Day 0 @ FOSDEM 2023
Last update: 2023-03-01 20:30:50.235
I've decided to plan going to FOSDEM 2023 within 2 weeks, I think I remembered seeing it on PINE64EU website. Too much time was spent to find best fare and booking prices. Hell, with few delays, prices went up, but I did finally manage to reserve both on time.
So, 3rd of February. It was still like 4 AM. I couldn't even sleep anymore as I had to prepare everything. Then, I realize about small bag limits. If I carry too much by making a bag too big, they'll charge me 60€ for oversized small bag! I've decided to put small amount of clothes and underwear at least, along with toothbrush and toothpaste. At 5-6 AM, I went to the train station to get the ticket. As I'm living in area that was affected by earthquakes in 2020, we're eligible for free tickets for local trips. After reaching the town near the airport, I've walked for about an hour to reach it. It's not quite practical for pedestrians to reach the place on their own, most likely the best option would be to take a bus to the airport instead, but screw it.
After I went inside, I've looked around the place for arrivals, but didn't figure where should I go. After figuring out signs for a bit, I've went up with escalator and found where I should sort of go. Lots of check-in booths, but those for Ryanair were still closed. I've wanted to ask some help at information center, but somehow they decided to take a break just the moment when I wanted to ask a question, but after a bit of an embarassing interruption, I did manage to get information on where I should go and that I don't have to go to check-in when it was done online, basically I was ready. At least I didn't have to pay extra 15-30€ for a damn offline check-in. Going through security first required checking boarding pass, which went sort of fine. As the staff was checking the card and told me to go, they suddenly said to someone to stop. I already panicked thinking I fucked up, but they were just telling that to some old person behind me.
Next step: Security check. The line was very long, but it was going well enough. Took about 10-15 minutes to get for check. I was sort of lost even at beginning. Some boxes had marks with shoes and I had no clue if I could use those or wait for other ones. Fuck it, went without those. I've asked the security staff about the process, so I've pulled out laptop and most of electronic devices I had, along with belts I had. If you're wondering how I actually had double belts, it's because I had two pants on. Whole trip to the airport station was fucking freezing cold. I asked about toothbrush and toothpaste, but nothing wrong as they say. Passed the scanners without any alerts. Got the boxes with stuff and spent about 5 minutes to even figure out how to put all things back. We're not done yet, I still had to reach border station.
I kept wondering like if I'm even supposed to get a passport. However, I'm an EU citizen at this point. Hell, we're even in Schengen zone, there should be no needed problems from my side. As it was my turn, I gave my ID and waited for a bit. They asked me for the destination. Well... how would you say that you're going to Brussels, but actual destination is Charleroi while the depart location on pass is Brussels Charleroi? It ended up being a "yes, but no" logic. They let me thru.
I went through the duty free shop without buying anything as I have no reason to buy anything. Plus, everything is expensive as hell. I assume that things are only "cheap" if you're going outside of EU as I assume customs costs are technically covered due to it being "duty-free". While exploring the boarding lobby, I've noticed that most of advertising panels were running Windows 10 for few reasons. First of all, some of them displayed Windows Defender Firewall warning for some app. Second, one screen had a window for network detection prompt on right side of display. At this point, I had enough of time to continue working.
While working, I've also checked Ryanair assistant in app. Apparently, the flight has been delayed for one hour. I did wander around for a bit and waited as I wasn't sure what was going to happen. Once again, it was delayed one more hour. When I've checked depart list from airport, no information about delay for the flight at all. It just got stuck in there, with no status update. All other flights were going slowly. Finally, after some time, the gate was open and we started to board. It was damn freezing outside, but we rushed into the airplane and went inside.
Found my seat, tried to put seat belt on, had some assistance and I was ready for flight. Initial flight felt quite eerie as we were ascending, along with the pressure also feeling quite odd, but looking out of the window was amazing, at least until it reached the altitude above the clouds. Sure, seeing the sky like that was nice, but that goddamn sun was making me blind. Meanwhile, stuards were mostly providing various products, but I assumed they were expensive as hell, so I've skipped them. Apparently, a girl sitting next to me was Croatian and she was also going to FOSDEM. I only thought of it after seeing her HP laptop running Fedora, which is a rare thing overall.
After 2 hours of flight, we finally reached Charleroi Airport Station. I've asked if I can follow up with her and her colleagues as it's my first time, and she was okay with it. We all met up at the point of border station. She and her colleagues are system administrators. We spent some time in border control and managed to reach exit after ID check. After being outside, we had no clue where are we supposed to go. We went around whole area while those shuttle buses that we're supposed to take are outside of fence. We went to one side with exit, but that was for staff only. After walking around, we went on the other side that actually was the correct exit and went into the waiting queue for shuttle buses. Just at the moment when it was our turn, they closed the queue and we had to wait for another bus. In about 15-30 minutes, we were ready to drive to Brussels for 1-2 hours. During the time, we mostly spent the time with various chitchat, which was nice.
Finally, we arrived to Brussels South Station (Midi or Zuid, I think). We had to walk around to actually find the main station for transport, but the first thing we experienced in here was literally piss. Whole place smelled like piss, there was piss on the street, and even more piss to my nose to the peak levels. As we wound the station, we tried to buy a ticket. It took for about 2 minutes to get a single paper ticket.
After we got tickets, now we had the problem with signs. Which number are we supposed to take and where the hell is it? We were still on ground level, where most of tram and bus lines were. We went 2 levels lower to actually reach the metro station we needed. Of course, there there was ticket validation device preventing us to go through without the ticket. One of us mentioned that we can't go through normal validators as it mentions no large luggage is allowed, but as an alternative there is a big validator that allowed each one of us to go through. Press button, put the card on validation area and if valid, go through. Each one of us managed to get confused in the process.
Finally, we were waiting for the train and we managed to get in out to reach the hotel where they had to check-in. After they were done, we went to eat something, while the girl went to bed to rest. As we were trying to pick the place to eat, we decided to pick the initial one we saw. The guys picked the burgers with fries and I've picked some sort of special with rabbit covered with some beer. It tasted sort of okay, but I think I've fucked it up for 22€ as I didn't have any side dish except for extra fries. It would've been better if the rabbit didn't have damn bones, hell to clean it. Okay, it was sort of easier to clean than usual for me as it was tender and still sort of tasty, but maybe not worth the price.
After the meal, we went our own ways and I've went to the hotel that I've booked to check-in. The doors wouldn't automatically open, assuming I had to push a button for ring. The receptionist was making a gesture to come in, assuming that I was too far to the door, even though I was way more closer than usual. Check-in went fine, entered the door and finally managed to have a good sleep. Room is very narrow, single bed and barely no outside view, but I didn't care that much of it. There was a schuko socket that I could use, semi functional Wi-Fi and quite clean bathroom. The bed was warm and it was nice enough to sleep on it. That's all for pre-FOSDEM day 0.