Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Escape from YYZ


Most people are only ever in the airport on their way to somewhere else. On Saturday, the Toronto Psychogeography Society decided to make Lester B. Pearson our destination. For one thing, we wanted to check out the newly expanded Terminal 1 -- and the closed, scheduled-for-demolition Terminal 2. For another thing, we wanted to try walking away from the airport. Generally, one leaves the airport in a limo, bus, car or plane. Would it even be possible to leave on foot? We were going to find out.

We started out in Terminal 1. I haven't flown since early 2001, and I felt like a hick tourist from the 20th century, gawking at the newfangled computer check-in stands. We were mesmerized for awhile by a sculpture filled with water and plastic cubes stirred constantly by jets of air. Then we went looking for an exit. We went into a parking garage, down a very long stairwell, and... out the door. That was easy!

We found ourselves in a green space, underneath a tangle of overpasses. There were no sidewalks or footpaths, but nor were there any signs saying DON'T WALK HERE. So we walked, and soon came to the disused roads leading into Terminal 2. Acres of empty tarmac, cracking in the sun, with weeds growing up through the cracks; meticulously landscaped lawns and gardens starting to look overgrown.

Outside the abandoned terminal

We walked on into Erindale, in the heart of deepest Etobicoke. It was a glorious day, all the trees and tulips and daffodils were in bloom, and the dandelions were at their peak. The suburbs looked like suburbs are supposed to look: lush, quiet, with children playing in the streets.

Liz had a pedometer, which told us that by the time we got onto the bus that took us to Islington subway station, we'd walked over 12 km! It was epic. Lots more pictures on Flickr! Also, click here to see psychogeographer Charles's pics from the walk.


Blogger gary barwin said...

The use of public spaces for other than their intended use is fascinating. Or...interacting with them in nonconventional ways. Like walking. I used to walk around the airport a lot when my wife used to compute to university (she had a under 21 all you can fly in a month type pass which was cheaper than our phonecalls when we lived in different cities.) I used to sit in grass medians and play flute. Or play flute in the stairwells of the parking garage. It was an interesting kind of social intervention, though I was just killing time waiting for her. I wonder if you showed up at an airport wearing flippers and carrying an umbrella what would happen? How long would it take for them to ask you to leave? Are you even allowed to "loiter" at an airport if you don't have a flight. Could you make a day of an imaginary ""stopover".

Anyway, enjoyed the post -- and the last one of the Donkey Sanctuary which is a great favourite of my family's.

4:04 p.m., May 18, 2007  
Blogger Nadia said...

Thanks, Gary! I like the idea of playing a flute in those stairwells -- the acoustics must have been pleasingly spooky. Since the walk I've been talking up the idea of going back in the winter, when the weather's so crappy no-one really wants to walk outside, and just roaming the airport. It would be fun to ride the monorail between terminals.

11:46 a.m., May 19, 2007  
Blogger Jamie said...

12 km...I wonder what the group record for walk length is?

12:05 a.m., May 22, 2007  
Blogger JuliaMazal said...

so awesome. and i checked flickr - i secretly LOVE that floating-cube-sculpture-thing! glad i'm not the only one.

7:57 a.m., May 28, 2007  

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