We all have our quirks and mine is actually quite funny. I find spending money on taxi fares a complete waste and taxis are usually so horrendously expensive especially in Europe that I always (used to ) think that the money could be used better like to buy a nice dress or a beautiful piece of jewellery or well so many better uses ,I could go on. And what’s life without some adventure, why not explore other ways to get around. This quirk has led to quite a few (some funny and some not quite so funny )experiences which I would love to tell u about.
The first of these happened when we were in Bordeaux in France on my first ship. The day we landed in France I was really quite excited to explore the place. To our good luck on the first day as we were getting ready to go out one of the surveyors offered to take us to the city. We went around, had a fantastic dinner in a lovely restaurant. Just had an amazing evening going around this beautiful French town.
The next morning nice and early I was all ready to go and see more sights of Bordeux. As I was leaving the ship the radio officer and his wife decided to join me. As we left the ship the radio officer said we should find a way to arrange for a cab and I told him why cab it, We must take a lift. I am quite sure we can find someone leaving the ship to drop us to the town. To our good luck (or that’s what I thought) we found a delivery guy leaving the ship right then. As we walked on the jetty towards the terminal we managed to explain to him that we needed a lift to town. He said somethings in his heavily accented English and we didn’t quite understand but agreed to go with him anyway. He opened the back door of his van and asked us to get in. To our shock it was a delivery van and there were no seats in the back. The radio officer was conveniently in the front with the driver and before we knew it we were speeding towards town literally skidding and bouncing in the back and it was a good 45 minutes drive ….no not to where we wanted to go but to the place where he had to do another delivery. We waited a while and I could see the accusing looks being darted at me but I just acted very nonchalant. In any case it was too late too do much other than go along with this guy.
Another half an hour of misery and finally he dropped us to a huge mall where he claimed we could get anything from a needle to an aircraft. He went on about this amazing mall all during the drive and even though it had been a very uncomfortable drive we were glad we were going to a great place so it was worth it.
We reached the mall and it was quite a big one swarming with traffic and people all around. Well it was a huge mall no doubt and probably we could have found a needle or an aircraft if we were so inclined but as soon as we entered the mall the first thing we did was enquire where we could find a money changer. To our horror we were told there was no such thing in the mall.
We looked at each other a bit baffled, deciding what to do next. There was no way dollars would be a accepted in the mall and we’d reconfirmed that. Then I took over and thought for a bit and told them to follow me, we had to find a way to get to a money changer. It stuck me that the best place to find help would be the exit of the car park. That was a ideal place to find help as every car had to stop at the barrier before exiting. For the first fifteen minutes the cars went by ignoring us and my timidly stretched hand completely. A car finally stopped but they didn’t speak any Enlish and we spoke no French. They sped away and now both the radio officer and his wife were getting very uncomfortable. Well, fortunately another car stopped,(probably our flustered and uncomfortable expressions did the trick) it was a very sweet young British girl, an exchange student (who thankfully spoke a language both sides understood.) She was very nice and helpful and she offered to take us to the town where we could change money in a bank.
We had a nice drive chatting with her and hearing about her life in France. She pointed out quite a few famous buildings and monuments on the way. We reached the town and it was beautiful. It had taken us a good half an hour to get to there. She stopped close to the bank and she offered to wait and drive us back but honestly it was a much better idea to be in town than in a mall. So we thanked her and told her we could not impose on her more as she’d already helped us a lot.
What a fantastic day we had going around in Bordeux. I still remember picking up some beautiful stuff and just fell in love with the picturesque town. It felt like a magical day in this city of elegant limestone buildings, wrought-iron balconies overflowing with flowers. There was colour and vibrancy everywhere.
We saw and came to know Bordeaux is a town steeped in history and culture infact the city has the maximum number of preserved historical buildings in France other than Paris.
Being a Sunday we got a chance to see the local market as well and I remember being awestruck by just about everything.
Well even though I could have stayed there much longer it was time to go. The radio officer said let’s head to the taxi stand and before I could say anything both of them glared at me and said no this time we are not listening to you please get into the cab we are too tired for any more of this. Well what could I have done, I sat in the cab not too happily though. I looked out of the cab window enjoying the beautiful sights as we sped back to the ship.
It so happened that I signed off from the ship soon after and so did this couple. At the airport my husband who’d came to see me off , since I was going alone told them to take care of me to which the radio officer laughing replied that u don’t have to worry about her she will take lift and manage to reach home somehow!! What a hearty laugh we had.
It’s really wonderful to relive these beautiful memories, and I’ve spent the whole evening being transported back to that time remembering the wonderful moments and smiling throughout as I write and reminisce. Will be back soon with the account of where another of my attempts to avoid taxi money went a bit awry.