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USA: Missouri - St. Louis
Review by Mark H. Goldberg, TravelPage.com, Cruise Editor
NOT BLUE IN ST. LOUIS!
I live in Baltimore, a town that's a lot like St. Louis… there's an awful lot
here that visitors never see… and there's a lot there that visitors never
see… Both have the troubles facing all American cities these days yet both
towns have that indomitable spirit that KNOWS we will overcome! And both
cities are DEFINITELY worth a visit, not as adjunct to some other
destinations, but places to deliberately set out to visit, though I confess
that I didn't REALLY plan a St. Louis trip, it happened because of a cruise…
A cruise and a visit to St. Louis? Of course a cruise…Travel Page readers
know that I live, breathe and think ships and sailings so it's little wonder
that no one would expect me to turn up in America's heartland unless it was
for the time I'd need to layover in St. Louis's marvelous airport, home of
Trans World Airlines, the famous TWA…while crossing the country going to or
coming from some ship or other.
Yet I recently treated myself to a few days
in St. Louis, Missouri, Gateway City to America's West. I had a great time
and loved it…Now, TRAVEL PAGE readers might well think that if it isn't a
ship or a port town, Goldberg doesn't go there…and you might be right…and
wonder, WHAT was he doing in St. Louis…"bumped by TWA or something like that?
But you already saw the word CRUISE so you know that it WAS a cruise that
brought me to meet 'em in St. Louis. So of course, St. Louis IS a port town,
a great river port town, and has been for years and years and years…and
though it isn't on any coast and doesn't get ocean liners or deep sea cruise
ships, it gets those wonderful floating palaces of the Delta Queen Steamboat
Company And yes, that IS how I got there… as one of the lucky passengers on
Delta Queen Steamboat Company's fine MISSISSIPPI QUEEN.
We had come upriver from New Orleans, accompanied, or should I say…RACING the magnificent old
DELTA QUEEN…and we came in just behind her, losing the "Great Steamboat Race"
of 1999, the last steamboat race of the Millenium. Yes, calliope tooting out
tunes, our gigantic and sumptuous riverboat lost the race, but we didn't feel
like losers, we on board the MISSISSIPPI QUEEN, we had just had a wonderful
10 days on the river, built monuments to the chef…between our chests and
hips, all of us and had a lot of laughs taking part or observing the
activities attendant to the great race and we tied up at the wharf in St.
Louis late on the afternoon of a blisteringly hot Fourth of July…just in time
to wait for the great display of fireworks that city puts on in celebration
of our Independence Day. St. Louis fires off a "humdinger" of a pyrotechnics
show over the Mississippi River, and this year was no exception. It seemed
that the whole world had come down to the river to claim a few square feet of
space to sit and watch the heavens that night. The best seats in the open
house were…you guessed it…right up top on the MISSISSIPPI QUEEN and we were
treated to quite a welcome!
Early the next morning our cruise ended and while Travel Page Associate
Cruise Editor Chris Smith took an early plane, I stuck around a few days,
eager to discover what a big city in the middle of the country had to offer.
In a word, St. Louis has a LOT to offer and before saying a word about it,
I'll give you a hint at the bottom line…I plan to go back in the spring,
there's so much more I want to see and do… and in my short time there, met
some great people I want to see again. St. Louis is that kind of a place,
open, friendly, fascinating and fun!
Once ashore I had a cab take me to my
hotel, the SEVEN GABLES INN in out in the Clayton section of the city…miles
from the old downtown city center, but an area surprisingly becoming a modern
city in its own right. With less than forty rooms, junior suites and suites,
the SEVEN GABLES is a tiny tot compared to it's nearby neighbor the
Ritz-Carlton, and while it lacks perhaps the full run of amenities you'd
expect in a superior deluxe class five star hotel, the SEVEN GABLES, a 1927
built structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is very
big on charm, décor, comfort and it's well, kind of like home. Up the stairs,
as soon as I got into my room, an oversized, beautiful space under one of
those gables, a room with a kingsize bed and a sitting area featuring windows
overlooking both the street and the hotel's patio, I checked out the bathroom
and was pleased to see walls and floors clad in marble, big thick towels and
a good selection of soaps, shampoos, a quick shower was in order…because,
frankly, it was HOT outside, and I had spent the day discovering St. Louis.
