CoffeeBeer >> Double Shot Buzz >> Polly's
At the end of my September visit to California, the first of my three flights home was out of Long Beach Airport. Naturally I could have taken only two flights from Los Angeles back to Manchester, reducing my total travel time. But the fact that I always stay with family in Long Beach, combined with the fact that I've grown to hate LAX, makes an extra flight to Long Beach well worth it. I always arrive in my sleep-deprived state feeling like I'm being welcomed with open arms. I almost feel as if I should remove my shoes at the bottom of the plane's mobile staircase and skip barefoot across the tarmac, through the arrival gate, and on to the outdoor Baggage Claim areas.
Yes, the Long Beach Airport is unique. Established in 1923 it is Southern California's oldest municipally owned airport. Having started as an airfield with dirt runways, today it deals with three million passengers a year. In the pre-strict-security days I remember a visit to the airport was an art-deco step back into the past, with one terminal with four gates and a single bar and restaurant upstairs (see my review). Back in the Noughties, as the use and needs of the airport had well exceeded its facilities, a $45 million modernisation project was begun which created the impressively beautiful airport of today, with extended terminals and gates, spacious boarding lounges, and a wide variety of food and drink options in an open-air atrium accented by fan palms and agaves. After the new passenger concourse opened at the end of 2012, the redesigned terminal was honoured by the American Society of Landscape Architects.
I have to say that, having flown in and out of approximately 28 airports in my life, Long Beach is definitely my favourite. I love this place. I'm sure my friends, both American and British, probably get tired of me raving and rhapsodising about the Long Beach Airport.
It was 9:00 in the morning when I speedily checked in for my long international flight back to Manchester (via Salt Lake City and Amsterdam). Passing through the priority security queue (thanks to my Delta tickets) I ended up with an hour to kill. So I made my way to the South Concourse to see what light breakfast options I could find. When I spotted the Polly's Gourmet Coffee and Sweet Jill's Bakery counter a wave of nostalgia washed over me.
Way back in the 1970s and 1980s, when I lived near the ocean in East Long Beach, I used to buy my coffee from the original Polly's Coffee in Belmont Shore. It was an errand I always looked forward to because they've always roasted all their coffee on the premises, with that heavenly aroma wafting out the door and around the neighbourhood. And primed by the smell I would naturally be compelled to order a cappuccino while I was there.
At the airport Polly's I ordered a single macchiato and a croissant. Considering it was just a counter in an airport, I was surprised how perfectly made my drink was, with just the right amount of foam, and it tasted very nice indeed: not super robust, but not super smooth, either. I sat at one of the central counters equipped with electrical outlets and charged my mobile while I leisurely sipped my macchiato and nibbled on my croissant. When I finished and my phone was sufficiently charged I took a seat at my gate. That's when I noticed the row of Connect-Cycle-Charge bicycles over by the entrance. useable energy, so you can get some exercise before a long flight while charging your devices. It's a pretty cool idea, and so far there are only eight other airports around the world that offer these.
Anyway, this was a great morning airport coffee experience, as opposed to battling massive sweating crowds and grouchy staff at LAX only to end up waiting in a long queue for a coffee. How many times do I have to say I love Long Beach Airport? Everybody's so nice and I just want to kiss it.
Speaking of the utter impossibility of kissing an airport reminds me of our recent series of Facebook conversations where we let our smartphones' predictive text speak for us. Last month I featured the first conversation. Here is the most recent:Today’s predictive-text diary entry: