Czech out the taxies
When you head out to a foreign country, even for a business trip, you usually search for the most common things you can do as a fast sightseeing tourist. What to visit, what to eat, how to say “thanks” or “hello” on the local language. But I bet you never considered checking out the taxi companies.
As every well trained Romanian you would know that, as a tourist, you benefit from a special treatment on behalf of the taxi company, consisting of a short tour of the city, even if you didn’t ask for one. And that happens almost each time you travel by taxi. After all, you didn’t get a tourist guide, so the cab driver is just doing its job. But you would never imagine how this industry works, unless you’ve experienced it. Travelling by taxi, in Prague, if not in the entire Czech Republic, is a real life adventure.
It all starts with a phone call to the taxi company. A conversation with the call center officer can take up to 5 minutes, depending on her English skills. And that, only if you’re not 19th in the row. From the moment you’ve decided to travel by taxi untill you’ve actually booked one, the person on the other end of the conversation knows almost everything about you: where you work, how sociable you are, what places you usually visit, etc. Apparently, in Prague, people use the means of transportation in common more than the taxi, as the first thing the lady asks you is a company name. No company, no taxi for you. She asks for your address and the place you’re heading next. But that’s not all, because it seems like they also want to know how many people will join you. Locals seem to have no idea why this would be relevant, but comply with the situation as it is. They assume it’s because the size of the car ordered depends on the size of the group. Why does it matter anyway? It is rather logical that if we are too many we shall order more than one cab. The last I checked we all knew how to count.
So you’ve chit chatted a little, and now she confirms you the taxi will get there soon… in about 40 to 60 minutes. Why, that long? Well, you know… the weather, the traffic, the distance, many variables come to mind. If you’re lucky enough you might actually get one in 15 minutes. The problem is if you need more than one. I’ll give you a tip here: when in Prague, always book your taxi in advance. Moreover, if you are in a hurry, don’t worry! Because no matter where you wanna go it will only take 10 minutes… and another 10, and another 10, and so on, until you’ve reached your destination. This estimate method was a surprise at the beginning, but then I thought maybe 10 it’s the last and highest number for them. So, it seems not everyone really knows how to count.
Looking at the bright side of this enlightening experience, it really teaches you one valuable thing: one should always know where is headed and what is the best timing for each considered travel. Only when things are in perfect alignment, your international experiences should be surprise-free.