I’m at the service desk walk up counter. “I need to update my OS to a more current edition so that I can install the .NET 4.8 driver”, “That will probably take 3-4 hours, can you leave your laptop with us?”, “No, I’m scrambling to get work done because I’m leaving on vacation tomorrow”, “Are you taking your computer? I could email you the files and the install instructions”, “No, I won’t be checking email. I won’t even be on this planet.” She chuckles.
Service Desk Girl looks at my laptop. The mouse pad is popping right off the thing as well. It’s useless. I didn’t wanna get into that until I got back. “Your battery is swollen. Do you have two hard drives”, “Yeah”, “We don’t do that anymore. We can image it for you and transfer everything to a new one”, “You wanna just take this thing while I’m gone then? Do the whole shebang?”, “Yeah we can do that, you just have to drop it off at 4:30 before we close”, “Ahhhh man, I have to leave work at four thiiiiiirty.” She winks.
I race to clear my queue of all the work that I can and delegate for what I can’t. Send out the hold down the fort emails and set my out of office reply. Put a sign on my door that says, “Out of office until Halloween”. Drop my computer off back at service desk. I officially can’t do any more work, I’m on vacation.
On the way out I run into Queenie. Her sister Bao is visiting and Queenie had her Uber from the train station to work. Let’s go!
Queenie has organized a little last minute pizza and wings farewell party. A dozen or so people come over and we have some drinks and chill in the backyard. Amazing how many people you can get together last minute on a school night. Bao is meeting a lot of them for the first time, “Jonathan you have a lot of friends”, “Maybe they think this is the last chance they’ll ever get to see me?”
Having to work tomorrow, the majority of people take off a bit early leaving an elite strike force to face rounds and rounds of relentless Looping Louie before we moved on to Flushing Frenzy. Both end up being simple, stupid fun that keep us laughing for hours.
The Ride to the Train to the Plane
Wake up in the morning and Queenie is back from work to drive me to the train station. “Drink Green Bao’s smoothie!” Ok. Not bad. We say goodbye at the station, “Beester Easter every day!” and I’m officially on my way.
MacKay hit me up at 3am last night saying he’s landed in Prague. Lucky fucker is already in it. I can’t wait. Mid-way through the train ride to Union Station there’s an announcement, “We do apologize, we’re having a medical emergency on our train. Should only be 5 to 6 minutes and we’ll be going.” Hmmmm… so it begins. This lasts twenty minutes. Good thing I took the earlier train.
Around this same time I somehow miss a phone call and receive a really sketchy transcript in my voicemail.
Ok, it’s trying to interpret English words from a Russian message. Still, the bottom line is that my flight is delayed by 4 hours and 15 minutes! Fuck, that will only leave me 40 minutes to catch my transfer in Moscow to Prague. Ahhhh this isn’t looking too good.
I get to Union Station and hop the Flyaway bus to LAX. Get dropped at Tom Bradley terminal around 1pm and walk in to find the Aeroflot airlines and… shit… I’m 3 hours early for my flight and there is a winding line already formed that looks hours and hours long. They aren’t checking anyone in? All the counters are full with 8-10 attendants but nothing is happening. It says the flight is delayed until 8:20pm
Long story short. I get fucked over. The flight from Moscow coming to get us had a medical emergency and stopped in Iceland. That delayed my flight to Moscow for 5 hours and I subsequently missed my connecting flight from Moscow to Prague at 7pm. The next flight from Moscow to Prague wasn’t until 630am so I had to overnight in the airport. There goes my first night in Prague. Not the best start.
I’m messaging back and forth with MacKay and it sounds like he lit it up with some Estonia dude and then found the Post hostel that I booked ahead and crashed there.
I did get to meet a couple of Czech peeps that were in the same boat as me and were super nice. Also met an Iranian guy carrying a Roland TR-8S drum machine in line to board the bus to the tarmac. Dude I just bought one of those! He’s a deep house dj going to Tehran to play some underground parties, save money and bring his kid back after winter. Nice dude, we talk music for a bit.
