Sunday, February 25, 2024

Planes, Trains, Food and catching up with AmiKit creator

 My February has been really busy, travelling for business in late January to Prague, which is in the Czech Republic. I had assumed I would have time to do some blog posts when I returned but it has been very busy since my return in mid February too! 

Before I left for Europe in late January I did get some time to try out some of the latest 2024 Amiga demos from Gerp 2024:

The OCS demos are impressive already this year! I definitely noticed a trend away from the 060 AGA demos to focusing on the standard Amiga 500 OCS demos in recent years.

I guess demo groups have explored as far as they can push the AGA chipset? I hope we do get more AGA demos in 2024 too - I love them too.

If you haven't seen the latest 2024 Amiga demos, head over to and download them now - they are awesome!

For those in Europe, you have no idea how easy you have it when you want to travel between countries. In 2 hours you can cross the whole of Europe by plane to the UK...

For me though, it takes 26 hours minimum...first flight sector from Adelaide is around 13 hours, arriving in Doha at the wonderful time of 3:17am...

Eventually though, we got to Doha - all of sitting very uncomfortably in economy class, trying desperately to get any sleep at all:

I then had to wait 4 and half hours in Doha airport for my connecting flight to Prague. On the positive side it gave me time to experience the automated train they use in the terminal:

The train is very clean and whisper quiet - you wouldn't know it was there unless you look up from the terminal floor.

Doha airport is not my favourite airport to be honest, everything is so expensive there, but it offers the quickest path from Adelaide to Europe at the moment. 

Qantas takes almost 35 hours to get me to Prague via Perth and London, and 40 hours via Sydney, Singapore, and London...Qantas, our national carrier, does not fly international from Adelaide any more - it is so stupid. They used to fly direct to Singapore to connect Adelaide with the Europe bound flight from Sydney - but not for a long time now. 

Qatar Airways, Singapore airlines, Malaysia airlines, VietJet, Batik Air, Air New Zealand and Fiji Airways all fly international from Adelaide. Emirates as I mentioned is flying to Adelaide in October. Sorry Qantas but I am not travelling the wrong way and adding many more hours to my trip for your convenience. Ok, rant over - first world problems I guess.

Emirates is starting again in Adelaide from October so soon this trip will be a little bit shorter again using Dubai which is (marginally) quicker than Doha.

I won't talk about my work here except to say it was really busy and full of meetings. I did eat some nice food at night though!

On friday night I finally got to relax with my favourite Trackmania 2 Canyon game on my ROG Ally, which is a portable Windows gaming computer I bought last year to use for these trips. 

I can still get my Amiga fix too, as I installed AmiKit 12 on the Ally also:

I imagine not many people buying a ROG Ally are using it to play Amiga 500 demos and games. Well, I am doing just that!

On the weekend I had off in Prague, I travelled on the Prague Metro subway train to the Old Town area, as I have done many times before.

Wenclaus Square is looking a bit gloomy, but hardly surprising given it is -5C.

The reason I am here though is to experience something I have not done before, a Train restaurant called Vytopna nearby!

This restaurant has train tracks throughout the restaurant, and delivers your food and drinks by train!

These trains are not small, and carry a lot of food and drinks! I decided to try the Beer train degustation. Beer in Prague is delicious, much nicer than most beer in Australia if I am honest.

You get a train ticket when you enter the restaurant. You definitely need to book this place in advance.

They show the instructions on how to take your food from the train when it arrives. You can also put your empty glasses on any empty train passing by.

Here is my first train now:

You take the whole wooden tray off the train:

I ordered a main course, a long with a work colleague of mine who was there also. They come in covered metal containers to keep them warm and protect them from others touching them before you get it!

It got busy quickly given this was lunch time on a weekend, and soon the railway network in the restaurant was buzzing with trains all over it!

This is very cool! The trains are loaded on the left hand track in the top picture, and enter the train network and circle around the whole restaurant, and then change tracks near the top of the picture is delivering food to the tables we are seated in. For tables on the other side they use the middle track and branch of onto the booth tables wherever the order is intended for.

My lunch arrives. You get around 10 seconds or so to take the order, grab a photo and the train then automatically departs. So don't waste too much time taking photos!

I ordered a pulled beef burger and fries, and it was good.

If you order food for 4 people in a booth, they stack the orders on top of each other, and add multiple carriages to the train - very clever:

The railway map is shown on the back of the ticket:

I definitely recommend visiting this restaurant if you love trains and/or you have kids. It's a lot of fun.

I also grabbed one of the souvenir coins you can buy at the restaurant, because, well, why not?

For dessert we visited cukrář, a restaurant tucked away in Old Town, but not far from Wenceslaus Square:

If you love sweets, and you want experience Czech sweets, this is a great place to come to.

I picked out the two desserts below, and both were so delicious. I will definitely come back to this place again the next time I am in Prague.

Here is one of the many trams running in Prague Old town area:

Another place I wanted to visit is the Mustek Metro subway station information store in Prague. 

Why? Because they have Czech train merch!

I found out about this place on YouTube via the Honest Guide channel run by a Czech based YouTuber who does videos in English. Worth checking out if you plan to visit Czech republic - very informative and fun too.

Anyway, there is a lot of train merch to choose from:

I picked up a lot of train merch here - but my favourites are definitely the Prague Metro mug, and the Xmas Tree decoration with the Prague metro symbols on it!

