Friday, June 05, 2009

Public Transportation: It's Not For Everyone

(Escalators for the new extension of the U2 line reminded me of something from Galaxy Quest)
When traveling to our classes, Maddie and I can take the "D" streetcar, which is very civilized and drives around the grand buildings on the Ringstrasse, or we can go below ground and ride the "U4" green line to Karlsplatz. The U-bahn is about 5 minutes faster, so guess which way we usually go? From Karlsplatz there is a web of underground passageways which avoid some of the worst intersections in a terrifically busy part of town. This has always been a little sketchy, but this year, the druggies and unsavory characters are out en masse.
The kids and I have made it into a joke; I quote them Obi-Wan: "Mos Eisley spaceport: You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious. " They are good about sticking close to me, though the boys came out of it and said "I didn't see anybody scary! Where were they?" which are fair questions if you were looking for Jabba the Hutt. Guess they didn't see the chick with the bright blue lips or the men breaking into a sweat as they nearly fell over . . .
No matter how bad it gets in the Karlsplatz tunnel, we always come up smiling. Just to our left at our exit is the Vienna Opera Toilet. It plays music, usually Strauss waltzes, and I defy you to keep a straight face when toilets are broadcasting the Blue Danube.
In other public transportation matters, I am pleased to report that there is an end to the phase of switching seats on busses and trains. Maddie and Will have gotten over it, and only Sebi treats them like extra large minivans with no seatbelts. On Sunday I told him he could stand up and hold onto the bar until he left his post. Then he had to come sit next to me. A very tipsy woman got on the bus at that point muttering "I need a seat! I need a seat! I have to have a seat!" walking all the way to the back even though there were plenty of seats. Sebi started to run around and I made him come sit next to me. I said "If you don't come sit here I'm going to have to sit next to that lady!" A little boy sitting with his grandma asked her about the lady and she told him "When you grow up, you try it. See if it works for you!" Then, after a stop or two, she came wobbling back up the aisle grousing "Why didn't you let me off! I missed my stop! Why didn't you let me off at my stop!" When she reached the driver at the front, he said "You can get off here." and let her off in the middle of a block to the amusement and relief of everyone else. Riding the bus is so much more exciting than driving; road rage feels comparatively detached. Why not meet and greet your neighbors?!
It is sometimes daunting to try and get the whole family out by myself. Rob and I discovered that there is a certain door on a certain streetcar that simply will not fit our stroller. Thankfully we were both there when we discovered it, one carrying from above and one from below. When I'm alone I have to manage the stroller and count the kids -- our motto and goal is No Child Left Behind!

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