“If we find poetry in the service station and motel, if we are drawn to the airport or train carriage, it is perhaps because, in spite of their architectural compromises and discomforts, in spite of their garish colours and harsh lighting, we implicitly feel that these isolated places offer us a material setting for an alternative to the selfish ease, the habits and confinement of the ordinary, rooted world.”
― Alain de Botton, The Art of Travel
Zurich Flughafen Airport is plain and functional, but with such an exotic sounding name, I figured this place had to be good. The crisp red and white tails of the SWISS fleet greeted us as we rounded the taxiway to the terminal. A single empty slot awaited our Delta Jet, all suggesting the orderliness one might expect here. And indeed, things worked mostly Swiss well for us as we got off the plane. We quickly learned to ask which was the correct “queue”, but the one we were directed to turned out to be the slowest; the gentleman at the head of the line was apparently using the customs agent as his own personal tour planner. I watched for annoyance on the face of the agent, but she continued to smile. There must have been a Bozo button under to counter because after a while, additional agents appeared and he was ushered off to the dreaded “side room”. I am glad to say that the Swiss trusted us: their customs form suggested the notion to “bring us your tired, your poor, your cash assets, your citrus fruits, and nuts, your foreign soils and seeds, because after all, those plant pathogens you have in America came from here in the first place.” Not actually having any citrus, soils or seeds, we followed the “Nothing to declare” corridor with no inspection whatsoever. Around a corner, we found our transfer driver (Wendell) holding a sign bearing our names – Our tour guide, Otmar, was nearby attending to the details of gathering up his weary flock and he came to introduce himself and give a quick briefing of what to expect.