Over Spring Break, The Optometrist and I took in the sights & sounds of St. Louis. Sixteen years of my life were lived in the area, but after a.) my parents retired and moved away from the area and b.) I finished graduate school and moved out of state, I sadly no longer have reason to visit my hometown and the metro area as I once did.
It has been almost five years since returning for a visit, which predated our marriage, so a trip to the old stomping grounds allowed me to show The Optometrist places I lived, worked, favorite restaurants, shops, and neighborhoods.
We stayed at the Parkway Hotel, which adjoins Barnes Jewish hospital. Since we arrived over a weekend, it was quieter than you might think, and was perfectly convenient to be in the Central West End – close to Forest Park and a lot of other items on our to-do list.
If your St. Louis history is a little rusty, Forest Park was the location of the 1904 World’s Fair and is the site of the Art Museum, Zoo, Muny, Missouri History Museum, Science Center, and more (great info via both of the links above). It’s also the setting of the 1944 classic musical Meet Me in St. Louis, starring Judy Garland.
Highlights of our trip included:
A visit to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, which includes a mosiac collection that is one of the largest in the western hemisphere. Admission is free and photos can be taken when Mass is not in session. It is worth taking the time to visit this holy space and allow your soul to breathe.
During our stay we made a couple of trips to my favorite coffee shop in the city, Kaldi’s Coffee on DeMun, for us to both enjoy a rooibos chai latte.
And nearer to our hotel was my favorite independent bookstore, Left Bank Books. I bought three Litographs for my library office (Corduroy, Anne of Green Gables, & Peter Pan), along with City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte, recommended to me by a fellow reader as I was getting a pedicure before our trip.
Included during that same day was a bit of shopping at the Plaza Frontenac and will blog about that later.
The impetus and reason we chose St. Louis as the location for our trip was the opportunity to see bluegrass mandolinist/musician Sierra Hull perform at the Sheldon Concert Hall. It was a memorable performance with finesse and subtlety. She and fellow musicians Ethan Jodziewicz and Justin Moses wowed the audience with their impressive technical abilities and beautiful vocal harmonies. I highly recommend her music and the newest album she’s currently touring, Weighted Mind.
As we were driving to the Sheldon, we passed by IKEA. I visited the one in Dallas before we got married, but this was The Optometrist’s first time visiting the Swedish mega-store. We ended up buying a grill pan and some affordable stemware and enjoyed window shopping to gather design ideas for the future.
We didn’t realize we would have time to visit the St. Louis Zoo during our trip, but we did! Due to the fact that it was drizzly and cool the weather was probably a deterrent that worked to our advantage since there weren’t a lot of people there when we visited. Many of the outdoor animals were sleepy, but we still saw some beautiful and powerful creatures. The highlight of the visit was getting to see and hear a lion roar! You could feel the lion den vibrating with the power of his ferocious roar and see condensation coming out of his ferocious mouth as he proclaimed his feline might. The giraffes were also special to behold, in all their lumbering and graceful awkwardness.
To top off our day at the zoo, we later went to watch Zootopia at the Chase Park Plaza Cinema. Like most kids movies today, it was equally fun for us adults and presented tough topics like prejudice in an approachable manner.
The St. Patrick’s Day parade was finished, the Blues were on the road, and the Cardinals in Jupiter, so downtown was a relative ghost town as we drove past Busch Stadium and Ballpark Village, the Arch, and Union Station.
Before our visit was through we had to visit a music store and yarn store: Music Folk in Webster Groves and Kirkwood Knittery, respectively. The Optometrist enjoyed sampling some mandolins and buying a new tuner and some new strings, while I picked up some Koigu KPPM and Cascade Heritage Sock Yarn. The Koigu will make some lovely fingerless mittens and I’m planning on using the Cascade to knit the Vida Shawl by Mina Philipp of the Knitting Expat Podcast.
During our final day we ate lunch at the Blues City Deli from a recommendation from an optometrist friend and then shared dinner with him that evening at Fitz’s in The Loop. Even though I don’t drink soda, The Optometrist loved trying their cream soda and getting a variety pack of sodas to bring home with us.
Our final destination was my hometown, driving by my old house, high school, church, and places I used to work. The trip afforded us rest we so desperately needed, reconnected me to times and moments that remain dear to me, and allowed new memories to be made with my husband. Had I never moved away, I never would have met and married him. So while I love St. Louis, and always will, it’s no longer home. Home is where The Optometrist is.