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Streets of Istanbul

Turkey – Part 13 – Istanbul Taxis (A Bad Experience)

Leaving Turkey

What a fantastic city. I love this place. There is such an interesting mix of cultures, religions, languages and ethnicities here. This is like nowhere I have ever been. There is fantastic public transport, incredible skyscrapers and a feeling of progressiveness, and all this on the backdrop of ancient mosques and palaces. I am so happy we came here. What an experience.

Taxi to Istanbul Airport (Bad Experience)

This was roughly my thought pattern when we sat in our taxi and started our journey to Istanbul’s international airport. We had agreed on the price (150 Lira) beforehand, as our hotel receptionist had advised us to do, and were feeling on top of the world.

This all came to a very bitter end when we left the narrow streets of our suburb and got onto the highway. Our driver was a maniac. This experience was a combination of all my worst driving experiences x 10. Overtaking into oncoming traffic, last-minute braking, driving up the side of the road, cutting people off and all this at neck-breaking speeds. I have experienced a fair bit of bad driving in places like Georgia, Armenia and Russia. But this one was a clear winner. It wasn’t like this guy was just ‘driving as a local’. He was more like a teenage boy who had just had an argument with his girlfriend and was trying somehow to prove his masculinity with stupidity (or vice versa?)

Galata Tower, Istanbul
Galata Tower, Istanbul

I was actually nauseous from worry by the end of the journey. I got out of the taxi, relieved that I would not be driving again in Turkey any time soon. This is where the real problem began.

Our driver, who had just risked our lives more times than I can count on both hands, demanded 180 lira for the trip. OK, so only 30 lira more than the original price but why? Why, when we had gone out of our way to establish the price, double checking that IT WOULD NOT COST MORE THAN 150 and even shaking hands on the price? Why? You wanna know why?
Because we had driven through an underground tunnel on our way to the airport and the driver had to pay for this. Strange. He knew he was going to be using this road when we agreed on the original price. Did he lie? Did he have a senior moment? Or was this all a nasty plan to rip us off?

Inside Hagia Sophia, Istanbul
Inside Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

We tried to figure out why he hadn’t been upfront with us and were met with a tirade of Turkish. The only word we understood was “police”. Yeah, I would have liked to call the police. I even started looking for them but there were none to be seen outside the airport. And we had a plane to catch. We could either wait and have it out with this guy or head inside and put the 30 lira down to bad luck.
We very begrudgingly handed over 180 lira and left with a very unpleasant taste in our mouths.

How could we have avoided this situation? Asked our taxi driver to sign a contract with the confirmed price? Paid upfront before the journey. Who knows.
But it just goes to show that even agreeing on the price beforehand is not a fool-proof method. So maybe you just need to approach each transaction like a fluid procedure. We agreed on 150? Okay, this price may vary. This way you will avoid disappointment and the very very sour impression that this taxi driver made on us on our last day in Turkey.

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Parveen Dua

    Nice write-up and beautiful pics. Sometimes such guys spoil your whole trip for a minuscule amount.

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