I don’t, generally, get enthusiastic about getting from A to B in style (read: luxury cruise, first-class train, business-class flight). If it does happen, fine. But if not, no matter, such modes of travel are in any case too often synonymous for me with an experience which by no means matches the inflated cost – call it anti-climax, call it parting with umpteen pounds or euros merely to have the soul of the journey sucked out of it. Inordinate column inches have been filled with such means of travel and for me phrases like “fully reclining seats” and “complimentary champagne” just don’t get me salivating with desire. Not as much as the enthused conversation with the guy in the next seat, or at the lonely en route diner, or at the wheel of the truck which stops to pick you up after you’ve been waiting a few hours for a lift at a roadside in the middle of nowhere. Unforgettable experience always trumps generic luxury for me when travelling, in other words (I’m happy to wait until I get to B for the fancy meal or hotel) – and the time when that changes will be the time I stop writing about my travels.
Having harped on about all that, I’m going to surprise you here with an entry that might – just – slot under the luxury travel category. Might. But I like to think it could also get filed, like most of the stuff we tell you about on here, under plain bizarre.
Easter: often a time for travel to see family and friends, and also too often a time to get up very early in the morning to do so. Ryanair, as some may know, is in the throes of getting its very own regional base in Bratislava (for those of you thinking this means more flight connections, hold your breath – I have no idea what exactly a regional ‘base” signifies for passengers yet but I’ll let you know when I do), the short-term consequence means Slovak company Air Europe have been called in to help out with the planes for Ryanair flights and Air Europe (we reach the crux of the matter) likes flying early, so early that public transport in Bratislava is not even up and running for the day by the time you need to be setting off to be there for boarding time.
Therein lies a problem because most taxi companies (at least, those for the most reasonable prices) are of the call-them-and-they-turn-up-almost-immediately kind. Not the kind you can reserve for a pre-appointed time in the future. And very few companies fancy the journey out to Rača where we live for a pick-up at the best of times (04:30 is not the best of times). It being a bit of a risk to bank on the fact a regular taxi will be prepared to come out at such an ungodly hour to our neck of the woods, we quickly did an online search to see what our options were for making Air Europe’s early departure. And we soon ascertained that, for these very scenarios, Bratislava Airport does have an official taxi company. And that it was far from just being a convenient set of wheels.
Methinks that, judging from the phone conversation, they mainly get businessmen as clients. They spent a long time emphasising how they, Bratislava Airport Taxi (tel 00421 903 853 359) , were the airport’s only luxurious official taxi cabs – Mercedes cars, always punctual, always turning up with a bottle of cognac prepared for the journey….
Imagine the company’s disappointment when they turned up and found, far from businessmen that might secure them a nice regular series of future bookings with affluent well-suited clients, just yours truly, looking unkempt and pretty un-affluent. But there was the luxurious Mercedes car with the cognac, glasses provided, no cap on the number of glasses, and the suited chauffeur virtually commanding you to partake. I partook. Total price from the city to the airport: 19 Euros. Reliable, comfortable, available and reservable any time, for any day. 19 Euros is a sweet nine Euros more, I should again emphasise, than the going rate a Slovak pays for a taxi in Bratislava (10 Euros), but still less than the price a foreigner just arrived will pay on average to get from the airport to the centre (20 Euros).
Now you just need to calculate how much cognac (they provide damned good stuff) you will need to quaff to arrive at Bratislava airport having made a profit!
Suggestion for improvement: no dire R&B on the radio? That would make my cognac sipping in transit in the dead of night much more pleasurable.