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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

What We Did On Our Weekend Vacation, By Sue, Age 50

If you trust in your song
Keep your eyes on the goal
Then the prize you won't fail
That's your grail
That's your grail
So be strong
Keep right on
To the end of your song
Do not fail
Find your grail
Find your grail
Find your grail
Meet me in Saint Louie,
me at the Fox...
Inside the Fox Theater
The Fabulous Fox Theater Lobby
Home again, home again, jiggedy jig...
We had a great time in St. Louis. Uh huh, the town recently named by research company Morgan Quitno Press as "The Nation's Most Dangerous City". THAT St. Louis. We spent the weekend there and actually LIVED to tell the tale. At hearing the report, the mayor of St. Louis, Francis Slay shouted, "BOGUS!" and from what we saw, we would have to agree. We lived near St. Louis, in Swansea, Illinois, for 3 1/2 years and spent a vast amount of time in the city. We loved it then and love it now. We saw some major refurbishing of an already lovely jewel, talked to many wonderful people about what is new and exciting in the city and enjoyed a great weekend.
We stayed in a beautifully restored B&B Inn called, "Napoleon's Retreat" located in Lafayette Square.
The Lafayette Square neighborhood is among St. Louis’ most picturesque areas and one of its hottest redevelopment sites with new condos and townhouses sprinkled amongst the historic homes. The architecture is simply stunning! Or, as our daughter pointed out, "Really old and cool!" Named after the Revolutionary War hero who visited St. Louis in 1825, the Square surrounds beautiful Lafayette Park, an oasis of greenery within the urban landscape. The park, which dates from 1836, is was the first public park west of the Mississippi River. The stately homes that frame the square have been called the finest and largest collection of Victorian-era architecture in the country.
Our home away from home, "Napoleon's Retreat" had
beautiful antiques and works of art, great food, a quiet atmosphere, friendly, helpful hosts (Jeff and Michael)
and a convenient location from which we could venture forth!
The evening we arrived, we were warmly greeted by Jeff and shown to our cottage. We stayed in the "guesthouse" at the rear of the courtyard. Gracie enjoyed having her very own balcony, just the spot for a princess in training to practice her royal waves...I do believe she is nearing perfection with 3 of them.
We called Kate, one of our dear China adoption trip buddies, and made plans to meet her and daughter Ginny, at The Emperor's Wok. Great place, all you can eat, a delicious restaurant that also features a
Mongolian Bar B Que much to Bill's delight!
We adore Kate and love to see her! And that Ginny, or
Gin-Gin, as Grace still calls her.
She is gorgeous and growing and sharp as that gleaming,
proverbial tack. Kate? You never need to fear how
well you are raising this little lady. You are doing a fantastic job! She is amazing!
Returned to our B&B and we all cuddled in to read. Grace enjoyed having Mom and Dad tag team read, "The Trouble With Tink". Faires have become
quite the "thing" in our house of late. Grace has informed us that "ours" is named Eloise and flits and floats about the house at will.
Awoke early and ventured into the main house to sit by the fire and read the morning paper. Breakfast that AM was delicious! A spinach
and egg fritatta, fresh fruit, cranberry and nut scones and hot, green tea. Just the repast we needed to stoke ourselves up for a busy day.
We drove by all our
favorite places, the Art Museum, the zoo, the arch, city hall, the botanical gardens, to see the new ball park....
The rain kept us from doing too much in the way of outdoor activities but we really enjoyed our leisurely tour of the city. We wandered
around Union Station which is still an architectural gem, a feast for the eyes! After a bit, we headed over to visit
another landmark jewel, this one a feast for the taste buds!
We topped off our afternoon with a stop at Ted Drewes Frozen Custard. The place is a Route 66 institution that has survived the Mother Highway, which ran through St. Louis on its way from Chicago to California. Here since 1929, the shop adds fruits and candies to a custard (They call it a Concrete or 'Crete for short) and blends it so thick it's handed to you in a cup upside down. Grace gave it her "Thumb's Up!"
We then headed to the Fox Theater.
The Fox was built in 1928 and is one of only 2 houses built during the silent move era. The theatre is absolutely spectacular. Restoration of the Saint Louis Fox began in 1980 as a group of local business people came to it's rescue. The Theatre re-opened in 1982.
Billed as "the inspiring $6 million William Fox temple of the motion picture," the Fox Theatre opened originally early in 1929. The decor, designed by William's wife Eve Leo, has been described as Siamese Byzantine. Reporters in 1929 said the theatre
was "awe-inspiringly fashioned after Hindoo Mosques of Old India, bewildering in their richness and dazzling in their appointments...striking a note that reverberates around the architectural and theatrical worlds."
It was there that we had the pleasure of seeing Monty Python's Spamalot,
winner of the 2005 Tony® Award for Best Musical, the outrageous musical comedy lovingly ripped off (as they say) from the film classic "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." Directed by Tony® Award-winner Mike Nichols, with a book by Eric Idle and music and lyrics by the Grammy® Award-winning team of Mr. Idle and John Du Prez, Spamalot tells the tale of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table as they embark on their quest for the Holy Grail. Flying cows, killer rabbits, taunting Frenchmen and other Python mania are included for just the price of the ticket! The pleasure of "Spamalot" lies in seeing something from a new, skewed angle that shows it off, good and fresh. And yes, we laughed...a lot!
We had our "after the theater" dinner at Trattoria Marcella on "The Hill" in St. Louis. The Hill is a mostly Italian-American neighborhood near the highest point of the city.
The food was wonderful. Everything tasted like we were sitting in a trattoria in Italy. The service was prompt, friendly, and very knowledgeable. (Thank you Sarah!)
The dishes are creative, flavorful, and plated beautifully.The chef made his rounds to all the table, including ours, and was so sweet to Grace.
The restaurant has a warm neighborhood atmosphere mixed with a New York City sense of style. Appetizers include a marvelous pizza with truffle oil and, choice for the evening, the toasted ravioli, a St. Louis tradition. The innovative house salad is a delightful mix of greens topped with tomato, red onion, mozzarella and pinenuts with balsamic tomato vinaigrette. We all enjoyed the salad special that evening, a twist on the house, with goat cheese and candied pistachios added.
One of the specialties is the standout Lobster Risotto and that night they were featuring it with shrimp as an addition. I was in heaven. I am a huge fan of risotto and have never had any better than the risotto dishes at Trattoria Marcella.
Sunday morning's breakfast delight was waffles, strawberries, sausage, fresh squeezed orange juice and a hot cup of cinnamon tea. After checking out and bidding Jeff and Michael goodbye, we headed downtown to The Central Library with Kate and Ginny.
The Central Library building is one of St. Louis' architectural treasures. It is modified Italian Renaissance in style and was designed by famed architect Cass Gilbert. It features beautiful stained glass windows, hand-stenciled ceilings and glass floors.
St. Louis Public Library and The Magic House Children’s Museum in St. Louis joined together to enter the magical world of fairy tales and they invited us to come along. Kate's good friend is the library's Children's Services coordinator and she told us about this fantastic exhibit! They have created a one-of-a-kind, interactive exhibit titled Once Upon a Time... Exploring the World of Fairy Tales. This unique exhibit transports kids inside 7 important tales in a way they’ve never experienced before. The 2000 square foot exhibit focuses on the power and significance of fairy tales throughout history and all around the world. It brings to life 7 rich tales, each with its own large-scale environment and interactive components. It was absolutely the highlight of Grace's trip. Puppeteers, dancers, jugglers, crafts, musicians....all made for a memorable day, one that Grace will remember well into adulthood.

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