St. Petersburg Metro Stations & the Budgetarian In Me

Visiting and journeying to an out-of-country place entails a lot of readings and research.  I would usually explore the internet on how to go the cheapest and most convenient way so as to reach my hotel from the airport – should I go by train, by taxi, by bus or by other modes of transportation. 

Because I turn “budgetarian” when I travel abroad, it is a must that I have to know the Philippine peso conversion rate to that of the currency of the country I am to visit.  It is also essential to know the weather so that I can plan what appropriate clothes to bring.

I don’t join expensive, tiring and time consuming tour groups unless it is for free.  I would simply research on various tour packages and do it myself.  My point of reference during my DIY expedition of tourist spots are the hordes of Chinese tourists.  As soon as I see them, I know that I am in the right place. 

I do my own touring and not join tour groups because aside from its being cheap, I can control the time being spent on these tourist spots. I can leisurely stay as long as I want or simply pass by if such a sightseeing spot is plain and mediocre.

One classic case of venturing into a DIY-tour as based and followed from an online tour package was my touring the interesting metro stations in St. Petersburg, Russia. Available in the internet are tour packages wherein you got to be see and experience various beautiful underground metro stations within St. Petersburg dubbed as masterpieces of underground architecture.  This 90-minute duration tour package is worth 33 US dollars per participant.

Pushkinskaya station

 I spent only 45 rubles or 75 US cents when I did it by myself!  45 Rubles is the entrance fee to get inside the metro train system! Hahaha! Here are some of the photos I took when I did my own touring of the most beautiful metro stations in the world!

Ploshchad Vosstaniya station

Kirovsky Zavod station

Avtovo station

Here’s a video slideshow to further entice you to go on a DIY journey!

Unique Looking Washington D.C. Metro Station

I have written in the past that one benchmark for me to consider visiting and exploring a place or spot on the planet is the availability and complexity of its metro or subway system.  The subway or metro train has always been my preferred mode of transportation when discovering a metropolis.  It is quick, cheap and convenient. 

Also, for me, an urban zone’s train transit system is a suggestive representation of that place’s culture, social conduct, and communal conventions.  Riding the subway train is like being one with the locals.

When I was in Washington D.C., its metro train system was my most used mode of transportation known as the Metrorail. And what is so distinct and captivating about the Metrorail is its exceptional look, motif and pattern.  Its design is like a weird fusion of retro and space-age at the same time.  Being at the station creates the feeling of being in a futuristic movie set in which such movie was created sometime in the 60’s.

It is weird but I also often felt like being inside a thermos bottle!  And it also felt like some strange alien is about to pop out at the end of the stunning tunnel.

Even the lighting of the stations were something unique.  It’s not bright like the usual and distinctly dim which adds up to a whole lot of character as compared to other typical subway stations of other urban zones!  Being at such an uncommon looking-station adds up to the unique Washington D.C. experience.  The Metrorail stations are also photo-friendly.  It’s actually Instagramable!

And through my readings, I have learned that Washington D.C.’s metro stations were voted and included in the list of America’s Favorite Architecture.  After reading such, I seem to not be so surprised by this recognition.  Metrorail is hip, cool and totally dumbfounding.

Sakay Na!

The Oculus in Lower Manhattan

When I was in NY four years ago, there was one structure at the Lower Manhattan that was still being built.  It was a bummer of a sight then because it was construction noisy, construction dusty and construction ugly.

But now that I am back in NYC, I have nothing but special words for the new architectural landmark in Lower Manhattan on the very site that I am taking about.  It is called the Oculus and it is such a cool place to visit!  It is completely unique and is definitely different from the other buildings around the area.

Its beauty though comes with such a hefty price because according to google, it costs 3.9 billion US dollars to make!  That is just a massive amount of money!

Oculus, aside from being shopping center is also a transportation hub.  It is I suppose now the main train station in Lower Manhattan.  I know that Grand Central station is really classic, beautiful and un-comparable but I really really like this station.

The distinctive design of the building obviously seem to imply a bird’s wings that is ready to take off! The Oculus I guess is a symbolism of being like a Phoenix that has risen from the death and destruction in that area.

this blog post will not be complete without my proof of being there. striking a pose!

It is an awe-inspiring representation of giving hope and confidence to the whole New York that it is time to take off again after the sad events of 9/11 whose actual site of the tragedy is actually a few steps away.   But what I really love about this building is how it looks from the inside!  It’s matchless!

