I arrived at Saint Louis at night, among a rather intense traffic, and my first impressions in the morning were: marvelous.
After a calm photo tour at sunrise the second impression was: where is everybody?
Downtown seemed a beautiful but almost dead town, nothing like the lively place I was expecting.
Travelling further west, things became different, correcting the wrong initial idea.
But I was installed in downtown and coming back I returned to the sensation of cold emptiness.
Until… the Cardinals.
Suddenly lots of people dressing red shirts converged to Bush stadium, and the neighbourhoods became a red town. For three successive days, baseball gave life to town. I almost decided to join the crowds and enter the stadium, but knowing nothing about that strange game, and aware of jet-lag that could make me fall asleep, I decided not to risk.
So… what did I keep from town? Well, I can’t summarise it. Maybe my tips give you an idea.
Too big, but with details
It’s Saint Louis landmark, visible from almost everywhere.
Alerted by some tips I didn’t spend the fortune that costs going up, and to be honest, didn’t see anyone looking for the way up (what a contrast with Eiffel tower, for instance).
The park is pleasant and the look of town from there very photogenic.
Address: St. Louis Riverfront
It’s, for sure, the craziest museum I ever saw, but it rivals with Science Museum, in London, as the liveliest.
Imagination and freedom merge in the use of recycled materials, to compose a place that, more than a museum, is a meeting place and a Luna park.
Adults playing like kids, kids playing like adults, and some learning opportunities discreetly available here and there… Funny for all ages!
Website: City Museum
A well done job transformed an old and useless train station in a commercial complex. The old style was preserved, and all the area was embellished. The big lake is refreshing, and, when I went there, a live demonstration of fisherman without hooks showed the kids the behaviour of fish in the wild. The only thing I don’t imagine was the effect in the children of one part of the show, when the man picked a small fish in a lateral aquarium, and moved it to the big one, to be swallowed by one of the bigger.
That’s natural behaviour, but for a small kid… to see a small fish running in despair before him until being killed… I don’t know!
Address: One St. Louis Union Station, St. Louis, Missouri,
Third Degree Glass Factory
While visiting Saint Louis I went daily to this factory, where the conference of GAS held several live demonstrations.
I know that, all year long, they provide private demonstrations, and glass is a spectacular art, not to be missed.
(If you are distant from Saint Louis, you better know that you may have glass work demonstrations in Marinha Grande – Portugal, in another non-profit school)
I didn’t enter it.
I was there too early in the morning and had no opportunity to come again at opening time.
However, I was attracted by the marvellous ensemble it composes with the arch, in sunrise, providing a photo that… I like.
Address: 4431 Lindell Boulevard
Big, Beautiful and out of time
Huge construction with a very beautiful interior, it put me thinking about the use or merit of copies:
It’s clearly a recent work, following carefully the pattern of old churches, with a dominant Byzantine style. Beautiful? Yes. Rich? Sure.
Does its value justify the costs? Who knows? I don’t, however, visiting Saint Louis cathedral was a pleasure.
Address: 4431 Lindell Boulevard
In contrast with the straight skyscrapers that surround it, this classical building composes, with the arch in the background the best sight of town (all the photographers around it will agree with me!).
The garden and fountain are also very well integrated in the whole.
Living Island in town
After finding the centre of town somewhat cold and empty, this is where the city seems to live.
I could only see it under the strong sun, but understood the promises for the mild nights.
It surely deserved some more time, that I couldn’t dedicate.
Address: 6000-6600 Delmar Blvd.
Directions: Easy from I-170, I-70, I-44 and Forest Park Parkway.
Saint Louis University
Magnificent quarter that I saw “by mistake” (blessed mistake).
The architecture is varied but harmonious, and all the area exhales tranquillity and quality of life. It must be good, being a student of that school!
St Francis Xavier Church
Built in the end of the 19Th century, this church is part of the University, being also known as the College Church. Inspired in Irish Gothic, it composes a harmonic contrast with the modern look of the buildings that surround it.
Website: St Francis
This is the real heart of downtown.
All living beings I saw in downtown Saint Louis were walking to or from Bush Stadium.
Even I, knowing absolutely nothing about baseball, hesitated facing the idea of getting myself a ticket to see the Cardinals. And I was “obliged” to buy a Pujols’s red shirt to Horacio (he is a Benfica’s supporter, so red is his color).
