The London Cab, or “Hackney Carriage”

The famous London taxi, known officially as the Hackney Carriage, is a very popular vehicle in many British cities. If you were to hail a taxi, there’s a good chance that it will be one of the iconic black cabs. The Hackney Carriage first appeared in the 17th century in London to fight transportation problems. Originally, they were just horse-drawn carriages but in 1900s, the internal combustion engine was discovered and gave the birth to the iconic cab. In this post we’ll look at the ins and outs of the famous black cab.


People Love the Hackney Carriage Because of it’s…

One of the reasons why hackney carriages have managed to stand the test of time and remain so popular after so many years is because of their agility. These cabs are even sometimes used by politicians and celebrities. They are able to weave in as well as out of bus lanes and can maneuver in tight corners like any other vehicle. Also, the drivers are very knowledgeable and know every nook and cranny of London. They are a delightful transport mode for moving through the streets of London.

Hiring a private taxi operator to come and pick you at a certain location and time requires you to have planned in advance. But the great thing with London is that you do not necessarily have to plan ahead. You only need to look out for a black cab that has light on top of it with the word TAXI emblazoned on it. To know that the taxi is occupied or if the driver is unavailable, you will see the light on. Just watch out for the taxi and then stick out your arm. It will pull up in a safe place near you. Make sure that the place you stand at is somewhere sensible to allow the taxi to stop.

Unrivaled Convenience
When it comes to convenience, nothing beats black cabs. You just need to stop by the roadside, wave one down and simply hope in. Hackney carriage drivers are very knowledgeable about London routes, and they will take you to whatever destination in as short time as possible. When there is traffic, they will use the back routes or back lanes so you don’t have to spend time on traffic jam.

Tourism attraction
Another thing about hackney carriages is the fact that they themselves are a great tourist attraction. While nobody visits London just to have a sight of these, they are still greatly explored by tourists. They are among the most widely used transport modes for tourists, especially those who feel that the trains and tubes are a bit confusing. Black cabs are certainly one of the most important features of London.

Critics of this antiquated mode of transport complain about…

Not nearly as prevalent as in Thailand, the cab drivers of  London do tend to exploit the fact that they are operating in one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. For that reason, they tend to charge quite over the top. Price varies according to the day as well as the time of travel. The least fares start at £2.40. The maximum amount of money that can be charged by the driver is indicated on the meter. If you don’t know and you don’t bargain, you could very well pay the highest fare price.

Bad for the Environment
Although it is a good thing that there are a lot of black cabs on the road, it is not entirely a good thing for the environment. These cabs produce lots of carbon footprint in the atmosphere each year and this results to degradation of environment.

Majority of black cabs were last updated in the 1990s which means that they are using an outdated technology. Hackney carriages contribute 25% of all airborne pollutants in the center of London. There are plans to introduce electric black cabs in London by the year 2020 and if this comes to pass, the amount of carbon footprint will be reduced. Also, there are plans to get off oldest hackney carriages off the road by denying licenses for any black taxi cabs that are older than 15 years.

Rigorous Training
For one to become a driver of black cabs, they need to be trained extensively. For starters, they have to master the more than 25,000 London routes. It is often referred to as The Knowledge and one must pass it to be pronounced proficient enough to drive through the streets of London. It is one of the most difficult tests tom pass in the world. Apart from learning 25,000 roads by heart, the taxi drivers also have to learn the more than 320 basic routes as well as 20,000 landmarks or points of interests.

Depending on the time and the effort that you put in, you may have to spend between 2 and 4 years to fully master The Knowledge. Examination is composed of basic written test as well as interviews which are called appearances. In these interviews, you will be given a start as well as the finish point and be required to describe the nearest route to the place. As well as these tests, it is also important that drivers take separate tests for taxi driving.

Hackney carriages are a popular means of transport in London. They are in fact a key feature of London and even act as a tourist attraction. They are convenient and you don’t have to book in advance. All you need to is to hail one and it will stop and then you hop in. the drivers are highly knowledgeable about the London routes. This is because knowledge about routes is an important part of assessing the drivers before they are licensed to drive through the streets of London.

However, just like any other thing, there is a bad side of these iconic transport vehicles. There are too many of them within central London, something that contributes to emission of greenhouse gases. This depletes the ozone layer. Another disadvantage is the rigorous training involved to become a driver. One has to master nearly 25,000 routes by heart and also has to learn about the major landmarks or important areas in London. But in general, hackney carriages play a very important role in the transportation within London.

5 Things to Do in San Francisco

California is known for its numerous beautiful cities and one of them is San Francisco. It is located on the top of a peninsula surrounded by two big bodies of water – the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The city of San Francisco is also known for its year-round fog, hilly landscape and countless tourist attractions. The city is notable for its iconic Golden Gate Bridge and lines of colorful Victorian houses. The notorious Alcatraz Island that used to serve as a prison and housed some of the world’s deadliest criminals can also be found here. Here are 5 things to do in San Francisco:

1. Visit the Golden Gate Bridge

One of the most famous landmarks in San Francisco is the Golden Gate Bridge. It was first built in 1937. The world-renowned bridge is 1.7 miles long and links San Francisco to Sausalito. It is said that around 120,000 vehicles drive across the bridge daily. Pedestrians can cross the bridge on foot by walking on a pedestrian walkway. Bikers can also enjoy the view of the city on the Western side of the bridge.

The Golden Gate Bridge’s orange arches have become the city’s enduring and iconic symbol for several decades now. The Golden Gate name can be attributed to the Golden Gate Strait, the body of water that connects the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Most tourists say that the bridge is perhaps one of the most awe-inspiring sceneries in the city, making it one of the most photographed landmarks in the whole world.

