I urge you to take as many taxi rides as you can. They're much more fun and better value than any theme park ride or virtual arcade game. Basically, they weave at breakneck speed in and out of traffic, creating a third and fourth lane when there are only two. The first ride will be disconcerting and have you calling out for your mother, the second will see you addicted.
No meters. You're meant to know how much a journey costs, and if you don't, you'll get ripped off. Also, be sure to memorise the numbers in Arabic from 1 to 10, so that you can haggle more effectively.
The rough rule of thumb for knowing how much a certain journey should cost - roughly, a trip from Zamalek to Tahrir would be about 5 Egyptian pounds. This isn't a long journey and takes maybe 10 minutes, depending on traffic. 5 Egyptian pounds is about 50 pence. Longer journeys, especially to tourist destinations, will always give inflated prices, but try to haggle them down. You can also pre-agree the prices for longer journeys, but it's trickier for quicker inner-city taxi rides.
Further, when you get a taxi from the airport, it's very important to disregard the first couple of drivers who offer you their taxi, so that you build some credibility. 50 Egyptian pounds isn't that bad, especially for westerners just arriving, to get a taxi to your hotel in the city, but if you can get it lower, so much the better. The reason it's more expensive from the airport isn't just the distance (it's maybe forty minutes) but also the fact that the taxi driver has to pay a couple of entry fees and bribes in order to be inside the airport area at all.
Instead of choking on exhaust fumes sitting in a taxi in dead-end traffic, take the Cairo underground. It is quick, efficient, very cheap, and if you are a woman on your own, the front carriage is reserved for women only. Much faster way to get around the city, also.
One of the nicest places I have ever been. Fantastic laid-back atmosphere with great parks to relax in and pretty districts to stroll around. Universeum, a natural history museum of a kind, is great for kids and kids-at-heart and there are plenty of other attractions for those who feel they need to see things. But the real pleasure of the place is in simply soaking up the atmosphere.
Universeum, Sodra Vagen 50,
(00 46) 31 335 64 50
It costs 1.3 lira (50p) for one journey on the modern funicular between Taksim Square and Kabatas and it is much better than taking a taxi. The trams and the ferry costs the same amount and the ferry, crossing from Europe to Asia, is a must.
Taksim Square, Istanbul.
Easily reached by train, this beautiful seaside suburb south of Stockholm is an ideal place to visit for a day trip from the Swedish capital. The small sandy Baltic beaches are ideal for children and there are old-fashioned separate male and female nude swimming areas and saunas. You can go for walks in the woods, picking berries and mushrooms, or try one of the bars and fish restaurants.
Take the historic train ride from Slussen station in Stockholm to Saltsjöbaden.
Singapore Taxis are incredibly cheap and efficient. Given that most people do not spend a great deal of time in Singapore and that it can be hot and sweaty wandering around looking for the best places, get a good guide and grab a taxi.
All around Singapore
Take the cable car to Sentosa for unrivalled views both of Sentosa Island and the huge shipping port. It also goes right over the top of the cruise ships that go in, so you can have a good snoop at the rooms!
Catch the cable car from the World Trade Centre.
If you're feeling lazy but still want to have a look around the city centre, take the number 2 free bus. It goes in a loop around the city centre so you could hop on and off because they go every 10 minutes or so during the daytime. There are two other free routes (1 and 3) but they are not as good for sightseeing as No 2.
You can catch it from outside Victoria station, Oxford Road station and various stops along the route (for example Hulme street near the BBC, anywhere along Deansgate, by Marks & Spencers at the bottom of market street).
It may not always be the fastest (most times it is) but it will be enjoyable - the drivers know where they are going and you usually only have to tell them the name of the destination. Fares are regulated, metered and in front of you, they can go through places public transport never gets to go, allowing you to discover areas you never knew existed. Usually drivers very talkative when spoken to, will often provide you with insights to the country, city, people, along with their historical, social knowledge of the city, provides an interesting journey in the comfort of your own space at a reasonable cost.
