One of the things I love about big cities is the fact that most of them have subway systems. I live in Florida, where the water table is too high to allow for a subway system to be built. Anybody digging a hole in the ground for more then a few feet will end up with a small lake instead of a hole. So taking the subway to somewhere is not a part of my regular routine.
Riding on a subway system helps me feel more like a local then a tourist. Rubbing shoulders with other commuters heading off to work or school helps give some insight into different attitudes between cities. In Montreal, for example, commuters tended to stay very quiet. While in Boston, the trains were often filled with loud conversations about everything from how the Celtics are doing to plans for later in the day.
I admit that I’m a little navigationally challenged at times (my motto is “I’ll get there sooner or later . . . probably later”) and subways are wonderful for finding my way around a city. If I know what the nearest subway stop is to my destitnation, then getting there is easy. All I have to do is figure out which line serves that stop and I’m on my way. In many cases, the stops are named after major landmarks which makes navigation even easier.
I also like to keep the various cards and tickets that the systems use as souviers. My collection of cards is slowly growing and I’m looking forward to adding more as time goes on.
In short, subways are just a fun way to see a city. They’re fast, easy and saves me the hassle of dealing with a rental car. They let me see the city the way the locals do. And for me, that’s what traveling is all about.