1791 days ago
I arrived in good time at Athens bus station, aka the biggest shit hole this side of Mosul. and grabbed a cab for the airport. Within 100 yards the car was stuttering as if it was out of gas. The driver seemed unphased and just played with the gear stick as` if this was par for the course. On a dusty side street I was not too bothered but then we went onto the 4 lane motorway to the airport. He sensed my unease and asked "are you scared?" I lied and said no.
2815 days ago
I watch West Ham beat Spurs, chat to a pleasant Anglo Greek bird who asks to borrow a lighter and turns out to be the daughter of a woman who has met my Dad in the scholarly study of Northern Epirus and it is off to the airport. I know that it is a fixed fare but the driver starts the meter running.
We arrive and the clock says just under 26 Euro. Manfully he adds in a multiple of the tolls we have paid and we are still only at 31 Euro. So he turns round and having logged the 31 Euro as a print off he says “fixed fare 35 Euro” and shows me the a laminated card laughing.
I know full well that had we had more traffic and the total been 40 Euro he’s have chanced his arm and asked me for 40 Euro because most tourists just pay. That is why he set the meter running for a fixed fare. As it happens the total despite his toll swindle is only 31 Euro so: I pay the 35 Euro. he declares 31 Euro for tax purposes (if that) and 4 Euro disappears into the black economy. I am afraid that this remains the Greek way. Too many folks here think that swindling a foreigner and cheating the tax man is all part of the game.
I accept that it is the Greek way. The taxi driver was just a laughing wanker. I know that. I do not bear a grudge against Greece or the Greek people. I love it here and will be back soon. But one day folks here will have to learn that taxes are not optional and that swindling foreigners so brazenly is not a way to win long term friends.
3272 days ago
I was in a rush and so thought I’d splash out and get a cab from The Real Man Pizza Company to the Flux new media conference at Truman’s Brewery today. According to AA Route Planner it is 2.2 miles and should take 8 minutes. It is damn simple just head down Clerkenwell Road to Old street, take Great Eastern Street, Commercial street and then Wentworth Street and you are there. I have lived around here on and off for almost 25 years.
But my taxi driver knew best. My journey lasted 25 minutes. He found every traffic jam going. It cost £15.60. It was the craziest route you could imagine. What can you do at the end? Sod all. Just pay up, walk away and mutter under your breath a lot of rude words. Most cabbies are honest – this guy was just a piece of work. But there is nothing you can do about it.
Coming back I walked. It did not take much longer and was pretty direct.