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Dane takes taxi from Copenhagen to Rome, wants Pope to pay tab

May 14, 1997

OSLO, Norway (AP) _ A Norwegian cabby thought he’d landed the fare of the century when an elderly Dane hopped into his taxi for a 1,300-mile ride from Copenhagen to Rome.

Jorgen Gilberg’s bliss ended at the Vatican, where his customer said he had to collect the $3,570 for the cab fare from Pope John Paul II.

```That’s when it hit me. A bad fare to Italy. I was about to collapse from laughter,″ Gilberg, 24, said by telephone from Aarhus, Denmark, on Wednesday. ``I could hardly contain myself when he said the pope owed him money.″

Gilberg, an economics student from Fredikstad, Norway, drives part-time for an Aarhus taxi company. So when the owner asked him to drive the 66-year-old man to Rome last week, Gilberg assumed everything was in order.

So did the taxi company, since the man took a cab to Rome last year. During the 24-hour drive through Denmark, Germany, Austria and most of Italy, the customer seemed unusually quiet.

``I thought he was filthy rich, so I didn’t ask too many questions. But I did wonder who would take a 2,600-mile round trip in a taxi,″ said Gilberg.

At the Vatican, the customer claimed the Pope owed him $7,140, and then admitted that ``the voices in his head might have misled him,″ said Gilberg.

Gilberg stopped for a quick tour of the Vatican, then drove the man home to Denmark.

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