Dateline: Barcelona, SPAIN - April 26
Some random thoughts to wile away the time as the teams are scattered across France and Spain by now…
Today was a fun day. Not to often do you have cancelled bus, ferry boat, train, subway and plane tickets in your breast pocket. Check, check, check, check and check! Now throw in a few silly taxi fares and you have a full travel day; from breakfast in Santa Margherita and lunch in Portofino (two drop-dead gorgeous Italian villages) to a late night tapa run in fast-paced Barcelona.
Sundays…what did your’s look like? It is funny when you think back over the last three Sundays for us traveling the globe: Sunday #1 had us snorkeling in the crystal blue waters of Fiji; Sunday #2 had us taking part in a pilgrimage at sacred Hindu temple on a high holy day in Bali; and today, Sunday #3 had us playing the part of just being a tourist in a couple of great destinations wine ‘n’ dinning—and using a slew of miscellaneous modes of transportation. Next Sunday #4 will have us hanging in the Keys south of Miami following the conclusion of the 2015 around the world travel adventure competition. The next Sunday we will all be back to our normal Sunday routines…New York Times with bagel lox and cream cheese.
BTW: The global weather has been kind to us throughout the adventure so far…it has only really rained that one morning in Fiji two weeks ago after the conclusion of that leg. Since then it has been great…just a few drops found us today and that quickly subsided. Indeed, it has been nice but on the hot side (humid in Bali but dry in Abu Dhabi) but really mild in Melbourne and here in Europe so far.
It always occurs somewhere…a taxi driver flare up. Sometimes they are tragedies, sometimes comedies. Today it was a comedy. Of course we have nothing against gainfully employed taxi cab drivers, travel destination touts or creative folks just trying to make a buck off us walking ATM machines (aka travelers). Isn’t that the point of capitalism—to take someone else’s money in some type of mutual exchange? Anyway, what sucks sometimes is when geographic terrain collides with the unknown and unsuspecting.
For instance, you get off the train in Santa Margherita Ligure and you find yourself high on a hill overlooking the town below and the Mediterranean Sea in the not too distance…combined with the fact that you don’t know how far away your hotel is. You assume it is a taxi ride away. Now in our case we have three roller bags and three backpacks. So we opt to get a cab to take us to our hotel that no one we asked had volunteered to tell us how far or close it might be from were we stand looking down a big hill at the train station. Well, three, maybe even two minutes later, we are at our hotel and out a handsome 15 Euro set price. (Yes, clearly it is a case of let the buyer beware price fixing…as you must recognize that you are on their home turf and they did make the rules in their favor naturally…but they of course don’t tell you their set price until you are well on the way and quickly notice that the meter is not running.) 400 meters as the crow flies…but down a steep hill I do stipulate. Okay, so we accept that one begrudgingly. Lesson learned, it happens.
But then leaving was when today’s comedy begins. We decide to again throw 15 Euros at the cause of getting our bags back up the 400 meter steep hill…but this time we find ourselves somehow with two drivers employed for the same three, no four minute uphill drive—one, the desk clerk from the hotel’s nephew with a new Mercedes, and one an official town taxi car. Here is were things got funny…ha ha. You see, one taxi was fetched by the hotel, but since we were a tad impatient and it was taking a little too long for them to arrive (no doubt because he had to hurry from home when he got the call from his aunt at the hotel about an easy 15 Euro fare for a three, no four minute, 400 meter fare)…so I walked across the street to hail one of the three cabs in line to come over to our hotel--about 20 meters away--to take us up that steep 400 meter hill. And wouldn’t you know it, at that exact moment between the hailed taxi drivers acknowledgement that the first taxi arrives to fetch us. Yep, we now have two taxi’s in our employ for a quick New York minute. What to do? What is right?
Well…we just as quickly disengaged the hailed cab who had by now moved out of three cab queue and started loading our bags into the aunts nephew’s cab…to the complete disapproval of the hailed cab driver who had by now felt that he was now fully employed by us. He started out his window as crowds stared. I smiled, threw up my hands, shrugged my shoulders and appealed to his higher self. He didn’t seem to have a higher self and like that he quickly confronted us. I said I was sorry but…. He said I owed him 15 Euros. I said I don’t think so, now thinking that maybe handing him a 5’er would surely assuage his painful expressions, hurt feelings and economic setback. No such luck. I quickly suggest a powwow with a nearby policeman orchestrating Chinese tour buses to adjudicate the situation. As the two of us, each righteous in our positions, march over to the said policeman, two other municipal officers arrive on the scene. Now we quickly have three local policemen, a screaming taxi driver and me smiling. Now I don’t speak much Italian—ordering a beer and getting kissed are always assured. But I basically appeal to all their higher selves and I ask what is fair? Well, they all conduct a rather brief frank and not so cordial discussion between themselves with me clearly being left in the dark…as I quickly come to realize that I am of course the visiting rival team playing in a hostile home field game…I pay the taxi driver 15 Euros to the nodding heads of the three policemen saying, “Really guys, really!” But it does not stop there.
No…the taxi driver now feeling extremely righteous and well protected does not let it go at that friendly robbery and continues to swear at me up and down (taunting the losing visiting team). And I do know a few choice Italian phrases and can simply state that he was using all the one’s I knew?! As I retreat and walked over to our other driver who has by now loaded all the luggage and my family members into the his cab, the other driver keeps screaming at me. I finally have enough and turn around to appeal to the three policemen who are obviously also all hearing this swearing…and they too agree that they too feel that he has finally gone too far. They have had enough of the well-paid taxi driver continually berating a harmless fleeced tourists. They head over towards him.
The last thing I see as I am driving up the 400 meter hill to the train station is the well-compensated taxi driver getting a ticket from the stern policeman. Karma is a bitch. But in the end, this comedy simply wasn’t worth the 15 Euros. Tsk tsk. …and to think all this took place inside 3-4 minutes—the time it takes to get a cab up that hill.
Okay, this is an late/early posting and we will have more when the teams checkin in Barcelona.
A few European photos…
Please friend/like us on Facebook... and YouTube.
Finally, The Global Scavenger Hunt is not just about a great international travel adventure that ultimately crowns The World’s Greatest Travelers in the annual world travel championship, it is also about helping others help themselves. As avid passionate travelers we see the true plight of most of the people in the world and this event was created in the spirit of giving back through the GreatEscape Foundation’s work. This year, to celebrate the 11th edition of our event, our goal is to fund 11 schools in places that really need them. Co-ed elementary schools at that— empowering both girls and boys. So, if you have it in your heart to not eat a lunch out this week and make a small secure online PayPal donation during the course of the 2015 event, we know that a lot of kids needing a basic education that would thank you. And we will thank you too…with a tax receipt.
The 2015 Teams competing for The World’s Greatest Travelers™ trophy in the 11th edition of The Global Scavenger Hunt travel adventure competition:
Lawyers without Borders (Zoe & Rainey):
Buns & Bird (Tania & Mickey):
Savvy Scavengers! (Tamyra & Kate):
½ of the Odd Couple (Erik):
Captain Marvel & PI Baby (Michael & Nita):
Sydney Sisters (Fiona & Katrina):
Tatakau Brothers (Ben & Jordan):
NOLA Second Line (Betty & Jim):
Hello World (Alan & Michael):