I haven’t done much rideshare driving over the past month (due to my wedding and honeymoon) but that doesn’t mean I’ve been a complete bum. During my honeymoon I was able to try out a new rideshare service in Europe, stay up to date on most of the latest rideshare news and do a little bit of work on the site every day. European Wi-Fi has gotten a lot more reliable since the last time I was there 15 years ago.
My definition of a little bit of work is probably different than most though since I still spent about 1-2 hours a day checking e-mail and managing my websites. A lot of the people I was corresponding with asked me why I was e-mailing on my honeymoon but I guess when you love what you do it just doesn’t feel like work. Don’t worry, I still spent plenty of time exploring the streets of Rome and Athens with my wife and relaxing on the beaches in the Greek Isles.
In fact, if you’re interested you can read my full trip report (it’s a month long series!) on my other blog. But for now, back to rideshare.
Not Many Options in Europe
The only downside to my European honeymoon was that it stirred up a lot of bad memories from when I used to have to take taxis everywhere. You guys remember those yellow painted monstrosities that once patrolled the streets like they were hot stuff? Back in the day, you didn’t have many options when it came to taking a taxi but as we all know Lyft and Uber came to save the day, for passengers at least.
Unfortunately, their reach hasn’t quite extended worldwide yet. Lyft is only available in the US while Uber is worldwide, but their reach isn’t anything like it is here in the US. I did open the Uber app in Rome and the only service available was a black car, no thanks.
Stumbling Upon a New Rideshare Company
We got around just fine during most of our trip and except for the occasional cabbie ripping us off we were pretty content using a combination of public transportation and walking to get wherever we needed to go.
But the one place where it’s always a bit of a struggle to get a reliable and trustworthy ride is at the airport (rideshare has its own airport problems in the US). We flew into 5 different European cities on our trip and in each case I needed to figure out the best and most economical way of getting from the airport to our hotel. In the US, I normally just call an Uber or Lyft when I land at an airport but in Europe I’d have to find a taxi.
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The biggest problem with taking a taxi from the airport though is that you literally have no idea what the fare is going to be like. In Rome, we hired a private car service but that was also pretty expensive. For our next stop in Athens, I did a little more research and one of the companies I stumbled upon was called Athens Welcome Pickups.
My Experience With Athens Welcome Pickups
I actually waited a little too long to book my ride since they normally require a 48 hour heads up, but they were very accommodating when I e-mailed them with about 36 hours to go until pick-up time (I did mention I was a rideshare blogger so that probably helped). They found a driver for me and when we got our bags, he was right there waiting for us with a neat sign. I’ll never get tired of seeing my name on a sign at the airport since it makes me feel a lot cooler than I actually am.
The cost was exactly the same as a taxi at 35 Euros (47 dollars) but one of the reasons why I didn’t want to take a taxi was because I had read numerous stories online about cabbies trying to make passengers pay tolls or using other nefarious tactics to extract a couple bucks out of passengers. Sound familiar? I don’t mind arguing with cab drivers and negotiating a fair price but it’s not really that romantic when you’re on a honeymoon.
Professional Website and Drivers
I paid online via paypal and their website looked very professional. It kind of had that American start-up feel when I was browsing through it. That’s important to me since if I’m going to be sending money to a company I’ve never heard of in a foreign country I want their site to at least look legit. It also helped that they were recommended on TripAdvisor so I wasn’t too worried about being scammed.
I also like the fact that I can pay via credit card since that gives me an extra layer of security and my Barclay Arrival Card gives me 2.2% cash back on ALL purchases.
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Our driver Vangelis was a cool young guy who worked full time and just did this on the side for fun and a little extra money. He basically had all the exact same reasons for driving as I do. We actually spent the first 10-15 minutes talking about American rideshare companies and how they are taking over in the States. I was actually pretty surprised that he hadn’t heard of them but I’m sure they’ll be coming to Europe very soon based off my cab experiences there.
Intro to Athens
Athens Welcome Pickups is definitely competitive cost-wise with taxis but where they really try to distinguish themselves is with the personability aspect. You get an English speaking driver who is waiting for you at the airport when you arrive, picks you up in their personal vehicle and drops you at your final destination.
Along the way, they are supposed to give you a short intro to Athens and what you can see and do while you’re there. I thought this part was really intriguing since you can read about a city all you want but there’s nothing better than getting insider tips from a local.
Vangelis gave us some good suggestions and he even followed up with us via e-mail a couple days later asking how our trip was going, that was pretty cool. We ended up taking him up on a couple of his suggestions and we were glad we did!
Should You Book a Ride With AWP?
Overall, my experience was pretty positive with AWP. They’ve got to do something about that name though since it’s kind of a mouthful and I honestly couldn’t even remember what they were called when I sat down to write this review.
The company is still growing but I see a ton of potential. It’s perfect for big European cities too since airports there tend to be a 30-45 min. drive from the city center, plenty of time to get a nice conversation going with your driver. It also helps that everyone who flies into Athens as a tourist will be going to the same general area downtown.
Would AWP Work in the United States?
I’m not sure how well it would work in a place like Los Angeles where tourists could be staying anywhere from the Valley to Culver City or downtown but it’s definitely worth a shot. We’ve already seen how rideshare companies have taken off in the US and since Americans love to travel abroad so much there’s a huge market for airport pickups in my mind.
Selfishly, I hope that companies like AWP will continue to grow because it was pretty tough having to pay for taxis while I was in Europe. I’ve gotten so used to the hassle-free and cashless transactions here in the US it’s hard to go back to a system that is so clearly inadequate.
If you’re traveling to Athens and would like to book a ride, you can do so by visiting their website: Athens Welcome Pickups
Readers, what do you think about Athens Welcome Pickups? If you visited a city like Athens, would you be willing to take a ride with them or do you stick to taxis and public transportation when you’re traveling abroad?
-The Rideshare Guy
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