Thanks to the jetlag which was worse than usual I woke up pretty early and managed to go for a short few mile run around Paris before heading back to the hotel for breakfast.
I have to admit: I was really looking forward to breakfast. I’m not generally a big breakfast person, especially big hotel breakfasts, but when I was in Paris for work a month or two prior I hadn’t found a Starbucks nearby to grab my mandatory morning caffeine, so went with the hotel option.
Since the Renaissance doesn’t have a club lounge, breakfast is served in the regular restaurant, and I was super impressed the four nights I was there that not only wasn’t it buffet, but the staff insisted on taking your order and serving you anything you wanted.
It seemed in a few weeks that had changed, and they were happy to take hot orders for eggs, but everything else was now self-service from a buffet table. Quality was still the same, but the relaxing element just wasn’t there any more. It was still excellent quality as far as included free hotel breakfasts go, but the “magic” was gone a bit. That said, come on, hard to argue with amazing espresso, a great omelette, and unlimited delicious pastries!
Left a bit earlier than I normally would for the airport, mainly because I’d never actually been to Orly Airport before, and didn’t know how easy the metro to RER to “OrlyVal” connection would be. Easier than expected it turned out, and I have to admit OrlyVal was cute. It’s basically a light rail with just a couple of stations that runs from the metro to the airport. I know there’s a long history, probably dealing with union issues, but hey, it was more efficient than I expected!
Plus, when I got inside the terminal at Orly, nirvana awaited me in the form of proper high-voltage coffee:
While drinking my coffee, I started to feel really “off.” A bit of alternating hot flashes, chills, dizziness, and just not feeling right. I actually debated if going to Tunisia feeling off like this was a great idea, but since this had happened a few times in the prior few months decided I might as well go for it. YOLO and all that.
Off to the TunisAir check-in, red carpet and all:
Walking to the lounge, through duty free, I found the most French duty free display of all time, avec baguette:
They lounge was a major disappointment, I scarfed down a couple bottles of water on the off chance that the previous diagnosis when I went in feeling “off” like this of dehydration was the problem, and headed to the gate to try my luck.
TunisAir flight 717 operated by GetJet
Paris, Orly (ORY) to Tunis, Tunisia (TUN)
Depart 12:00, Arrive: 13:25, flight time: 2:25
Airbus A330-300, Registration LY-LEO, Manufactured 2006, Seat 03K
Miles Flown Year-to-Date: 48,719
Lifetime Miles Flown: 2,741,307
So, if you read carefully, you’ll notice this flight was operated by GetJet, which I admit I’ve never heard of. There was no indication of this at all, except when checking FlightRadar24 you could see for the past two weeks the flight had been operated by a GetJet plane, so I figured chances were high.
Boarded, and I wasn’t disappointed….if you can call GetJet that. So, what’s GetJet? Turns out it’s a Lithuanian airline with one A330, who’s trying to get permission to fly from Vilnius to New York. Until they get it, they’re leasing out their A330 and crew to the highest bidder. I’d never been on a wet lease flight before this trip, and now two in a row! What are the odds!
Orly tends to be where a lot of low-yield and leisure flights from Paris operate out of, so I was extra alert on the plane spotting. Plus, business was only booked about 25% full, so there was no problem moving to a window seat and having the seat next to me empty as well.
I was really curious to see what TunisAir operated by GetJet would serve for food, and it turns out to have been the typical TunisAir offering, which for a two hour flight was super impressive. Several things not to my taste including the prawns/cockroaches of the sea, the extra tough beef, and veg that had seen fresher days, but at the end of the day I wasn’t feeling well so wasn’t that hungry and it was still impressive the quantity on such a short flight.
Yes, I still had to try the Tunisian wine despite not filling well. I had water too…don’t judge me!
Besides, if I started feeling REALLY badly, there was a barf bag, which you were instructed to “PLIEZ FOLD” when done:
No troubles at all at immigration (I think the dude honestly gave up trying to understand my accent) and soon I was fighting with the taxi mafia to get to my hotel. I actually enjoy this game in French-speaking countries, and it’s a chance to really practice negotiating tactics. Reasonably fair price and off we went.
Check in at the Sheraton Tunis was a nightmare, and I waited nearly 30 minutes to check in due to front desk staff who seemed way more interested in chatting with their friends. Not impressive, especially when I had fond memories of my last time at this hotel when the staff took great care of me when I got a fierce cold.
At least I was upgraded to a spacious junior suite?
The paintings in the common areas, however, were traumatizing, and I’m still having nightmares about them weeks later.
Headed down to the bellman, and asked for help getting a taxi, and was looked at like I was from another planet. “You need to order taxis at least two hours in advance.” Uh, I’ve been all over the world, and even in the most developing countries it’s easier than that to get a taxi.
So, I headed down to the street and tried to flag one down on my own. 30 minutes later, after being ignored by 100+ taxis, I finally gave up. I don’t know what the game here is, but fair warning….Tunisia has a unique taxi game apparently.
Since it was late afternoon anyways, and I wouldn’t have much time to see anything, I retired to my room and rested before heading up to the club lounge which I had such fond memories of due to the way they had looked out for me.
What. The. Hell. Happened. to this place in the intervening 6-7 years or so. The lounge felt only marginally above a high school cafeteria, with pretty terrible reheated frozen snacks are really terrible wine by the 1.5L bottle. I get cost-cutting, but when did this lounge go from memorable to terrible?! For comparison, this was my stay in 2013. The cake and cheese look the same, just a bit worse for wear.
Back to the room to rest a bit more before finding dinner, and they’d left some nice tunisian sweets, water, and fruit. While the facilities had clearly taken a hit, I have to say service was pretty good.
View from the balcony of my room…not bad at all!
Being exhausted and wanting to get to bed early, I decided to head down to the hotel bar/restaurant for some dinner. Had some mini “sliders” which were surprisingly tasty and a couple of local beers and was out cold pretty early. I would have another chance to get to the Bardo Museum in the morning, so a day of rest was just what I needed after starting off feeling so poorly.
Up to my room to retire, and there was a security goon in a chair watching tv on his phone (working really hard). I decided to ask what he was up to, and he was “protecting a VIP” in the room across the hall. I never did find out who it was, but hey, just another day in Tunisia!
Bed time, I had a big day the next day and wanted to be well-rested!!