Saturday, July 1, 2017

St. Louis, MO

Friday, June 23 - Monday, June 26, 2017

I usually reserve my blog for my trips out of the country, but I've come to realize that many of my friends are more interested in the details of my domestic trips so they can replicate them. So here is the recent annual major league baseball trip that I made with Ed.

It is only a 4-1/2 drive from home to St. Louis. We checked into the St. Louis Union Station Hotel, once the city's 1894 rail station (one of the largest in the country) which has been artfully refurbished back to the ornate style of the "gilded age."  The rooms, however, are new and modern and we treated ourselves to a room on the executive floor with lounge for around $200. 

After a brief respite, we headed out to Busch Stadium.We ate hot dogs and took our seats in the front row of the second tier between home plate and first base -- great view for a great game -- even though the Cardinals lost. 

Saturday, June 24

We did a food tour with Savor Saint Louis from 11-2 in the Central West End. We visited Dressel's Pub for a Porchetta sandwich, Pi Pizzeria for great pizza, Gamlin Whiskey House for sushi and breakfast nachos, Bar Italia with its beautiful patio dining for meat pie, and finished with the best iced chocolate drink I have ever had at Bissinger's Handcrafted Chocolatier. We also learned about the history of the area. It was the home of great writers like T.S. Eliot (here with Ed) and Tennessee Williams along with prominent early 20th century industrialists who financed Lindberg's flight. We walked past the World Chess Hall of Fame (who knew that SL was into chess) and saw the world's largest chess piece at 14.5 feet. We visited the elegant turn of the last century Chase Park Plaza Hotel overlooking Forest Park, which has been beautifully updated with original ceilings.

After the tour, Ed and I went to Mary Ann's Tea Room (recommended by friends). The front of the building is a darling dress shop and the tea room is in the back -- looking like something out of Alice in Wonderland.

We took a respite in the late afternoon, ate in the executive lounge, and then headed out to a play at the New Line Theater to see "Sweet Smell of Success," by Marvin Hamlisch.  We were awed by the musical talent of the cast and we're surprised we had never seen it before. We sat next to a woman who regaled us with information about the wide array of professional theater in St. Louis.

Sunday, June 25

We headed to the St. Louis Art Museum, one of the nation's leading comprehensive art museums with more than 33,000 works of art. It is located in Forest Park, an enormous space on the edge of the city which was the site of the 1904 World's Fair. The museum is the only building remaining. We started with lunch in the Panorama Restaurant which was charming. Then, since there was so much to see, we concentrated on the Impressionists (like Monet) and the modernists (like Picasso). We also saw a small textile exhibit with beautiful dresses from the 1700's in perfect condition.

Afterwards we went to the nearby Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis and we're blown away. This building, with its multiple cupolas, resembles the Hagia Sophia, the world famous 6th century Byzantine Church turned mosque turned museum in Istanbul. This church in St. Louis has a Romanesque style exterior while inside it houses one of the largest collections of mosaics in the world, created by 20 different artists and covering 83,000 square feet. The installation, containing almost 42 million pieces of glass tessera (a type of tile) began in 1912 and was not completed until 1988. It was named a Basilica in 1997.

Another respite, a quick snack and an early evening drive to the Hollywood Casino Amphitheater. There we joined 33,000 other fans for a Florida-Georgia Line concert. They were terrific, but we had to endure an hour long opening act by rap star Nelly. Not sure how these two groups connect 

Monday, June 26

Another gorgeous day and I took a walk around the famous "arch," about a mile from the hotel, scoping out our plans to ride to the top. However, when we arrived later, all the tickets for the day had been sold. Who knew you had to book early on line. Next time. By the way, this is the vehicle which seats 5 people that gets you to the top.

So Plan B. Visit the Missouri Botanical Garden. Wow! So glad we didn't miss it. The garden is in the middle of a residential neighborhood but takes up 79 acres. It was founded by Henry Shaw in 1859 and is the oldest botanical garden in continuous operation in the US. It would take days to see all the features. Our mission today was to see a glass exhibit intertwined in a tropical rain forest enclosed in a geodesic dome known as the "Climatron." Artist Craig Mitchell Smith and his team have created more than 25 glass plants -- orchids, orange blossoms, bromeliads and more set among living plants. It was nothing less than spectacular. Afterwards we ate in their lovely cafe and headed back to Louisville. What a great trip!

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