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The world’s most fascinating airports

6 December 2018

While it's well known that here at Great Rail Journeys we are passionate about rail travel, it just so happens that we believe aviation is something to be celebrated, too! Often, when visiting far-flung destinations or simply due to lack of time, it is not possible to travel by rail, and in times like this there's no denying that by air is a wonderful way to travel. Air travel is a fantastic exemplification of the pioneering nature of humanity and is a testament to engineering, aerodynamics and human innovation. Safe and fast, aviation opens us up to a myriad of inspiring travel destinations that would otherwise be unreachable, allowing us to discover more of the world and immerse ourselves in new and exciting cultures.

This Friday, December 7th, is International Civil Aviation Day, an annual observation of the importance of international air travel. Civil Aviation Day has been recognised since December 7th 1994, the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Convention on International Civil Aviation - when the International Civil Aviation Organisation, the UN agency which regulates air travel, was established. The day serves as a reminder of the many fantastic benefits air travel has around the world, from economic benefits to the undeniable incredible social and cultural benefits that travel brings us all.

When travelling somewhere new, airports are often the very first sight to greet us - allowing us the first glimpse of our destination. And, while they're sometimes pretty unremarkable, there are some that are simply exceptional. From the weird to the wonderful, here's a run-down of 3 of our favourite airports from around the world, each compelling in their own unique ways.

Singapore Changi Airport

Described as "an airport worthy of being a destination in itself" and consistency voted one of the best airports in the world by travellers, a visit to Singapore Changi International Airport is a remarkable travel experience. The airport boasts a range of incredible amenities across its four terminals, including two movie theatres, a rooftop swimming pool, an impressive array of eateries and even a slide - the tallest in Singapore - located in terminal three. Perhaps most impressive of all though, is the Butterfly Garden. The first garden of its kind located within an airport, strolling through this colourful oasis bursting with lush plants, pretty flowers and around 1,000 tropical butterflies could not be further removed from your typical airport experience!

Princess Juliana International Airport, Saint Martin

Maho Beach on the Caribbean island of Saint Martin is a small, sun-drenched stretch of white sands, gently lapped by a sparkling, turquoise ocean and dotted with palm trees. It is also the location of one of the most fascinating airports in the world, and you don't need to be inside the terminal to appreciate its wonders. Princess Juliana International Airport is renowned for its close proximity to the paradisiacal beach, with low altitude aircrafts swooping wildly close to the beach-going tourists, many of whom spend their days here in order to watch these famous landings. This is something that almost must be seen to be believed, and luckily, there is an abundance of incredible pictures, videos, and even a live webcam of the spectacle online, so you don't need to make the trip to the Caribbean to see it. Considering thrill-seeking tourists are often literally swept off their feet by the immense force of the jet blasts, we're pretty pleased about that.

Denver Airport, USA

While on the surface, it may look like a pretty run-of-the-mill American airport, there are many who will insist that there is more to Denver Airport than meets the eye. Colossal in size, with the land area coming in at over 33,000 acres - the largest for an airport in the United States, the airport consists of a huge 1.5 million square foot terminal, an extensive underground tunnel system for baggage, the second tallest control tower in the country and the longest runway at 16,000 feet. But, it's not these impressive records that have people captivated; it's the fact that Denver Airport is at the centre of a number of fascinating conspiracy theories pertaining to the world's elite. From claims that the runways are set out in the shape of a swastika, to artistic symbols including wall murals that many insist contain references to the New World Order and the Illuminati, theories about the nature of Denver Airport have kept conspiracy theories pondering since it first opened in 1995. The airport seems to take the whole thing in its stride, with large posters placed on temporary walls during a recent renovation making a hilarious nod to the persistent rumours. One tongue in cheek poster offers passengers three answers to the question "what's happening behind this wall?". The options: A, gargoyle breeding ground; B, a top-secret freemason meeting; and C, an improved airport experience.

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