Friday, September 25, 2009

It’s ExtraORDinary

I have a confession. A dirty little secret. Nothing that threatens life, my marriage, or the free world. But something that no other traveler in the US is likely to admit:Iheartohare

Yup, O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. I have had my share of really bad days there – 9 hours trying to find a good chair, and several hours of delays with my entire family during a layover on that first day they banned carry-on liquids. It’s a really busy airport, with way too many people running around without apparent direction. Folks are often surly or rude as well. And yet, I still find stuff to love.

ohare-international-airportI first appreciated the architecture of the B and C concourses in the original Home Alone movie. Ceilings seem to soar and become part of the air above, even when the fog rolls in off of Lake Michigan. The halls look wide and expansive, without the tunnel effect of many older terminals. If you ignore the jostling around you, the concourses are truly beautiful.

On this last trip, I crossed from B to C concourse. These terminals are parallel, unconnected halls of gates. Between them is a giant jet parking lot, under which runs a tunnel. A tunnel can beOHare tunnel utilitaritarian or it can be this:

The photo really can’t do this crossing justice. Moving walkways are centered between walls of lit glass bricks. Overhead are wavy neon tubes in the full spectrum of colors, presenting an amazing light show. While you run or stroll through the corridor, a new-age version of Rhapsody in Blue accompanies your journey, a version that sounds as if fairies are tapping it out on tiny chimes. Very Disney-esque.

There are some issues with the airport. The older terminals could use some more updating, and better shops would help during long delays. Overall, it is an amazing building.

And good thing, because I spend many hours there every year.

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