For the city that hosts the congress of nations, Deqla looks surprisingly uncrowded to the eye. The streets are all relatively wide, letting in plenty of sunlight and allowing sufficient of room for bicyclists and pedestrians to coexist with public transport and delivery trucks, while only a handful of buildings cap out over ten stories tall. It was a city that was designed by people who knew what the future would look like, and had plenty of budget to make whatever was needed to further Aramaia's status on the world stage to visiting diplomats and dignitaries happen. Further away from the congress and the local universities, the work is rather less extravagantly maintained, but even the side streets are well lit and relatively clean to help keep crime statistics down. What they don't have is a lot of people in them on early weekday afternoons, which makes the fact that her appearance is completely unobserved a bit less unusual.
"Nonsense, I couldn't possibly take payment for something like this."
She reaches down into her desk and opens one of the drawers, rifling around in it for a moment, and then comes up with a pamphlet that she unfolds into a map of the city.
"We're here," she says, pointing to a location about a quarter of the way in from the eastern edge of the city. "You'll find most of the embassies right on international street nearby the Congress of Nations building in city center, but I think a few of the smaller countries have a place down the side roads here so they aren't quite as far from the delegation hall. Where did you say you were from?"
"Canada, but I will be amazed if you've heard of it."
"Huh, yeah, I can't say I have. I used to be pretty good at geography, so I must be out of practice. Take care!"
"Thank you very much," says Lindsey, with the kind of warm smile that Liath can never get, and she takes out the map and starts following it in the direction of the local embassy. She's good at this after all the hiking she's done, even if the environment is unfamiliar.
Liath estimates the distance. Is this going to be few minutes, a few hours, or most of the day?
It's a good two hours by foot, maybe an hour and a half if she walks quickly. There's also a bus route almost directly there from here, with a sign at the stop advertising that it runs every 15 minutes, but there's no obvious place to buy a ticket even if she had the money.
Well that's definitely a hike.
Do we really want to hike for two hours through an unknown city, potentially straying into a dangerous area because we don't know the lay of the land, all because we can't convince a bus driver to give us a free lift to the embassy?
There's no harm in asking the nice clerk if she can spare us a bus fare. Worst she says is no.
Liath turns around and goes back into the museum. "Sorry," she says to the clerk. "I've just realized it'll save me two hours' hike if I can get change for bus fare. I hate to ask you, and if you can't spare it I'll walk; could I perhaps convince you to take one of my foreign bills in exchange?"
"The bus is free unless it's during peak hours, which shouldn't pick up for another..." she glances at her watch "two and a half hours. You'll want to take the 37 line from here, though make sure to pay attention to your stops since it loops back around."
"Oh, thank you very much. I'll just be on my way, then."
You were expecting that, weren't you?
It was a possible outcome.
Liath goes over to the bus stop and watches for the bus.
It is so not cool that we can't fiddle with our phone while we wait.
Relax, Liv. People-watch. It's a whole new world to explore and any detail could be important.
Sure, sure, whatever you say.
The bus arrives about three minutes later, and is surprisingly quiet; something electric, maybe, but it doesn't match up with the rest of the technology on display. There are two other people waiting at the stop with her, but the bus is empty enough she doesn't have to sit next to anyone if she doesn't want to. As promised, none of them seem to have tickets out and the bus driver doesn't comment on her entrance. Once the doors close, the bus starts up again and it makes a decent pace down the street. It's a little slower than the busses she might have seen at home, but the lack of traffic and reduced need to stop mostly makes up for the difference.
Hmmmm, no engine noise. Electric is definitely possible, but if they had electric battery technology sufficient to run buses, why are there so few cars? Regulation? Different techbase? They seem to have an electrical grid...
Wait, has she seen any power lines yet? They ought to be everywhere if the power grid here is like the one at home.
None are visible! Either they're all underground, or they have some stranger method of transporting current.
Okay, yeah, that implies some things. This is going to be fascinating. Have they cracked wireless transmission like Nikola Tesla claimed to have? The museum certainly seemed to have electric lights. Perhaps they had generators on site?
We are absolutely not in Kansas anymore.
Not that we've ever been to Kansas.
They watch out the window as the city goes by, doing their best to note any other unusual features.
As they move towards the center of the city, the buildings start to get a little taller, and she can see more in the ways of commercial activity like shops, restaurants, and food stalls. There's a sign for 'University of Deqla Main Campus' and one for 'Everbright Hospital' and several more museums, plus some of what are probably the local form of tourist traps offering themed goodies. The other buses they pass by going other directions seem to all be of the same make, but the trucks and occasional van or car are much less standardized in design or aesthetics. Lots of shops seem marketed at tourists and foreigners, but enough aren't that it's probably a function of the city getting lots of visitors rather than locals being unable to afford anything.
So far, so normal. She supposes she's lucky that she got dropped here and not in, say, the fourteenth century.