STRANDED IN PORTO
We were on a cruise travelling from Seville to Tilbury, enjoyable company, summer weather, fine wine, when the announcement came over the PA, one evening, would two passengers “please make themselves known to the purser”. Two men had left the port wine warehouse in Porto and went looking for the return bus to the ship. Remembering that each bus has a guide, who is expected to be able to do a head count, before the bus returns to the ship. As the story unfolded, during the retelling the next day, the men found that the bus had left without them. The logical idea was to find a cab to return to the ship. Ah, but which wharf in Porto? The next idea, that evening, was to find a cab to hire to “race” the ship to the next stop in Vigo, a mere 166-kilometre trip and close to two hours travel by car. The Portuguese taxi drivers were not too willing to drive during the night. Instead the men checked into a hotel for a sleep. Next morning, early, they were in a cab to Vigo. As one man, a Scot, jokingly recounted, he couldn’t take his eyes off the meter during the journey. A plane flight was out of the question, their passports were in the ship’s safe. The men were eventually reunited with their spouses and fellow travellers in Vigo. My own caution, not to rely too much on those radio headsets to listen to the tour guide, the volume does not give you any indication of where the guide is, and it is a one-way communication headset. The purser did issue a warning in the next day’s news bulletin to include phone numbers and port details for those passengers who wanted to get lost on land, during scenic site visits.
T Scott, Kogarah, NSW
The window seat on airlines is overrated (Traveller on Sunday, February 4). You’re really guaranteed a good view only for five minutes or so after takeoff and before landing, unless you know that you’ll be flying over something really special such as the Grand Canyon in daylight. I’ve always tried to get an aisle seat so I could go for frequent walks to avoid the dreaded DVT. And I always told my fellow passengers that if they needed to climb over me, no problems as I’ll go for a walk too.
Wayne Robinson, Kingsley, WA
STAY AND SNAP
We recently had a weekend at Milton, booked through Stayz. We appreciated the beautiful house, and left it clean and tidy. The owner rang later, checking her cleaner’s claim that we had left it in a filthy mess. Her follow-up email revealed that a previous group was responsible. Then another email informed me that a $350 extra cleaning charge had been reversed – the first I knew about it. All ended well, the owner was honest, misunderstandings happen, but the moral is to take photos as you leave such places. You never know when they may be needed.
Judith Godden, Epping, NSW
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT’S DUE
Regarding the letter about the collapse of a travel agency (Rants and Raves, March 18) or tour company, please instruct Marilyn Irons that if she has paid by any credit card issued by a bank that she should approach the bank and request a charge back for the costs charged to the card. As she paid for something and has not received the service this is a way of getting back her payments made by credit card. If payment was by debit card or cash there is no recourse.
Peter WinfieldYarrawarrah NSW.
LEFT UP THE RIVER
About two years ago I booked a canal cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam for myself and daughter and paid a deposit of $6000. I took out travel insurance, more than $1300, to cover us. My daughter has no medical conditions and was going to act as my companion as I was 83 years old. About six months before travelling I developed a bad back and I realised I would not be able to walk on the cobbled streets of Europe. When I cancelled the trip the insurance company asked for six months of medical records from my doctor and then refused to refund the $6000 paid even though I had filled in a medical report when the deposit was paid. Apparently this is the practice of river boats – they do not refund deposits. I approached the Insurance Ombudsman who offered me $3000. I was unhappy about the whole thing as I was $4300 out of pocket taking into account the $1300 I had paid for insurance. What made me more unhappy, I had a close friend who lives in Amsterdam meeting us in the Netherlands and was going to show us around.
Joye Wells, St Ives NSW
MIDDLE EAST SUMMIT
My husband and I are planning a trip to Israel, Jordan and Egypt but as I have walking limitations we are thinking of doing a custom-made itinerary. How safe would it be for just the two of us in our 70s to travel all over in a chauffeur driven car and a guide through a local travel agency. Anyone heard of the local agency Wonders-Travel.com based in Israel? We are not fussy about fancy hotels and need basic accommodation – non-smoking, clean and comfortable with heating, air conditioning and attached bathrooms. We would appreciate advice from your readers.
Maggie Irani, Hornsby NSW
On a recent trip to Canada, we were surprised when checking-in to find out that an eTA visa is required. We were lucky, we logged-in online, filled in the forms, paid our CA$7 and received the visa via email in plenty of time. Others, not so lucky said that they paid Flight Centre at the airport $100 each! Another couple said that they received their eTA with seven minutes to spare (it can take 72 hours). How did we miss this change in visa requirements? Overconfident? We had been to Canada multiple times but not in the last two years. Why was there no warning from Air Canada when we booked our flight? Be warned – don’t get caught like this.
Maree Williams, Sandringham VIC