This is a short account of my Taxi experience from the center of Riga out to catch my morning flight at Riga International Airport.
I rarely use Riga Taxi Cabs. Flat out, I do not like to use them unless I am going to Riga Airport for an early flight . Do not get me wrong, I believe they will charge me the correct fare most of the time but I certainly do not always trust their driving skills!
Irrational lane changing, using a telephone whilst driving, ignoring red lights and a visible lack of sleep with a hint of vodka to the breath, tends to worry me a little. None the less, this morning I asked my friend to book me a ride. In the past years Taxi’s in Riga have offered a better service but I still have memories of one winter in 2005 when I feared for my life on the icy roads of Riga in a Taxi. Today, at least there was no ice.
The Taxi arrived outside my apartment and I was greeted with Russian as I opened the Taxi door. This is not uncommon but after explaining I understand more Latvian and a 2-minute conversation to discover whether or not I was ‘Kristiana’, (the friend who booked the cabs for me) and if I had been the one to book the Taxi, we finally drove off.
The heating was on full blast and steam filled the Taxi Cab. A strong smell of feet began to emanate from somewhere and that early morning queasiness set in. The driver’s radio was going mad and he was attempting to communicate through his mouthpiece and his mobile phone at the same time. Fine, multi tasking but at a junction, in the rain! This guy had to be good.
Passing through Riga’s Central District and crossing over the bridge around 8 am is quite hectic so allow yourself time to get across the river and on to the main highway that leads you straight to the airport. It is this crossing over the river which can make or break your chances to catch your flight.
We swerved through traffic, ‘mirrors’, I thought, ‘please use the god damn mirrors!’ and slowly we seemed to make the longest possible route to escape the traffic and finally head towards the airport. There was a crash on the other side of the road ‘Crash’ the driver said. The first words since we discovered my name was not ‘Kristiana’.
Arrival at the airport was relatively swift and even with the smell and slightly erratic driving, I paid and tipped the guy. He had made my morning and had got me to Riga Airport in one piece. I paid around 7 lvl from the Center of Riga to the Airport with a tip as well, not so bad when we were stuck in rush hour traffic for 30 minutes.
Off peak times the Taxi takes about 20 minutes from the Center of Riga to the Airport and about 30 minutes at peak times, when there is heavy traffic.