European Travel – Day 1 – Bringing in the New Year

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Delta International had it down. When we flew through the time zone that made midnight, they passed out goblets of champaign which all us tired passengers quaffed like cups of Gaitoraid at a marathon feeding station.

I have to admit I was dreading the ensuing festival — especially if the aircraft was chock full of party animal Germans. Reality was different, and pleasantly so. Because I was flying on New Year’s Eve the gigantic jet was perhaps 20% full, and everyone seemed intent on just relaxing and getting to Munich healthy and rested. Even the babies slept. I stretched out on three seats, used all three pillows, and got in a good six hour snooze that’ll sync me up a day sooner than normal to the new time zone.

Besides flying when everyone else wants to be on the ground, I also saved money by enduring a ten hour layover at the huge Atlanta airport. What a cool place (I can’t believe I’m saying that about an airport, but I am). At least in the concourse where my gate was, I found an amazing array of above average food service, cleanleness — and even art.

Yep, the Atlanta Airport is like some sort of modern art museum. I first noticed the artwork when I saw a 150-foot long “poster” by artist John Salvest with bold lettering stating “Let each man pass his days in that endeavor wherein his gift is greatest – Propertius.” Upon closer examination, I discovered the monster poster was made 14,000 business cards, with the lettering created out of darker cards. This thing was really cool. If you’re ever there, E Concourse. You’ll wonder how in the world the guy got so many cards.

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Atlanta Airport art by Vicki Ragan.

Moving along on my art tour, another thing lept out at me. Up a ways from the Salvest installation you run across a collection of collage photos by artist Vicki Ragan I noticed an image of a guy rapelling (photo above), or at least being lowered by a rope over a globe that appeared to be the planet. Upon closer examination, I had the mystical experience of seeing my travel destination was part of the man’s anatomy. Due to how this is positioned, I see this as a very mixed message that I don’t understand — but isn’t that the point of modern art? Check it out below and you’ll see what I mean.

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Munich is obvious in the Ragan collage/photo, but where the hand is holding the rope, Kufstein is the larger town next to where I'm staying in Austria. I thought it downright weird that I'd find my destination on one of the art pieces I was randomly examining. But life is full of that sort of thing if you just look around.

The other weird art I found was a series of fascinating diorama displays featuring all manner of endangered species products intercepted by US Customs. Included were things like leopard skulls, piranha teeth, elephant tusks and other stuff that reminded me of an Indiana Jones movie set. What I found “weird” was while the illegal collectibles were ostensibly there to educate the public, they were as much that as a source of enjoyment and even amusement for the thousands of viewers they so readily attracted. For even though the objects were illegal and from rare animals, they were all still beautiful and compelling — thus showing their value and the very reason they were in people’s luggage in the first place.

So, there you have it. For the ultimate avant garde outing, use some miles for a cheap 2-way for the Atlanta airport. Fly in, do a 6 hour layover with lunch and an art tour, then fly back home. Or better, fly to Europe and show off your new found cultural acumen by mentioning your experience of John Salvest and Vicki Ragan.


5 Responses to “European Travel – Day 1 – Bringing in the New Year”

  1. Franz Klammer January 1st, 2009 5:19 pm

    Have fun in Austria. Bad Haering is a nice little town though there wasn’t much snow in the Inntal when I was passing through a few days ago. I’m looking forward to your pictures.

  2. Matt January 1st, 2009 6:22 pm

    Cosmic serendipity man! Yesterday, my wife and I were just talking about how we missed living in Germany and how we wanted to go back. The (tiny) town that we lived in is probably right at the center of the map in the “crotch shot”, between Muehldorf and Wasserburg. I think that means something. Any chance any of those folks you’re visiting would be interested in an American engineer with stong german language skillz?

    Enjoy the trip.
    Viel Spass

  3. Mark January 2nd, 2009 11:35 pm

    Atlanta’s airport is not bad. We spent our layover coming back from Europe at JFK in NYC–not so nice. Hope you’re having fun with the Dynafit crew.

  4. Mark January 2nd, 2009 11:40 pm

    Oh, the confiscated animal stuff in Atlanta I recall as quite intriguing as well. Imaging toting a stuffed hyena around. Guess such stuff keeps the customs guys entertained.

  5. Lou January 3rd, 2009 2:49 am

    That stuffed hyena is a amazing, especially when you’ve only had 3 hours sleep in the past 24 hours and started your trip with a 7 hour drive. Mind altering.

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