To balance things, Tito defends my Sporting (green)
A cultural reference to most people in the entire world, this mythic river showed me the emptiness of downtown. Two closed boat (during the day), one in each side, were transformed in casinos, waiting for the nightly visitors. I crossed the bridge (which allows me to tell my friends that I traveled to Illinois by foot) and the other side was a terrible disappointment.
The only interesting thing was the meeting with a local policeman, who came to ask what the crazy Portuguese was doing in such an hostile place, and ended driving me to the best spot for the picture I wanted to take (yes, this one of the tip) and back to the bridge. Nice guy!
Address: Several Casinos to choose from, in St. Louis , MO 63102
Is it still working or not?
No my dear Americans.
You need not to leave that building so dirty to convince us of its old age. The strong contrast with the modern surrounding buildings enhances its antiquity and classical look. But the black spots in many stones, give the idea of a ruined and abandoned house. What a pity.
Come on… Clean it up.
The old historical port was invaded by restaurants and bars, becoming the meeting point downtown.
It’s a good preserving work, in a small area, which makes it easy to have a general look, and shortens the walk in the irregular cobblestone pavements.
Of course, we had dinner there for a couple of times.
Eating in Saint Louis
Morgan – Typical American
American popular cuisine has two dishes: Ketchup or Mayonnaise, each one of them served with a pile of food.
I like to know the real taste of food, so, I always refuse ketchup or mayonnaise. And, for the total disaster, beer is my last solution (well, not exactly, the real last one is Coca-Cola).
That left me with the pile of food, and wine. But… no complaint! The food was acceptable (even without the disguise of the dressings), the wine was good, and the prices as expected.
Hannegans – Best experience in Laclede’s Landing
After an experience at Morgan, I tried, to change, its neighbor, also in the sidewalk. I had (and keep) the idea that the American don’t cook, they just pile food, and flavor it with a couple of standardized dressings.
So, the dishes change their names and the nature of the piled food, but, at the end, everything tastes at the same: the chosen dressing. Generally, I refuse additional dressings and risk to taste the food exactly as it was cooked.
Exceptionally, both experiences in Laclede’s Landing were positive, without being memorable. The food was good and not to pricey.
Seki – First japanese
It’s a shame, but this was my first Japanese experience. We went there by incident. We were there, it was lunch time, and… why not? I was surprised for the enthusiastic references I read about it afterwards. This must be a special restaurant, and my writings don’t mean that I didn’t appreciate it. But, being the first Japanese experience I have no references to compare. The service was kind and efficient, the food was tasty, but I must confess that the embarrass of using chop sticks (not the first time, but with Chinese I always use to demand fork and knife) prevented me from a detailed appreciation. To be honest, I would have no problem to live in Japan, but the dominant final flavour is something that I could spare, so, for now, I will keep not rushing to Japanese restaurants. I repeated the experience in Portugal – Seki was better, but I still prefer the best food in the world – Portuguese. I repeated it again in Portugal: Japanese may be better than in Seki.
Carmine – Almost there
Tired of eating fast food, I entered this restaurant hoping that it would provide a more conventional food.
It did, but not much.
The menu was short, and my choice was… of course, I forgot.
I remember that the wine was the worst that we drunk in Saint Louis, and most probably, not from the brand we ordered (how can that happen in USA?).
Millenium – Balcony to the Arch
I went a little cautious about this hotel in Saint Louis, because all the tips that I read before going there were rather negative. I don’t agree. It’s not a top-class hotel, I can’t refer anything special, but everything worked as needed. The rooms were good and clean, and the staff was gentle (even some of them rather expansive and friendly).
My only complaint: too much aimed in business. A friend of mine, mounting an exhibition in the hotel conference area, needed to suspend a poster in his stand. Asking the hotel’s responsible if she could lend him a ladder, the answer was: yes, if you pay for it.
Shocking! That would never happen in Portugal. Well, I know, we were in America, and… business “uber alles”!
Address: 200 S 4th St, Saint Louis, MO 63102
The hotel was permanently closed.
Saint Louis Weddings
I don’t know if it is really a local costume, but it gave me that idea. I know that the American use to exaggerate in wedding festivities, with well-prepared performances, with rehearsals, hard preparation, and dressing in a… a… an American produced way (Portuguese will understand what I mean. The other… let’s hope they will).
Until arriving to Saint Louis I had never seen a whole marriage in uniform (in San Francisco there was diversity). But they were there. The blue marriage taking pictures, against the beautiful frame of the arch and courthouse, and the red marriage waiting their turn.
One thing they achieve: it’s harder to intruders!
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