April 4, 2012

Differences between Ecuador and Germany: Getting Around

Frozen train in Berlin - still somehow it worked fine!
I think pretty much everyone knows that Germany is the leader in public transportation. Not only do they have a super-efficient metro system, they have buses, long-distance trains, trolleys, and amazing bike lanes. I don't think we could rave about it enough. They also had great deals for the trains, like buying one ticket for 5 people to go throughout Bavaria. It was all mapped out and very easy for people, even newcomers and visitors, to get around. Although for some reason, we had two different groups of guests who went the wrong way from our station (those visitors shall remain nameless ;-).

Now for Ecuador... *sigh* it is not so, but it is still better than some places in the world. Quito has city buses, but many are privately owned. There is a trolley and a public bus system, which all cost the same and have similar levels of safety. I say safety because 1) you have a chance to get pick-pocketed on the buses (much more than probably anywhere in Europe) and 2) you stand a chance to seriously hurt yourself either getting on OR getting off the bus OR just standing on the bus because of the crazy driving that bus drivers partake in.

I don't know if I can explain well enough just how nuts it is to stand on one of these buses, and yet we've survived quite a few months of it.The closest I came to injury was then I stepped off the bus wrong and tweaked my knee. It's fine now though. The buses stop for a milisecond to let passengers on and then are going before the poor fellow has put his or her foot on the second step. You've got to hang on for dear life for safety reason #2 and hold on to your bag defensively for safety reason #1.

You're also never 100% sure where the blue buses go to, especially if you don't know the city well, because they only have signs on the front that tell what major landmarks or streets they go to. A lot of these landmarks are in residential areas and hard to know because they usually aren't tourist stops. And when they are flying past you, it gets hard to read the whole sign before you have to signal them to stop. Greg and I have found where the two blue buses that are closest to our street go and that's good for me.

Otherwise, our main mode of travel is with taxis. They are really cheap here - the minimum during the day is $1 and at night, $1.50. Usually, my taxi rides have been between $1 to $4 for normal rides throughout the city. I can get to Old Town (about 20 minutes away) during the day for $3.15 if there's no traffic. Getting to the bus station far far far south of the city is the most expensive taxi ride at $16, which is more than most long-distance bus rides outside of the city. Usually we take the bus to get down there or share a cab with friends. We only took a taxi in Munich once because the metro was strangely shut down and we needed to catch an early train. It was $16 (11 euros) for maybe a 7-minute ride.

No comments:

Post a Comment