Adventures in Brno
A couple of days ago, I started on an adventure, which turned out to be not unlike the one a certain Hobbit went on to. While this adventure has long been in the making (unlike his), it was not without suprises, nor without wonders. I had the good fortune of meeting with people I did not expect to see, to see and experience such wonderful events that I couldn’t have dreamt of.
Follow now, dear reader, and relive the adventure with me!
It was a dark and gloomy afternoon, raindrops slowly knocking on my hat as I walked towards the train station, with my soul held hostage by a particularly foul mood. I don’t like travelling alone. It is boring, and uncomfortable, and undesirable for many a reasons, but alas, this is what fate decided. “A systemd hackfest, there shall be held, two days ‘fore the DevConf“ – it said. And so I went, all by myself, without a guide, only a rough map and route to my hotel in Brno downloaded to my phone. Alas, the journey was uneventful, I was woken only three or four times to show my tickets, but other than that, haven’t seen or heard a soul.
Upon arrival, the adventures began: first of all, my map proved to be useless, because even though it had very detailed directions, like: walk 300 meters on this-and-this street, then turn left to street something, then after a kilometer, turn right to street whatever, there was one huge obstacle that prevented me from using the map right: Brno had no street names. Well, that was a bit of an exaggeration, I admit. Nevertheless, streets were not properly labled on the corners, so sometimes I had to walk quite a while to come upon a doorway which had the street name spelled out. But even that did not help at times, for I found one particular street, where the first doorway had one street name (and not the one I expected to be on), the second had another, and the third a third – all within 200m! Oh, and the fourth had all three. It was a bit of a mess, but in the end, I got to the hotel within fourty minutes or so, which was not much longer than what the route planner predicted.
The first (pleasant!) suprise came when I arrived at the hotel, greeted the recepcionist, and without as much as a second thought, she asked back if I was staying here last year too. I was. I spent maybe a night or two there, tops. I’ve no idea how she remembered me, but I was pleased nevertheless.
Next morning, I woke up early, as I had to visit the RedHat office to attend the first day of the systemd hackfest. Now, this was easier said than done, for if my map wasn’t particularly useful to get from the train station to the hotel, it was completely useless when trying to get to the office building. Needless to say, I got lost. I tried to ask locals, but either my english is too poor, or theirs was, or they just didn’t want to get bothered by me asking for directions. I got lost around three times during the trip, observed not only the peculiar traffic in Brno, but the local young university folk too. They didn’t speak english, either. Oh well! That one hour walk I planned took about three, and my feet hurt even now, days later, but I eventually got there.
As far as the adventure goes, the first day wasn’t amazing. I did meet with an old collegue, and we talked briefly, and that was both educational and enlightening (him trying to explain how public transport works, and what magical incantations I have to chant at the news stand to get a ticket failed: after minutes of explaining, it was still way above me, so I decided to keep walking for the rest of my time in the city), but the rest of the day – nah, not too interesting.
When I got back to the hotel – that only took an hour, and I even spent a good ten minutes shopping, buying myself some dinner -, I spent the rest of the night hacking on a few pet projects, one of them a logic program, which I rewrote to make it able to run backwards. That had an ill side-effect on my subconscious, as that night, even my dream ran backwards, and that was a little scary. So scary, that it will make a nice story too, one I will bake into the Pilgrim stories.
On the next day, a collegue arrived, and on the third, we left for the main event: DevConf. I will not go into detail about the conference itself, that is not the topic of this story. But the first day was rather quiet, I spent the afternoon hacking.
The next event of our adventure starts at night. I did not eat lunch (though the breakfast was delicious and plenty), so by dinner time, I was terribly hungry. No worries, I’ll order pizza! Or so I thought. If only it would be that easy… You see, there were a couple of complicating factors, among them my complete lack of knowledge of the local language, and me not having any money on be but euros and a bank card. Thankfully, at the reception, they recommended me a pizza place where I can order from, I can pay with a bank card, and they have an english website too! What could possibly go wrong?
Everything, of course. First of all, I was unable to access my bank from my hotel room, I still have no idea why. Second, the website, while it was available in english, always switched back to the native language. And when it switched, it changed domains, thus, lost my cookies, and therefore my order. But no problem, I thought. I’ll recognise what I want from the price and the pictures! So I assembled my basked on the main site, tried to order, entered my name, e-mail address, telephone number, and where I want it delivered. Sadly, though, the site was asserting that I need to place an order that’s more than 149 CKZ. I found that odd, as I had 221 CKZ worth of stuff in my basket.
For a short while, I gave up on that site, and tried to find another. This second one also allowed credit cards, and had a very good english version of their website, that never switched languages unless I asked it to. But when it came to ordering, I had to register, and it did not allow neither my own cellphone number, nor the hotel’s (I tried every format I could think of). So this was out, too.
But in the end, hunger overwhelmed me, and I walked down to the reception to ask for help. It turned out, that on the first site, the reason 221CKZ was not enough, is because dessert is not counted towards the minimum order. But somehow they forgot to mention that on the english version of the site. They also offered me to pay in euros, once the pizza arrives, and even better, they phoned the pizza place! I did try to ask them to order from a different place, because that place had pizza with stuffed crust (oh boy, how I love stuffed crust!), but I did not manage to make myself clear. And alas, a simple pizza is better than no pizza at all.
And that concludes the third day. The fourth… well, the fourth was the best of it all, but to explain that, I would need to switch the topic to a technical one. I will do that, but at a later time.