Friday, September 10, 2010

Airport Madness

Last year, The Rock inaugurated a state-of-the-art airport in Larnaca. The old airport--an antiquated, plain structure that forced passengers to board shuttle buses to transport them to the main terminal and had a rather limited selection of shops and restaurants--had been hastily built in 1974 following the Turkish invasion of the island, a tragic event that besides bringing grief and anger to an entire nation rendered the Nicosia International Airport useless. The new airport is fully equipped with sixteen jetways, a veritable cornucopia of high-end products and brands for sale, efficient baggage conveyor belts and immigration officials, dozens of check-in counters, and food and beverage galore for both kids and adults. Imagine that during a recent trip, The Wife, Ph.D., was quite close to having a micro-orgasm when she stumbled upon The Rock's first Kiehl's store firmly entrenched in the airport's cosmetics section.

I must admit that part of me longs for that tired walk down the passenger boarding stairs in Larnaca. Feel my face strike that thick wall of humidity and salty air and the sun hit my pores as soon as I turn the corner past the smiling flight attendants and then see all the shades of blues and greens spread out in opposite directions before me. That short traipse, wherever it may be, always takes me back to my childhood, days when Quito's airport was just as rudimentary and I would arrive on holidays to be met by a massive volcano and graying parted clouds above, decrepit homes perched on the hillsides and the distinct scent of rain on the ground, and I would set my foot on the tarmac, sometimes wishing I could just kneel down and kiss its ruggedness in a show of gratitude, and walk maybe one hundred meters into the main terminal to officially mark my return home. But I digress.

If there is one area in which the new airport is just as retrograde as the old is in its wine selection. Besides the usual duty-free offerings, the new airport has a shop called Kypriaka, a tourist's one-stop shop for all-things Cypriot. Here one can purchase halloumi (undoubtedly The Rock's greatest contribution to mankind apart from The Wife, Ph.D.), smoked hams and sausages, caramelized nuts, traditional sweets, olive products, liqueurs, textiles, t-shirts, pottery and other Cyprus-themed knickknacks. However, one does not come across what are considered to be The Rock's best wines; on my last trip out of this hellhole, I studied the shop's shelves only to find on display the mostly average wines produced by three major companies (Olympus or ETKO, SODAP and KEO) and Fikardos, a largish, rather unfocused winery located in Pafos. Don't get me wrong, though, a select few of the wines concocted by these four wineries are rather tasty and popular among tourists and locals alike. But why would a shop that (in a narrow sense) is the world's window into Cyprus not sell or at least introduce its customers to The Rock's best wines? Why not also stock the shelves with samples by Domaine Vlassides, Zambartas, Kyperounda, Domaine Argyrides, Tsiakkas and Domaine Hadjiantonas (although the latter's wine pricing policy is slightly off the mark)? Or lay a few bottles of Ayia Mavri's award-winning Mosxatos alongside all the Commandaria?

The Wife, Ph.D., theorizes that,  in addition to being relatively inexpensive, these wines (Othello, Alkion, Arsinoe, Ktima Keo, Thisbe, etc.) are on offer because they are the ones most tourists order and enjoy at taverns and restaurants. At the same time, I doubt many of The Rock's "boutique" wineries can reliably supply their wines to a shop with a fairly steady clientele (i.e. bored/nervous passengers with extra Euros to spare and/or last-minute shoppers) and what I assume is a rather high turnover rate for its products. Kypriaka does however sell Yiannos Constantinou's indispensable The Cyprus Wine Guide so there's always the hope that curious visitors will at least skim through a copy while waiting for their flight to board and realize that there's a whole world of Cypriot wines left to explore...

No comments:

Post a Comment