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Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Every good blog once in a while has a list. It doesn’t matter what about: favourite artists, fondly remembered zits, countries where you would like to live, places you wouldn’t visit even if the streets were paved with gold and park benches clad with fully undressed porn models, etc.

This blog of mine never had any lists, so the conclusion is that not every good blog once in a while has a list. Or what?

Anyway, to avoid discussion, I present you with my list, which I invented myself so it wasn’t send to me by someone else with the question of sending it to ten other people in order to flood the worlds servers with meaningless information. Just that you know. Incidentally, I’m not waiting for people to send me lists, nor will I send lists to other people. There’s enough pollution as it is.

So, my list:

Airports I’d rather crash land on after a long and agonizing dive in a burning plane fully loaded with fuel, than ever set another foot in:

  1. Kinshasa Pirates Refuge, a.k.a. Kinshasa International Airport (Dem. Rep. of Congo): a recent addition to my list, and straight to number one. You can’t talk about this airport in terms of annoyances or minor grieves. We’re talking raw survival here; I kill you before you kill me. Forget about your luggage, it’s already been stolen. Just get out and save your own life. Never mind about your wife and children, you killed them the moment you decided to come here.
  2. Miami International Airport (U.S.A): I was on my way to Central America a couple of years ago, when I had to spend several hours waiting there. It was exactly one year after 9/11, so the airport security personnel was as sweet as a Rotweiler from which you just stole his dinner after penetrating him in the arse with a spiked condom. Then we ended up in some remote building, with no windows and a malfunctioning air-conditioning turning the air into sour soup. There was a single shop where I bought a coke, with the idea to taste the Real Thing fresh from the country it originated in. But the clown behind the counter gave me a vanilla coke, which tasted light-years beyond disgusting. Finally we were whipped back into the Boeing, and I spent the next three weeks of my holiday with the awful thought that I had to return through the same airport.
  3. Madrid Barajas (Spain): First of all, the monitors with the departure information will show you every airplane that took off there since the earliest hours of the morning. However, you will fruitlessly look for any plane that is scheduled to take off in more than 30 minutes. Secondly, it takes you at least 45 minutes to go from one end of the airport to the other because you’ll have to take five busses and pass 20 check-points to get there. Why the departure of coming flights is kept such a secret is beyond me. Also, try to ask for information when you don’t speak Spanish in this international airport.
  4. Zurich Kloten (Switzerland): as a twist of faith, ‘kloten’ in Dutch means ‘bullocks’, and it is kloten if you have to spend a while on Zurich’s airport on a Sunday. It is grey. It is dark. It feels like the ceilings are slowly crushing you. There’s nothing to see. There’s nothing to do. Generally, it is rainy outside. If it isn’t, the depressing dark, grey interior of the airport is more than sufficient to give Jim Carrey a depression.
  5. Paris Charles De Gaulle (France): actually it’s not so much the airport itself; it’s the people that work there. They all have the ‘grand gueule’ of the real Parisian. Their attitude just sucks, they will treat you like the piece of filth you really are, and I don’t want to be reminded of that every time I’m going abroad. They will intentionally misinform you, knowing fully well that ten meters further there is a security guard that will shout at you because you don’t have the right colour baggage label or something. They will push you, prod you and look at you with their filthiest look.
  6. Frankfurt Airport (Germany): every time I arrive here, I spontaneously shoot ‘MOOOOH’! You immediately feel like a cow being driven from her meadow to the slaughter house. Frankfurt has these automatic glaze panels that move to form corridors to drive the passengers from one place to the other. Apart from that, it’s big and empty and not a nice place to wait for long.

Airports I’d gladly make a detour for:

  1. Vienna Airport (Austria): this is an airport you’d fly to, visit and return without even going outside to have a look at the country. I’m told that Vienna is a beautiful city. This airport is cosy, without being cramped. It has more the feel of a shopping mall than that of an airport. Not one of these large, bland, colourless shopping malls, but a nice, interesting one, where you like to wander around. There is a lot to see, a lot of cosy corners to eat or drink something and so on. You don’t mind waiting here.
  2. Brussels Zaventem (Belgium): yes, I know, I’m a chauvinist. But it is a rather nice airport, modern yet adapted to humans, with good facilities and lots of nice places to hang out. I especially like the architecture of the A docking pier, which looks like the inside of a Zeppelin airship.
  3. Budapest Ferihegy (Hungary): small but nice, everything within an easy distance, good facilities, friendly people, not too much check-points. Must visit the city one time.
  4. Nairobi Jomo Kenyatta International (Kenya): another recent addition. Given the fact that I had to wait twice here in two weeks and for no less than ten hours, this one really stands out for an African airport. It has clean, interesting, good facilities and incredibly friendly and helpful people, although the people are sometimes more helpful than useful. As a liftboy asked me after half an hour of negotiations to go to the restaurant on the third floor: ‘do you speak English?’ ‘I do’, I said, ‘but you don’t’. He just smiled and nodded.
  5. Bujumbura airport (Burundi): if you can’t remember how it was to step on a plane without being searched and man handled 500 times, try this airport. You’ve never gotten on a plane this relaxed, terrorists or no terrorists on board.
Posted by Bart at 7:32 PM
Categories: The intrepid explorer

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