This is not an absolute, but it's a good suggestion nevertheless. You will find out a lot more about a city using its public transportation, and you won't have to worry about parking spots or which roads to take to get to where you want to go. You will get a better idea of the layout of the city and feel like a true adventurer, as you grapple with various maps and schedules for bus, light rail, and so forth, possibly written in a delightful selection of languages that were never offered at your school. You will certainly also get more of a feel for the local color, as you'll generally be in close contact with a lot of working-class and middle-income residents of the city, some of whom will no doubt be very interested to know where you are from, how long you have been there, what you have seen, where you are staying, and if they can borrow money - possibly asked in a variety of accents and levels of intensity. You will get a glimpse of the street scene up close, as these people lean close to you and the scents of what they ate the previous day and their hygienic practices in general waft towards you, while at the same time they animatedly show you their intriguing collection of piercings, cutlery or personal firearms up close...

On second thought... taxis are pretty nice, too.

Just kidding. Really. I was in Redmond, Washington two months ago for training, and saw it only through the windows of the taxi and a car that a coworker drove, so virtually all we saw were the highways and the hotels. I went back this weekend to visit a friend and attend my first Star Trek convention, and ended up taking the bus back, and doing some walking. I got to see a lot more of the city than I ever expected to, because I went through residential neighborhoods, and as a result had a much higher opinion of it, afterwards. Besides, there's something comforting in finding similarities between you and the residents of a city.

another happily adopted nodeshell
this was FASCINATING. mcc and i went to visit masukomi this past weekend, in boston. and were both utterly blown away by public transportation that WORKS!. being from houston, there's NOTHING. everyone drives. it's the only way to get anywhere. the metro system absolutely sucks. it's utterly impractical. you HAVE to drive. (this is more than likely why we have such a damn high death-rate due to car wrecks. because there are so many cars.)

but boston has the SUBWAYS, the T. and you can WALK in boston. boston makes sense. i can't begin to express how foreign a concept this is--or how COOL.

the subway also fascinating in it was alive. the sights and sounds and SMELLS. there were musicians, magicians, vendors, peddlers, just this teeming of people just this collective of humanity. men in business suits stand next to college students with backpacks covered in ralph nader pins. everyone's there. there suddenly is no difference, no "class by cars". everyone is just there, going about their own business.

i think it's safe to say the both of us were as fascinated by functional transportation in a large city as we were by most of the things we saw in said city.

The Knights of the Tie™

If you want to see
  the urbane battleground
  the civilised fisticuffs
  the modern-day duel
don’t look to
  the wrestling ring
  the fencing match
  the Iraq, Afghanistan, Falklands, Somme and so on
(at least not first).

Look to the public transport of
  the city crusader
  the cosmopolitan gent
  the schoolchild, tramp, tourist, newbie and so on
(but mostly the suits).

For they know their place in the pecking-order public platform of transportation contraptions
it is
  their confidence
  their job
  their life (maybe)
they will defend it with all
  their strength
  their minds
  their hearts
what weapons has our Knight of the Tie™? Only
  their outrage
  their tensing up
their shifty sort of subtle squeezing into place by ‘scarcely’ seeing the intruder and softly stepping onto them until the sacrosanct space is saved
and (worse than all the above put together with Marmite)
  the angry stare!
and (what makes up for failure if the above factors fail to shift the offender)
  the commiseration of their fellow Knights of the Tie™!

So next time you pass
  a bus
  a train
  a tram, tube, DLR, coach and so on
take a look at the arena, watch
  the Knights take their places
  the interloper lope inter
  the fierce oppugnance for the place
and write down
  if he won
  if he lost
  if he kept he fellows’ respect
(the last is the most important).

And if you
  study hard
  eat your greens
  buy into the conventions of an often unfair and limiting capitalist society
one day
you can be one too.

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