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NSW TEEM WORK Potential travellers to the Maldives should not be discouraged by Rob McFarland's inc

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travel letters

A team of near-naked rugby players ... not what you'd usually expect to see in business class.

A team of near-naked rugby players ... not what you'd usually expect to see in business class. Photo: Brent Winstone


We recently  returned from South Africa flying Qantas business class.

Joining us was an international New Zealand rugby team, most of whom, upon receiving their pyjamas,  stripped to their underwear in full view of all without a second thought.

There were a few very startled looks and while my wife and I were more bemused rather than offended, I think people from other cultures may well have been.  You would think  the team management would set a few guidelines on general decorum and what is expected in public, especially in light of rugby's current issues.

I hasten to add they were otherwise a well-behaved group but you can hardly imagine the Australian cricketers stripping off in similar circumstances.

Rob Hands, Shepparton, VIC

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Our visit to Russia was a bit different from Stephan Dartington's (Traveller letters, June 29) as we went on our own to St Petersburg for a week. However I do agree with him that now is the time to go to Russia.


St Petersburg is beautiful and, charmingly and frustratingly, remains mainly unrenovated, yet people are happy to help even though there are few signs or spoken English, even at the new boutique Sofitel Hotel with views of St Isaacs and a rooftop bar).

Russian restaurants serve some challenging food (it's fun to see rugs provided even in summer)  but the buses and underground are clean, efficient and cheap at the equivalent of five cents a trip.

Unfortunately, cruise ships passengers do not need a visa if they are on a tour and, as a result, the main sites are very crowded.

As for our own tours, we took three. One was an excellent three-hour free walking tour to start (Petersburg Free Tour), the second, an early, small, tour of the packed Hermitage and, thirdly, a private seven-hour trip to Peterhof and Catherine Palace (both with locally based Marina Wilson Tours).

Finally, some tips for a visit: do look for the ticket machines at most places that give you immediate entry without waiting in the ticket queues; the fabulous Faberge Museum is closed to groups after 6pm, and the Hermitage collection of impressionists in the breathtakingly renovated General Staff Building is open late on Wednesday and Friday when the tour groups have gone.

Heather Webb, Albert Park, VIC


I was interested to read Stephen Darlington's letter about his trip to Russia, particularly the part about dismissing any worries about doing so.

I would really love to visit the country and have a strong interest in its history and culture. However as a gay man, I'm afraid that I can't dismiss my anxieties about a trip to Russia.

The government's treatment of it LGBTQI citizens remains too problematic and even frightening for me to take the risk. Hopefully one day the situation will change and I can compare photos with Stephen.

Cameron Lindsay, Albury, NSW


Potential travellers to the Maldives should not be discouraged by Rob McFarland's incredibly broad statement that " virtually all of the Maldives reefs are now bleached" (Traveller, June 29).

Perhaps that was the explanation given by staff at the Niyama Resort to explain the state of their reef, but it is simply not the case that this applies to virtually all others.

We recently stayed at the Residence at Falhumaafushi​ and dived on their "house" reef and further afield, and both were among the most picturesque and spectacular dives I have experienced, including many others around the Pacific.

Teeming with fish and turtles and spectacular corals within 200 metres of the resort, this was a fantastic experience.

Peter Cohen, Sanctuary Cove, QLD


I have always been wary of hotel kettles (Traveller letters, June 22) after I saw two members of Mental as Anything demonstrating the art, if that's the word, of making scrambled eggs in a motel kettle on Saturday morning TV to a bemused [Channel Seven Sounds host] Donnie Sutherland about 30 years ago.

John Buchanan, Belrose, NSW

EDITOR'S NOTE We've now published many reader letters about novel, if not unwise, uses for accommodation implements and hereby declare correspondence on the subject closed.


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