Open Jaw: Where readers write back...
Saturday 15 March 2008
Moving Grenada upmarket?
I was particularly interested in reading "After the storm" ["Traveller", 1 March], as I was teaching in the Cayman Islands when Hurricane Ivan struck. However, I was so sorry that the article had to end with such an unpleasant quote by Peter de Savary: "We are hell bent on helping Grenada, and equally hell bent to keep out rubbish tourists who spend no money, and mass stuff that is ugly and dilutes the natural beauty. Less will be more."
This kind of "less is more" tourism is so prevalent in the Caribbean islands, but I really don't believe that the local people do enjoy seeing the sorts of tourists that de Savary wants to attract. The difference between the residents' own economic lifestyle and these folk with large yachts and penthouses worth $6m each is, well, embarrassing? I found the whole tone of the piece quite nauseating.
On a more practical note, I would like to visit Grenada. I am not a "rubbish tourist" but it's true I wouldn't be spending a lot of money. Is that the new "sin"? And will the islanders mistake me for one of de Savary's cronies?
No-show outbound, cancelled inbound?
Thank you for saving my bacon. I had booked a return flight over Easter to Nice on Air France. I then wanted to go a few days earlier and tried, without success, to change the outward flight
I then booked an easyJet outbound fight assuming I could come back, as booked, on Air France.
Thank goodness I read your article in the meantime [Simon Calder's column, 1 March], and rang Air France to check the position, which was as you'd indicated: if you don't turn up for the outbound trip, your return flight is annulled. I'm now going easyJet both ways. If I hadn't read your article I'd have poled up at Nice airport to find I was going nowhere.
I turned up at Toulouse airport with the return portion of an e-ticket, to be told that I had been deleted from the system as I had not flown from London to Toulouse
I explained that this was because I had flown to Basel instead and had then cycled to Toulouse (1,000km in a week!). The check-in assistant started to talk about conditions, which were apparently somewhere on the BA website
I resisted comments about how this attitude explained why France had not produced a Tour de France winner for some time, and also that they should be proud French nationals causing problems for the British national airline. I did get home, but only on a stand-by basis.
BA's "legacy" problems remain. This is a pity, given that the airline is often very competitive on price.
Europe by train
You suggest that these days there is no excuse for not travelling to and through France by rail [News, 1 March]. This is an aim I thoroughly agree with, for both environmental and aesthetic reasons. There is, however, one key snag: so far as I can tell, rail travel is twice as expensive.
In late July, I can fly my family (two adults, two children) from Gatwick to Toulouse for £330 return, and I can book it now, and quickly. The cheapest price I can find for the equivalent trip by rail is £546, with the extra problem that this gives me no flexibility over train times.
Even more irritatingly, I cannot book my summer travel now, since the timetables only seem to go up to 24 May. In addition, the rail trip takes all day, where the flight is an hour-and-a-half or so.
I would far rather travel by train, but these kind of issues are not going to help.
We, two oldies with senior rail passes, recently tried to visit a daughter in Frankfurt. The only train tickets we could find were £418 return each; this was £200 more than the fare from London City airport to Frankfurt.
Your newspaper has a habit of quoting the 10:1 ratio [for CO2 emitted by air versus rail] as though it is a general truth regardless of length of rail-air journey, high/low speed, jet or turboprop etc. But it ignores the considerable energy expended on maintaining the high speed track – ballast and steel do not grow on trees. The only "track" that aircraft require is a very little at each end of the journey.
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