Friday, May 27, 2016

The Metro...and Transit Tips

Forget driving in downtown D.C. Leave that for the locals, the buses, and the Ubers. If you are able to walk, get to a metro station. They are fast and don't get caught in the traffic tangles. Better yet, invest in a good map before you go or check it out online, so you can choose  lodgings within walking distance of the train station. I know it's a little confusing at first for those of us from the mid-western plains, but after a couple of days, you will be swiping your card without hesitation, and figuring out that the first few cars are usually the least crowded, so you should walk forward instead of waiting with the clump of commuters at the middle.
There is some underground riding and walking to do, but most of the line is above ground and well thought out. This station had a lot of vegetation and we were even able to watch as two groundhogs went about their day, ignoring us completely.

So North, South, East, and West are harder to understand, and that's one thing that tourists have to puzzle over, but since this station was the end of the line, it was no biggie. We just had to step on the train and it took us downtown.  Every car had a large map, and the station names were clear.
Of course everyone knew we were tourists. Who else would snap pictures on the metro, or stand and hang onto a pole when there were seats available?
And one had to be fast. Stops are brief and unforgiving. If you miss the train, you have to wait for the next. However, they are usually well-spaced, especially during rush hours. Signs in the stations count down the minutes and there are covered places to wait should it be raining.

So unless you love to engage city traffic and drive around forever looking for a parking spot, don't drive in DC. If the trains look daunting, take a tour bus, because parking is impossible in the center of town. (It costs fifteen dollars a day to park at the train station parking lots and garages, but that's still better than buying a tank of gas a day so you can drive around all day and wish you were enjoying the sights) If you are close enough to walk to the station, you can save even that fee. I don't know if that's possible....since we stayed in Maryland and had to drive about an hour every day just to get to the stations...but if I go again, I'll set that as a priority. After all, walking is a stress-reliever, and that brings us to the next topic: Walking Shoes

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