London, anywhere on the streets
For $3 an MTA daily travel pass allows you to range as far and wide as you like via bus and metrorail train. Riding the bus is not only by far the cheapest way to get around (and out of) LA, it's also the best way to experience the city's fantastically complex social, racial and cultural mix. Passes can be bought from bus drivers or at Metrorail stations. Journeys can be planned in detail ahead of time by using the MTA's excellent website (www.mta.net).
Although LA is known as the city of the car the whole area has got a well developed public transit system consisting of light and heavy rail, subway and buses. It's cheap too -- you'll pay a fraction of the cost of comprable journeys in England. It pays to plan in advance, though, because it can be quite confusing if you don't live there (the fare structuring is very different from the UK as well). Also, tourists seem to get pushed onto high cost transit - for example, there's a light rail station adjacent to LAX but you'd never know it from the signs at the airport, all which would much rather have you use a cab or shuttle bus.
(Sitting in a hire car in heavy traffic on a freeway rapidly loses its gloss. Think "M25 with poor quality concrete surface"!)
www.mta.net -- it links into other transit systems, also try web searches.
The best thing to do in Rotterdam is leave the railway station, get the no.5 tram down to the river where the SPIDO harbour cruises start from, well worth the hour and a half that it'll take. When you come back, go back east a bit along the riverfront and get one of the classic polished wooden watertaxis to the old Holland America Line HQ on the south bank, now the Hotel New York with a busy bar/restaurant. The 30s style boat costs nearly nothing and was the highlight of my trip.
A picturesque fishing port on the border of Spain and Portugal, at the far western end of the Costa de la Luz. Great for seafood, golf, bowling, kitesurfing, sailing ... phew!
Nearby Isla Canela is where the Spaniards go for THEIR holidays, but the rest of Europe seems to have missed it!
When departing Budapest by air (and presumably when arriving too), don't bother with the various taxi/minibus services. The public transport alternative is efficient, perfectly easy to use and far, far cheaper (about £1 each way, as opposed to £6ish for the shuttle service).
From the town centre (Deak Ter) to the airport, simply take the blue metro line to the end of the line, then jump onto the clearly signposted no: 200 bus (complete with little aeroplane logo and English announcements). It goes to Terminal 1 first, then Terminal 2, and the entire journey to Terminal 1 takes about half an hour.
You need to validate one single ticket on the metro, and then another on the bus (or vice versa if arriving). True, ticket staff don't speak much English, but they are quite keen to help, and "2 single tickets" is widely understood (if various options are proffered, single tickets are the little flimsy orange ones with perforations).
Take it - it's €2.40 direct to the centre of the city. Ask for Santa Justa station. Buses run half-hourly, and hourly at less busy times.
The service is run by Amarillo Tours, tel: 34 902 21 03 17;
Check timetable info at www.linc.tv/seville-connections.php
The road from Sorrento to Amalfi hugs the cliff as it curves around vertical rock faces with the tail of the bus swinging out over the edge and bringing visions of the Afterlife to those passengers sitting on the right hand side. Be thankful that this observation is from a large air-conditioned, soft-sprung, reclining seat in the front of a Mercedes coach and not from the small hire car that is between this coach and another in front.
Coach drivers consider it a matter of pride to be as close as possible to everything including the cliff edge. Every corner is blasted peremptorily by the wind-horn and coaches give way to nothing. It is small consolation that the casual manner of the driver comes from driving this coastline several times a day and that he sleeps soundly in his bed at night.
The final plunge into Amalfi some ninety minutes later leaves the traveller in a melee of coaches parking, baffled tourists and drivers arguing.
South of Sorrento
It may be cheesy, but I can thoroughly recommend the hop-on hop-off open-top bus tour because it gives you a great feel for the city and provides priceless orientation in little over an hour. From there we quickly decided which cultural sites we wanted to take a closer look at, and we also spotted (and visited) a very traditional, very un-touristy tapas bar near the river where local workers were taking their lunch. It was also a great way to see all the Expo buildings (both Expos) and get some background on why they were (and weren't) successful.
Operated by Sevirama (tel 954 560 693). Buses leave half-hourly from the riverside Torre del Oro (any hotel can give precise directions there). Hop on and off as you wish. One ticket lasts 24 hours.
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