It's been a while since I've traveled somewhere where it's not really catered to tourists and other visitors but Algeria is definitely one of those places. Although I had some apprehensions (in part thanks to Algeria being on the security 'watch list' at work), I was looking forward to it to broadening my horizons and going somewhere I wouldn't really have chosen. Challenge No. 1: Getting there!
I was supposed to fly to Algiers from Bristol via Paris, which should have been fairly straightforward. However, there was a traffic incident (apparently involving a few vehicles and fatalities) which resulted in my taxi being virtually stationary for about 40+ minutes. All the while, the taxi driver kept saying we'll still make it in time despite me fidgeting nervously. So when he decided we should just turn around (going over the central kerb), I would have done an 'I told you so' dance if I wasn't still panicking. Long story short, I arrived at the check-in desk 2 minutes after the deadline and Air France wouldn't accept me on the flight. Cue slightly stressed calls to work and the travel agent and a long journey (standing room only on train to Reading) to Gatwick to get a flight the next morning.
So having a hotel right by the terminal in Gatwick and 3 alarms set for the morning, smooth sailing all the way, right?
At the BA check-in desk, they seemed rather surprised that I don't need a passport to get into Algeria so despite their system telling them so and me confirming it, they still felt the need to ring around for 5 minutes to check.
Then, because it was the day before the major Muslim celebration of Eid al-Adha (more on this in my next post), it seemed like everyone had multiple pieces of hand luggage with them most of which certainly didn't look that it would fit into the hand luggage guide. Not that I mind a bit of pragmatic bending of the rules, but on this occasion, the cabin was just overloaded on a full flight.
With every passing minute, the stewardesses were getting more and more stressed to the point of pretty much shouting at passengers who could not understand English. While I sympathise with the situation (and I was getting annoyed myself as we were obviously delayed), I really would expect the crew to have been professional and keep calm. Sort it out BA.
45 minutes after planned departure time, the chaos finally got resolved (primarily with a number of luggage being checked into the hold)...
Upwards and onward to Algiers!