The World’s Ten Best Airports

Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris
Charles de Gaulle airport. Image via Wikipedia

Pack, rush, stand, wait, take off shoes. Flying, so much fun.

Do you notice the airports you travel through? Here’s a recent list of the world’s top 10, which includes Paris Charles de Gaulle (which, built in 1974, looks like a cartoon idea of the future with all its tubes) and Rio’s domestic airport and Dulles, in D.C.

Here’s my top 10:

1) Santa Barbara, California. Tiny, red-tile-roofed. There are pool houses larger. Charming, cute, feels like vacation.

2) Mae Hong Son, Thailand. The only sound you hear is that of temple bells from the Buddhist temple across the street. The only airport I’ve ever flown into where you can walk right into town.

3) Vancouver. The architecture is spectacular — lots of glass, waterfalls, totem poles inside and out. One of the very few airports that actually makes specific reference to where you’ve just landed. The approach is also fantastic — the Rockies, the ocean, not to mention all the huge log booms on the water. I also love their use of YVR as its name — every Canadian airport code starts with Y. (YUL is Montreal, YYZ is Toronto. Go figure.)

4) Seattle. Think about it — when do you ever notice, in a good way, what’s at your feet? I’ve flown through this airport a few times and marveled at what lovely materials they chose for the flooring. Not to mention the inlaid bronze salmon inserted randomly. One of whom carries a briefcase.

5) Toronto Island Airport. You can wing into this one if you fly Porter Air from Newark. It’s set on a small island from which you take a ferry for about 1 minute, then a ten-minute taxi ride to downtown. The best way to see Toronto’s dramatic skyline.

6) Cuzco, Peru. OK. I admit it. I remember nothing of the airport but my immense, weeping gratitude that I saw it at all, after a hairy, scary descent on Faucett Air. (now defunct.) Think of a sewing machine needle threading up and down through cloth. That was us, trying to find a clear bit of air between many large mountains.

7) Shannon, Ireland. I love any airport that immediately gives me a strong sense of place. Landing in the west of Ireland, you look down over an impossibly beautiful patchwork of green, hundreds of small fields ringed by low stone walls.

8) Bastia, Corsica. Like Galway and Mae Hong Son, the landscape is at the edge of the airport. I remember seeing sheep within a few hundred yards of the runways.

9) Charles de Gaulle, Paris. Although many hate it, it is saturated with happy memories for me from my year living in Paris on a fellowship. From there, I flew out, or back, from Montserrat, England, Istanbul. I loved that CDG became “my” airport. Easy access to central Paris on the RER.

10) Westchester, New York. My home airport. It’s impossibly crowded but small and easy to get in and out of. I love that we walk across tarmac into the planes. You can sit in the restaurant and watch planes taking off and landing. I love being able to get to an airport in 20 minutes.

What are your favorites and why?

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Porn For 50-something Women, Nancy Meyers' Film 'It's Complicated'

A picture taken on January 16, 2009 shows US a...
Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

If you take the broadest view of porn, as that which stimulates desire, have I got a movie for you.

I know, films are meant to be fantasies, but this one — so deliciously lubricious in its parade of the pleasures older white women arguably crave — takes the cake. It even merited a New York Times Magazine cover story, written with a distinct wistfulness by its mid-life author, Daphne Merkin.

In it, the central character, Jane, played by Meryl Streep, lives in a house that’s about 3,000+ square feet, with a red-tiled roof, exquisite landscaping, a huge, immaculate jardin potager and a kitchen bigger than my living room. But (no recession here!), she wants an even bigger kitchen, the kitchen of her dreams. Oy.

She’s been divorced for a decade from her lawyer husband, Jake, who left her for a hard-bodied young’un (that part I believe) with whom he is now unhappy, (not quite clear why), who suddenly, ardently and insistently begins declaring he never lost his love for Jane (distinctly not clear why.)

It’s the ultimate revenge fantasy that the rejecting hubby comes crawling back. Gloss this with eyeball-rolling sex with him (good for her) and her memory of how to make his favorite meal (good for him) and the scene where they smoke a joint together; I guess this passes for deeply transgressive mid-life behavior somewhere since it won the movie an R rating.

Jane hires Adam, an architect, to design and create an addition (?!) to her gazillion-dollar home — the money coming from…?

Jane runs a bakery.

I wonder how many women: 1) snag and hang onto such a great house post-divorce, especially after their lawyer husband bails; 2) start and run a business so effectively they can afford such pricey real estate, let alone an addition; this film is set in Santa Barbara, home to such mega-celebs as Oprah herself; 3) raise three apparently solid kids, now 20, 22 and 27 alone yet 4) who still pronounce themselves shattered, a decade later, by their parents’ divorce.

It’s a pretty gauzy, Vaseline-on-the-lens vision of late middle age. Jane’s wardrobe is nothing but silk, linen and cashmere, the sort that’s always hard to find outside of pricey boutiques and fab gold jewelry; I admit it, I really want the necklace she wears in almost every scene and those yummy Pomellato amethyst earrings. No Target for her!

Now she’s fending off two guys at once, one of whom — sorry, I spluttered at this one — says “Your age is one of the things I find attractive about you.” If she’s so tough a businesswoman it wrecked her marriage, as Jake tells us it did, surely she might ask, “Really, why?” Instead, she melts with relief and gratitude that a guy with white hair and a fancy job is paying attention to her.

The sadder reality is that so many divorced women Jane’s age don’t run their own thriving business but instead are are scrapping out there in a crappy job market, also fighting age discrimination, can’t find a guy who isn’t looking at women 20 years their junior and usually plunge post-divorce into a much-reduced lifestyle (lawyer husbands tend to fight hard and well in this respect.) Many kids do actually find their feet young and quickly, as they must, when Dad splits for the much-younger woman, not pouting about it even after graduating college.

The movie has many terrific laugh-out-loud moments, but its central premise is as sweet and thin on sustenance as one of Jane’s chocolate croissants. She frets about never having sex, as though taking care of things herself wasn’t an option. And hasn’t she heard of or EHarmony?

Her girlfriends in the film, all in their 50s, it appears, would have come of age in the 1970s at the height of feminism. They’ve somehow gotten all the material goodies.

But empowerment?  Not so much.