Make sure you stand your ground
When we first arrived in Rio everything seemed fine. Although we were bombarded at the Airport by taxi drivers all fighting for your custom. We did manage to get a taxi for the expected price to our hotel and was given a price up front. There didn’t seem to be any messing around. But then came my next Travel Lesson……
However, once we were in Rio we wanted to get a taxi to Copacabana Beach. We could have walked there, but we did want to arrive early to make the most of our day. I wrote out where we wanted to go on a piece of paper and asked roughly how much it would cost. The signs were easy enough to read to know we were heading in the direction of Copacabana.
However, once we got there things got a little awkward. The taxi driver was talking to us in Portuguese and I don’t know enough of it understand what he was saying, especially at the speed he was talking. I think he was asking us where in Copacabana we wanted to go. Although I thought our beach wear may have given this away. We said ‘Agua’ which is water in Portuguese and this didn’t help.
He pulled over to the side of the road and started asking people if they could translate. Very awkward!! I turned on my GPS. He had taken us the length of Copacabana Beach but just a few streets behind. Even asking to get out of the taxi was an ordeal, I just ended up handing him the money that we owed on the meter. I believe he got more out of us than was necessary. We could walk the rest of the way.
After that we decided to have GPS on us the whole time.
Our next encounter with a taxi driver was on the way to the train station for Christ the Redeemer. Again, we would have walked but we wanted to be there as early as possible. We handed the taxi driver a piece of paper with the FULL address on, he nodded his head and set off. After the first couple of minutes he wrote on a piece of paper ‘2 hours – £150’. We then had the struggle of asking him to pull over, so we could show him the address again and our GPS. He suddenly took us straight there.
Just to be clear, I don’t think this is unique to Brazil. If you are a tourist anywhere you are not familiar with and need to get a taxi, you need to be as savvy as you can. Make sure they know exactly where you want to go. Let them know you have GPS and already have an idea in your mind of how much it should cost. Ask up front of the estimated cost and then write it out. Fifteen can sound very similar to Fifty!
We were speaking to a gentleman we met at Christ the Redeemer and he agreed with us. He told us he had the same problem with Taxi drivers and now just walks everywhere to save him the hassle.
Once we landed in Chile, we thought things might be a little different. However when we tried to get a taxi we were given a quote of 25,000 Chilean Pesos (£29). We had already had a look online to see how much a taxi should cost from the airport and we managed to haggle him down to 15,000 (£17)! That just shows if you don’t put up a fight you are just leaving yourself open to be ripped off. They may only be small amounts but when you are on a budget it all adds up.
On our way to our hotel, we noticed that the address we had been given differed to the one we had booked but we met our host there anyway. It was late at night and we were tired. Our host showed us to our room and kept us talking. She swiftly asked about payment. It wasn’t until we were walking to the ATM that we stopped and realised – this wasn’t the room we had originally booked. We were expecting a 1 bedroom apartment. However, we were given a much smaller room with a kitchenette and two single beds. When we questioned this, she told us the other building was under maintenance and this room was much better as we had a pool.
We told her this wasn’t acceptable as she never told us this beforehand.
It was around half 10 at night and we were looking at other rooms to stay in for our duration. We decided we were not paying apartment prices for a hotel room. Our host however then got back in touch with us and offered us a significant reduction in price. Had we not complained in the first place I am 100% sure she would have left us to it and continued to take the full price for a downgraded room.
Travel Lesson #2
My Travel Lesson #2 is therefore make sure you stand your ground. If something isn’t what you expected say so. If it doesn’t seem right, mention it. It can be off putting when you speak a different language but that is what Google Translate is for.
It’s not that I want to spend my time travelling with my guard up but you need to make sure you are getting a fair deal wherever you go. You must take care of your own money, or someone will take care of it for you!
We have now landed in Chile for a bit of relaxing City Life – and I hear there is a theme park 🙂
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