Schiphol airport in Amsterdam used to be my favorite large city international airport. It offered a quiet lounge furnished with couches, a children playing area with soft pads and cushions, a room for praying, which was an oasis of tranquility, and even a small art gallery featuring selections from Rijksmuseum. I always thought: Oh, the Dutch, they know something about quality of life! Well, I was wrong: they were simply behind everybody else in dragging the travelers into the chamber of horrors of consumerism, which is what the major airports have become.
On my recent visit to Schiphol, I found myself waiting for the gate departure in a huge noisy shopping mall under extremely bright florescent lights, assaulted by advertising from every possible direction. Gone are the quiet areas and soft seats, gone are the café-like corners, replaced with a large fast-food cafeteria. The closest thing to tranquility is the computer working area, with its hard, sit-up-straight chairs.
Some marketing geniuses have concluded that if this captive population with two hours to spare and the vacation-spending mindset is aggressively stimulated and kept restlessly moving, they shop more. Well, this is to you, marketing geniuses: it does not work for me, and hopefully not for many others. I refuse to buy anything at the New Schiphol. I just need to figure out some new quiet and soft corner to hide.