"A four hour lay-over in Charlotte, you have got to be kidding me!" Those words and few other unmentionables spilled out of my mouth when I saw my flight itinerary for an academic conference in Albany. "What am I going to do in Charlotte for four hours?" Expecting the worst, I packed my suitcase full of books, magazines, and sudoku puzzles to ward off the drab monotony of the airport. When the plane touched down on the tranquil N.C. runway (peaceful, well compared to Miami), I resolved to make the best of it. To my surprise and delight, Charlotte-Douglas Airport practically sparkeled with life. White rocking chairs lined broad concourses and a plethora of food-court favorites from Nathan's and Sbarro's to TCBYs and Edy's enticed the weary and airline-starved travelers.
On a little unknown passage tucked between concourses D and E, I found the trifecta of travel heaven: A full-service salon, the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory outlet, and North Carolina wines. The four-hour layover now seemed like just enough time to savor some chocolate, taste-test some wine and have my nails done, before heading off to the conference.