2. Ride a cable carRide a cable car

Since the late 19th Century, cable cars have been one of the common modes of transportation in the city of San Francisco. The cable cars run on tracks and are moved by huge underground cables on three different routes. Even from several blocks away, the bells of the cable cars can be heard.

Riding the city’s iconic cable cars can be a thrilling experience as they move past up and down the hills of the city. You will be able to see breathtaking neighborhoods along your route. The cable car experience is perhaps one of the things a tourist wants to do while in San Francisco. However, there are only a few places to go, and the wait can sometimes be too long. If you are persistent, the wait is not of an issue as the experience is totally worth it.

3. Visit the world famous Alcatraz

What was once a notorious place has become one of the most visited landmarks of the city. It is an island that houses a prison of the same name. The Alcatraz Prison used to house some of the world’s notorious criminals. The prison was closed in the year 1960, and the stories about the prison have become some of the world’s legendary tales.

A visit to the Alcatraz can be a very exhilarating experience to any tourist. The mysticism behind the place’s beauty was further pumped up due to the several movies that depicted the lives of criminals who were once incarcerated inside Alcatraz.

4. Visit the old Chinatown

Dragon’s Gate is what they call the entrance of San Francisco’s world-renown Chinatown. The entrance is located at Grant Avenue and Bush Street. Inside Chinatown are 24 blocks of hustle and bustle, most of which take place in the oldest street in the city, Grant Avenue. The Chinatown is perhaps the best place in San Francisco to travel on foot as it is full of food markets, exotic shops, restaurants and museums. Visitors can enjoy shopping and dining. You can buy some acient potions and artifacts from some stores located in the area or you can also taste some of the fine dim sum and witness how fortune cookies are made from some food stalls in the area.

5. Dine at world-class restaurants

It is said that any travel experience is not complete without tasting the place’s local food and delicacies. San Francisco is considered one of America’s best restaurant cities as it houses some of the world’s most popular restaurants. San Francisco culinary chefs are known for their excellence and ingenuity when it comes to cooking. They combine fresh local ingredients while also incorporating international flavors. You can choose any cuisine of your liking- from Chinese, Italian, Spanish, French, Japanese, Indian, Mexican or even “fusion,” a combination of two or three different cuisines.
These are just 5 things to do in San Francisco. However, there are so much more to do in the city aside from the five mentioned. You may need to come up with a solid itinerary when visiting the city as you may get lost due to the many exciting things that this city has to offer.

Secured Vacation in the Rainbow Nation

Visiting and staying in South Africa, like any other country in the world, requires, on the part of the traveler, background research in advance and following the necessary safety precautions to ensure a worthwhile experience that is both enjoyable and safe.

staying in South Africa

And while this country is usually feared for its increasingly high crime rates, familiarizing oneself with the place and strictly taking note of these safety tips can definitely keep travelers who intend to stay in South Africa safe:

A. Before setting foot safety tips

– Familiarize yourself with the place. Make sure to research and plan your route well in advance. Be updated with the latest news and happenings in the country and make sure to always carry with you a detailed, up-to-date map of particular places you wish to see. Save contact numbers of important agencies and government offices in advance.
– Pack bags and luggage carefully and make several copies of your valuable documents such as passport, other valid IDs and debit or credit cards.
– Bring your own set of medical kit in case of an emergency where you won’t have the luxury of time to buy from drugstores.

B. Arrival and Hotel safety tips

– Keep in mind that tourists are common targets of crime and the airport is exactly where fugitives will start with.
– Be very cautious when walking around and outside of the airport and do not accept transportation offers from unauthorized people. Make sure you get an official taxi that work for the airport.
– When you arrive at your designated hotel, ask hotel staff the safest routes to travel when going out and back the hotel and take note of the local dangers around the area.
– Always keep your door locked and only entertain authorized hotel staff. Leave your valuables in the safety deposit box, and again, make sure to bring copies of your passport all the time.

C. Traveling with private vehicle

– When driving, keep the doors locked every time and do not drive with the windows open. Keep your tank full as much as possible because gas stations are rare in some places. Visibility of valuables inside the vehicle also increases the risk of robbery and car napping so make sure that it is either kept inside the trunk or well-hidden under the car seat. Always bring your driver’s license with you.
– Remember to park in well-lit areas and streets that have car guards roaming around to check on your vehicle once in a while. Trust only those people with an official ‘bib’ that authorizes them to work as car guards and be cautious of con artists. Be sure to give them a tip.
– Do not stop at strangers asking for help especially in open roads and be mindful of possible “roadblocks” that criminal gangs set up to lure motorists. Just drive past through them and report them to the authorities. Be aware of carjacking hotspots in areas you are visiting and stay alert while driving through or in those areas. Take into consideration aggressive driving of some of the locals. Make sure you have the police emergency hotline: 10111 and other related emergency hotlines.

D. Traveling via commute/walking

– Refrain from wearing flashy and expensive clothes and accessories and limit the amount of cash you carry with you. Try to distribute your cash in different pockets whether in your pants, shorts, or inside the bag and wallet.
– Do not make it look too obvious that you are a tourist and refrain from checking your map in public. Do it discreetly and only when necessary.
– Avoid going into central business areas at night or anywhere isolated and secluded where most crimes are known to occur. Avoid doing this even if you are in a group.
– Bus and taxi rides are predominantly safe but be sure to watch over your possessions all the time. Always take taxis at night, especially when traveling alone.
– If you plan to visit towns, make sure that you are in a group and are escorted by a guide. If you get to visit Safari, be very mindful of the guide’s instructions as you are entering a territory that is full of wild animals.

Follow and keep in mind these safety reminders to make your travel and stay in South Africa not only meaningful and satisfactory but safe and secure. Do not let your fear refrain you from visiting and discovering the cultural beauty that South Africa has to offer. It is as safe as you make it.