I’ve often said, one of the advantages to living in Pontelandolfo is that we can hop around fairly inexpensively to visit other European cities. During one rainy week, four of us hopped over to Amsterdam for a taxing good/bad time.
Like foxes sniffing for prey – taxi drivers roam the streets of Amsterdam looking for wet and bedraggled tourists to gouge. When we landed, the fox phone chain must have been rattling. The foxes didn’t have far to look for new soggy chickens to fleece! Our happy or maybe crazy foursome went out in wind, rain and hail. Ten minutes after leaving point A to get to point B, we looked like dripping shaggy dogs. The foxes pounced-
“Growl, there are four good ones,” drooled the first driver we met. “The white haired guy looks old and about to faint. Errrr, and look at that chubby momma flagging me down. She can barely waddle in the rain. The other two, with hair plastered down, look ready to cry. Hee, hee hee. Yumm.”
It was pouring when we left Amsterdam’s Ann Frank Museum. My little party of four was soaked and starting to wrinkle. Sadly, I didn’t see the driver’s drool and flagged the fox’s cab. It stopped. We started to get in and told him the name of our hotel.
€30, he snickered.
What???!!! We had paid the cab to get to the museum only €17. He looked at me. I looked at him. Susi, my friend sputtered, that isn’t just. We all looked at the rain, and sunk into our seats. No tip was getting into his greedy little paws.
After that scurrilous experience you would think we would have learned something. Noooo! We took a fun, yet rain and hail filled, canal boat tour. Seriously, the rain and hail made me feel like a native. We were toasty dry on the boat and laughing at the sounds above us. Then we got off the boat. Merde. It took thirty seconds for the rain to fill our shoes, pockets, hair and drench our coats. We clambered up the metal stairs to the dock and headed for the street. Susi raced ahead and starting talking to a cab drive. We all piled in. The hotel was about eight blocks away. We could see it. If we were nimble youths we would have run. We aren’t nimble or young. We asked the driver if he was going to use the meter.
It’s raining – you want a ride – €30.
Not a sputter came out of our blue and freezing lips. We paid the €30. It must be the official rain on tourists price.
I noted the similarity between the fair and honest taxi drivers of Naples and the fair and honest taxi drivers of Amsterdam. The honest folks clicked on their meters. The price gougers didn’t. The honest ones played by all the rules. Once, the four of us attempted to jump the cab line to enter the second and bigger vehicle in the cue. The noble driver of the second car wouldn’t accept us as customers and sent us back to the first car. Whoever was first in line was to be our driver – no matter how tight a fit it was for four people.
The foxes are always ready to take a bite out of your wallet. In Amsterdam, the unmetered prices versus metered prices fluctuated between thirty to fifty percent more. Some times even the metered fairs varied coming and going too. How could that be, we would bellow. Then one of us would point out that we seemed to have driven in a circle two or three times.
Hmm, has that ever happened in Naples? Until we knew better, Jack and I had been fleeced from the Naples train station to our hotel in the center of town. A tourist, or person who looks like a tourist, needs to beware. Drivers have said things like, your suitcase is big – that costs more. There is a special charge for blah blah blah. Look at the posted price sheets. There should be posted fixed prices in every cab. Amsterdam didn’t seem to have prices posted. Actually, they didn’t have cab licenses posted in the cars either. One time, after we got in, the driver took the sign that said taxi off his roof and tossed in on the front seat floor. He didn’t use the meter either. He had lots of reasons.
One way streets. Construction. Rain. I can tell you about the city. Beh.
Researching after the fact is like being a Monday morning quarterback. As I was writing this rant, I thought I should check with the experts. According to http://www.amsterdamtips.com/amsterdam-taxis –
Reading that, I began to understand why some drivers took the longest routes. I also read that you didn’t have to tip the drivers – except maybe the change. Sadly, not wanting to be ugly tourists we asked our first driver what the tipping standards in the Netherlands were. He said 10-15% but not mandatory. Duhhhhh. Silly girl, next time I should reasearch before we go anywhere. But why should I have to? Why can’t every driver be like the fair and honest drivers? Sigh…
Happy traveling! Enjoy every voyage – even if it rains.