Sunday, June 29, 2008

Meet me in ..... nevermind, that's too easy.

This past weekend, Ken and I boarded an Amtrak train to St. Louis. Since we're trying our absolute best to be tree-hugging, soy milk drinking, Envirosax-using consumers, we figured the more environmentally-sound public transportation option was best. We took the Metra to Union Station and easily boarded our train. We were supposed to arrive in St. Louis around 3:00. However, as we moved slowly along and gradually came to a complete halt, it became apparent that we were not going to be arriving on time. Our snacks were consumed and Ken had discovered the beer on the snack car before we arrived around 5. Strike one for Amtrak.

Our hotel was a block from the Arch and you could actually see it from our room...if you craned your neck a bit. The real reason for coming to St. Louis on a Thursday was to catch a Tom Waits concert at the historic Fox Theatre. The theater is something else. Completely garish and yet stunning. As for Mr. Tom Waits, who I had never really listed to, what a performer! It was a completely unexpected show. I couldn't understand more than 10 words all night, but that's okay when he's kicking up dust and dancing on the stage.

On Friday, we got up to be typical tourists. First stop, breakfast at The Landing area. Then a short walk to the arch for some artistic shots.

It's not easy being artistic ---

Mustering up some courage, we boarded the tram to the top where we met a mother/daughter duo from Montana on the way up and a family from Georgia on the way down. The scenery is nice from above, but really chatting with complete strangers is close quarters is far more exciting.

Then on two empty stomachs, we grabbed the hotel shuttle to the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. We were able to join a tour within minutes of showing up and were soon touring the area. I have to say, the tour itself was a bit of a disappointment. I think it was the fact there were 80 people with us and the tour guides were little robo-trons spewing information into a microphone. We did a Victoria Bitter one in Melbourne and it was awesome. I did enjoy the old buildings and the sense of history on the grounds. And the huge horseys. And this time no animals were harmed in my presence.

And then the best part. Tasting! I don't like beer, but I did drink their wheat ale, which was not bad, especially with free pretzels. Ken might have had a few.

From here we headed to the historic Union Station via public bus where we saw a gamut of crazies and lunatics in a short 10 minute ride. St. Louis never ceased to amaze us with its sheer number of absolute weirdos. Really nice, talkative weirdos, but strange folks nonetheless.

At the train station, we grabbed some calamari at a waterside cafe and splashed out on expensive truffles at a gourmet chocolate shop(pe). Superfancy. Then, strangely enough, Ken's brother, sister-in-law, niece, nephew, and grandmother were passing through, so we all grabbed lunch together.

On the way back to the hotel, we stumbled (literally) across a guy passed out on the sidewalk who was non-responsive. We were asking people if anyone had called 911 as he was bleeding and not looking so great. We were told that "someone called" at "some point." Not feeling very confident about it, we called 911 just as a cop was showing up. Once she actually got the guy to sit up, we discovered he was positively covered in drool. Chalk another weird encounter up for St. Louis.

On Friday night, we headed out for some dinner, drinks, and live music.

Our first stop was the Broadway Oyster Bar where I ate some alligator for the first time. Meanwhile, Ken gorged on oysters on the half-shell and fried. Plus some fried clams.

A $10 cover charge kept us from staying for their live music, but thankfully the joint across the street had R&B music going on. It was great to sit outside, have some wine, and enjoy some great music.

We turned in late and got up at 5:30 a.m. to catch our train back to Chicago. We were supposed to arrive at 12:15 with plenty of time to get back to watch the White Sox. Once our train just flatout stopped on the tracks for 90 minutes with the lights off and talk of a "failed computer in the engine," we knew that wasn't going to happen. 8 hours later, we pulled into Union Station Chicago. Ridiculous. No wonder no one wants to take the train. Apparently the trains are constantly late. Two late trains = 3 strikes. They will be receiving a letter...

Anyway, our short little minibreak to the south was great fun. We met some interesting characters, ate an obscene amount of fried foods, and were typical tourists. It was pretty much perfect.


Doug said...

Sounds like my trip to St. Louis with my family when I was 14... Although, substitute the zoo for the concert... and we weren't allowed the beer.

No Pride & Prejudice this weekend. Bachelorette party :)

Doug said...

crap. I need to log him off - Carly

laura said...

who knew st. louis had so much to offer??

Amy said...

Sounds like a great trip! I didn't have any problems when I used to take Amtrak from Williamsburg, VA to DC. But maybe things have changed since then...

As for the crazies, they are at the Union Station in DC too. Probably at any large bus/train station. Those types of places seem to be good hangouts for the crazies.