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August/September 2009

Missouri

1. St Louis
2. Hermann
3. Hannibal
4. St Louis

Friday, September 4, 2009

After another wonderful breakfast in the kitchen of our cottage, we checked out and headed south towards St. Louis. It took us about two hours. We were headed to the Gateway Arch but first we parked the car in the Arch parking garage and walked to Laclede’s Landing where we had lunch at Hannegan’s Restaurant and Pub. Then we were off to the Arch. Since this was the start of Labor Day Weekend, we had booked our tram trip and parking online. We reserved a 1:50 tram ride. While you probably don’t need to reserve and pay for the parking in advance, it’s not a bad idea to reserve your tram ahead of time, especially if you’re going on a weekend when it is busier. We were glad we did, as there was quite a line when we were on our way out.

This is a national park and you will see park rangers there. You go underground to enter the arch. They have these little enclosed pods with five seats that move up the arch in a fashion similar to a ferris wheel. Lori is a bit claustrophobic and on the way up three pretty boisterous guys from Brazil were put into the pod with us (and one was pretty big). She managed to get up to the top OK; it only takes a few minutes. Once you arrive at the top it’s amazing to think you’re inside that arch. There are viewing windows and we took pictures through them that actually turned out pretty good. We spent about 15 minutes up there and then went back down. This time we got a pod to ourselves which Lori liked much better. If you go to St. Louis you absolutely need to go up in the Arch.

We drove the car a few blocks and checked into the Four Seasons – a very nice hotel that is relatively new. You can see our writeup of the Four Seasons here. We took a bath in our oversize soaking tub and drank some wine, and then we walked back over to Laclede’s Landing in search of dinner. We had dinner at Morgan Street Brewery and afterwards we walked down the street to The Big Bang Dueling Pianos, which was fun and very entertaining. Back to our hotel for a nightcap at the lobby bar, and then up to bed.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

We woke up to see it was pouring outside. This was the first day it rained on our trip so we sort of felt like we couldn’t complain. We turned on the TV and the weather person said it would stop raining by noon, so we went downstairs to get breakfast. We spent the remainder of the morning watching the US Open on TV (we both used to play tennis competitively and get pretty loud when we’re watching it on TV). As had been predicted, it did indeed stop raining around noon and we walked to Laclede’s Landing and had lunch at Jake’s Steaks. It was packed as there was a college football game across the street. This was the start of the two-day Big Muddy Blues Festival. There were lots of people strolling around and drinks were being sold outside. It looked like there were more acts later on so we went back to the hotel and tried to get some pool time. Unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate; it was a bit chilly and cloudy so we gave up the ghost.

We got dressed and walked back to Laclede’s Landing to hear some blues. We got some margaritas from a stand and went to the main stage. We heard Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne and his band who were excellent. There were hordes of people by this point (the football game was over, there was the blues fest, and it was Labor Day Weekend) and Lori’s claustrophobia was kicking in, so we went to get dinner. We went back to Hannegan’s (where we had lunch the previous day) but this time ate inside. It was busy so we put in our names and waited. We had a table within a half hour.

After dinner we went back to the Four Seasons and hung out at the lobby bar for a bit, and then off to bed.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Alas, our memorable trip to Missouri was coming to an end. We returned the rental car and went to the airport. It was raining but since we were headed home, we didn’t care. We reflected on the trip and realized we really enjoyed it. Hermann was off the beaten path but the area was peaceful (what winery isn’t?) and it was a great way to kick off our trip. With Hannibal, we got a taste of literary history. In St. Louis, we had a chance to experience a national landmark and hear some blues. It just goes to show you that you don’t necessarily have to go to a “touristy” destination to have a great time.