Monday, June 1, 2015

Meet Me In St. Louis

I am an avid cruise enthusiast.  That can mostly be attributed to my general love for travel, sightseeing, and eating.  When I'm not day dreaming about my next cruise, I often daydream about traveling to some of the more well known cities here in the continental US.  Somehow, the grand idea to go to St. Louis popped into my head at the same time my wife had the idea to go to Missouri to see our dinner-mates (Patrick and Jennifer) from our last cruise.  That made it an easy sell to get her interested in this trip. We decided to load up over memorial weekend and meet Patrick and Jennifer in St. Louis to explore the city for the first time together with our children.

St. Louis is about as far away from our house as Port Canaveral.  It was strange but nice to be heading out in another direction (and to avoid the tollroads!).  We drove mostly during the evening hours through North Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, and into St Louis in the wee little hours of the morning.  We saw our first glimpse of the Gateway Arch in the dark and admired the glow of the city as we drove through downtown towards the Marriott West.  Considering we only paid $77/night, the hotel was clean and contemporary.

Our first day in St. Louis was spent taking a riverboat cruise up the Mississippi river and sightseeing at the Gateway Arch park.  It was  a beautiful sight!  The riverboat cruise was an hour long (slightly lack-luster) tour of some bridges and buildings narrated by a guide.  It made for some great pictures and the kids seemed to enjoy being on the paddle-wheel boat.  After the riverboat, we ventured onward to the arch.  I felt very fulfilled as I reached out and touched a leg of the arch.  The seven of us crammed into a tiny egg-shaped capsule that took us up to the top of the arch.  Even with the crowd of tourists and hyper children running around, a very calm feeling came over me as I looked out the window towering over St. Louis.



Being in a new city, we wanted to try some local food.  Nobody wanted another bag meal from a franchise.  Jennifer found a little place called "The Royale" that she wanted to try.  It was a great little neighborhood restaurant and pub.  In retrospect, it probably wasn't the best place for 2 families with small children.  But they were very welcoming none the less.  It had a trendy urban feel, but not too hipster.  I ordered a local soda (R-PEP) and brisket tacos with chips and pico de gallo.  It was truly fantastic!

The next day was spent pretty much entirely at the St. Louis Zoo.  Living less than 2 hours from Zoo Atlanta, we're no strangers to zoos.  The St. Louis zoo is quite a bit larger than Zoo Atlanta and is actually free.  You pay only for certain parts of the zoo.  We chose to buy all access type passes that were $12/person.  That got us into all parts of the zoo as well as unlimited train rides (which the kids loved).


Again, we wanted to try something different for dinner.  I had heard fantastic things about The Hill and the abundance of yummy restaurants it has to offer.  I had also heard about St. Louis being somewhat famous for toasted ravioli.  So I looked on YELP to find a restaurant on The Hill that had some.  Arriving at Mama Toscano's, I realized that I had made a big mistake.  It was closed.  Everything on The Hill is apparently closed on Sundays.  So
my plan to eat on The Hill and have some St. Louis famous toasted ravioli's was now just a dream for another trip.  We dialed in on one of the only open BBQ places on a Sunday evening only to find it to be in a sketchy neighborhood.   Near famished and upset about the ravioli's, I found a place on YELP that was open, cheap, and highly rated.  It'
s name?  Seoul Taco.  That's right, Korean food.  The reviews were great, so that's where we went.  It had 2 dinning options.  You could have Seoul BBQ or Seoul Taco.  We chose the taco side, and it was amazing.  The fresh new age feel of the restaurant was intriguing...almost juxtaposed to their simple menu of exciting flavors.  I had a chicken gogi bowl, a spicy pork taco, and some pork pot stickers.  My wife, had a chicken taco and a burrito.  Even the kids seemed to enjoy the food!

That was our last night in St. Louis.   We awoke early the next morning, said our goodbyes to the city and our friends, and headed back to our home in Georgia.  It was a great trip and I honestly believe that it enriched our souls.  Though it was just a couple of days, we crammed as much as we could into the trip and I enjoyed it just as much if not more than other vacations that were longer and more expensive...

...travel well.

Video from this trip:

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