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Published: December 13th 2016
Don’t skimp on the basics - like hiring a taxi in a strange new land where they don’t speak your language
Unfamiliar with the language and transportation system, I silently ceded and agreed to pay the more expensive shuttle ticket rather than take the risk of hopping on a local bus with a non-English speaking driver. At least the shuttle would get us to the center. Once in the Center, we would get our bearings. In the end, I admitted we should have splurged for a taxi.
The weather was a good 15 F higher than had been forecast. It was muggy and hot. We waited at the stop for ½ hour, me pacing back and forth, as I watched bus after bus come and go. I was able to WhatsApp my family during the wait, lamenting about how we had bought tickets for this shuttle and had to wait for sooo long. My sister-in-law, who is a stay-at-home mom of two toddlers, laughed and added she’d be happy to wait on a shuttle in sunny Prague. Well, that was an immediate perspective-changer, and I felt a little guilty for being petty. As my daughter sometimes reminds me, “Mom, that’s a First World problem.”
Attempting to prepare for our transit by foot from the city center to the place we would be staying, I pulled up a map from the place we would be dropped off to the address of our lodging. Since GPS doesn’t require the use of the internet, we would be able to use the map en route.
Once I made a poor decision that I swore I would never do again, but sometimes I conveniently forget these promises to myself. Maybe it’s my inflated sense of independence and belief in my abilities to figure things out that lead me astray. A little humility while traveling in a strange land would do me good. Did I mention I don’t like to stop and ask for directions?
Apparently, our Rich’s and my roles are reversed in that sense. Isn’t that the joke and conventional wisdom, that guys refuse to stop and ask for directions? Not true in our case. Rich stopped many a time to ask for advice, directions, etc. In fact, he asked in great detail.
I don’t have that kind of patience. Usually when someone tries to give me directions like this “Walk straight 50 feet. Take a right at the flower shop. In two blocks take a left at Blah-Blah Street. You will see a law office on the corner. If you get to the kiosk, you’ve gone too far….”
I can’t bring myself to stop someone once they get delve into a detailed explanation of how to get somewhere. They put so much effort into painting a picture that I don’t have the heart. Usually l politely nod and utter a few mm hmm
’s while impatiently waiting for them to get to the point. By that point I’ve decided I’ll just wing it and figure it out myself, which isn’t a wise strategy for someone whose sense of direction is appalling. Fun fact: Studies of baby rats suggest that sense of direction is, at least, partially innate and determined by their cognitive spatial framework.
What I’m getting at is I refuse to take personal responsibility for this deficit!
So, that first day in Prague I broke the promise I had made to myself years before - to never drag luggage through a city while trying to find my lodging. This attempt to save money on transportation is never worth it as I learned in Madrid with an 18 month old on my hip and a monster bag trailing behind us. I “learned” this again in Venice while travelling with my sister and our kids. It may be fun to get lost and wander off the beaten path but that’s dependent on the situation. It’s not
fun to lug around heavy bags through narrow streets, over bridges of stairs, and through hordes of tourists.
Since Each "Lesson" is pretty long, Im going to break them into several lessons :-)
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