Once I have reached my destination, I see my travel as a long series of good luck, coincidences, long waiting times and lessons to learn right at the very beginning. And I would like to start with those (in order of apperiance) rather than with a boring description of flight details and train delays – though their time will come, too.
Lesson No. 1: Airport Express bus drivers can be nice
I do want to avoid any generalizations but during my 5+ bus trips from/to the Prague Airport, there were some moments when I almost felt ashamed of being Czech. However, the last bus ride was such a nice change! It rained and I was about two minutes late for the bus, the bus driver gestured whether I wanted get on and even made sure I was sitting before he started driving (they do not normally do that and not just in Prague). I so hope it is a sign of improved tourist service and that visits of the Czech Republic will be more and more enjoyable to everyone who comes.
Lesson No. 2: Feels Good to Depart from Vaclav Havel Airport
It was a good decision to have the Prague airport renamed in honor of the first Czech President. My travels are possible only because the Iron Curtain eventually fell and the country became free. Leaving for an overseas trip is an excellent opportunity to remember the man who fought for our freedom so much.
Lesson No. 3: The Right Amount of Assertiveness Does Not Harm
I have paid for a motel room to stay overnight in London as 13 hours seemed as too much time to stay at the airport with no funny companion but with worries about my suitcase and probably very limited chances for a decent sleep. However, the room I was assigned did not promise to avoid any of those. It was not possible to lock the door, topped with a guy yelling from the adjacent room.
I told the clerk that was not exactly what I hoped for (especially for almost 27 GBP). At first, it looked like an enormous problem to solve but at the end of the day (literally), another room was found for me. This one had a double bed and more importantly, it was available with a door card. After almost 12 hours of traveling, a handful of ants migrating across the weird piece of furniture were no issue and I went to back almost immediately. Do not worry Mom, I brushed my teeth before.
Lesson No. 4: Be Nice, It Will Pay Off. And It May Happen Surprisingly Soon
While waiting in London for the boarding process to start, two girls sat down next to me for a while – apparently just to keep going after a while but forgetting a passport on the seat. Sunday morning seemed as an appropriate time for a good deed as none of them responded to my shouting, I decided to chase them down. Sure, the passport owner was glad for that.
Less than nine hours later, here I am getting off the bus at a wrong bus stop and with no idea where I might be (other than it probably is the NCSU campus). Thankfully, here comes the guy whom I decided to ask for directions to my temporary home. But what he does instead, is that he takes me by car right to the entrance door of the apartment where I will be staying this summer. I wish I knew his name. But are not two months long enough to hope for another accidental meeting?
Lesson No. 5: Use It Or Loose It
What a cliche but how true! It unfortunately remains true for language skills and it absolutely does not matter how comfortable I once felt as an English speaker. More than a semester with no English class, neither Skype calls with anyone was sufficient to make me feel like I have never used the language outside a classroom. Thankfully, I have two months ahead to try to reach the level of proficiency I lost so easily and to figure a way how to prevent that from happening again.