Actually, I found out that they are building a Metro Line D in Prague at the moment and the merch for that is also there, but since I can't ride the line yet, I didn't buy it. I don't buy the merch for a train or train service unless I have actually ridden on the train service.

I relaxed for Saturday evening, after a lovely dinner in an Italian restaurant:

For the sunday, I had arranged to day trip catchup with Jan, the creator of AmiKit. AmiKit is a product I have beta tested and reviewed many times on this blog for various hardware platforms, most recently the newest AmiKit PiStorm version on my Amiga 500.

As Jan is based in Slovakia and I was in Prague, we agreed to meet halfway between, in Brno. This is a city in Czech republic I had never been to, so it meant another new train trip to tick off my list! :-)

So it meant travelling to the main Prague Train station:

The Prague Metro stops right next to it on Red subway Line C, and allows easy connection so I used that:

I was on a české drahy express train rj75 to Brno, which actually continues onto Graz in Austria as the final destination. It is the trip listed on the top of the board below:

So falling asleep is not advised unless I plan to visit Austria!

While waiting I checked out the beautiful original domed station building - I did this last year too, but it is still as stunning as always:

The platforms are covered by a massive roof, which is quite common in Europe but rare for me to see in Australia.

Love the man hole covers at the station platforms too:

Plenty of train action to watch as a train geek at the main train station:

Prague provides a great backdrop for the arriving trains into the station:

Would be great to have this many different train trip options in Australia, but I know it will never happen. Europe is very well connected by train, so you can travel all over Europe by train from Prague.

I found out the Venice-Simplon Orient Express train also travels to Prague once a year in summer too!

Anyway, I moved to the right platform as my train was due to depart shortly. Interesting that an Austrian OBB loco is pulling the consist today - I guess since the final destination is Austria. I would have thought they would change Locos much closer to the border. Anyway, happy to see it!

I bought a business class ticket because it is not much more expensive than the regular one, and you get a much nicer carriage, seat and food/drink is served to your seat.

The seats have lots of legroom - really!

There are digital screens visible from each seat showing the current position of the train and other trip details.

It takes around 3 hours to get to Brno from Prague. So the plan was to arrive in time for lunch!

The seats recline and there is power sockets available to charge up your phone or laptop.

There is a full menu on the train, and you can order food if you want - since I had breakfast before I left, I just had a coffee which is provided free of charge to business class train customers.

I did try the svíčková on the train last time when I went to Cesky Krumlov in 2023 and it tasted good.

Prague looks great from the train windows as we depart towards Brno:

Soon we are moving along quickly at 160km/h:

The scenery is nice at points along the way, but it was raining on the day on and off:

I used the free time to learn some Czech on my iPad:

Arriving into Brno's main train station I could see other trains too:

Having arrived and got off the train, I took a quick look around the platform area:

Brno had a number of trains shortly departing as we arrived, so I imagine they are timed to the arrival of this train from Prague for onward connections.

The Brno station building is quite nice inside. Not as large as Prague of course, but some nice building details:

Czech Republic and Slovakia used to be one country, Czechoslovakia. Some of the plaques in the station pre-date the separation:

Outside the station there is the main entry and a more modern extension entry area.

As a side note I hope I see the end of the disgusting visual graffiti that is e-scooters globally. 

I only ever see them knocked over in ugly piles in cities all over the world, including Brno above, Prague also, and in Adelaide. Seriously, just walk! It's much healthier for you and the city looks much better without the ugly scooters cluttering the streets!

On the exit to the station is a large number of tram platforms, and a lot of tram services arriving and departing here:

Actually, I like the paint jobs on some of the trams in Brno better than those in Prague.

The cobbled main street in front of the station is very wide:

I took a look around the tram platforms while waiting for Jan to arrive by car from Slovakia.

Jan then arrived and he took me on a tour of Brno!

Jan explained the Brno architecture is generally very european, with some Russian influences here and there also. The artwork on some of the buildings is quite nice:

If you have been to Prague, Brno doesn't offer much different in the way of tourist attractions in my opinion, but nonetheless it is an interesting city to see. Since I was only there for an afternoon obviously I wasn't going to see too much of it, but a walk around the city centre area was enjoyable, although quite steep in places.

Here is some more of the trams as we walked around in the Brno city area:

Nice to see Brno turned their unused payphones into artwork - I saw in the UK they are putting defribulators in them - quite inventive! Everyone uses Mobile phones nowadays.

The "ahem" clock in Brno. I could say what it looks like, but you already know, right? 

It is also totally useless for telling the actual time!

Jan promised me a good traditional Czech svíčková meal, and we went to a nice Brno pub to have some:

Jan and I enjoyed a great afternoon chatting about the Amiga scene, plans for AmiKit amongst other things! 

Jan also gave me a lovely metal printed Epsilon's World poster created with AI tools! Looks great! Thanks so much for this again!

I then travelled back to Prague in the evening, arriving quite late as the train was delayed a lot. After that was another week or so of work before I returned to Australia over the weekend.

Once back home I went straight back to work as there was no time to relax.

The following weekend I played some C64 new demos, and also tried out Hoi and Yo! Joe!, two games I never had for the Amiga until I bought them recently!

Yo! Joe! is quite impressive as a game on the Amiga. I also pre-ordered some new release games coming in the next few months, so I look forward to getting those!

That's it for now. 

I am hoping that in March I will have some more time on the weekends to do some more projects on the Amiga and other systems I want to work on, so I can do some more blog posts! 

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