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Dr. Dave's Journal DG takes you along as he shows up in random places around the world.

The arrival

USA | Wednesday, 23 September 2009 | Views [618]

Dulles Airport seems to have gotten its act together; the interior is actually attractive now and I didn't have to get on one of those ridiculous trams to be carted off out to Mars to get on my plane. This is all more than I can say about Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, where I had to connect to my flight to Prague. The journey from the arrival terminal to the Prague departure terminal was endless; it must have taken 20-25 minutes of me huffing and puffing with my too-heavy carry on's through the entire airport (note to self: on the way home check the two bags they allow you to check, instead of just one). Then it was another 10-15 minute trip inside a sardine can of a shuttle to the airplane, topped off by a walk up two steep flights of stairs between the shuttle bus and the walkway into the plane. I feel sorry for the guy who sat next to me and my sweat-soaked T-shirt that I had been wearing for over 24 hours at that point.

The Esperanto delegate for Olomouc, Czech Republic, Ladislav Lani, is someone I had met in 2000 on my last trip to Moravia, and he came out to meet me at the Prague airport. We got on a shuttle bus to the main train station to catch the Pendolino train (very fast and modern; it tilts from side to side) from Prague to Olomouc. The first class car on these trains are nice, and they wheel a cart down the aisle just like on airplanes. 1/2 liters of nonalcoholic beer foreverybody! Not sure why that was; maybe they keep the real thing in the bar car.

Another Esperanto speaker from Olomouc who is a friend of Ladislav met us at the Olomouc train station, along with an Esperantist named Jan Duda who played violin in the Moravian Philharmonic back in 2000 for the recordings and performance they did for me. He can't make it to the concerts this week but wanted to meet me anyway (very friendly fellow, by the way). I posed for pictures with each of them in front of the train, then it was off to the Olomouc Esperantist's ancient Skoda, which is a rear-engine marvel of eastern European fly-by-the-skin-of-your-teeth engineering. He stuffed my carry-on's into the front hatch (haven't seen anyone do that since the last time I saw someone open up the front of an old VW Beetle) and off we went. With the noise suppression properties of sheets of toilet paper, the engine noise in the rear seats made conversing difficult and overall I was reminded of a mad dash I was part of through the streets of Stara Zagora, Bulgaria back in 1994 in an East German tin can.

Anyway, we did finally arrive in Kroměříž, after which the fellow said he had an idea. He handed me a magic marker and asked me to autograph the inside of his rear passenger side door (the top part of which is metal). I scribbled a friendly message in Esperanto, thanked him again for the ride, and left him with his magic marker and the most peculiar piece of graffiti in eastern Europe (which is saying something).

The wi-fi network here at the hotel is very dodgy, and even when it works I cannot seem to get any video clips to upload to YouTube (like in Slovakia last year, sadly), so irregular text posts and random photos will have to do for the time being......BTW I needed a lesson from Pavla at the front desk here at the Hotel Boucek last night on how to lift up the drain plug in my bathroom sink so the water will drain out. I had forgotten this but it's not uncommon not to have a little lever or rod on the sink here - what you do is just push down on the drain and it flips up vertically, perpendicular to the sink. Simple. I'm trying to be an impressive ambassador for the USA but Pavla's chuckling sent me quickly back to the clueless stereotype. I will rectify that on her shift tonight with some deftly memorized Czech phrases.



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