CRISIS 2008 Conference – Tozeur, Tunisia

Following the train mishap that saw me whizz away to Harwich, I eventually made it to Theo’s house in Colchester and after a short night during which I kept on waking up anguished over the possibility of missing my flight, I finally woke up to a nice cup of coffee and a taxi driver eagerly waiting for Theo and I outside the house.
The trip to the airport went smoothly save for the fact the driver decided to hit the M25 from the M11 rather than going down the A12. For a few endless seconds, I thought he’d misunderstood which airport we were headed for and was driving us to Stansted in lieu of City.
This wasn’t so and luckily soon enough, the familiar City skyline with Excel, Canada Tower, and the Tate Lyle factory rose in the morning sky. And as the dawn dew lulled us into a quiet sense of security, the second scare of the day hit us when suddenly we realized Theo was not on the passenger list for the Paris flight. No amount of arguing could convince the Air France staff and our fella had to book himself another ticket after an interesting experience with our travel call centre.
We eventually jumped the hurdles, wiggled past the hoops, and landed at the departure gate well in time. London City Airport is a marvel of an airport. It’s small – minute in fact. All gates are apron-level and within meters of the small jets (Embraer, Fokker-like). To walk out on that apron as one boards the plane, on a beautiful crips fall morning, with the City and the Thames as backdrop entirely redefines the whole flying experience – you could nearly feel Mermoz tap you on the shoulder.
Fifty minutes of flight – nothing to report – slightly late arrival – Orly Sud here we are.
Once I had gone through immigration (Schengen space), I walked up to an airport agent to inquire about the departure hall of our next flight. Knowing there are two terminals at Orly, one of which being Orly Sud, I innocently asked whether the Tozeur-bound flight was due to depart from Orly Sud (South) or Orly Nord (North). My questions got no less than a long blank bewildered stare followed by a wide grin, one of those that tries to suppress a ridiculous giggle. The agent – a forty-odd-old lady – then added there was no such ‘North’ terminal. It was either West or South. How so convenient. One would assume some logic. After all, Gatwick has North and South Terminals. Heathrow’s got 1 through 5 (with its share of luggage doom). It was only natural to think Orly would have a North and South terminal. Think again, this is France. Nothing is quite like what it should be.
We eventually found our way, terminal, and gate (we cruised over to Terminal Ouest using the slick Orlyval); with some five or so hours to kill off, we settled at a café and enjoyed a well-deserved coffee soon followed by an Auvergnat sandwich.
Now if you had to go to a city to enjoy a nice sandwich, I reckon Paris would be one of the places I’d start hunting in. The place literally crawls and oozes with half-baguettes filled with savory hams, cheeses, and pâtés. And in this rainbow of flavors, the Auvergnat stands out by a mile.
Most French will naturally guess the Auvergnat is called so because of its cheese filling. Not just any cheese. No sir, the Rolls Royce of cheeses, the Bentley. None other than Roquefort. Add a few walnuts casually tossed here and there, and some country ham and you’ve got yourself a serious taste bud teaser, a whacking swirl of creamy nutty filling food. Aaaah, get the sandwich right, the rest will follow.
And so, I picked one of those baguettes and devoured it.