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  • Writer's pictureTerri Tomoff

Airport Gift Shops and Surprises

It's late Spring, and Summer travel plans are fast approaching. Do you have your travel plans—either stateside or international all booked? Places are selling out fast: train rides/Airbnbs/hotels). I "assume" that with the pandemic being "over," people are itching to get out and about. I can't blame a soul who wants to see more of the world - even if it is the next town over.

One local place I've been trying to get to for the past 27 years is Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine in Baltimore, Maryland. It's the birthplace of our national anthem by Francis Scott Key. It is 30 minutes away from me, and I've been near it and around it, but I've never been into the compound. I'm hoping to get it this summer. There is a lot of history associated with the area from the Civil War to WW11 (and they sell the $80 Interagency Senior Pass for those 62 years of age and older, which is a lifetime pass available to U.S. citizens or permanent residents - I need one!).

Interestingly, the things I like about airplane travel are the gift shops. They are no longer the hub for businessmen buying gum, a book, or a magazine or picking up a T-shirt or two for their kids from, say, Lubbock, Texas, to take home as a souvenir for the trip. Nope. Some airports are bona fide good places to find and buy souvenirs that were not found around small and large (and famous) cities. I regret not buying a couple of books I was interested in at the Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa. I didn't want the extra weight in my backpack, plus I thought I could order them from Amazon or Borders Books once home. Nope, again. Those books written by those authors are nowhere to be found in North America. Lesson learned. I'll buy the books next time.

When traveling internationally, the rule of thumb is to arrive 2-3 hours before take-off. I think it's a bit excessive, but it is a chance to browse around the airport shops, people-watch, and take some good steps before loading. This is all after going through vigorous security measures, which in some places are a pure drag and sometimes annoying. To entertain myself (even with others), I continue to listen to the languages being spoken around me and look at the shoes on people's feet. The footwear is really something!

One of the most surprising things I've ever seen in an airport—specifically on the baggage conveyor belt—is bags full of onions and potatoes in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, placed on the belt by an individual. I was taken aback for a minute. It seemed so out of sorts, but they loaded it unceremoniously. I sure hope they were made into something delicious at their final destination if those vegetables even made it without rolling around the belly of the plane. Look at the first photo below, and you may feel the same way. Hmm.




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