Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Departures and arrivals
When I was a kid I was a bit of an airport geek. In high school, I even organized an overnight class outing to O'Hare during which, around midnight, in the midst of a scavenger hunt, we were busted for curfew and forced to spend the hours until dawn sitting wakeful in some of the world's least comfortable chairs.
Sometimes waiting to board a plane at Narita airport reminds me of that night. It's a rather tedious place like the O'Hare of a generation ago before they decided to jazz things up. Once you get beyond the liquid-and-lighter confiscation zone there's a dearth of things to see and do and, especially, eat. There's a sports bar or two and an overpriced sushi joint. But on the morning we left for Rome the nearest outlet to our departure gate featured truly crappy noodles and packaged food served up in rather grim surroundings. I've seen better eats at convenience stores.
The Zurich airport offers a completely different kind of experience. Architecturally it's pretty dull and functional, like most airports. But there were several swank and comfy-looking bars amid the stores selling watches and chocolate. (Hey, Swiss entrepreneurs - ever thought about making a chocolate watch? I'd buy one.) There was also a cafeteria with a salad bar, a bakery and a stand serving up fresh fruit and vegetable juice.
We didn't have much time between flights, just enough to grab a glass of wine and admire some of the artwork on display. In addition to the work by Inigo Manglano-Ovalle (shown above) there were some interesting Hannes Schmid photographs of street performers in Singapore. Overall, it was a relaxing interlude in a long journey, giving the weary traveler plenty to explore when the WT couldn't bear the thought of entering one more stinking (literally) duty-free shop.