Yesterday we went on holiday to Holland to visit our family and friends.
Low-Budget flight from Zaragoza to Brussels (Charleroi), so we were expected to be at about 11.30 AM at the new Zaragoza Airport, a cheaper but nice version of the beautiful cost-no-object Terminal IV of Barajas (Madrid), opened for the celebration of the EXPO of Zaragoza in 2008.
Due to the actual crisis, one has to turn every Euro twice so we checked the best way to go to Garrapinillos, the village of our airport. I could have called a friend, but I did not want to ask any favor so the alternative was going by bus, but the bus to the airport leaves from at about one kilometre away of my place, we could take a taxi until there but my wife told me that the trip by bus takes more than an hour around the entire city, so we said, we better take a taxi directly to the airport.
My wife called a taxi company the night before and they informed the trip would cost at about € 20-25. Quite reasonable, as we were going the three of us.
In Spain, taxis are not expensive. There is a large tradition in the use of taxis due to the years before the European Community, with a big service sector in Spain, especially in the big cities and in summer, when it’s very hot, it’s an interesting option instead of walking, when you have to go for more than 2 kilometres. I must say I always prefer walking but a lot of people use the taxi. One can see hundreds of taxis in every city, each town has its own image with different colours; in Zaragoza they are white, in Madrid white with a red stripe and in Barcelona black with a yellow stripe. A trip within the city of 10 – 15 minutes may cost you between 4 and 7 Euros.
I may presume as quite an experienced international traveller, so I have seen all kind of “tricks” taxi drivers from all over the world have tried me out. Unfortunately not all taxi drivers are honest people; the problem is the anonymity of the driver and the client; it is nearly impossible both will coincide again after the trip. A lot of taxi drivers take advantage of this situation, especially with foreign tourists. Due to my undeniable north-european aspect, most Spaniards think that I am a kind of tourist instead of a 24 year long local resident.
Part of the trip we had to do to the airport, is very familiar to me as I have been driving it 4 times a day during the last four years.
So, once we left home we situated ourselves on the corner of the street to call the taxi. In less than one minute the first one already appeared and meanwhile my daughter and me took care of our luggage, my wife called the taxi; a small Seat Toledo but big enough to pick up the three of us. The taxi stopped immediately and I asked polite, “Can you bring us to the airport, Sir?” Yep, no problem, answered the at about 35 years old bold blue eyes guy.
After we put in the luggage; one suitcase, a big bag, my lap-top and our hand luggage the car drove away.
As a professional defect, when I get in a taxi, due to some bad experiences, I start to observe everything the driver does and I immediately got aware that he “forgot” to start the counter. Is there a fixed tariff to the airport Sir? Ah no… and he immediately put it on. He situated the car on the left lane of the Camino de las Torres, what meant that he did not have any intention to take the shortest way, that I know so well, but drive us through the entire city centre with an uncountable number of traffic lights etc. having the bill growing until the destination. As the client pays, the client decides, so I did not leave him that opportunity and indicated him to go along the Paseo de Pamplona, Plaza de la Ciudadanía and the Carretera de Logroño, without any doubt about the track to do. Ordering this, the atmosphere normally gets pretty cool as the taxi driver may consider you don’t have confidence in his well-behaviour.
So this bloke tried to swindle us twice in less than a minute. This is why I don’t like taking taxis as I have lived this experience so many times.
After at about 20 minutes we arrived at the airport and meanwhile nobody said anything. So, how much do I owe you Sir? The counter indicated € 12,94 but that amount did not include the surcharge for our luggage. € 35,- he answered with a pokerface. € 35,-? Would you mind to explain me that? The counter says € 12,94 I said. € 35,- he repeated, without any explanation. I once again said explain me that. No explanation, “leave it, just pay me the € 12,94 and forget about it” he said with a serious face.
I just wanted to pay the correct amount I owed him. A taxi driver normally does not earn a lot of money; taxis are cheap in Spain, so in my opinion, if the driver has been fair, kind, took the shortest way, one should be generous with the tip and everybody happy.
Unfortunately things are not like that and I will continue to try to avoid taking a taxi.
FOLLOW UP 24/08/2009
Today we came back from Holland. So on Zaragoza Airport we had to take a taxi again.
This time we were lucky, a sympathic taxi driver picked us up. He didn't stop talking during the whole trip and he did not try out any trick; he was honest , fair and took the shortest way. When we arrived home, the counter indicated € 13,45; make it € 13 he said, and I won't surcharge you for the luggage. I gave him 3 euros tip.
It has to be said, not all are the same and I'll have to rectify my words.
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