Your piece about Lale's Pudding Shop in Istanbul struck a chord with me because I was one of the many "impecunious Western scruffs" who patronised that iconic establishment back in the Seventies. I was en route overland to my first job as a university lecturer in Bangladesh. Having just emerged from a bloody war of independence from Pakistan (this was 1973), Bangladesh was in a desperate state and I had been advised to bring many of the basic necessities of life with me. I took this warning perhaps a little too seriously and made the journey (courtesy of the legendary Ashley Butterfield, who accompanied many of a group of scruffs on the Hippie Trail) with not just the essential backpack but also a 75kg cabin trunk. I alighted safely from the Orient Express (the old grotty one, now long gone) at Sirkeci station but my trunk didn't. The luggage van had been shunted off into a siding in Bulgaria and there it stayed for three weeks. So while the Butterfield group took local buses on to Delhi, I was stranded in Istanbul and consequently spent longer in the Pudding Shop than many of those passing through.
I was intrigued by Simon Calder's article "Want A No-Impact Break? Holiday At Home". When reading today's Traveller supplement, I can find only one UK-based destination and that was a tiny piece on Lime Wood Hotel, which isn't even open yet. Featured destinations include Australia, South-East Asia, Baltimore, Turkey, Austria, the Canary Islands, Sri Lanka, and the UAE. Obviously, as a quality broadsheet you are going to carry a travel supplement but I find it highly inconsistent when the message of a sustainable lifestyle is loudly espoused one week and totally forgotten the next.
Dave Lowe, via email
You have covered this topic in some detail, so I thought it worth recounting the experience on a visit to Texas made by my wife and I (both in our 70s) to our son, who lives there. Before touchdown at Dallas-Fort Worth, we were given the usual immigration forms to complete, which were an exact replica of the form already completed online. On arrival we were required to stand in a long line, only to be turned away at the desk because the forms issued on the aircraft were out of date, and forced to complete new ones. When we eventually reached the immigration officer I tried to be conversational (always a mistake), I enquired why, having given all the information online, I had to do it all again? His response: "I am the one who decides who enters the country". Immigration is always a difficult issue in the US; I can understand why, but they seem to go out of their way to make it more so.
Credit cards on ships
In our most recent Open Jaw, John S Darlington wrote of his wife having to provide a signature and write down her Pin when shopping on board a Mediterranean cruise with Celebrity Cruises. The company responds: "At no point should guests be asked for their Pin. Guests are given a point-of-sale receipt and an identical copy is retained by the retailer. The Guest Accounts Purser will then send the credit card file for authorisation.
"Celebrity Cruises will ensure all staff are reminded of the correct protocol and apologises for any inconvenience suffered by Mr Darlington and his wife."