Sunday, September 6, 2015

Use Taxify to call a Taxi in the Baltics

If you are in one of the Baltic countries, use the app Taxify to call a taxi. It works a lot like Uber.  Recently we were in Vilnius, Lithuania and took four cab rides.  The three using Taxify went fine.  Once I didn’t use it.  The result was a wild ride with a dubious driver who overcharged us.

Taxify is an Estonian start-up, and I expect it will grow with time to more countries. As I write, it is also available in Amsterdam, Helsinki, Prague and Belgrade and a few other cities.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Don’t Stay overnight in Cinque Terre

The five villages of Cinque Terre are lovely.  However, they can be awkward to get to with luggage and they are small.  I’m staying at Portovenere, a lovely village just to the south of Cinque Terre.  There are regular ferries (Euro 25 for a day pass) that go from here to the five villages, and it is also an easy drive.  Besides, Portovenere is lovely village.

Don’t Go to Italy in July and August

Well, OK, any time is good to go to Italy, but summer is both hot and crowded.  If your schedule allows a visit in spring or fall you will have a much more relaxed time.  I’m in northern Italy at the moment.  The weather is fine.  Things are uncrowded.  It’s a very relaxing time to be here.  There is a reason why Roman emperors avoided Rome during the summer months.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Dollars, Cruising, and South America

I recently finished a 45-day cruise in South America, visiting Peru, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, the Falkland Islands, and Brazil. 

I rarely used local pesos.  Merchants and tour operators much preferred U. S. dollars.  This was especially true in Argentina, where the official exchange rate is about 8.4 pesos to the dollar, but just about everyone you deal with will happily offer 11 or 12 to the dollar.  

Small amounts of local currency are useful for bus fares, etc., but if you are cruising in South America, don’t come loaded with stacks of local currency.