Daily Archives: July 31, 2012

Tips for using taxis in Europe

When people ask me about the scariest situation I’ve ever been in, I think back to a taxi ride I took to the Moscow airport in the early ’90s. A no-neck guy who looked like a classic Russian mafia thug picked me up in a beat-up old car and drove for an hour down puddle-filled alleys and past derelict apartments buildings. All I could think about were those movie scenes where the good guy is taken down to the river bank to be shot. Instead, the no-neck pulled up to the airport, shook my hand, and said, “Have a good fly.”

Many Americans are wired to assume that taxi drivers in other countries are up to no good. And I’ve always said that if you’re going to get ripped off in Europe, it’ll probably be by a cabbie. But I’ve also found that most drivers are honest. Sure, scams happen. But with the right tips and a watchful eye, you’ll get where you want to go without being taken for a ride.

Dishonest cabbies often lurk at airports, train stations and tourist spots ready to take advantage of tired travelers. At Prague’s main train station, cabbies at the “official” stand are a gang of no-good thieves who charge arriving tourists five times the regular rate.

If you don’t want to worry about getting conned the minute you arrive at a new destination, hop on public transportation. At Prague, opt for the Metro instead of a taxi. Recently, I took a speedy train from Rome’s airport to the train station downtown, then caught a bus to my hotel. It took me less than an hour to get from the airport to my hotel and cost 31 euros for the train fare and a handy week-long transit pass. A taxi alone would have cost 50 euros.

How to take great landscape photos on your travels

Last week, in the new series How I Shot My Summer Vacation, professional photographer Tim Fraser taught us how to take dramatic sunrise/sunset photos.  See a gallery of reader-submitted photos here. This week, it’s all about landscapes.

Landscapes are easily my favourite photographic pursuit. They can also be one of the more grueling photos to take, depending on how determined you are to get that perfect picture. And getting that perfect picture means going the extra mile – but isn’t that what makes it worthwhile? You want something to hang on your wall, not just something you’ll throw up quickly on TwitPic.

I tend to follow two pillars that go hand in hand in elevating your picture from snapshot to spectacular: preparation and perspective.

While it’s best to have your camera handy in case that pristine picture appears before you, often it’s not that easy. Great photographers have an ability to prepare for what they are shooting. They stare, analyze and anticipate.

READ MORE: How to take great landscape photos on your travels