In my last post I’ve mentioned about my quirkiness about cabs and their huge tabs. It’s not that I am a miser or anything like that, it’s just that Tankers (I’ve only sailed on huge oil carriers) are usually docked in terminals that are quite far from the town so sometimes it’s an hours drive sometimes even more so you it does get a tad expensive and well a quirk is a quirk. Now let me tell u how this time it led to things going just a bit awry.
This particular incident happened in Rotterdam. The ship was docked really far this time but that never stopped me from taking off and exploring whatever place I was in. Taxi was definitely a necessary evil.
So as I said we were in Rotterdam and the ship was docked quite far. The first couple of days we ( this time my daughter Ria was with me)went to Rotterdam. It was a 25 minute cab ride to the nearest metro station from the ship and another half an hour to the city in the metro. We visited the Euromast and took and a river cruise among other things and had a good time. However on the third day the ship was sailing out by late evening and I had strict instructions to be back by five so I decided not to go to the city but to just visit a town near by, but it so happened that it wasn’t as nearby as I’d thought.
There is a very famous store in Rotterdam called the Botlek stores . It’s known as THE seaman store and it is a haven for seafarers. Most sea farers are on a six hour shift in port. They get the other six hours to go out and shop and come back and catch a few winks. Of course they work around it and do go out but for the ones really short on time the Botlek stores offers a one stop destination for almost all their needs.
To make things better there is always a free shuttle from the store to the ship and back. So going out wasn’t a problem as we took the shuttle to the store from where we enquired about the nearest town and soon we were headed there… in a cab of course.
As we drove towards the town my eyes literally widened as I took in the beauty of the countryside. It was Holland at its best literally… Lush green fields, cows grazing here and there and windmills in the distance. I was just stunned by this beauty. Soon we got off in the little town which I came to know was a village. It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to. We took a walk along the canal admiring the neat rows of perfect looking houses. Ria was happy to run around and pick up a flower here and there. We walked till we reached the market place.
It was bustling and there were shops and many stalls. Beautiful paintings in one, one with delicate lace dresses, a cheese stall with many different kinds of cheese on display and a few more displaying the local goods. It was just wonderful going around this market. After some time we settled down for a nice meal at a local eatery. Once lunch was over I decided it was time to go back. We walked back to the taxi stand and headed back.
I explained to the driver the port where we were supposed to go to and he told me it would take about an hour. The taxi tab was displayed in the rear view mirror and I saw it jump very quickly. Even though I didn’t want to my gaze would somehow redirect back to the meter. Soon we were above 50 Euros. I checked my purse I had about 150 euros so it was fine. Distracted by Ria I forgot about the meter for a while and I asked the driver how far we were. He said not far and when I looked at the meter this time the tab was 145 euros. I asked the driver to drop us right there. He gave me a strange look but dropped us off and sped away.
I had seen the funnel of the ship by then and it was a beautiful spring afternoon in Rotterdam, a walk would do us good. If I could see the ships funnel how far it could be? Plus the taxi can only go till the entrance of the terminal. From there it’s a good 10 min walk to she ship and I doubted the cab driver would be happy to wait for 20 -25 min while I went to the ship and got the cash. So I thought it was best to pay him and walk the rest of the way.
Twenty minutes later and we were still waking and it looked like in the middle of nowhere. By now Ria had started whining. Another 10 min and I looked at the ships funnel and no it didn’t look any closer. I looked at my watch. It was 4’o clock, I had a hour and I really hoped I would be back on the ship in time. Once the operations are done and pilot is onboard the ship waits for nobody. My heartbeat went up a notch.
By now we’d been waking for 35 min and the ship or the terminal was no where in sight and it was a very secluded area there were no cars on the road either. We were dragging our feet now rather than walking and I was getting very worried. Then I heard a horn, and I immediately turned to see the botlek store bus. I looked up and said a quick thank you to the powers above. The van was a God send. We ran to the van and got it. It was the same driver who’d taken us to the store in the morning and thankfully recognized us.
When I got into the bus he asked me how come I was walking in the middle of no where and that to so far from the ship. Embarrassed I just laughed and went and sat down. I just sank into my seat limp with relief. It took us another 20 minutes by the bus to reach the ship. I shudder to think what would have happened if this van hadn’t turned up. I thanked the driver profusely as I got down. I walked up the gangway, again thanking God that I reached the ship with time to spare. I’d envisioned us looking on teary eyed as the ship sailed away.
A couple of hours later poor exhausted Ria slept and I went for a walk on the deck. I looked on as Rotterdam faded in the distance and smiled remembering the events of the day. Now in retrospect I knew I’d been impulsive getting out of the cab when I did but I’d really thought the ship was quite near. This incident did make me promise myself that from now on no more of this quirkiness and for a long time I did get over it till we came back to Rotterdam again years later this time with all my kids and about that I will write in my next post.