Travelling Blues

Martin Field 2007-06-30T08:02:13+00:000000001330200706 Food and Wine

by Martin Field

Someone once alleged that the journey rather than the arrival was ninety percent of the fun of travelling – he or she must have always travelled first class. Moving the household from Melbourne to Noosa entailed driving twice up the Newell and Bruce highways – some 1900 kilometres each time. We stayed at various inns, hostelries and motels and it was like a trip into the past. Quality control and modern amenities appear to be very low on the accommodation industry priority list. Here are a few items that annoyed me 20 years ago, and still do.

Slimy shower curtains that cling to legs like glad wrap
Mini fridges where the freezer is fully occupied by impenetrable permafrost
Bathroom vanity basins that hover adjacent to or just above the toilet bowl – be careful with your toothbrush, specs and dentures
Threadbare bath towels the size of large handkerchiefs
Sachets of instant tea dust and instant coffee that taste of mud – or nothing
Nano-serves of milk, butter, jam, honey and tomato sauce in plastic squeezy things
Absence of individual bedside reading lamps or, worse, bedside lamps that could light up the MCG
Polyester blankets and sheets
Filthy toilets at service stations and municipal rest stops
Electric hand dryers – your hands are still wet after five minutes of gesticulating wildly under tepid zephyrs
Beds with sheets and blankets tucked in by sadists
Tablets of soap that smell like Bangkok Bordello Number 5, so small they are in constant danger of inadvertently disappearing into various orifices.

I should add however, that the standards of accommodation associated with travelling in Australia are a joy compared with those I have experienced in Europe.

“Travelling Blues”

  1. Mike Tommasi :


    conditions vary even within Europe. In London and most of the UK you need to pay at least 150 pounds to avoid any of the horrors you cited. In Paris the minimum is 150 euro.

    Here is my list of annoyances:
    – the hook to hang the shower head is missing, or it is there but whatever prevented the shower head from flying off into the stratosphere has worn off.
    – the shower head is so gummed up with limescale that only 6 laser-like pinpricking jets of water make it through, leaving pits in your skin and scalp.
    – In the UK : separate hot and cold water taps. How do you wash? You alternate your cupped hands between the icy jet on the left and the barely sub-boiling one on the right.
    – waiters come and serve you drinks holding the glass with their sweaty fingers by the only part that will come in contact with your mouth: the rim.
    – toilets in Germany, with that step that holds your solids out of the water until you flush. Why? To allow me to check for any loose change I may have ingested?
    – breakfasts in Italian hotels
    – hotels that wash the sheets but not the blankets



  2. Martin :

    Yes Mike, Point taken about the price of rooms. By the way, Euros150 currently equates to $238AUD; GBP150 equals $353AUD. Accommodation in Australia is significantly cheaper than in Europe – that doesn’t however, excuse poor standards.

    In contrast, the motels we stayed in in San Francisco and Napa a couple of years back – for less than $130AUD (GBP55; Euro82) a night – were fantastic by Australian or European standards.

    One featured modern double suites with self catering facilities, free parking, all year pool, cable TV, free local phone, free newspapers, and the tariff included a generous cooked buffet breakfast.

    But all was not sweetness and light. For the same price in a downtown hotel in San Francisco we got a generous infestation of bedbugs.