Lost Prague Tourist Sees Airport Double

Sorry there was no cartoon this week, I was away over the weekend -- met with good friends for a healthy raclette (barbecue) with hot chocolate and chocolate icecream for starters and chocolate cake and Czech mead (honeywine) for dessert. If you too should need to use the Prague airport in the near future to smuggle original Czech food stuffs abroad for a sugar rush of illegal proportions, watch out: Recently, the Prague Airport opened its second terminal!

Remember this big construction site around the airport? It's still there. But somewhere they additionally dug up a whole new terminal 2. On my way to the airport on Friday, something was different on the bus. Usually, getting to the Airport in Prague is pretty straightforward. You don't even have to memorize the Czech word Letiste to find it. You just get on Metro A to the final stop at Dejvice, then you (go out the right exit and) take the bus 119 to its final stop -- there you are. Can't miss it, even after a couple of last beer-shaped souvenirs. But this time, the display didn't just say Letiste. There suddenly was a distinction between Terminal Sever and Terminal Jih -- refering to a Northern and a Southern Terminal (and not to a misspelled terminal server as one might be tempted to think).

Well I thought, so what, they finally gave that other building a name and chose to rename both in the process, how does that affect me. I know what the airport looks like, no matter what it's called, I'll get out at the same stop as usual. It indeed turned out that the new stop (Terminal Sever) is now the last one, and the previously main airport stop (Terminal Jih) is the second-to-last stop of line 119. While I am steping out of the bus, I hear the announcement through the speaker blurting out the stop first in Czech, then repeating its little "Welcome to the airport" speech in English. It's cute by the way, how they now take care to announce last stops and touristically interesting information in English too, since last year a poor anonymous Sun employee (not me!) got stuck in the metro depot all night after failing to understand that "Konecna Zastavka, prosime vystupte" obviously meant "Get the hey out of here, unless you wanna be stuck in the depot all night".

Admittedly, I didn't understand this new Czech "Welcome to the airport" speech on the bus either, so, just when the bus doors start closing behind me, I pick up the last words of the English version "... non-schengen countries". \*siiigh\* Look, if you broadcast an announcement with important new information on the bus in two languages, what about playing it before the passengers have to make up their minds whether they want to leave the bus here at Terminal Jih!? With my luck, I of course was indeed on my way to a very Schengen country, and now I learn that those carriers had all silently moved to the new Terminal Sever.

(If you are from outside Europe and the concept of Schengen doesn't ring a bell -- Europeans can intuitively feel whether some place is Schengen or not, it's a magical cultural thing which is ritually passed on from one generation to the next, since there a many vital things in everyday live in Europe depending on your knowledge of Schengen, such as, among other things, whether you can carry a crate if beer from A to B without stopping every 100km to pull out a visa or not.)

So my point is, since Ruzyne Airport stepped up one notch in the hierarchy of airports, you now have to bother to check to which terminal you are heading before taking the bus in Prague, too. Luckily though -- if you get off at the wrong terminal you don't have to take a plane-- um, bus like you'd have to do in the USA to reach the other terminal in time. ;-) No, you can actually just turn around and walk over to the other terminal. That's what I like about Europe. :-)


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