Subway systems all over the world have their good points and bad. Coming from NYC, we complain about the MTA constantly, because it’s shit and costs too much and it’s dirty and they break down and the rats and some stations smell like piss. Edinburgh, Scotland was our first experience, it was mostly above ground and it was fine. You needed to keep your tickets to exit at the other end and we got caught out a few times but we worked it out eventually.Our hotel was 2 stops away from the centre of the action and we worked out pretty quickly that the train was better than the cabs. When we arrived in London we wanted to experience the Tube, but our first attempt was a total fail. The worker who tried to help us actually suggested a cab! Once we did get in there the next day, we were very surprised, it was almost pristine! The stations are clean and bright and they have glass doors that the train lines up with so crazies can’t push you on to the tracks into the path of an oncoming train. Besides the fact that most of Europe and the UK now have these chips on their credit cards which US banks don’t use yet and we couldn’t use any of our cards in the automatic ticket machines, we found it easy to use albeit really expensive AND it stops at midnight! So be sure that date doesn’t run over time or you’ll be footing it home. Pack sensible shoes in that cute purse of yours.
Once we got to Paris we discovered an even nicer system, it was all in French, naturally but we managed to work out where we wanted to go. We still had the credit card issue but we just went to the human in the booth and used our cards. Except for the one time there was no human, and the machine was broken, so we did what all good tourists do, we jumped the turnstiles, not such a big deal, they were easy enough to get over.
The train came and we got on it, for 3 stops, then we hopped off and this is where our problems really began. France has really good exit gates, and everywhere you go you must use your ticket to get out… ba-bow no ticket, no get out! We tried for a bit and couldn’t find a machine inside or a way out. So we did what all good tourists do when they’re stuck, we climbed out. The King went first.. he’s an excellent criminal, followed by Miss Gremlin who shimmied under the gates, I was hesitant, being so opposed to rule breaking that I didn’t want to but I did it very ungracefully. That left Grand Master D and he was having all manner of trouble. He couldn’t decide which way to do it, under like Miss Gremlin or over like Dad and he was worried, he couldn’t seem to get it together. It was at this time The King noticed the booth and the man in it watching us. Grand Master D finally got over and we were milling around deciding what to do, buy tickets? just leave? At that moment another french man approaches up and says “I think I can help you?” I was a question but a statement as well. Perhaps his English wan’t up to par, and so we explained we couldn’t buy tickets at the other end and thought we would buy tickets here. He says, “where are you trying to go? “To which we all answered ‘here!’ And as quick as a shot, with a huge smile on his face he replied.. ” And so you go” and waved us out. And 4 little tourists scurried out the door.
We are terrible criminals, too honest but we laughed all the way out the door and marvelled at our climbing skills, except Grand Master D, who clearly has some work to do!
After all our experiences, we’ve come to decide, while the New York subway is shitty and dirty … it sure is cheap and easy to get in and out of. There’s no deciding which stop to buy for, just get a card, swipe your $2.50 and as long as you don’t leave the underground you can ride anywhere all day. Just be sure to stay back against the wall, in case a crazy is in a pushing mood.