Losing my travel edge

I’m usually well prepared. I have my rituals. I’m packed at least 24 hours before departure. Clothes ironed and folded. Presents bought. Phone, kindle, camera all charged. Boarding passes printed, vaccinations up to date, currencies exchanged. That’s how I usually travel. But this is 2020 and something’s changed.

The trip to Zanzibar with an overnight in Paris on the way out has been booked for a couple of months at least. It’s not like it was last minute. Am meeting GG in Paris so we booked together for the Paris-Nairobi-Zanzibar return trip and made our own arrangements to get to and from Paris. I had it in my head that weather might be an issue so I booked a flexible flight on Air France that would allow me to go earlier in the day should the forecast be bad (definitely not something I’d usually do). But it was all blue skies and sunshine in Budapest when I awoke this morning. Happy days.

I went to pack only to discover that all the summer clothes I was sure I’d stored safely in a moth-proof box were not under the bed in Budapest but under the bed in the village. What remnants I could pull together make for a very scatty wardrobe. How could I have not thought of this? Plenty of shoes but nothing to wear with them – isn’t that a first!

I went to charge my camera and found the wrong charger in the right place. No sign of the one I needed. When did I stop putting things back in the place … when did that start? I’m usually a stickler for it.

I went to get my travel-sized toiletries as I hadn’t shelled out for a checked bag on the Budapest-Paris leg only to find that everything I put my hand to was 115 ml and over. I spent 27 minutes finding and filling smaller containers before printing off my boarding pass and noticing that I had in fact paid for a checked bag the whole way and back. How did I forget that?

I took out the bigger suitcase and proceeded to pack everything I thought I might need. I had a 23-kg allowance but didn’t even make 14 kg – and that’s mainly shoes and games. I thought then that I’d pack some wine – no point wasting that luggage space. But I checked, just to make sure, what I was allowed to take into Tanzania. One litre. Hardly seemed worth it as I plan to hit the duty-free in Paris and get some nice gin. I hate wasting luggage space.

But there was a reason I didn’t want to check a bag. And it didn’t dawn on me until I was on my way to the airport. Because we’re on separate round-trip tickets when we fly back, I’m going to have to pick up my bag, exit the airport, and then turn around, and go back in and check in for the next flight. I was sure we were landing at 6 pm and I was leaving again at 9 pm which didn’t leave nearly enough time to factor in delays (when did I get to be such an anxious traveller?) I was on the brink of apoplexy.  But I must have thought about that at some stage because I sent off a frantic text to GG (even though it was me who’d booked the tickets) and got confirmation that we land at 3 pm so I have six hours to do the turnaround 🙂 But how could I have forgotten?

Off to the airport. Got on the 200E which dumped us out at  Kobanya, drove off, and left us there to wait for another bus. Mild panic set in because my flight was at 3.30 and this was 1.50 and I had to check a bag. When I got to the airport, I saw my flight was actually at 4.30 (how did I confuse that?). And Air France had decided to leave earlier at 4.15 – can they do that?

The queue was a long one. But there was no one standing at Sky Priority. Not for the first time I wished I had the moolah to fly business class. I checked my boarding pass and saw the SP red box – my flexible ticket had upgraded me. How did I not notice… happy days.

On the flight, for the first time ever in my flying history, we were asked to turn off ALL devices as we started to land, even those in flight mode. It had something to do with the weather in Paris. A little light came on where the no-smoking sign usually is – it had a laptop and a phone with a red X through them. A first for me. We landed fine – no trouble. I wondered what the fuss had been. Interestingly Air France was the first to offer in-flight mobile service back in 2009. I wonder what they know now.

CDG isn’t an airport I’m familiar with. I was told to get to the TGV station to catch the shuttle bus there to the hotel. And I did. And I checked with the driver that his was the bus I was to be on. I got the last seat on the minibus and turfed up at the hotel. They’d no record of our reservation. Probably because I was in the wrong hotel. How could I not have noticed???

I’m waiting from for GG to arrive in from Ireland. We have a 10.50 departure in the morning but I want to leave early as I forgot to pack flight socks and on the plane in from BP I felt a pain in my left calf and am now fixating on a possible thrombosis. Who is this nervous ninny?

Shortly after 1 am on the morning of the 9th of January, we will touch down on the island of Zanzibar. I want to see Stone Town, visit Prison Island, and find a cemetery. After that, I’ll be happy to sleep in the sun. Empty my mind. And maybe start remembering stuff again. This is the first of six trips between now and June. I really need to get my act together.




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