Diary of an Ex-Expat, Part 3
Foreign travel, spring is in the air
So I'm writing to you from sunny Atlanta, Georgia. I'm in the United States for the weekend, at Furry Weekend Atlanta. So I'm going to keep this relatively brief, because I have other things to do.

Berlin is getting increasingly light, although the temperature is slightly cool, still — I'd say somewhere around 10 degrees is pushing it. By contrast, Atlanta has the advantage of being both sunny and warm — around 25 degrees when I first landed.

This is beautiful because it gives every hint of being like spring. I like furry conventions in general, but the added benefit of feeling like the year is finally getting off to a proper start. I'm still not certain what Berlin is going to be like in the summer — I suspect like Atlanta, hot and somewhat muggy, but of course we'll see, in good time.

The other thing to remark on is that air travel into the United States sucks, really hardcore. Landing in Atlanta is essentially America's way of saying: "you know what? We didn't really want you back, anyway."

The way it works is you land, and you walk half a mile through twisty little passages, all alike, and then you wind up in a massive queue to have your passport and customs declaration form checked. Then you actually get interviewed by someone who asks pressing questions like "what do you do," and "why are you here?"

I'm sure that there is plenty of "behavioural interviewing" bullshit available to justify this, and I'm sure that these are highly trained professionals whose advanced psychological training allows them to detect suspicious answers and not at all just minimum-wage civil servants trying the best to do their job. I don't care. It took me twenty minutes to work through a line of six people.

When you're done with this, you get to go wait at baggage claim. Then, you take your bag and put it on another carousel, and it disappears from your sight while you go and check yourself through security. This is exactly like the security to board an aeroplane, and it means, for example, that the bottle of water I bought in Paris was taken from me. So that I couldn't take it, you know, outside the airport.

Once you're through security, you take a train to another baggage claim and then, finally, you can be on your way.

Here is the thing, Americans: other people don't have to deal with this. The whole TSA bit about removing your belt and clothes and letting people probe you and all this rigamarole? The civilised world has already moved past that. Even when I have to clear customs, like at Schiphol or Heathrow, it takes a fraction of the time with a fraction of the irritation.

I've talked about Tegel airport in the past, and how it's possible to move from your aeroplane to your taxi in, literally, two or three minutes. I understand that Tegel is a deeply inefficient airport and it's not really possible to use it as a model; that's fair. But come on, already, get with the program ; ;
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