Thanks Google

After posting sporadically on Google’s Blogger.com platform for a couple of years about a mixture of tech things in which  I’m interested and travel (mostly to Europe), Google notified me today (while I was on the train to Prague) the blog had been pulled for phishing. Folks, there was NO phishing. The only advertising that existed came from Google. I didn’t ask for or try to get personal information, I never made a cent. The only links were to other (at least I believed to be), legitimate sites, like my photos on Flickr, Wikipedia, Amazon and various other sites. No adult content, no violence, no inappropriate language. Nada.

So I appealed the decision. There was no warning or prior notice, just ‘You violated our TOS and we deleted your blog’, but not how, or which post their robot found objectionable somehow.

If they restore the blog, fine, the content will be back. But I won’t continue to post there with this arbitrary action. It’s true I didn’t pay for their service, but neither did I profit from it in any way, while spending a fair amount of time posting simply to share experiences and Google received whatever bit of ad revenue was generated.

Goodbye Blogger, hello WordPress!

I promise not to do any of the things I didn’t do, or even think about doing, on Blogger, on WordPress. I like the layout of WordPress, and once I’m using something other than a cellphone to write the blog, will see how I can spiff up the layout a bit.

Now that we have that out of the way, we’re traveling today from Munich to Prague, by way of the ‘Albert Einstein’ train. Albert Einstein was born German, but did live for a while in what is now the Czech Republic. Why they called it the Albert Einstein train? No clue.

A 5 1/2 hour train that cost $34 for two. In many years past, we would have bought one of the many variants of a Eurail pass, but for the last two trips, we’ve bought point to point tickets directly from the rail lines. It’s easy and the path of least resistance, but comes at a price. We probably ended up taking the same train at the same time as if we’d bought a pass, just that we gave up the complete flexibility and riding in first class. 2nd class is perfectly fine for probably 1/3rd the price. We were in a six person compartment (standard for this type train), but only had two other people in the compartment with us late in the journey.

The trip from Munich takes us through parts of Germany which are unfamiliar, and the only sign we’ve crossed into the Czech Republic is a text message from my cellphone carrier that says ‘Welcome to the Czech Republic’. This was about three hours into the journey.

When we left Munich, it was overcast. But moving up towards the Czech Republic, the weather has cleared and its beautiful and a bit warmer. The farmers’ fields are a mixture of what looks like it may be a winter crop and some fields that have been cultivated, but not planted. The wetness in the fields comes from recently melted snow, so I’m sure the ground temperature is not yet up to what it needs to be for planting. My vast farming experience comes entirely from discussions with a relative who farms for a living, and tells me that (in the US anyway), to germinate, the soil temperature should be 50 degrees or more. See what you learn here?

We must be climbing in altitude some though, because after crossing into the Czech Republic, we see some snow in the forests, on the shady side of the tracks. The mountains are heavily forested.

IMG_20160218_120244

The landscape is becoming more rugged and mountainous, with less open farmland, as we move further into the Czech Republic. None of the city names are familiar to me, and, not speaking Czech, not pronounceable either.

We arrived on time and the first stop was the ATM to get some local currency. Koruny. The Czech Republic is not part of the EU, so ending up carrying another currency can be a minor inconvenience.

IMG_20160218_144622

CZK Czech Republic Koruny Exchange Rate

USD per Unit

0.0412041278

So a Koruny is worth about 4¢.

Second stop is the TI in the station to find out how to take a tram to the closest point to our hotel.  The harder part is figuring out where you are on the tram to get off. We got off one stop too early, but after a couple of cobblestone streets, we arrived at our hotel. Tram was $1 each, vs about $10 for a taxi.

There’s a Tesco Express next door. They have Czechvar “Bud”. This Bud’s for you! (55¢).

IMG_20160218_181004

The beer cost less than half of what Diet Coke Zero does.

The Czech language  is so different than the Latinate and Germanic roots of languages I either speak or partially understand (Spanish, French, German, English). It’s Slavic, and I just don’t have any background with those languages, so I’ll be curious to see how well or poorly I can navigate through our experience here. In the tourist areas, I’m sure there’s some English spoken, though I wish I knew a bit of the basics.

IMG_20160218_175006

Thanks for bearing with me through this bit of aggravation.


Photos at Flickr

 

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