In O’Hare Airport? Bring entertainment…

I’m back from Chicago for a while now. On the last day (which was a Sunday (13th June)) I walked with some colleagues from our hotel to the Magnificent Mile where, underneath the John Hancock building, we had brunch at the Cheesecake Factory; food was good but the service was quite slow and consequently two of our number were tight for their flights. I walked back with them to the hotel, at a slowish pace for me, but probably rather two fast for them (on my own, I walk at quite a speed). Once I said my farewell’s to them at the hotel, I had some more time to kill on what was a sunny, windy day in downtown Chicago. Incidentally, there are rival theories behind the nick name “Windy City”.

I walked in the opposite direction from the hotel towards Sears Tower and, after taking a little time to find the entrance that was actually open for the sky deck, I found the queue to be 45 minutes. While I was mildly interested in going up, I felt this might be a bit tight if it got any longer as I was heading for my own flight, and anyway, I’d previously made it up the John Hancock Centre as I mentioned previously. So I wandered around the streets for a while, but rapidly found that everything on that side of the city was closed for Sunday, and I didn’t particularly feel any desire to walk back to the magnificent mile again. So I thought I’d head to the airport a little early, and get sorted out, and look around anything they had there.

Now, O’Hare, like Heathrow is one of the busiest airports in the world. Plenty of people complain about Heathrow, but I must confess, I kind of like it, you’re as likely to have transport problems in any airport in the world. Like my previously mentioned problems in Dublin, but at least in Dublin there were a few shops, and restaurants, and in Heathrow I can browse around for a long time without getting bored.

O’Hare is just plain dull. I got there in good time, checked in, declined the offer of 700 USD to upgrade to first class and saw an aisle leading to the security section, on either side there were around two shops / diners or whatever. I bought a few souvenirs in one of the shops while I watched the huge queue, and by the time I’d come out there was a much shorter queue. There seemed to be very little to do on that side, so I figured, that like many airports, it had more on the “air-side”. I waited to get through security, and on the other side located my gate. I saw a modest sort of news stand, it sold some magazines, duty free cigarettes, wine and some travel adapters, along with a small selection of drinks and snacks. There was an identical one on the other side of security. I walked all the way around the gates and back, and realised this was it… absolutely all there was. I would have bought a Coke, but they only sold Pepsi, so I opted for a Gatorade Fruit Punch which proudly declared on the label the lack of any past association with any fruit. Then I sat down and was just plain bored. I had been kind of hoping to buy a Samsung T10 mp3 player on my travels, I’d bought one for Karen for her birthday (yes, it works with Linux), but this was one of the few airports in the world I’ve been to, where they had nothing like that on sale.

So, shop somewhere else, and be prepared to be bored.

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