NO-HEADLINE

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Where did I go wrong, I wondered, in becoming easy prey for a taxi driver at Venice airport? My appeal for advice on how to avoid rip- offs such as paying pounds 20 for a 10-minute trip elicited this response from Vera Greenwood of Huddersfield.

"Where did you go wrong? Easy. 1: You decided your status warranted a taxi. 2: So you ignored hoi polloi on the bus from the airport, and were lured into a scam. 3: Tough - learn the lesson."

Suitably chastened by Ms Greenwood, I vowed to stick to public transport during my trip around Turkey and Cyprus. As in many countries less wealthy than ours, public transport in Turkey is excellent. But even the splendid bus services dry up in the sparsely populated areas of central Anatolia. So a fortnight ago I started hitch-hiking south on a lonely road from the town of Goreme towards Nevsehir.

The first vehicle of any description was a tractor. It turns out there is a handy sheet of metal ("seat" would over-glamorise it) by the driver's right shoulder, where a hitch-hiker and his rucksack can perch precariously.

The next was a council dustcart, whose cab was already full. You do not need fluent Turkish to comprehend that the occupants are offering a space riding on the running board, again in return for a good laugh.

By the time a third vehicle rumbled to a halt, I was beginning to suspect a plot. This was a dumper truck, complete with a consignment of cheery workers in the front and 10 tons of mud on the back. I smiled wanly at their gesticulations and climbed in with the mud. Hitching certainly adds a dimension - and sometimes brings you down to earth.

Hitch-hikers can ill-afford to be too fussy about smoking or other habits of the motorists who pick them up, but fare-paying passengers can. Smoking is rapidly being stubbed out among the world's airlines, with the giant US carrier American Airlines about to ban the habit on all its transatlantic and Caribbean services. But, asks Ingrid Hollyman of Wolverhampton, what about facilities for non-smokers when you arrive.

"I find it impossible to find out about legislation on hotels and restaurants abroad. I have scrutinised travel brochures for such information but to no avail. Likewise, tour coaches tend to be non-smoking, but what about public transport?"

The principal of giving travellers advance notice about attitudes to smoking seems a sound one whether or not you smoke - but who should provide it?

Just in case you were wondering, Ms Hollyman signs off "I am the most rabid anti-smoker in creation".

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