The Oculus is definitely one gorgeous structure!

Ganda! Grabeh!

Making Use of My Train Trainings at New York Trains

I can’t believe that I am now in New York.  All the tiring 20 hours of travelling by air I guess is all worth it.  My first day in New York was basically an orientation with my super friend Jhong on how to use the complicated subway.

smile... no worries...

smile… no worries…

But with my practical background of experience, I can proudly say that going around New York by myself via intricate subway would be an easy stroll in a park.  I attribute this easy learnings from two tenets.

First is my exposure to the equally complicated subways of Tokyo and Osaka.  I think navigating Japan trains is more challenging because the names of the stations are written in Japanese kanji, and if written in the English alphabet the names of these Japanese stations are really very hard to remember.  Japanese train station names looks and sounds like they are from another planet.

I was so channeling my Japanese-subway learnings  that it became so apparent because a couple times Japanese tourists thought I was Japanese and asked me in Nipponggo on how to go to certain points of New York.

Second, I am all but well trained and exposed to the Metro Manila congestion.  I am proud to say that I am ready to face the New York crowdedness because of my exposure to the Manila congested trains.  Nothing beats the crammed people-congested trains of Manila.  It’s hot, humid, jam-packed,smelly, hazardous and least to say, inefficient.



That is why on my second day in the State of New York, no thanks to the allergy attacks of my super friend (I guess this is due to stress upon realizing that I would be staying in his apartment for 2 weeks, hahaha!) I went on my own and easily navigated the New York subway from Woodside in Queens to the glorious Time Square in Manhattan and back.  It was supposed to be very easy but things got challenging when there were a couple of stations that were unpassable and were under maintenance, thus, the need to change lines and platforms.  But all went well, thanks to my Japanese and Manila train trainings.

Next adventure tomorrow would be the World Trade Center Memorial and the bucolic-like Chelsea Market…

Isi isi… madali lang pala…

My Delusions for LRT 1 Extension

In the news last week, it was announced that 4 final bidders for the Php 60-billion Light Rail Transit (LRT 1) Cavite extension project are among the biggest business groups in Asia.  While I was reading the news it was funny for I was wondering what the extended LRT 1 line would be like in the future being based and predicated upon by who among the bidders would be chosen.

One of the final bidders is the tandem of Metro Pacific investments and Ayala Group, owners of Smart and Globe telecommunications respectively.  Would this mean that in case this rare tandem wins the bid there would be free wi-fi inside the train? And since these business empires own ABC 5 tv station and chic malls respectively, would there be days when showbiz personalities be assigned as kaheros and kaheras (cashiers) while the riding public can shop for trendy garments and dine elegantly inside the train?

What about the other builder, that is, SMC Infra Resources, the owner of San Miguel?  Would this mean there would be free bottle of San Mig Light beer or a complimentary grilled Purefoods hotdog on stick for the riding public if they buy stored-value tickets?

Another bidder is the tandem between Malaysia’s MTDC and South Korea’s Samsung.  Would this mean, there will be a promo in which the biggest LRT spender/rider will have the chance to win a free trip to Malaysia and Korea?  And what about not allowing IPhone users to ride the LRT 1 extension since it will be constructed by Samsung?  Would a Samsung cellphone’s Contactless Payment feature through its NFC (near field communication) chip be utilized in paying for your train ride? Imagine, having your Samsung phone simply touching an NFC payment reader and you are allowed access and entry inside the train?

Lastly, there’s the DMCI Holdings, one of the most reliable residential construction company of this country.  Would there be a promo for the train-riding public of having a chance to win elegant fully-furnished houses in one of the lush residences of Metro Manila whom they developed?

I know that these are too farfetched.  And I know that I am nuts.

By the way, my first train ride was the old LRT 1 line that stretched from Baclaran to Monumento during the early 80’s.  Nengkoy (my mother) tagged me along one weekend to ride this electric-operated train, the first in Metro Manila.  During its first few months of operation the Marcos regime decided that the fare would be free and complimentary for the citizens of the metro to get the feel on how safe it was.  During those naïve and inexperienced era, the Manila citizenry had the notion and misconception that you could get electrocuted when you ride the new train since it is run by electricity.

Still by the way, when Nengkoy and I reached Monumento we entered Jackman store in Caloocan to buy a piece of payong (umbrella) then went back again to Baclaran still via the LRT.  That was one of my most exciting train rides.