Rhapsody on Blue, Part I

Sunday, June 18, 2006

WHERE: Sunday Source's Metro train trip returns to explore the eastern half of the Blue Line's 27 stops, from Federal Triangle to Largo Town Center.

WHY: Do feed the alligators, a Voice heard 'round the world and the anti-coffee buzz.

HOW FAR: 10.72 miles, or 28 minutes, without stopping.

Alligators living in sewers may be an urban myth, but alligators on Metro's Blue Line . . . well, that's a D.C. fact. But fear not: The reptiles -- at least those inhabiting Federal Triangle's National Aquarium -- don't eat humans, unless you happen to taste like a small furry animal. The aquarium offers public feedings of its aquatic residents, and on a recent Friday at 2 p.m., the snack du jour was rat and quail. The handlers dangled the gators' food on a pole, turning mealtime into stupid pet tricks. Crunchy (or was it Munchy?) stood on its haunches like a puppy begging for scraps. Then, with a snap of the jaw, lunch was over. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays at the same time, the sharks are the main attraction. But, alas, the feeding is no remake of "Jaws" -- just some unfortunate fish.

For more fishbowl-viewing, the Voice of America, by the Federal Center SW station, allows visitors to peek through the glass walls of its busy-bee studio. The free tour gives a sampling of the 1,000 hours of programming aired weekly to more than 100 million people worldwide in 44 languages. Bet you wish you'd taken Beginner Bangla? The tours (weekdays at noon and 3 p.m.) are timed to overlap with select shows, such as a Persian broadcast that is must-see TV in Iran. If that's not mind-boggling enough, how about this tidbit: Eminem, our guide said at the start of the tour, is "one of the three politest people" she's ever interviewed. Now for the sports report. . .

It's easy to score at RFK Stadium, especially if you're looking for official Nationals attire. At the Team Store, the look is sporty-chic, from plaid baseball caps to logoed baby towels. Hard-core collectors can swap sweat with some of the players by ponying up $129 to $199 for a baseball bat that's cracked, caked with grime and signed by the wood-splitting sluggers. A more economical option: game-used balls for $39.

Don't even attempt to play ball at the Woodlawn Cemetery on Benning Road; weed-whacking is a more appropriate activity. Public cleanups, on every first and third Saturday of the month, help clear thick vegetation choking the 36,000 graves spread over 22 1/2 acres. Pull back the tall grass at the burial ground that opened in 1895, and you'll see personalities who've made a difference in Washington and black history, including a handful of notables whose names may adorn your child's school.

Trudging through a graveyard -- as well as 111 years of history -- can make even a camel thirsty. Infusions Tea Cafe throws quite the tea party, complete with warm scones and petit fours, but the Largo Town Center hangout also satisfies customers who prefer their beverages cold, creamy and tasting more like dessert than liquid. The 16-month-old shop gets creative with its concoctions; the mango latte, for example, blends together black tea, mango pieces, sunflower petals, vanilla and steamed milk. And, yes, you drink it, not chew it. Coffee is not served here, but Metro trippers who need that java flavor should try the tiramisu latte. It's got enough kick to last another 13 stops. Andrea Sachs

Metrorail's One Day Pass costs $6.50 and is valid weekdays after 9:30 a.m. and all day on weekends and federal holidays, until the last trains depart. Passes are available online ( http://www.wmata.com/ ) or at the electronic kiosks in all Metro stations.

Road Trip maps are available online at www.washingtonpost.com/roadtrip, as are addresses and hours of operation (be sure to check before you go). Have an idea for a trip? E-mail roadtrip@washpost.com.

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