In many parts of the world, tourists are urged not to trust “black” (unregistered, unofficial) taxis and instead to always request one from a reputable hotel. During a recent trip to Moscow, I discovered the reverse to be true there. A Sheraton was across from where we were staying (an authentic Airbnb place fitting of my non-existent Russian grandmother!) where the hotel taxis were charging triple reasonable rates.
Indignant, my sister and I opted to try flagging one down on the street. There are very few marked taxis; most are random people who stop to see if you’re heading their way. Within seconds of putting out my hand, one stopped. I didn’t like his price of 400, so I offered him 200. He said 300 and I sent him away. Another car was already waiting behind him. That guy also asked for 300, so I sent him away. A third car had queued up and, when he wouldn’t settle for less than 300, I was satisfied that that was the going rate, and we hopped in.
He spoke very little English, but I’d written the address in Cyrillic characters, so he was able to swiftly deliver us to our meeting at Unicredit Bank. The situation probably would’ve been very uncomfortable for most Western travelers, which is why the hotel taxis can charge such exorbitant rates.
Urban hitchhiking at its finest!