Airport bars and restaurants almost always carry the theme of the city in which the airport is located. LAX (Los Angeles) has a nice little bar with a black and white movie theme, where you can sit beneath photos of Marilyn Monroe and Humphrey Bogart. Tampa has the Jose Cuervo Tequileria that serves Dos Equis on tap and some really good soft tacos, and Vienna’s Schwechat airport has Cafe Wien, a great place for that last really good cup of coffee before you leave. I’ve flown first class a couple of times and was granted access into the VIP lounge, but while the special treatment was nice, I missed the colorful parade of folks going by.
Layovers don’t usually bother me, as long as there’s one of these cafes or bars to sit in. I like people-watching and I doubt there’s a better place for it than in an airport. Every person has a story, someplace that they’re going, someplace that they’ve been. Family reunions, business meetings, vacations, funerals, honeymoons, you name it; every human possibility is alive in every commercial airport in the world.
Airports also create a kind of sensory overload, and there’s something I like in the way the wheels of my carry-on sound on different airport floors. Marble and granite floors create a smooth, cool sound while tile floors create a click-clack sound, and the moving sidewalks make an interesting whirl-whir sound.
If you take the time to talk to the person sitting next to you (considering that they’re not stinky or scary, that is), you can find out about places you’ve never been. Unfortunately, more and more people are walking around with iPods and handless cell phones strapped to their heads, missing opportunities to relate with fellow humans and looking like so many Borg.
One of the people I had the pleasure of meeting and working with over the weekend told me that she thought of airports as “Love Places” because they’re so full of emotions, usually happy. I liked that. So next time you have some time to kill at the airport, close your laptop, turn off your cell phone, take the Ipod out of your ears, order a beer and look around you. There’s a lot to see.