Tonight, I fly from Prague to London. On Sunday, I fly to the Isle of Man to visit my mum, then after 6 days, to Liverpool, for a train to Bradford for the Infest electronic music festival. From there, I'm taking the train to London to help a moving company shift the last of my stuff from (rather expensive) storage in Merton, near South Wimbledon, to Brno. Cutting the last of my ties to the UK.
All my flights are booked, but I've also pre-booked all of my train tickets. This is something I'm not used to doing. These cost me just shy of £100, meaning that pre-booking saved me nearly £50. That's pretty good.
I also bought a České Dráhy ticket from Brno to Prague in advance, too, using my new membership card. That saved me about £2 on a £7 ticket. (It was closer to £5 when I moved here; blame the falling pound.)
This morning, I panicked, unjustly, because I left home 9 minutes behind my planned schedule... so I called a taxi. It got me to the station more than 5 minutes before my train was due, but, ČD being what it is, my train was 15min late. There's an app for that, and I have it and I used it to check, but it didn't show the delay. I could have just taken the tram anyway, saved about £4.50, and I'd still have had time to buy a beer and relax. Ah well.
So I saved £2, but wasted £5 on an unnecessary cab. (It doesn't half confuse them when you try to order a taxi from a tram stop, too.) And then there's the 60p beer that I bought to help me de-stress a little.
Still, could be worse. My 155 mile train journey to the capital is costing a fiver, and the decent 3-course lunch I'm enjoying on board, with a couple of draft Budvars, will cost under £10. It's happy hour again. Oddly, it was happy hour on the 19:09 train back from Vienna on Tuesday night, too. Today, it's happy hour from 13:00 to 15:00 on this one. I don't understand, but I'm not complaining!
This evening, I daresay it will cost me more than my Czech train fare for close to the full width of the country just to cross London.
Meantime, I am looking out at the idyllic countryside going past. Little Tyrolean-style cottages in the low mountains, and tractors harvesting the fields in the flatter bits. Which means that, if they're harvesting grain, they'll be harvesting grapes, too... and by the time I return, it will be burčak season.
This month has been busy. I decided to play it safe, financially, with the big cost of the movers approaching, and didn't go to either of the big Czech and Slovak summer music festivals. Instead, in the first week of August, I went to the "Flock to Fedora" conference in Kraków in Poland, thanks to some sponsorship from my former employers Red Hat. That was interesting and I'll be writing about that next month.
While I was there, I was invited to attend GUADEC, the developers' conference for the GNOME desktop environment, in Karlsruhe in Germany -- so last week, I took the longest train ride of my life (Brno → Vienna, Vienna → Salzburg, Salzburg → Stuttgart, Stuttgart → Karlsruhe; 10½ hours) to attend that, and then flew home from Stuttgart. It was a lot more pleasant by train, actually, but for some reason, it was half the price of the train ride there to fly back. That was another interesting event and there will be some pieces about that appearing next month, too.
Infest, on the other hand, probably not. What happens in Bradford stays in Bradford.
P.S. Elder Brits may remember a cheery little comic ditty about rail travel, along the lines (sorry) of:
Passengers will please refrain
From flushing toilets while the train
Is standing in the station (I love you)...
Apparently, the melody is Dvořak's Humouresque #7, and it's the same tune Czech Railways use to herald passenger announcements. This reminds me of the more scatalogical old English tune.
Every. Single. Time.