Great water pressure, good soap and shampoo…you never think about those
things BEFORE you check in but surprisingly important to feeling coddled
while underway…and what traveler DOESN'T want to be coddled so many miles
from home? I give the SEVEN GABLES 100% for accommodations…and the food in
the hotel's restaurant is pretty good, the staff wonderfully accommodating.
The place is very, very fairly priced and in my opinion, a great bargain! So
we are off to a great start, here, you see, because to me creature comforts,
nice spirit from hotel staff, restaurant staff and good value are the keys to
Out and about St. Louis pleased me every bit as much as did my private
accommodations and a new friend of mine, I'll call her Mary, saw to it that I
was able to see everything I could in the time I had to spend there. Believe
it or not, the first thing I wanted to see was GRANT'S FARM…always coming
across the name of our illustrious 18th President…there were quite a few
merchant and a troopship named for him…not to mention his portrait graces the
$50.00 bill, one of my favorite things to collect whenever I can, Hiram
"Ulysses S" Grant is pretty dear to me…and particularly interested in
American History since 1870… I thought…let's start with Grant's Farm. I'm
glad we did. A short ride from the Clayton section, it's more than a farm.
Annheuser-Busch owns the place now, Grant, or rather, his remains, residing
now in Grant's Tomb in New York City, so I don't think the General and former
President much minds others on land once his…passed to him from his
father-in-law, Mr. Dent. Grant's home, a cabin he built himself is now under
renovation but like with St. Louis itself, there's more there than you'd
expect. Grant's Farm is now home to the famous Clydesdale Horses, magnificent
equines and a treat to see. There's also a small zoo at the farm, and an open
sided train takes visitors around to look at the animals. She may not be
exotic but the creature that I found most compelling is an "Oreo Cookie" cow,
a black cow banded about the middle with a ring of white hair. Grant's Farm
also boasts a great exotic bird show…and a Bavarian style town square…you
GOTTA see it. You also need to have a look at the Museum of Transportation.
The little boy in EVERY man will emerge when he sees all of those old trains
and old automobiles now on display, like an ANCIENT touring Cadillac…the
little boy in me was thrilled…and next off I HAD to go to the Automobile
Museum…part museum, part auto showroom, I LOVED that place, you can actually
BUY most of the cars on exhibit…they'll turn up a mid 50's STUDEBAKER Golden
Arrow some day…and I might trek back just to buy it and drive it home to
I admit straightaway that I'm not a religious sort, but Mary insisted I have
a squint at the Cathedral. It may not have been a religious experience for
me, but it was a revelation that right there in the middle of the United
States of America sits one of the most awesomely beautiful cathedrals on the
planet. Go see it for yourself and marvel, as I did, at the mosaics adoring
the ceilings and the extraordinary beauty of the church itself. Another St.
Louis church is now a restaurant called the Sanctuary and in a true
juxtaposition of uses, visits to both structures fulfill two needs, one
filled my spirit, the other filled my ample belly with very tasty food!
Bookshopping is another one of my passions…and in a hunt for second hand
books on any number of subjects…St. Louis doesn't disappoint…nor will the
desire to hunt for antiques and collectibles be unsatiated in that town
either…Check out the Soulard section of town…lot's of neat little shops
there. You just might come home with a treasure or two. And yes, beer lovers
should go make a pilgrimage to August Busch's place…the brick clad complex of
buildings that is Annheuser - Busch's home brewery…the beer that made St.
Louis famous… Thinking of the city's other treasures…well, a place I have n
mid might not be classed as a treasure and what it sells is BAD for your
waistline if you consume it in great quantities…it's frozen custard…and you
must not miss a taste of Ted Drew's frozen custard...what a treat and a local
tradition! It's out on Route 66 so hie yourself there and have a taste for me.
No need to mention the city's great musical and sports traditions nor any of
the hundreds of famous people who came from there…nor need I remind you of
the great 1904 exposition…little of it remains but some great exhibits in a
gorgeous museum in a building erected for that great fair…Still very much a
part of the city and now a magnet for locals as well as tourists is Union
Station…beautifully restored and redeveloped as a fun downtown mall…it's one
of the few malls EVERYONE has to see at least once…
I could go on and on about St. Louis but let me stop here. It is an amazing
place…a real cosmopolitan, world class city in America's own midwest…It's a
city that has it all…and one of those places I will return to again and
again. Go check it out...you'll like it and I bet you'll go back again and
For more information about New Orleans and Louisiana, check out this page. For more information about hotels in New Orleans and Louisiana, check out this page.
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