Travelling is wonderful in my opinion. I love the thought of getting to a new country so that I can explore the culture, cuisine and people-watch. I love travelling by train and doing road trips but I have to confess that for me there’s nothing quite like being in a busy, crowded airport and anticipating take-off.
Airports have come a long way since I started using them back in the 1970s and I have looked at them differently since I taught English to some of the staff at Frankfurt (Frapport) airport. I had to go there at least once a week by train and then go into the restricted area – huge- and teach general English to groups of people who did varying jobs. I recall one of them was in charge of runway maintenance and keeping the runways clear. The people I taught had been involved in the designing and building of the Eleutherios Venizelos airport in Athens, Greece and when I arrived there at the beginning of January 2002 after spending Christmas in the UK there was chaos as there were no snow ploughs to clear runways. I phoned my former students and laughingly complained that they had forgotten to sell the Greeks snow ploughs.
I digress. My favourite airport is Frapport, mainly because I could find my way around it very easily and because, having managed to navigate it almost every week for one reason or another (I frequently flew back to Britain at weekends), remembering its layout the airport at Athens is easy for me to negotiate too as it was built to the same design.
When I get to an airport and check in I sit impatiently waiting for the gate to open so that I can get on the plane. I sometimes distract myself by attempting a cryptic crossword puzzle (preferably Araucaria) or doing Sudoku puzzles. I do them on planes too, but on one Lufthansa flight a stewardess asked me if I was afraid of flying. I looked puzzled, until she told me that I looked worried. I guessed I had been frowning as I tend to do when I am concentrating on completing a crossword. Since then I have tried not to frown when on a plane.
Once, when flying from Athens to the States via Charles de Gaulle airport (my least favourite one as I never manage to catch a flight on time there) an over-zealous American asked me countless questions before I was allowed on the plane. I was travelling business class and was asked who had bought my ticket – I had, then where it had been purchased (Athens – Majestic Travel) and how much it had cost. He asked other questions too, until I and the people behind me started to get a trifle tetchy. His line manager came up and took my passport from him, looked at the photo and at me and apologized for the delay. At least the champagne was free on the flight! However I missed my connecting flight in the States and was none too please by the time I finally got to my destination airport to find that my suitcase had been lost in transit. It turned up the following day.
That’s the great thing about travelling – you never know what to expect, but you have to keep your sense of humour at all times I have learned!
What is your least favourite airport and why? I’d love to know!