A long taxi ride

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

The World's Marco Werman speaks with Kern Schierson about his cab ride from Copenhagen to Madrid ? a ride made necessary by the volcano flight cancellations.

MARCO WERMAN: You may have heard of some of the ways that people have gotten around the stand still at Europe's airports. Marketing consultant Kern Shireson of New York found himself stuck in Stockholm. He had to get to Madrid where his pregnant wife is visiting with her family. Mr. Shireson how did you manage to do it?

KERN SHIRESON: Well we made it to Copenhagen by train and then took a regional train to a smaller town outside Copenhagen called Oden. There's a typical taxi line there with probably about a dozen cabbies. They were waiting for, it was probably their final fares of the evening. It's a small farming town. And we just went down the line until we found somebody who had a free schedule for the next couple days and was willing to drive us there, the 2,400 kilometers south.

WERMAN: What was the total fare?

SHIRESON: The total fare was about $3,500.00.

WERMAN: Did that include a tip?

SHIRESON: It did include a tip and we actually paid for their, it was two drivers, the day driver and the night driver, and we paid for their hotel room here in Madrid for the night so that they could get a good night's rest before getting back on the road to head home.

WERMAN: I'll bet on a trip like this though, you really want a friendly cab driver. Did you get one? Or did you get two of them?

SHIRESON: We got two very playful cab drivers. They were a couple of guys originally from Turkey who seemed to be having a good time with the whole thing. One of them spoke pretty good English and we chatted a fair bit. The other one didn't, but we were able to keep each other entertained and awake for most of the way anyway.

WERMAN: Now this sounds kind of strange, but I understand that you met a few other people along your way who were also doing the same thing.

SHIRESON: That's right, we met them at a distance, but about 100 miles south of San Sebastian in the Basque country of Northern Spain we passed another Danish cab and our drivers recognized the cab company and so we pulled up alongside and had a little bit of a side-by-side party waving and honking horns and flashing lights at one another. I don't know where they were headed. We didn't see them the rest of the way to Madrid, but clearly they were going someplace relatively close by.

WERMAN: And with a ride this long, you agree on the fare before hand. They don't start the meter because there aren't even enough digits on the meter to do 3,500 bucks right?

SHIRESON: That's right and in fact we had to spend a couple of hours because originally we were hoping to pay by credit card, but the taxi meter actually won't let you punch in a fare of more than four spaces, four decimal spaces to charge by credit card. So we ended up having to, we agreed on the fare up front and then they had to have some good faith in us because we had to essentially stop at ATM's along the way, frequently calling our banks to get the limits increased to get out cash to pay because the credit card portion of the Danish cabs wouldn't process it.

WERMAN: Wow, what an adventure. Now you're in Madrid with your wife, but you guys still have to get back to the United States. Any concerns about that or are you just happy to be with her now?

SHIRESON: Well, both. I've got a flight booked out Wednesday back to New York through the Dominican Republic. So hopefully that will work out. I'm still keeping my fingers crossed because who knows what happens between now and then.

WERMAN: Well Ken Shireson, best of luck on the next leg of your trip, you and your wife together at least. Thanks very much for speaking with us.

SHIRESON: Thank you.