You don't get more St. Louis than the weekend I just had. I'm usually pretty good about neglecting my Midwest roots in favor of my Texas ties, but now that I'm a little older I can appreciate more of the things that do in fact make St. Louis a great place. We got in on Friday in time to pick up my brothers and go have dinner on The Hill, the Italian neighborhood that is home to baseball greats and fantastic Italian food, which is a place I rarely went when I lived there (because of how far it was from our house) and couldn't have really understood the significance of, either. We spent Saturday morning at the zoo, which is quite frankly an awesome zoo and could probably kick the ass of your zoo, wherever you are. It's located in Forest Park, which is a marvel of its own, larger in size than Central Park and full of museums, hiking trails, etc. The zoo is a pretty expansive, sprawling place that is well kept and well cared for. It was funny how certain things triggered memories (it's been a thousand years or so since I've been there), like the exhibits and theater complex at the North Entrance (I remembered the sharks hanging from the ceiling), and the avian exhibit that was built for the 1904 Worlds Fair.
We met up with the boys again for lunch, this time at Sooulard, where my brother lived last year. It's another distinct neighborhood like the Hill that is home to a gargantuan Marti Graw party. We ate at Llewaylens (I think I horribly mangled the spelling, but you get the idea), then caught a shuttle to the Cards/Cubs game. I tell you, there are few sports rivalries that can hold up to the Cards and the Cubs. When the Cubs come to town, the stadium fills to capacity with red vs. blue, everyone ready to die defending their honor. Goodnatured and not so goodnatured heckling abounds, and just about everywhere you can hear someone yelling "Cubs suck!" or some variation thereof. I miss the old Busch Stadium, but the new one is pretty freaking awesome, and does still hold on to the spirit of its predecessor. We sat in the last row in the top section, but we had a birds-eye view and a breeze at our backs (which, in the random April heatwave of 85 degree plus temperatures, was very welcome), and had a perfect vantage point to see Albert Pujhols whack a 441 foot grand slam. While the new stadium does't have the flying eagle anymore, it still shoots off fireworks when the good guys hit a homer, and that was one hell of a homer. We won the game 8-2, the first time I've seen the Cards win since I lived there. That was a hell of a streak to have come to an end, and what a way to end it.
Dinner was at MacGirks, constantly rated as one of the top Irish pubs/bars in the country. I envy how well my brother has become part of the scenery and history of this city. He wears it like a glove, and fits in so naturally I can't ever picture him anywhere else. St. Louis is his city, in ways I will never know even though we were both born there. He's the one who's lived there; I only paid rent for a few years when I was a kid.
We topped off the night with frozen custard at Ted Drews, where there was such a crowd at the windows that it spilled out into the street. I think the only thing we missed out on was Imo's pizza, but since the husband is still scared of it, I think we're ok. (Imo's, while constantly ranked as the best pizza in the city, is generally despised by anyone who did not grow up on it).
We left the Arch behind early this morning, since we discovered on the way there that the air condition in my car doesn't work, and it was going to be 85 today. The less driving in the heat of the day the better off we were. Ugh.
So anyway. This is the first time I think I've really been back there as an adult with my eyes open to really see the place for what it could be to me now, as opposed to what it was to me as a kid. Kind of an experience, really. It's a unique place with its own charm, though I might wait to go back until they get the damn highway fixed. =)