“Excuse me, do you have a lighter I could borrow?” says Dor, taking a cigarette out of a pack.
“Sure!” replies a nice American lady. She eyes him, while handing him her lighter. “Say, where you boys from?”
“London, London, England!” I felt necessary to say, as if she’d never bloody heard of London. I winced. I felt so British.
“London?! Then what the hell are you doing here in St Louis?!”
Well, we had learnt something within minutes of arriving. The city wasn’t called St “Louieeee”, like the way we say in when we think of any Famous French Louis’. It’s pronounced “Lou-is”.
I’ve been freelance in TV for ten years and I’ve been doing bits of fitness journalistic nonsense in my spare time so I couldn’t actually remember the last time I’d had full week’s holiday and I was very much looking forward to the relax. Dor is a travel writer, and is often whisked away to interesting and different places, often at the invitation of the a small tourist board. Mid-America wasn’t on my immediate ‘top destination list’. I think I shared a common opinion that we Brits have about America, and that was the more liberal places were the coastal areas and that the middle part was very conservative, but St Louis was a blue city in a red state. So spoilers, I didn’t see one ‘MAGA’ hat. Not one.
WOW Air took us from London via Iceland to St Louis, where we stayed at the The Chase Park Plaza Hotel. The size of the room was bigger than my flat back home, and I couldn’t stop smiling to myself.
The hotel was opposite the Forest Park, which according to some of our cab drivers, is the biggest park in America (which is not a fact I’ve been able to check with Google). We walked through the park a lot and in my head playing ‘American Sightseeing Bingo’.
We saw Mormans, Amish people, a yellow school bus, a fire hydrant and a bear (in the Zoo). I really wanted to see a raccoon, though. The park is also home to the Art Museum, Missouri History Museum and the Zoo among other things.
St Louis’s famous landmark is the historical Arch, the Gateway to the West. Which, you can actually go inside. With our minds blown, we entered a Thunderbirds-type capsule, which pulled us to the top.
I imagine it’s what being a Pokemon is like, being inside a Pokeball Due to the angle of the arch, the windows were at a forty five degree angle, where you had to lean on them to look out. We quickly descended the Arch via our Pokeball.
I’d always wanted to see a real baseball game, so we went along to Busch Stadium to see the St Louis Cardinals verus the Pittsburgh Pirates – and it was the most confusing three hours ever.
There was no ‘kick off’, it just sort of started and a lot of the fans seemed to be walking around the stadium rather than watching the game. There was also no ‘away’ fans except for one guy who was in a Pirates top, but sat with a girl in a Cardinals top. It was like he had lost a bet.
The food was something else. My diary tells you a bit more, but I love America for it’s big portions and innovative breakfasts. I understand Ron Swanson from Parks & Recreation more fully.
St Louis was an extremely friendly city, where people in shops and restaurants actually stop and ask ‘how are you?’ It was easy to get swept up in the positivity of that, and I will endeavour to carry that with me.