And why would we? Any foreign tourist flying into Melbourne or Sydney would need Australian dollars for their taxi trip to town, or even for a luggage trolley at the airport.
In Malmo Central there is an ATM and also a currency exchange desk, where we easily swapped our no-longer required Danish krone for Swedish krona.
We loved Malmo – even in December – and would highly recommend the Story Hotel Studio Malmo, a five-minute walk from the station with a spectacular rooftop bar.
Justine Sloane-Lees, Yarraville .VIC
BLAST FROM THE PAST
Yes, Barbara Opar (Rants and Raves, November 3), I do remember traveller cheques. In fact, I still have a few, issued by AMEX with the National Australia Bank logo on them.
In fact, does anyone know if they can still be used overseas in an emergency, and if so, who would honour them? Can I cash them out locally? Are fees charged?
David Mackinnon, Kings Cross, NSW
WHAT A WASTE
Having just pretty much done the same itinerary (and more) as your writer in Sri Lanka (Traveller, November 3) there are a number of things your writer skims over.
First, while the beaches are picturesque, they are filthy. Sri Lanka has a serious problem with ocean pollution in particular, with plastics.
One day swimming at the small beach pictured on your front page at the fancy Cape Weligama, there was so much plastic waste in the water I was literally slapped in the chest with plastic footwear and came out of the water with plastic and fish-line in my hair.
Secondly, the lack of infrastructure means that while you can certainly go to these places of five-star luxury, getting there is rough and difficult even in a luxury van.
Frankly this isn’t really an adventure with the journeys often consisting of hour upon hour of urban centres and beeping vehicles. Flying, of course, is an option but not always available.
And finally, as a couple who does not just sit Instagramming ourselves at swimming pools and instead chooses to go out into wild or remote places, we too ventured into Yala National Park.
On one morning alone, we counted 40 Jeeps all loudly jostling for position for a sighting of one bear, with no motors turned off, music blaring and dust being raised that you could see for miles.
Encouraging this overcrowding does nothing for the safety and peace of animals there or the people and the Sri Lankan authorities need to impose a better system. Until then, there are better, more worthy national parks in Sri Lanka worthy of your time.
Stacey Laing, Avalon Beach, NSW