in which our Hero finds himself in Prague

Here's the World War 1 flying ace sitting in an internet cafe in Prague, trying to type on a Czech keyboard after having had very, very little sleep.

As you may be aware I am now on holidays: the plan was to fly from Toronto to Prague and board a train for Budapest. This all started to fall apart when a butterfly flapped its wings in Thailand, which caused freezing rain in Toronto, which tends to wreak havoc with flight schedules.

To my great surprise, when I arrived at the airport in Toronto my flight to Paris was still listed as "on time" - suhweeeeeeet!! After bending over and getting reamed up the behind at the airport currency exchange (don't EVER change money in an airport: they know you're desperate and out of options and charge accordingly), I signed in at the Air France desk. No problems with my carry-on luggage and no problems with the whole SARS thing. Did I mention that I managed to fit everything into one carry-on suitcase? Damn, I'm good.

While I was lolling around in the waiting area, they announced that boarding would be “slightly delayed”. After boarding the plane, they announced that there would be a further 10 minute delay. Half an hour later they announced that there would be an additional further half hour delay.

...Two hours later we took off.

Scheduled departure had been 6:30, we left at 9:00. I did a swift burst of mental arithmetic (ok...I counted on my fingers) and figured that I was not going to make my connecting flight from Paris to Prague. There was nothing I could do about this, so I scarfed down dinner, popped in the earplugs, pulled on the blindfold and actually managed to doze fitfully for most of the flight.

We landed in Paris at 10:45, missing my connecting flight by an hour. I found out that the next one was scheduled to leave at 1 and arrive in Prague at 2:30. After more finger counting I realized that not only will I have had missed the early train at 12:58 from Prague to Budapest, but I was in serious danger of missing the 3:56 train as well. I had no idea when the next train after that was scheduled, but I had a sinking feeling that it would not be for a long time.

Trying to stay optimistic in the face of Reality, I boarded the plane in Prague. Reality then showed up and kicked my optimism in the privates - the plane was delayed for over half an hour; we would get to Prague about 3:00. This meant that there was no way I was going to make even the 4 o'clock train to Budapest. In an attempt to cheer myself up I begged for and got 2 breakfasts during the flight.

Getting out of Prague airport and into the city centre was no problem. I got a transit ticket for myself and one for my luggage - yah, you need a ticket for luggage. I decided not to transfer metro lines but rather to walk the short distance from the Muzeum stop to Hlavni Nadrazi, the main railway station. Using my keen navigating sense I completely failed to get lost, which will no doubt inspire confidence with my adventure racing team-mates.

And now for the $64 thousand dollar question: when was the next train to Budapest. The answer was 11:35 at night...I had 7 hours to kill and wouldn't be arriving in Budapest until around 8 am Sunday morning. I bought the return tickets and then set about trying to contact the outside world (i.e. you guys). I thought I would finally get some real practical use out of web-based email and decided to find a nice internet cafe.

Apparently all the internet cafes in Prague are deathly afraid of advertising. After wandering around for about an hour and asking several people, communicating by way of their broken English and my non-existent Czech,  I finally found one. It was in a dead end alley down a dark tunnel that you would walk down only if you had a retinue of heavily armed bodyguard. I had no retinue but walked down it anyway, because I'm that brave.

That brings us to the present. I have 5 hours before the train leaves and the plan is to go grab some dinner and perhaps a beer or twelve. Maybe I'll catch a movie if I can find one. Stay tuned for more updates.

Pete

p.s. Anya, Apa - could you please let everyone in Budapest know that I won't be arriving until 8 am tomorrow? Thanks.

p.p.s. It's now raining.