Travel: Disty waters in the sins

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The Independent Travel
WILD and wacky tales flood in from readers. Mark Stevenson of Tring sends a photocopy of a Turkish tourist office publication. 'You might think that they would hire a professional to translate it. Fortunately, they did not and the magazine's 100 pages make a very funny and cherished memento.'

Yildir Otel: 'A Happ Hotel in Greeting History . . . This is a part of paradise an which the natural beauty and historical sites of the region meet you will peace of mind if you taken photograph the natural. And Yildir Hotel is in that beauty.'

And a few lines that could have been penned by Professor Stanley Unwin: 'In Bergama Imprisoneu a History . . . Bergama with historical Legent. Why is the historical remnants in German? Who relation to Bergama?'

One may well ask.

Bryan Collett of London was presented with this advice by a notice in his hotel room in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia: 'If Corridors Are Full Of Smoke Please Remain In Your Room. Do Not Open The Window But Lay Dawn On The Floor And Put A Mois Towel On Your Nose. DO NOT USE PANIC]'

Mr Collett regrets that the corridors never filled with smoke during his stay, so there was no opportunity to meet the hapless Dawn.

On their French campsite, a handout from the management warned Mr and Mrs Gregory of Rugby: 'Leave the toilets, basins and sins in perfect conditions of property. Water places can't be used for the washing up to throw disty waters. Any infraction,' this notice adds with menace, 'may lead to expulsion with the police help if necessary.' Presumably the throwing of disty waters is a serious offence in France.

Terry Wood of Darlington, while on holiday in Madeira, spotted some curious advice on sexual hygiene, published in the local free paper for British tourists. Discussing ways of preventing the passing on of the HIV virus, the article says: 'To avoid the transmission of this virus one must reduce ones number of sexual parteners to a minimum and use preservatives during the sexual act.' This has amused jam-making friends ever since, writes Mr Wood.

If you have a funny story or a hilariously disastrous travel experience to relate, let us have it. Each week we will publish the best story, and the sender will win one of the excellent Literary Companions (the series covers Paris, Venice, India, Egypt, Florence or London) published by John Murray, or The Independent Good Holiday Guide or my new Family France guide if preferred. Your tale should be brief - not more than 200 words - and can be about anything to do with travel. Please write to: Frank Barrett ('Wish you weren't here . . . ?'), The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB and say which book you would like if you are one of our winners.

Vacuum vacation

A DISSENTING view on the charms of the French Formule 1 budget hotel chain, from Adele Lettman of Paris. 'You get exactly what you pay for. Robot desolation and isolation, as they are generally situated just that bit too far to walk to the nearest town or village. Food is from a machine, exit and entry is by code, both for the front door and your room. Security is enhanced by lack of windows.'

Mrs Lettman says that the hotels have been planned as corridors with bedrooms on one side and showers and toilets on the other. 'Nature may call or even shriek, but you are doomed to wait until the self-clean apparatus has done its work on the toilet, and at the moment of triumph you may be superseded by a parent whose child is moaning 'I've gotta do it now'.'

The only meal served, she complains, is the 'overpriced breakfast of tea/coffee/chocolate with powdered milk and six inches of third-rate baguette from a hermetically sealed pack'.

She admits that it is cheap - about pounds 15 per night at current rates without breakfast - but suggests that travellers will do much better with one-star or no-star hotels in a small town.

'Coming to France surely means sampling the small, unremarkable places rather than incarcerating oneself in a tinned vacuum.'

Flights: Quest Worldwide (081-547 3322) offers return fares from London to St Louis from pounds 425 on the direct service from Gatwick with TWA. The ticket is valid from seven to 180 days.

Further information: The Missouri Division of Tourism (0101 314 751 1910) says Highway 44, the road between St Louis and Branson, has not been affected by the recent floods.