Sheremetyevo Lounge Crawl
I get to Moscow and have 11 hours to kill. Slept a lot on the flight here so I’m kind of wired. Also watched Rocketman and now have a crazy amount of Elton John songs bouncing around the noggin. I decide to just hop airport lounges with my priority pass card. I chill in each for a few hours slow sipping on freebies. Free beer in the Moscow lounge, whiskey in the Galaxy lounge and then wine in the space lounge.
I figure this is a good time to get a blog up about the flight shitshow. Can’t access the website? Interesting, I can’t even get to the blog site, as an admin or just a visitor. Guess we aren’t very popular in Russia then. Makes sense to block it, this is some highly influential and sensitive shit.
They have free food, drinks, alcohol, showers, sleep boxes, smoking and relaxation rooms if you’re so inclined. Away from the noise and frenzy. They’re all decent places to chill away from airport chaos.
I crash out for an hour with ear plugs and an eye mask. Whoa. I wake up and there are tons of people here. Those things work. Nothing breakfast-like in the lounge and I’m craving the traditional goodies.
I leave lounge life to scout some b-fast. Pass by a couple of capsule rooms. Crazy. There are a number of great looking bars, an upscale Italian place, massage parlors and swanky shops. I’ve only walked between terminals D and E but I’d actually say that this is one of the coolest airports I’ve ever been in. I suppose it’s not a bad place to destroy an evening in.
I find a local Russian looking spot to get a bite at. Sit down and the girl brings some menus. We understand each other well enough to make breakfast happen. I order the Knights breakfast, sounds epic. I also get an Americano and a shot of Jamieson. After all the free drinks in the lounges the train has left the station and there’s no point stopping it. My new Czech friends go by and say good morning while I’m sitting there. We’re all in the same boat and i can recognize familiar faces roaming around the airport from the flight delay disaster to get here.
I get another whiskey coffee to kill some clock. Countdown to my flight to Prague finally. Time for a 6am negroni too I guess. Started on the 10am train to LAX on wed and get into Prague at 920am on Friday. Doesn’t take a mathematician to know that this sucks goat balls.
I sit by a Russian mother daughter combo that don’t speak English but really want to talk. I help her with her bag in the overhead and get the knight in shining armor treatment. The mom sits next to me and is a little touchy. Other than that it’s an uneventful flight and I’m finally in Prague! Faaaaaack yessssh. Flag a taxi. Do you speak English? Yes. Just for today. Perfect. Show directions on my phone. Yes I know the place. Excellent. Feel bad, I’m ripe after 38 hours of travel.
Criss-cross the city enroute to the hostel. Looks amazing. Old old architecture everywhere, colorful, bridge over a windy river. yep, this is gonna be good, no doubt. No word from James so I guess I’ll just assume he’s there. I think we need a secret handshake. Something hard to remember after years of not seeing each other.
Get to the Post hostel and ring the buzzer. Reception third floor. Nice girl named Luthia Czechs me in and shows me around. Is your friend here? I have no idea. Not answering anything. I’ll let you open the door then. Thanks.
I open the door and James wakes up from a bundle of sheets with his customary buff around his head and eyes. He raises it up, bleary eyed and confused at the sound. There’s a familiar.. je ne sais qoui in the atmosphere, “You stinky piece of shit!”, “Heeeeeeey Brooooooo!” He goes up top for a high five and I dive right in for the tickle fight. Same ol James. A little more grey and a little more meat but same substance.
I grab a much needed shower and then into the common area for a beer. “So was the last time I saw you really Malaysia?”, “No it was Halifax”, “Halifax?”, “Well your place in the bay. You were home being a lumberjack”, “Oh shit, that’s right. You met my folks”, “That was still two and a half years ago.”
I order up another couple of beers. Feels so good to be here finally, ahhhhhhhh. It’s only early in the day, got the whole day to explore Prague. There’s a personable Kiwi in here named John that may have some suggestions. And so it begins…