Road tripping to Debconf15

TL/DR: I am going by car on route Riga-Warsaw-Dresden-Debconf15-Lyon-Genoa-Venice-Vienna-Riga and I can take passengers along the way too.

This year Debconf 15 is happening quite near to me - in Germany to be more specific. As soon as I found out about it a plan hatched to skip flying this year and instead travel to Debconf by car. First, however, I needed a car.

Buying a car is .. an experience. Used to the wolrd of computers where brands have minimal importance and specifications rule everthing going to the world of cars where brand is the key was quite hard. Basically each brand has its own reputation for power, quality, reliability and maintenance costs which then get again subverted by each model line of each brand. And then in addition to that comes different base and additional eqipment in each individual car for sale. This basically means that it is impossible to compare any cars directly. The best one can then do is set a budget, set mandatory features and optional feature wishlist and start looking at options on the market. Possibly you might also want to think of what image the brands you are looking at are meaning to project.

I started with simple mandatory requirements of automatic transmission, air conditioning, parking sensors, low CO2 emissions and cruise control and optional requirements of safety features. But then I realised that what I wanted to project was a more solid, business persona. After checking in with some people that know more about cars this basically focused me onto Mercedes C class. Low emission requirement with automatic forced me to look at quite new models with 7G-TRONIC PLUS transmission. Just barely in my price range, but after another month of sifting trough the offers, I finally got my new dream car delivered exactly on my birthday - March 23rd, so 3 months ago. I am pretty amazed at the technologies in modern cars - bunch of ultrasonic sensors for parking assist, radars for collision avoidance and deadzone assist, cameras that detect lanes and even read traffic signs. And another camera that detects lights of oncoming traffic to control high/low beam switches fully automatically. Fuel consumption was as advertised - 5l/100km on highways and a max of 8l/100km in short city trips. My car is the weakest C class of that year - its engine is actually downclocked by software by about 12 horsepowers, this can be hacked, but that, naturally, voids the warranty.

One annoying things about modern cars is .. software. Most manufacturers (except Tesla) simply expect you to buy a new car to get a software update. The only update I could find for my car was an update of navigation maps and even that costs quite a lot of money as they have DRM that locks maps to the specific car. Highly annoying. In the future I hope to use this car for 3-4 years and then sell it and upgrade to Tesla Model 3.

Getting a car changed me, as expected. It became much easier for me to take detours on the way from work to home, like to a swimming pool (twice a week, every week, 3 months now) or to some shop for fresh food. I have become more outgoing which was also a big reason behind actually buying a car and not renting. It also became much easier to just go "local" sightseeing on the weekends (for values of local in ~500km range). I mean - I have been to Tokyo (8000km away), but not to Bauska castle (60km away). I have now actively stated to rectify this and also along the way train myself for the big event of the summer - car trip to Debconf15!

The initial trip will be comparatively simple - the Riga to Heidelberg is around 1800 km or nearly 20 hours of pure driving. As to not go completely crazy, the plan is to split this ove 3 days of around 7 hours of driving each. This makes the overnight stops happen somewhere around Warsaw and Dresden. I have not been to either of these cities, so that is a nice bonus. Apparently the space in Debcamp is very limited this year, so I will be only arriving a couple days before the Debconf itself, stay in some other hotel and see what is around and maybe randomly show up and say hi and scout group photo locations.

At the Heidelberg itself I might want to visit an open track day at Hockenheimring Formula 1 track. Not yet sure about that. I will need to get some practise at a local track first.

But the really fun part of the trip is going to be after Debconf15. My current plan is to go back home via Alps and a dip in the Med with provisional stops at: Frankfurt-Hanh airport, Basel, Lyon, Genoa (or Milan), Venice and Vienna. That is another 4000 km of driving spread over 7 to 8 days. This should also include some spectacular roads over the Alps (no tunnels!) with just enough time to see the cities and get the taste of the culture.

I would be glad to take anyone who is going to Debconf15 from Baltics, Poland or eastern/southern Germany. It should also be easy to bring anyone to Franfurt airport and Frankfurt-Hanh airport (that Ryanair operates from) after Debconf15 ends or to Basel/Lyon if you are fine with stopovers. Farther destinations on the way back may become more annoying as I do not plan on taking the direct routes and many stops are to be expected.