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Vienna/Fairfax-GMU

I honestly can’t remember the last time I went to the Vienna Metrorail station. Heck, I may have never been to the Vienna station.    Once I get past East Falls Church, all of those Orange Line stations kinda start to blur together.  Sorry, Virginia, but your stations are rather…dull.

It didn’t help that I was there on a gloomy, overcast, kinda drizzly day when it would have been much better to be at home with a cup of coffee.  Having to ride to the end of the line is never something I look forward to because a) it takes a long time to get there and b) the final stations are kind of depressing for me.  Like, I’ve traveled all that way and what’s there left to but get in a car and drive somewhere?  Lame.

Also, I lose all sense of direction once I leave the reliable grid of city streets.  At Vienna I had only the vaguest notion of being somewhere west of DC, and if someone had asked me to point north, I couldn’t have done it.  I arrived super early (I had built in a lot of extra time because of closings and whatnot) and figured I might as well make myself comfortable at one of the bus shelters.  Luckily my ride was equally early, but I still had a few minutes to observe the goings on around me.

Unlike city stations, suburban stations are almost eerily quiet.  There are no neighborhood regulars hanging around to say hi to their friends.  There’s no hustle and bustle of crowded bus stops.  There’s no hum of nearby city street traffic or sirens or kids playing or…anything.  I instantly miss the energy and adventure – sometimes for better, sometimes for worse – of the city, but luckily I was only out there for a few hours.

Hello and goodbye, Vienna!  It might be a while before I see you again…

Vienna/Fairfax-GMU

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Station: Vienna     Rating (1-10): 6

Ridership:  This trip fell on a holiday Monday, so there was no usual crush of morning commuters waiting on the opposite platform.  There were still plenty of folks who travelled all the way to the end of the line, however, and when we arrived the station was bustling with casually dressed couples and groups of friends.  On my return trip there was a young family on the same car.  The kids were having a great time exploring their surroundings and their mom was taking pictures of them with her iPhone.  They shrieked with delight when the train descended underground after East Falls Church and I couldn’t help but smile.

Pros:  The station is incredibly spacious above ground, with two entrances for Kiss & Ride and over 5,000 parking spaces available.  I always like going to the ends of the line (or the beginning, depending on your perspective) because the trains wait with their doors open while they’re waiting to take off again.  For some reason, it feels less harried that way.  Also, I like watching the conductor walk out of one end of the train and stroll down the platform to the other end.  Sometimes you forget there are actual people making Metrorail go.

Cons:  Only two Metrobuses serve this station, which is more geared toward the commuter buses that run only on weekdays.  Weekend bus service can take you from Ballston to Fair Oaks Mall, but only runs every 30-60 minutes.  Also, there’s virtually nothing within walking distance; I had a friend pick me up so that we could drive to Starbucks.  How very suburban of me!

Nearby & Noteworthy:  I’ll be honest: I know nothing about this area.  But Heidi’s Puppenstube looks awesome for so many reasons.  Tell me you don’t love creepily realistic porcelain dolls!

Latest Metro News:  From March 4 to March 6 there will be – wait for it – repairs on multiple Metrorail lines.  There are FIVE stations on the Orange Line that will be closed entirely, in addition to some other closures and single-tracking.  I’ve only ridden Metro on one weekend so far this year, and I have no intention of doubling that number this coming weekend.   It’s not too early to start planning alternate routes for your weekend travel.

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