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155. St Louis is a great weekend getaway

June 2, 2012

I have decided to see at least one new American city during at least four of the seven long weekends this great nation offers. I like the way public holidays are organized close to weekends: Mondays (Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Labour (Labor) Day, Thursday (Thanksgiving) besides Christmas & New Year and Independence Day. These are also spread through the year so they do not all occur at once.

I chose to spend my first Memorial Day in this country at St Louis in Missouri. This was the city that hosted the first Olympics in the USA in the early part of the 20th century and is rich in history and character. It had to be close to Chicago, it had to have an Amtrak connection and it had to have something delightful to offer. It fit the bill perfectly by matching the criteria. So on the Saturday before Memorial Day my first inter-state train journey began [Amtrak was very affordable, very comfortable with a great dining car that had decent food and beverage options – and a great experience including a minor derailment .

St Louis has a handful of attractions which are bestsellers and the first to be explored was the Gateway Arch – at 630 feet  it is the tallest man-made monument in the United States and magnificent like all things big in this country. There are little trams inside the 45 year old arch that take one up to the top. The walk through the city garden has a homely feel to it. Dinner was had at a famous sea food joint followed by rest at the Courtyard Marriott Downtown.

The next day began early. First a tram ride to the top of the Arch followed by a visit to the beautiful St Louis Basilica . After experiencing the holy waters at mass it was time to check out how alcoholic waters are made at  Anheuser-Busch : the home of Budweiser. This free tour was a great learning experience for a teetotaler like me. After a quick lunch stop it was time to take an aerial view by helicopter. This $35 for 5 minutes over the arch was well worth it. The evening was spent relaxing in the hotel pool.

Memorial Day began with a walk to the City Museum–  I’m not a big fan of museums but this museum was different and a must visit especially if there are children or child like hearts involved. Lots to feel in this little urban oasis. Thereafter a quick cab ride was taken to one of America’s best zoos to spend couple of hours. The zoo indeed is wonderful. Soon it was afternoon and time to return to sweet home Chicago by Megabus.

All in all the trip was great. In less than 60 hours I had done my first Amtrak, Helicopter and Megabus rides, experienced a derailment, seen a fantastic monument, a wonderful zoo and a unique museum, learnt how barley is turned into beer, walked through a beautiful city garden and was all ready for another stretch of work and life at the office.

Short link:  http://bit.ly/APinSTL

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