Missouri: Mark Twain and rooftop bars
This morning we jumped right out of bed and hit the road for Missouri! After driving through farm country in Iowa and Illinois, we were happy to arrive in our fourth official state for exploration!
Shortly after crossing the border we arrived in Hannibal, home of Mark Twain – a famous American writer. The main street in Hannibal is quaint, and full of antique shops and references to Huckleberry Finn, the legendary character created by Twain. The town’s centerpiece is the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum. We entered the museum first, which has an impressive collection of Norman Rockwell paintings and fun interactive exhibits. We then headed to Twain’s preserved childhood home, which was surrounded by 8 historic buildings. While it was a quaint home, it was amazing to see where one of the USA’s important icons grew up.
On to St. Louis we went, Missouri’s second-largest city. After dropping our bags at the Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark, we walked across the street to Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team. First order of business was for our Australian friends to get Cardinals T-shirts, then for all of us to get hot dogs and our seats. It was their first baseball game and boy were they excited. They loved the atmosphere and traditions of American baseball. Each team has their own traditions: there’s this large cannon boom that goes off when the Cardinals hit a home run, and it’s a bit startling if you aren’t expecting it. Of course the Cardinals hit home runs all afternoon.
The symbol of St. Louis, the famous Arch, was the first thing we saw when we entered the city. It got more impressive the closer we got. We were able to walk right in and take the elevator all the way to the top. The views from the windows at the top were spectacular, providing a bird’s eye view of the entire city. On the way down we met a lovely docent named Charles who told us some wonderful tales about St. Louis’ history, and even had our friends from Australia sign his granddaughter’s Flat Stanley school project to represent their homeland before mailing it across the world.
From the Arch we headed to a restaurant voted one of the best St. Louis restaurants of 2013: the Libertine. As soon as we walked in we were impressed. All of the drinks were delicious, especially the Libertine Smash, made with fresh strawberries, vodka and a spritz of 150-year-old cognac. Our waiter, Ocean, was awesome and told us all about the farm-to-table nature of the restaurant. He said the chef uses all the food with little waste, which results in amazing creations such as risotto cooked in whey left over from the cheese production. It was so delicious we couldn’t stop eating!
At last we headed back to the Hilton to check out the rooftop bar and grab a nightcap. The views of the Arch and capitol were great, but watching a lightning storm play out over the city was the best: we had our own personal light show.
Tomorrow we have a lot of driving in front of us as we head to Kentucky!