In these days of heightened security and the long lines that come with it, it's hard to get excited about an airport. One exception is Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, which has consistently remained ahead of the pack not only in user-friendliness, but also -- dare I say it? -- for just plain fun.
The first time I took my then 10-year-old through the airport some years ago, he was goggle-eyed at the bright colors, giant sculptures and inviting play spaces that dotted the terminal, while I appreciated the easy-to-use luggage lockers and the frequent, fast trains into Amsterdam.
Fast-forward 10 years, and the airport has continued to add facilities and services designed to take the sting out of the airport experience.
During my most recent Schiphol layover in June, I amused myself by wandering along the newly expanded Holland Boulevard, where you can lounge in giant Blue Delft teacups; watch TV or play games with children in the KidsForest lounge; or put the baby down for a nap in the Baby Care Lounges, complete with real cribs in cubicles and seating areas for Mom and Dad. There also are quasi-living rooms on the boulevard, featuring couches, fireplaces and TVs.
The Dutch Kitchen offers local specialties like poffertjes -- or "puffy cheeks," as my son calls them -- while art lovers can get their fix at the airport branch of the Rijksmuseum or at the mobile Exhibition of Traveling Art, featuring the work of Dutch artists and designers.
This season, Schiphol rolled out its latest innovation: the Airport Library. In addition to books in 29 languages, you can while away the time by downloading music and films for free. The Airport Library is located after passport control between Piers E and F.
Of course, no airport beats the comforts of home, but travelers stuck with long layovers or missed connections could do a lot worse.
For details on the airport, visit www.schiphol.com.