Notes From Hairenik
December 26, 2007
This year I decided to fly to Boston for the holidays to see my family, especially my father who has nearly fully recovered in a miraculous recovery from complications related to cardiac arrest last winter. Although the period between New Year’s and Armenian Christmas is extremely festive with the open house celebrations reveled with hams, dolmas, wines, vodkas and so on waiting to be devoured on a 24-hour-per-day basis, I haven’t been home in 10 months, which is the longest time span that I’ve been away. As I have for the last four flights to the United States, I flew through Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. Flying though Amsterdam seems to be the most logical and economical way of traveling overseas to and from Armenia. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is perhaps one of the most efficient and accessible airports in the entire world, judging from my experiences anyway. From Armenia the plane actually parks at the terminal gate rather than in the middle of nowhere at Charles Degaule Airport in Paris or Heathrow in London, where you need to take a 20 minute bus ride to reach the entrance of the place. There’s plenty of room in the wide corridors to stretch your legs, and the shops as well as cafeterias are fantastic, so killing time roaming from one terminal to the next—which seamlessly merge into one other—is actually a pleasant experience. Although I had a five-hour layover I didn’t want to take the chance to visit downtown since the whole process of getting on the airplane is a general nuisance now with the interviews and tightened security. It took about two hours to go through the rigmarole before I found my seat located at the rear of the plane.

I don’t understand why Armavia Airlines, which operates the flight to Amsterdam from Yerevan, gets such a bad rap. For me at least the service has always been efficient and friendly, although I have only heard complaints with some people swearing they will never fly with the airline again. As a pleasant on-board greeting and farewell a stewardess offers honey-flavored hard candies to all the passengers at the beginning and end of the flight. The food is as average as nearly any other in-flight meal I have had, but there is one downside—being served “grechka,” which is essentially boiled cracked buckwheat. I hate the taste of the stuff, which reminds me much of course sawdust in appearance, and the consistency is nothing to be savored. It was absorbing a teaspoonful of a faintly tomato-based sauce accompanying boiled strips of beef cut thin. Thanks to the sublime seasonings of salt and pepper the beef was palpable but the grechka went unremorsefully untouched. Luckily enough I found an empty row of three seats at the back of the plane and was able to stretch out. The trip to Boston on Northwest Airlines was nothing to complain about, as always.

Unfortunately something foul was circulating in the atmosphere of that plane as I was nearly out of commission the entire Christmas day, spending more than half my time on the toilet or lying on a flat surface. My mother attributes it to the failure to clean the plane’s air filters on the airline’s part, something I cannot argue with.

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