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Published: February 17th 2018
Saturday February 17, 2017 - Today was a difficult start to a holiday. Work has been busy and stressful. I haven’t had enough time or energy to plan this trip properly. I had a good starting plan, and that seemed like enough. Except it wasn’t. Since I bought these tickets a little late, I decided to buy two separate round-trip tickets to save money - one, Zurich-Milan, the other, Milan-Tunis. It seemed like it couldn’t really go wrong. Swiss is reliable. Usually.
I woke up at 5am and left the house before 6am, to start the journey to Zurich airport by train. Once I arrived and looked at the board, I could see it all fall apart. My flight was canceled. I’ve often seen other flights canceled and felt bad, but was more glad it wasn’t me. This time it was. I went to a woman at the Swiss check-in to ask about it, and she sent me to her boss. The boss sent me to a different check-in in a different part of the airport, and by the time I got there I was feeling quite stressed. It was clear that the next flight would not get
me to Milan in time to make my flight to Tunis. In fact, it left after the flight to Tunis. This is where I immediately suffer from tears of frustration and helplessness. Frustrating to be such a “well-traveled” person who still can't pack worth a damn and gets upset when the first plan goes awry. But I hate throwing away money, and I could see that this could easily lead to me not being able to rebook my Tunis flight and then I’d have to throw that money away.
I tried to find a rep from Tunis Air, but he was not there. I got online and had Jeroen phone them. No one answered. I asked the woman I would be staying with to call them in Tunis. No one answered. I started looking into cheap fares from Milan to Tunis - there weren’t any. Then to anywhere else - Minsk could work, but I did not bring clothes for freezing temperatures. I went to check the desk again and there was still no one there. Meanwhile, my two-hour wifi was up and I could not get back online. I decided to go for it and rebooked
my flight to Milan for the next flight, hoping to deal with it when I arrived.
After that, I felt calmer and grabbed some sandwiches from Marche with a voucher Swiss gave me for the “inconvenience” of possibly being out a whole vacation. I flew to Milan and realized this could quite possibly be the most expensive 30-minute flight ever if that’s as far as I got in the end. When I landed, I went to the counter that rebooked flights, and they told me that Tunis Air would not rebook, and I could not even do anything until Monday anyway as they were closed over the weekend. More tears. It looked like I was staying in Milan and had no info about it and no map and no guidebook. At least I had a 20-year-old Tunisia book that I borrowed from a friend for the trip, since there hasn’t been a new book in years.
I got a map at the info desk and she told me how to get into town. I sat down and started to search for hotels and destinations in Italy I could visit if I stayed. The weather
was cold and cloudy, and generally unappealing, and it looked like it would remain so. The woman I was to be staying with in Tunis offered to drive to the airport to see if she could sort it out for me. So nice. She came back with the possibility to take the same flight tomorrow for 149 euros. It was a better deal than I’d expected, and though I hated to spend so much more, I did it. She even paid for it while she was there. So unexpectedly generous. I’m so grateful to have found my first, and what might be the world’s best, Couchsurfing host.
Next step was to use my computer to choose a hotel before my computer battery died. I found one pretty close to the airport and with a free shuttle, and even found someone in the airport who let me use his phone to call the hotel to arrange the shuttle. I’ve always liked not having a phone, and always thought traveling would be the last place I would need one, but it really has been such a hassle not having one. I always expected they would be better at home
than traveling, but my how that turned out differently than expected. And the town where I’m staying, Somma Lombardo, is fairly cool. I saw a gelato shop on our drive in, so decided to go for a walk when I arrived. It was already almost 5pm, but I walked around, found the shop, decided I wasn’t hungry, saw a clock tower, somehow took a wrong turn, saw it again, found the cathedral, found some old castle, etc etc. I was out for an hour and it felt good to walk around. It felt like I was traveling again! And on my way back I got the gelato. Three flavors, waffle cone, 4 euro. Delicious. My hotel is also a restaurant, and I had a delicious pizza at 9pm. Not because I was hungry, but because I am taking advantage of being in Italy unexpectedly.
Tomorrow it's back to the airport and start again, presumably with better results.
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