|A London Cabbie|
Sometimes the simplest solutions are not only the best but the cheapest.
On our first trip to Europe, way back in 2001, we had just landed in Amsterdam and taken the train to central station. We had successfully navigated the tram system and been deposited in the museum neighborhood (Museumplein). According to our trusty Streetwise maps--this was long before we had Google Maps on our phones--our hotel was supposed to be right there. But it wasn't. We circumnavigated several blocks, exhausted and grumpy, getting more exhausted and more grumpy by the minute, until we found it. And then we had to scale three floors of stairs, but we'll leave that griping for another day.
Finally checked into our room, Lori looked at Chuck and pronounced, "Next time we take a taxi." It seemed a simple rule to make: whenever we arrive in a new place, just take a taxi to the hotel.
Pronouncements and declarations aside, it's surprisingly hard to follow your own advice sometimes. On occasion we actually have followed the rule, but other times we've been tempted by the apparent simplicity and obviousness of how to get to the hotel, museum, or wherever we're going. Admittedly taxis don't often seem the most cost effective option, and in cities like London or New York that might truly be the case. Why pay a taxi $30 to take you somewhere public transit can for $5? And of course we feel ridiculously guilty for taking a taxi three blocks for a fare of $3 (here you go, mate, now your mum can have that surgery she's been needing).
On the other hand, consider your time and effort--the cost of being exhausted and grumpy, basically--and paying that cab fare starts to make a little more sense. Just a few weeks ago, once our day in Toledo Spain was up and we were ready to head back to the train station, we set off on foot down the hill. We had hoped it would be a lovely walk down, laden with photo opps. But we were repeatedly thwarted by road construction. It was Chuck who invoked the rule this time, and we hiked back up the hill and took a $5 cab ride down to the train station.
On another occasion in Florence, we would have loved to take a taxi, especially since the place we were staying was a mile uphill outside the city, except that Italy was playing in a tournament soccer match that evening and every cabbie in the city had simply parked their cars to watch the match. We should have just rolled up our sleeves and joined one or two of them to watch the game, but it was late and we hoofed it. Uphill. A mile at least. But it makes a story worth telling.
Anyway, even if you think you know where you're going, and even if you fear paying the cabbie in change, if you're tired, hungry, or grumpy, just consider biting the bullet and taking a taxi.