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Nice Night

Katie and Leah got here tonight. They're staying in a hostel in Foggy Bottom right near GWU. I met them over there right when they got there and Leah was getting stuff out of the Element. I snuck up real quiet like and scared the shit out of her. Then we hugged for like two minutes and I helped her carry stuff inside. Then they unpacked and they took like an hour and a half to get ready. We drank a bottle of wine (I'm not a wine drinker yet :-/) and Leah kept telling me how good I look. Like literally eight times. Made me happy. :D She said I looked trimmer and I got a haircut and trimmed the beard and sideburns and got new glasses and now she can see my pretty Tyznik face.

So then we set out and got a cab to go to an Indonesian-Malaysian-Indian restaurant. It turned out to be really really good, and it's right near work, so I think I'll be going there again. Leah and I agreed that while her dish (weird sausage on lotus slices) wasn't good, mine was unbelievably good. Then we walked to Dupont Circle. It was a longer walk than I remembered, and Leah had bad shoes on for walking. But we finally made it all the way up to Kramerbooks & Afterwords Café (a really cool bookstore and good restaurant and bar that has live music and is open til 3 am during the week and 24 hours on the weekend) around 11:30, and Leah bought a book and we ate strawberry cream cake and drank coffee.

We sat and talked about various things for about an hour, and then everyone was really tired (they'd been up since 5 AM), so we decided to go home. They grabbed a cab, and I looked around the bookstore a bit more. Then I headed home.

The DC Metro is awesome. I love it so much. It is so radically different from the NYC Subway or the T in Boston. It's insanely deep underground at points (the longest escalator in the western hemisphere is for a metro station and one station is so deep the only way out is high-speed elevator), partially to make room for the ridiculously huge stations.

I think it's beautiful. A huge circle has been impressed into the ground, and you descend into it before entering an ovoid tube. You get to a hundred, a hundred fifty feet underground, enveloped by smooth concrete, and then the ceiling explodes and you're in this huge space. It's kind of hard to believe you're underground. It's just so expansive, and the coffered vault above almost seems to converge into infinity. There are no columns holding ceiling up, just vast amounts of space. The platform you enter on curves gracefully, supported by columns at points few and far between. The way it snakes from one to another is so beautiful.

It's the polar opposite of the NYC Subway. The Subway is huge. There are a million billion stations, linked by express and local lines assigned numbers, letters, and colors. You might need to transfer four times to get where you want to go. The entrances are stairwells barely wide enough for two people, generally hidden in the corners of buildings or placed smack in the middle of the sidewalk. The stations have eight-foot-high ceilings, are dark and dirty, strewn with litter and graffiti. They're claustrophobic spaces. There is a forest of columns, and the noise is ear-splitting.

The Metro is huge, too. But it only has 86 stations and five lines: red, blue, orange, green, and yellow. All trains are local. It is rare to have to transfer more than once. Entrances are escalators, and are often given their own plot of property with which to make a grand statement. Every station is either open air or enclosed by a barrel vault soaring sixty feet above your head. They're never claustrophobic. There is almost never any trash or graffiti anywhere, even down in the tracks. There are no columns, and the stations stay surprisingly quiet unless there's something wrong with the train.

I think it's fair to say I'm in love with the DC Metro. :D


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 21st, 2007 03:44 pm (UTC)
You'll be amused to know that our Metro here in DC is actually the second-busiest transit system in the country (in terms of daily ridership), behind the New York Subway.

There are a few things that I wish we'd do better here in DC, though. Our Metro signage was very legible back in the Ford administration, but with all the additional crowding on the trains, it's often hard to know what station you're at. Of course, for us locals, it's not a big deal--we know enough to count stops. But for the out-of-towners, it's not ideal.

But I'm glad to see you love the Metro.

PS--curiously, the restaurant: was it Malaysia Kopitiam or Penang?
May. 21st, 2007 04:00 pm (UTC)
I did already know that the Metro was second-busiest.

They're in the process of making the signage better (especially in the trains) but it's slow going. What I really wish would happen is automated audio, like they have for the "doors closing," but also for saying the station names.

We went to Malaysia Kopitiam. I got a noodle dish. ...something Siam. I can't remember the name. But it was really really good.
May. 21st, 2007 04:08 pm (UTC)
Automated audio would be nice, but it would also silence some of my favorite motormen. Most Metro motormen are *terrible*, but there are at least a handful that run their trains like radio shows, which I find both amusing and informative. There's the preternaturally cheerful woman on the Red Line, for instance. There's also a very chatty guy on the Orange Line...

What we should be shooting for is the full Buck Rogers effect: glowing electroluminescent station signs. That would be badass. Most of the recent signage improvements have been in the downtown core/transfer stations (Metro Center, Gallery Place, L'Enfant Plaza), so I'm hoping they bring more out to the outlying lines.

May. 28th, 2007 07:11 pm (UTC)
actually i live here and sometimes i get so into conversations that i get confused about what stop i am at though this rarely causes any trouble
but if i wasn't from here i think i would get lost every single time
i think some marquees in the cars would be nice because it is rather hard to know where you are unless you know what each station looks like or how long between stations already

ah the joys of having to be 10 minutes late because you passed your stop
May. 28th, 2007 07:31 pm (UTC)
The 5000-series cars have LED marquees. The older ones do not.
May. 28th, 2007 07:40 pm (UTC)
oh i have not noticed that!
actually wait i think the last time i went from college park to Rockville i noticed it! but i haven't been in too many of the newer cars until recently
May. 29th, 2007 01:56 am (UTC)
The problem is that unless the car is hooked up to a 5000-series locomotive, the marquees just show the line color. Also, the people who designed where the grab bars go in the car were stupid and didn't take into consideration the marquees, so often they're completely obstructed.
May. 29th, 2007 02:56 am (UTC)
This is true. Again, there's still a lot to be done in terms of better signage--but I'll still take my Metro over a lot of other cities' systems.
May. 29th, 2007 01:56 am (UTC)
Also, out of curiosity, how did you come upon this entry? Did you do a search on the metro?
(Deleted comment)
May. 29th, 2007 02:56 am (UTC)
Ummm that second link goes to a porn site; you might want to change that. :D

But it's cool to know that I was a DC noted blog. I wonder how they found my entry.
May. 29th, 2007 03:04 am (UTC)
you were carried on the DC Blogs Noted
> page of the day for May

Drat. My short career as a blog spammer is OVER.
May. 22nd, 2007 04:59 pm (UTC)
"The DC Metro is awesome. I love it so much."

Glad you do...if you ever move here and had to ride it every day you'd change your views instantly.

Love those aerial shots...nice to see the actual circle of Dupont Circle Metro!
May. 22nd, 2007 06:02 pm (UTC)
I do. I've been taking it to and from work every day for nearly two months.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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