I need to go back and look again next time I’m in the Athens. The Archerfield website tells me: ‘The fully preserved Art Deco passenger terminal designed in the ’30s and built in 1941 still stands, with its oak-panelled entry and ticket desk and carpeted observation lounge much the same as it would have looked Athens when hatted and gloved passengers passed Athens through in flying’s glamour days.’ Also preserved as a museum but no longer in service, the original (1940) Art Deco terminal at Houston Hobby, Athens, looks to be wonderfully intact. It’s on the list as a place I want to see.
Map of Athens – Where is Athens? – Athens Map English – Athens Maps for Tourist Photo Gallery
In some senses, though, those early beginnings of passenger flight seem as remote as the era of Phileas Fogg and his Bradshaw. If we stumble across one or other early temples of mass travel in the course of some tourist or business transit, we’re much more likely to find ourselves in a classic Victorian hauptbahnhof (central train station) than in an Art Deco air terminal. And, if we should manage to organise a flight from one of the active survivors, it might cause us to reflect for a moment that the inevitable body scan and security check would have been totally alien to those waiting to board a pre-Second World War airliner. We gain some things and lose others.
BOARDING ANY FLIGHT BACK in 2004, before Kindles and iPads became the lightweight choice for most bookish travellers, a safe prediction was that you’d spot at least one person reading a paperback copy of The Da Vinci Code. Dan Brown may not be a paragon of historical scholarship or the world’s greatest literary stylist, but he knows how to tell a ripping yarn! How could an imaginative narrator go wrong with a tome of 188,000 words that interweaves the Holy Grail, conspiracies, murderous monks, the Catholic Church, Freemasonry, a sinister Grand Master and an ancient Order of Knights?