Maybe it’s because I’m based in San Francisco, but Uber is my default for finding rides, even when abroad.
Generally, I have had amazing experiences with Uber outside of the U.S. In Medellín, Colombia, for example, I took advantage of their Uber English service where I could get a driver who spoke English (although one driver I had barely spoke English, she did end up helping me with my Spanish).
While visiting The Hague, I summoned an Uber and was greeted outside of Madurodam – which is basically a museum of miniature Dutch buildings largely geared towards children – by a man in a suit holding open the door of a brand new Mercedes, making me feel a bit like royalty.
Even recently, I used Uber in Hong Kong to check out the island’s southern beaches.
Despite these positive experiences, I was hesitant about using Uber in Greece because I had heard of Greek drivers receiving death threats for using the service. My hesitation went away, though, when my hotel in Athens said it would cost €40 for a private ride to the airport, and I saw I could get one on Uber for €29.
As I was sitting alone in reception waiting for my Uber to arrive (it was around 5am), the receptionist asked me if I needed a ride. I told her that I was waiting for my Uber, and this turned out to be a mistake. The receptionist, in a way that almost felt like a scolding, said that I should have taken the hotel’s private transfer, and didn’t seem to sympathize when I let her know the price difference. When I told my Uber drive in Athens about this, he confirmed it was a bad idea to tell my hotel’s reception about using Uber, as the service is still controversial in Athens.
It only took about 5 minutes for my Uber to arrive, and I decided to sit in the front passenger seat to avoid it looking like I was paying for the ride. The driver asked if I was heading to the airport, and when I told him I was he whipped out a clipboard and wrote down my information. I had to put my passport number and signature on the document for the driver to take me to the airport, with him explaining that it was the government’s requirement for all rides to ATH.
Looking back, perhaps I should have hesitated to give out this information, but it was just past 5:15am and I wanted to get to Santorini so badly. So, I filled out the form and we were on our way.
The drive took a little over 38 minutes and was fairly uneventful. My driver, Χρήστος, spoke a bit of English and was very eager to talk about how much he loved driving for Uber.
Although it was ultimately a pleasant experience, I enjoyed taking the train from ATH to the city slightly more. But for early morning or late night flights, I definitely would use Uber again in Athens.
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