Monday, April 30, 2012

Meet Me In St. Louie (via Instagram)

I briefly mentioned it before, but my specmazerful husband surprised me with a trip to St. Louis for my 30th birthday. (Insert collective "aww"s here.)

The trip itself wasn't a surprise - I told him that I wanted to leave the city for my birthday, because logically, if I wasn't there, my birthday couldn't find me and I wouldn't ever actually turn 30. (It was my crisis and I dealt with it nobly, obvs.) However, I didn't want to know where we were going. Even though I didn't want to know, that didn't stop me from guessing and deductively reasoning and pestering. Just ask The Hubs. Truthfully, though, I did not figure out exactly where we were going before we were on the road. I had a couple of guesses, and St. Louis was one of them, but I didn't know for certain. (This is a big step for me because I *love* a challenge and am generally VERY hard to surprise).

I left work early that Friday and we set out on the road.

The first directional choice we could make was to either go north toward Columbus or south toward Cincinnati:
South it is!
From there, we went west until we hit:


The sun was so bright at one point, The Hubs decided he needed two pairs of sunglasses:



And I still wasn't exactly sure where we were headed once we hit:



But eventually, I figured it out! (Before we came to this sign, even. Give a girl some credit.)
See the arch?!
We arrived at our hotel pretty late, so we hung out and ordered some of "St. Louis' Best Pizza", which was totally gross. The next morning, I was so excited to see the view from our 17th story window:

Morning, Archie! 
The first thing we did was to walk down to Laclede's Landing on our way to our trolley tour of the city.


The trolley was going to pick us up at Lumiere Place, so once we got there, we looked around the hotel and casino for a bit:


And had one of the absolute best meals I've ever had:


The trolley tour was really great - $20 per person and lasted like an hour and a half. The tour guide took us all over the city and told us all sorts of interesting tidbits about its history.

The Basilica of St. Louis, King of France ("Old Cathedral") .
We toured Forest Park, which is the site of the 1904 World's Fair, and is one of the many absolutely FREE parks and attractions in St. Louis. The (absolutely FREE) St. Louis Zoo is in Forest Park, as well as an art museum, tons of green space, and this statue of Louis XVIIII (and his horse):


After we left Forest Park, we drove down "Millionaire's Row" where St. Louis' most affluent residents live. Part of that drive was along an original portion of Route 66, and stopped somewhere along that road, I saw this cathedral. I don't know the name of it, though. (Sadface). 


After the trolley tour, we walked to the Arch in order to take a ride to the top. Apparently, it sells out, so we weren't able to go up just then. Instead, we sat around, enjoyed the beautiful weather, counted no less than three wedding parties getting photos taken, and took some dizzying pictures of our own:



Then we walked back to our hotel to get ready for the evening's festivities.

Back at Laclede's Landing, we had an incredibly underwhelming dinner at Jake's Steaks, where at least my $30 steak was free after being completely overcooked and us having to wait for a zillion years for service. The best part about Jake's Steaks, however, was this gigantic metal Beyonce signed by Ron Jeremy:





The last surprise The Hubs had up his sleeve for the night was an hour-long carriage ride through downtown St. Louis. We had a wonderful driver (?) and a beautiful horse named Hercules who took us on a freezing, but beautiful, tour of the city.



Hercules dropped us off at our hotel, but at close to midnight, I got a hankering for some Key Lime Cheesecake. If Key Lime Cheesecake is what your wife needs to drown out her sorrow from turning 30, Key Lime Cheesecake, she gets! So we drove to The Cheesecake Factory, got my life affirming nectar of the gods, then went back to the hotel to crash before another full day and a long trip home.

Day two of my amazing 30th birthday adventure later!