GREG FOWLER is a New Zealand-based author.
He’s also a professional risk consultant who worked with Pentagon military contractors during the Iraq conflict.
He lives in Wellington with his wife Fiona and their three children.
Greg’s new book for young adults, T Is For Tree, is published in paperback by Black & White and priced £7.99, is just out.
THEY say one of the keys to life is to always have something to look forward to.
In my case, that something usually takes the form of a holiday.
Thanks to having a novel released in the UK, my wife and I flew all the way from New Zealand.
And if we’re coming all that way – an awfully long way – we figured why not do Paris, London and Edinburgh? A three-for-one life experience.
When I look back at our recent adventure, I am drawn to the differences between the cities we were so fortunate to visit.
As strange as it sounds, I can relate the differences in the form of three taxi rides; three rides that spoke of the good and the not so good about the cities in which they happened.
Paris. The city of love. We arrived at Gard du Nord, where some opportunist quickly spotted us as naive tourists, escorted us to a taxi (which was, in hindsight, remarkably absent of taxi banners) and happily drove us to the Eiffel Tower.
To say we were shocked when he demanded 150 euros at the other end is an understatement. Context was provided when the return trip cost 30 euros. Lesson learned.
London. The hustle and bustle. Our taxi driver knew his home town like a lab rat gets to know a maze. He also knew where all the good book stores were and happily pointed them out. Best of all, we could see how much the ride cost just by watching the meter tick along.
All in all, we were taken to the places we needed to see, at the right price, and with the company of a smiling driver.
And finally, Edinburgh. A home from home. Our taxi driver loved his city and, in the process, started our love affair with Edinburgh too.
He was so friendly, he actually told us to stop catching taxis. A day trip on the bus was much cheaper.
In the fashion of Goldilocks, Edinburgh was not too hard, not too soft … it was just right.
It anchored a place in our heart and we already long to come back to your fairytale city on the hill.