M I Crooked Letter Crooked Letter O U I No One Could Do It Better

Mystery trip solved. As Nelly said, “you can find me in St. Louie, where the gun play ring all day” (trust me, he makes it rhyme). So, Bullet-Style Travelogue!

  • Background: I lived in St. Louis for seven years before moving to the DC area in 1995.  TP and I met in law school in 1992 and as a combo 20th anniversary of us meeting/8th anniversary of us marrying/early 92nd birthday present, TP surprised me with a trip back.  Sentimagical!
  • Arrive at Lambert Airport where they finally have the Metro Link up and running (it was just being built around the time I was leaving St. Louis) but they don’t have free wi-fi.  For that reason alone (not to mention the lack of edible food, natural sunlight, and easy security), Cleveland (airport) rocks. I found out on the return that there is a hidden kiosk near one Delta gate that allows you to check your email only but otherwise you are at the mercy of Boingo’s “$7.95 per day” access.  Pass.
  • Go directly to Pho Grand. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Still awesome.
  • Seek out and find what was touted as the best cannoli in St. Louis at the Missouri Baking Company located in the Italian district known as The Hill. At over $3/pop, it had better be damn good.  It wasn’t.  Oh, it was fine and all.  But not $3 fine.
  • Drive through the lovely but parched Forest Park and Tower Grove Park (pavilions galore, especially the Turkish one). Drive around TP’s old stomping grounds in the Central West End (robber baron mansion haven). Drive around my old stomping grounds near the Loop (so spiffy and big-chain-heavy that it is barely recognizable from the dingy version I remember).  Thank the GPS gods that we found everything so easily.
  • Risk life and limb at the City Museum, a tourist-cum-death-trap in which you can enjoy works of art, architecture, and kitsch inside and climb some really very perilous metal structures, slides, and airplanes outside. Read Upyernoz’s more detailed description here.
  • Dine at Pi which has several locations throughout St. Louis (the most important one being the one a block from our hotel) as well as DC. Pretty amazing corn-meal crusted “east loop” pizza for me and not nearly as phenomenal but at least he got to eat it gluten-free pizza for TP. Free wi-fi with the code which is the first ten digits of pi and which is cleverly etched into the side of the glass.  Too bad you can’t see it when all you have in your glass is water.
  • Early morning drive past the Anheuser Busch Brewery (nary a Clydesdale in sight) to have breakfast at Benton Park Cafe where my cousin lauded their cheese potato casserole but which actually was just a mishmash of mashed potatoes, grated cheese, and maybe some spice but didn’t hold a candle to Toast’s hash brown casserole.
  • Absorb the sights and smells and sounds of Soulard Market. Price the okra from stall to stall. Scout out where one could buy the poster featured on the walls but no dice.
  • Missed Birbigs by a week and wasn’t up for the two-day Lalapalooza-like LouFest just to see The Flaming Lips and Dinosaur Jr., so we attend the International Institute’s Festival of Nations at Tower Grove Park where we purchase a parasol for AP and are turned away from purchasing horchata because “it’s not ready”. What’s left to do? Just add sugar and ice!
  • Explore the Loop on foot and talk over each other on how much it’s changed and what is missing and what has moved.  Cicero‘s used to be over there!  I used to do my laundry over here across from Vintage Vinyl! St. Louis Bread Company (aka Panera Bread everywhere else) used to be much smaller and across the street! Appreciate that Fitz‘s is still the same and order two “premium root beer” floats and a basket of fries.  Realize that stomachs are no longer the same but bravely plow through the four-scoops-of-ice-cream-atop-each-float and fries lunch.
  • Return to Wash U. and bask in the glow and shadows of the leafy Quad, stately Collegiate Gothic halls, and tranquil surroundings. Trudge dutifully to and shudder in remembrance of the hideous law school building in which we spent three years. “Neo-Brutalism” is the perfect way to describe it – inside and out. Now, the old school is nothing more than a nightmare/memory. The new law school is something right out of a movie about Oxford or Harvard or some similar flick where the library is drenched in light (not subterranean) with gleaming polished desks, each featuring its own lovely green-banker-shaded lamp, the cafeteria is spotless (not just a string of vending machines), and the moot court room is high-tech to the gills.
  • Explore the Central West End on foot where we pop in to Left Bank Books, walk through a gated (but the gate was open) neighborhood, and peruse antiques we have no intention of purchasing.
  • Quick dip into the Missouri Botanical Gardens but the rain chased us away too quickly.
  • After one throwaway comment about the stone fox outside of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, TP teaches me that he represents Bevo and then takes it upon himself to introduce me to the Bevo Mill in South St. Louis. “Vaulted ceilings,” yes. “Groined arches,” no. Around the corner from the Mill, TP valiantly races through the now-downpour to get me something from the Bosnian bakery Zlatno Zito. Bread, but mighty tasty bread.
  • Post loaf-of-bread nap for me. Work out for TP.
  • Fortuitous enough to be here during the 8th Annual Downtown Restaurant Week but too weary to decide on where to go and end up at Wasabi as per Oz’s rec for an appetizer of sushi and then cross the street to Rosalita’s Cantina as per TP’s hankering for Tex Mex.
  • Walk to the Arch. Check it off the list.
  • Attend Sunday Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis before cruising back to return the car and catch our flight.

Thank you, TP, for this wonderful walk down memory lane. May the next twenty years be just as full of adventure and happiness and change (but not too much change.  you know how i hate that).  xoxo


4 responses to “M I Crooked Letter Crooked Letter O U I No One Could Do It Better

  1. you’ve written a lot, i haven’t read it all – the few lines i did read have me exhausted. from what i did read – sounds like a super choice/destination.

  2. you think YOU were exhausted! a friend of mine commented “You’ve done more in stl in one day than I’ve done over the past 10 years of visits!” to which I responded, “It’s amazing how much easier and faster it is to play when you’ve got money, a car, and no school or kids.”

    you’d really dig st. louis – LOTS of photo ops from architecture to people to nature, you name it.

  3. i’ll put it on my list of cities to visit/photo…

  4. glad to hear it! can’t wait for the pix and your take on the city. what other cities are on your list?

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