If you can see the header above (I’m told some can and some cannot), you would be correct in your assumption that Japan is over and done for the year and we’re off to somewhere else. In this case, I’m headed back to Berlin (this a close-up of the top of the Brandenburg Gate, the statue known as a quadriga, a Greek chariot drawn by four horses.) The reason for this is a combination of many things. First, of course, is my deep love of that city and recent cosmic insights that it’s the site of a former life, or some such thing. Second is my Sisyphean quest to conquer the dative case in German grammar. And third and leading the charge on timing is that since the American political landscape currently resembles an abusive domestic relationship, I decided to administer some serious self-care and just get away for a while. (Don’t worry – my absentee ballot will follow me here as well.)
Recently most of my flights to Europe have been on either Turkish Airlines (which I thoroughly enjoy, even if the trip is many hours in duration) and WOW, the budget Icelandic airline that often gives you long lovely layovers in the Keflavik airport due to its bad on-time arrival record (you are deeded 10 Euros for munchies if the delay is more than three hours). This trip I found a good price on Swiss International Air Lines, the reconstituted heir of Swissair which dissolved in 2005. As you are aware, the Swiss are know for their tidiness, punctuality, and love of chocolate, and on none of those metrics was I disappointed. The flight departed and landed on time; the cabin was well-maintained, and we did indeed get as much (milk) chocolate as we wanted during the meal service.
But that also meant that I could add a new airport to my list, and in this case the lucky addition was Zurich. I only wish we had had more time to browse (maybe on the way back?) It’s a Rolls Royce of airports with merchandise and prices to match, but I thought you might enjoy a quick visit. First is a shot of the target airline onsite:
While the airport is pretty standard-looking from the outside, once on the concourse you can quickly see that there was some serious thought given as to how to make those transit experiences more pleasant. Here’s a shot of a cafe/bar for the world-weary:
One of the impressive things about European airports is the delightfully healthy offerings by some of the restaurant purveyors. (You may recall a shot from my visit to O’Hare in Chicago a cart selling hot dogs rolled in dough with the choice of “to bacon or not to bacon?”) Well, Zurich (and others) strikes back with what is for me a much more appealing set of options:
But not all is chic bar life and quinoa with lentils. Much of the airport is taken up by various forms of retail establishments maintaining their existence with the sole aim of separating you from your recently obtained Euros:
There were of course the ubiquitous Duty Free stores with their acres of liquor and cigarettes and miles of cosmetics and perfumes, but there were a number of unique Swiss offerings as well. First, of course, chocolate (seeing a theme here?)…
… and a number of local luxury items including climbing gear, fancy watches and over-priced writing instruments. I was, of course, charmed by the twin Montblancs…
…but perhaps what was most endearing was the Swiss cow kitsch that was frequently featured. You have, of course, the Swiss flag cow…
…and cow bells in various shapes and sizes:
…but the best were the cow slippers for the wee ones in your family. Maddie Paris, this one’s for you:
…but thankfully before I could get too much in trouble, it was time to walk nearly the length of Zurich to get to my departure gate and off to Tegel. Now this is one airport I’m looking forward to visiting again.