Thursday, June 30, 2005



A surprisingly pretty airport in a major U.S. metropolis. Most excellent fountain.

It’s a commonplace to say that airports are the same all over the world, and broadly speaking they are, but there are fun differences that let you know you’re in another country.

Take Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. Do you find big flower seed-and-bulb shops in U.S. airports? You sure don’t, but they’re all over this one. Plus, all the people who work there are Dutch!


In Amsterdam Schiphol, they also have this great feature – public shaming sanctions for tardy travelers. We repeatedly heard this annoucement, from an authoritative female voice in heavily Dutch-accented English:
“Passengers Smith and Jones, for KLM flight 921 to London, you are delaying the flight. Please proceed immediately to the gate or we will afloat your luggage.”
How great is that -- the offenders’ luggage to be jettisoned into the North Sea! (I eventually figured out that “afloat” was Dutch-accented English for “off-load,” but still... way cool.)

Krakow airport’s food stand offers an assortment of dishes, and at prices, you wouldn’t find in any U.S. airport. Check out that cold herring salad plate – cost – about $1.


In Poland, the passport control officers carry sidearms, and the female officers’ uniforms entail skirts and pumps with two-inch heels. Talk about your action flick fantasy – chicks in heels with guns! (Sorry, but you can understand my reluctance to try to snap a picture.)

I did take a picture of the arrival and departure monitors, however. I love the word "odlot" for outbound flight.


I'm guessing that "Lot" in Polish means "fly" or "flight" (too lazy to dig out my Polish-English dictionary) -- hence their national airline, "Lot" -- and "od" means "out" or something.

I previously mentioned how, at Krakow International, we waited on a bus on the runway for about 5-10 minutes to take us to the plane. What I didn't mention was that they kindly allow you to keep an eye on your luggage while you wait.

Photo taken from runway bus, Krakow.


Your Polish was and remains impressive.
I think Polish airports uniformly suck. Their visual appeal is nonexistent. The English translations are flawed. People crowd them as if they'd never seen planes before. The amount of available duty free Vodka is mind-boggling and it isn't even all Polish vodka. I just don't get it.

I know they lack resources for major improvements. I know that some countries (Italy comes to mind) have equally awful airports and even in the US -- La Guardia, for example, is horribly ugly. Still, I always want to apologize to people coming in and out of Poland: international trains are unsafe and airports are something to leave asap, hopefully not in a mafia-operated cab which, as you've noted, will overcharge
Here's more interesting airport and airline food items.
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