Instagram vs. Travel Reality

Day one of my spring break trip and I am already being reminded that traveling is not all sunshine and rainbows. Over the last two years of not traveling, I had almost forgotten about the unpleasant side of traveling just wanting to be magically transported to the colorful scenes of Instagram travel. This trip, my first big one since South Africa in February of 2020, was one that I’d been particularly excited about because it combined a place I had wanted to visit for ages (Tunisia) and a familiar one that I haven’t been back to in a while (Palermo).

The travel day started out with one of the things I hate most about traveling: a 6 a.m. flight. Every time I take one, I swear it will be the last, but sometimes it really is the best (or only) option. Since I had trouble getting to sleep the night before, I was starting the day off with about three hours of sleep. A layover at CDG had me running to the gate to get to my flight. (I should have known better than to book a flight with only a 50-minute layover, but I guess I’m out of practice.) I landed in Tunis to find the biggest mob at passport control that I’ve seen in a while. It was chaotic for a while with the mass of people trying to push their way to the from until you got to the part where the lines were actually guided by barriers; then it was just incredibly slow moving. Two hours later my passport was stamped and it was off to collect my bag. My initial elation at being able to finally get out of the airport dissipated when I got to the luggage carousels and was met with another chaotic scene. Every carousel had bags piled up around them apparently having been taken off to allow for the other bags that were now circling around. It had been so long since my flight arrived, that the flight number was no longer listed on the screens, so I didn’t even know where to begin looking for my bag. I did a quick scan of all the bags scattered around on the floor and then went back to every carousel and did a slow and careful check. I wondered if my short layover was the cause of my missing bag and not the chaotic scene at the carousels. I went to the lost baggage office, and yup, my bag was still in Paris. The lady assured me that my bag would be there by the evening. (Though I’d have to come back to the airport to pick it up myself. No delivery service in Tunisia.) Well, at least I was finally getting out of the airport. You didn’t think that part went smoothly, did you? Because I was so late getting out of the airport (about 3 hours), the hotel driver I had arranged had long since left leaving me to have to haggle with taxi drivers – another thing I dread about traveling.

Things started looking up when I finally got checked into the hotel and I got a call from my walking tour guide. The day prior I had gotten an email saying he had to cancel (so I was going to be on my own for the first day in Tunisia), but here he was telling me that he was ready for the tour and he didn’t cancel. None of it made sense, but I was happy to have something go right on this day. Mouin met me at my hotel and then expertly led me through the medina of Tunis pointing out symbols on wooden doors, explaining the different types of minarets rising above the landscape, and showing me how to recognize real artisan crafts from tourist junk. Finally, I was able to get to the good part of traveling! (Or the aforementioned “Instagram,” if you will.)

Oh, and I eventually did get my bag back! Shout out to Air France and their amazing communication letting me know when my bag was on a flight so I could time picking it up perfectly before the luggage office closed.

On to new adventures this week and hoping that all of my MISadventures for this trip are behind me.

2 Comments on “Instagram vs. Travel Reality

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