My favorite airport in the world is the Brussels Airport. In the shadowy distant past of my childhood, that airport was the gateway to many particular kinds of bliss”“the stark, brisk rush of cold air, so different from the heavy bright humidity of Abidjan and the fierce dry heat of Bamako. You climb out of the plane and the world outside is all concrete and stone, petrol fumes, elegance, and frites avec mayonnaise. You gather your luggage and your exhaustion and make pilgrimages to the place of the waffle, the chocolate shop, the moules frites, Grand-Place, and, the very reason for going there, the grandparents. Going to Belgium meant being with them, for a few days, or maybe a whole week.
The curious thing about Europe in general, and Brussels in particular, was how seriously they took airport security in those far off days.