Saturday, June 9, 2007

Sorry Joni Mitchell, it's a Big Black Taxi

One of the simple pleasures about visiting London is riding in one of the city's big black taxis. The passenger seating area is spacious. It can seat two or three persons facing forward and luggage or in place of luggage, two people facing backwards on seats that fold open.

As much as the journey is pleasant while glimpsing the bustling city life, the taxi is another pretty penny. Total cost from Paddington to my hotel is GBP13 (US$26) including tip for a 15-minute ride with decent traffic. Still with luggage in tow, it is more pratical than hauling your bags onto the London subway.

Taxi driving is a respected profession in London. All drivers must pass a rigorous examination. If you see anyone on a bike with a map in tow, it is probably a taxi driver learning all the best routes in London. All drivers must find the shortest convenient route to your destination. If the driver feels a diversion from the normal route is necessary, the driver must inform you before proceeding. Always round to the nearest whole British Pound so that your driver can make easy change for you.

Only authorized taxis are allowed to pick-up passengers at Paddington. Beware of taxis around the city that will charge you an unmetered fare. These taxis differ from the government authorized Carbodies model you see all over London.

After a 5:30am check-in back in Honolulu, over 16 hours of flying on two flight segments and a two-hour layover at LAX; not to mention the delay of a bag (that story still to come), the thought of a cozy quiet moment to stretch my feet and relax is all I can think about.

Below is the taxi queue at Paddington and waiting while other hopeful travelers board one of the taxis. Breaking with tradition, taxis can carry colorful advertising in lieu of the basic black exterior.

2 comments:

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