Summer Airport Notes

“Is this for drugs?” the guy who exited the metal detector frame at Charles de Gaulle Airport asks loudly in an American accent as he points at the security area. Um. Perhaps not the best question to demand an answer to from staff, judging by their facial expressions. Or the best wording. I go on my way.

It’s been another weekend trip through Hamburg and Paris airports. As usual, observations on human nature and additions to my list of travel practicalities are abundant.

Summer travel has always been wrapped in a special mood for me, be it a short getaway or a proper vacation. People aren’t burdened by coats or hats, most often the sun is shining, it’s easier to get around and that wonderful feeling of more time for everything due to longer days fills you up to the brim.

Two teenage girls walk ahead of me in the departure hall. One is trying to strut in what I suspect are currently very uncomfortable heeled sandals she’s been wearing for a while, judging by the many plasters on her feet, and the other is resolutely looking straight ahead while attempting to quickly tug down the hemline of a clingy skirt that just about covers her butt. I think that I will continue to never be that girl and hope she won’t be cold if she trusts herself to sit down, because I don’t see any leggings, just unevenly shaved bare legs. Both girls are lucky I’m just another quiet woman and not some creepy older man approaching them with unasked for advice.

Sandals are great and heels are fine, everyone makes their own footwear decisions. I’m sticking to my discounted black sneakers that I’ve actually become advanced enough to wear with a dress, my jeans (because you can always roll them up if you get hot during a journey, but you can’t roll down shorts, WISDOM) and the ubiquitous scarf you carry around with you after spending a few weeks in Hamburg (air conditioning can be a moody thing).

I stop by my usual shop to get a snack and see two women stop in front of the chocolate bars on display. English-accented conversation commences. “Oh. My God. What is that?” – “That’s a white chocolate KitKat. I love them.” – “Really? Wow! What do you think we should get? I suppose it depends on what you like. Wait. Oh. My God. What’s that? Is that also white chocolate? Oh. My God. I love white chocolate.” And so on.

Meanwhile, for the rest of us standing in line for some pastry, the guy behind the counter is conducting what he thinks is a show. I’ve seen it before on other trips when it was his shift. “Next please, the pretty lady. Yes, the others are pretty too.” More lines like this one follow as he serves the woman ahead of me. When my turn arrives, I get a bit more than I bargained for. “You may gladly become my wife if you’re single. What, you want your order to go? What a shame. But here’s my number on the receipt, you can find me here.” Everyone in line is both a bit perplexed and laughing, myself included, though I leave without saying anything.

The man next to me on the plane dozes off and as often happens you can’t quite avoid not brushing your arm against someone else. We’re both wearing shirts with short sleeves, since it’s summer (see above). The only difference is that his arms are covered with coarse hairs that stand upright and unfortunately even the very brief contact with my skin makes the spot itch. Ew. But at least his head didn’t roll over on my shoulder when he fell asleep.

More importantly, when drinks were served on the plane, my favorite phrase, “Je voudrais un chocolat chaud, s’il vous plait” went down without a hitch.

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Surfing in Munich Airport

One can surf directly in Munich Airport during the summer.

Wait, really? Yes, really.

This year saw Munich Airport’s Surf & Style event take place for the fifth time, from the end of July and through August. The Forum of the Munich Airport CenterĀ  houses a large pool displaying a permanent non-breaking wave. This pool was also the venue for this year’s European championship in Stationary Wave riding. Surfing a standing wave is also a competitive sport – another thing learned.

The attraction has become so popular since it’s opening that enthusiasts had to register in advance. But admission was free, equipment was provided, instructors were on hand and beginners or even non-surfers could come in the afternoons, getting 45-minute slots each.

An example of interesting, albeit at first unexpected, use of urban space, in particular a large international transportation hub. But it seems to be working and these surfers definitely felt at home in Munich Airport’s beach bubble.

 

Thoughts in a Large Airport

  1. This place is so HUGE and I’m just one small person in the shuffle of life.
  2. If you are just looking for one seat to rest your weary bones and don’t want to be bothered by neighbors, but there are no seats with other empty seats on both sides of the…seats, search for seats next to people with headphones on. Hopefully they have the same goal as you do.
  3. Despite encouraging advertisements to the contrary, why is there seemingly no WiFi?
  4. Walking back and forth between gates is not pathetic. It’s exercise! You might also notice something you did not notice before or decide you do want that muffin.
  5. Buy that magazine.
  6. Why is there no WiFi? This should be verboten.
  7. Boys can spend incalculable amounts of time watching planes land and take off. They don’t care about the WiFi.
  8. Maybe I should look up from my phone and watch those planes, or notice just how much light there is in this airport, or that it is clearly an example of a lot of architectural thought. Heck, who needs WiFi.
  9. Will I end up like Tom Hanks in The Terminal?
  10. I can see the pilot in the cockpit from here. I wonder if he’ll wave back to me?

Bon voyage.