Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Getting there

The taxi driver who got me from Airport to my hotel must have been either a Hollywood stunt driver, or a getaway man for the mob. He would have put Lewis Hamilton to shame. He didn’t say a word, but his actions spoke volumes. Time is money, they said. He drove like a demon through the streets of Lisbon, weaving a breakneck speed through the traffic, trying to make me part company with my British Airways packed lunch. He didn’t succeed, but I almost left him a small deposit to show my appreciation.

I have been warned about drivers in Lisbon, but nothing can really prepare you for the experience. The number of narrow escapes and near misses he crammed into the 10 minute journey from A to B must be a world record. He avoided collision with a large bus by millimetres and the sudden drops into the tunnels were reminiscent of the clear air turbulence I hate so much when I’m flying.
He got me safely to my hotel and I proffered a 50 Euro note for a 6 Euro taxi bill. He looked at me as if I had just informed him that Portugal had no hope in the football championships and that Christiano Ronaldo couldn’t take a penalty to save his life. I had nothing smaller. I thought quickly. Gesturing toward the hotel lobby, I got out and rushed in. I gabbled in fluent Portugese (a bare faced lie) to concierge that I needed some change to pay the taxi driver and smaller notes were pressed into my hand. The demon driver was paid off and disappeared in a cloud of dust to inflict his particular type of torture on his next victim.

I was glad to get to my hotel room, I can tell you. I have turned grey over night. My wife will not know me when I return home this week. My children will shrink away in horror, because I have aged significantly from the experience. However, Lisbon is a city to die for (and I nearly did). At night it is positively breathtaking and during the day it is totally captivating. The choice of the venue for this year’s EDEN conference has been inspired.

Congratulations to the EDEN executive for your decision. I’m looking forward to the experience. I’m not so sure about the taxi ride back to the airport though...
Follow my main blog Learning with E's. Posted by Steve Wheeler

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