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Transportation in Prague and into Serbia

I flew Delta from Spokane to Prague on November 16. There wasn’t much remarkable about the flight except for my connection through Seattle. I had a 1.5-hour layover in Seattle but my flight from Spokane arrived a little late such that by the time my plane arrived at the Seattle gate, my departing international flight was already boarding – and from a different terminal. To accommodate the shorter connection, Delta decided to surprise me and meet me on the jet bridge as I walked off the plane. They greeted me by name and informed me that they were standing by to drive me to my connecting flight. I was puzzled but followed the Delta agent downstairs onto the tarmac where there was a white Porsche waiting for me. After taking my picture, the agent invited me to jump in before she drove me to my departing gate and escorted me up to my boarding flight. Wow!! It was definitely over the top. While I do have some status, it is a ways from the top Diamond Tier Sky Medallion level.

Delta… this is seriously over the top

I arrived in Prague, Czech on Wednesday, November 13 around mid-day meeting up with a few other the Update Conference Prague 2021 speakers who arrived at the same time. After showering, I headed to the speaker’s dinner, catching a tram (after a failed attempt on the wrong side of the street). After dinner, I took the underground rail.

Thursday morning, I presented my An In-Depth Look at Programming With Nullability talk to a room of approximately 300.  Afterward my talk I took an hour-long bus ride to get my COVID-19 test. A negative test is required for travel to both Serbia and back to the United States. The bus went well but it was strange because unlike on the tram and underground rail, there was no machine for purchasing a ticket, just validating one. I made a mental note to be sure to ask about from my conference hosts. The ease of the trip warranted the following tweet regardless.

Navigating in foreign companies made simple by Google

For me, the key to public transportation is Google Maps (I assume other providers are similar). It makes traveling on public transportation so much simpler than maps and paper schedules. Yikes!!!

Unsure of the exact COVID-19 test requirements I took the PCR test with results expected within 24 hours. The cost was $40 – at least a third the cost of similar tests in the United States.

On my return I boarded a bus in the opposite direction but after a couple stops everyone got off. Hmm?  The bus then drove a little further and then parked on the side of the street. I stayed put for several minutes before getting up and asking what’s up? The response was in Czech, and I didn’t understand a word. Eventually, I figured I needed to walk back to an earlier stop and, after waffling which side of the street to wait, I caught the next bus in the same direction as before. This time some bus “officials” boarded the bus and asked me for my ticket. Of course, I still didn’t have one and they informed me that the bus is not free. Ughh!!  They ended up charging me what I presume was a fine of $40 (normally it would be less than $2). Oh well! It was a learning experience.

Friday was my Modernizing C# Guidelines talk which has a similar audience size. Afterward, I went back to my room and crashed having not slept more than 3-4 hours since arriving. After showering and packing up, I took an Uber to the airport where I caught a direct flight to Belgrade, Serbia. The flight was on an ATR 72-500, which has the luggage loaded in the front between the passengers and the pilot. Different!

Baggage is up front on the ATR 72-500

I landed in Belgrade around 11 PM. Upon finding the right rental car agency (which took me 45 minutes of wandering around), I learned that, although the daily rental cost was only $22, there was an upcharge for after-hours service of ~$40 dollars, totaling $80 for me since it was both pickup and drop off. Ughh!  At first, I decided to cancel but, after thinking about it and realizing that without a car I would be limited to only seeing Belgrade, I decided to splurge and rented the car anyway. And, given that I wanted to crisscross Serbia, traveling over 500 miles, this was by far the cheapest way to do it.

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