Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Sounds of St. Louis

Today has been a pretty good day, with the exception of the weather. As I write, the sky is being lit up brightly by lightning outside the window of our hotel room, and by all accounts we missed a huge hailstorm earlier - somehow we seem to keep avoiding them with no apparent knowledge!

Colourful hotel sign indicating where my Dad stayed in 1999.
We started the day in somewhat nostalgic fashion, taking Dad to see the Residence Inn where he'd previously stayed whilst working here in 1999. The friendly staff at the reception asked us about our stay here and showed us inside one of the self-contained apartments which Dad said hadn't changed too much from the time he first came here.

One of the nice apartments where my Dad guested.
Afterwards we moved on to the Galleria shopping centre just across a wide highway from the Residence Inn. As with most shopping malls it was the usual not-so-eclectic mix of clothes shops, electronics and food places, together with other high end goods, but at least it got us out of the rain which started just before we got in there.

The very wide road near the Galleria shopping centre.
I did have a look in American Eagle's clothing store which had a few nice t-shirts and a good range of boxer shorts, as well as H&m which had a nice New York T-shirt I hadn't seen in the UK. I also bought some luxury Belgian chocolates from Godiva in the lower part of the mall. We didn't hang around but instead had a quick coffee and a snack at St. Louis Bread Co. before going back to the metrolink station.

The pretty cool and quirky area known as the Delmar Loop.
We got the metrolink to Skinker station (funny name) which is just on the edge of Forest Park and also a short walk from the Delmar Loop. The Delmar Loop is a long street of shops and eating places, and seems to be more sure of itself than other areas we've explored in St. Louis. It has a lot of neon signs and tram tracks laid down (seemingly with no trams running) and feels a bit like old world America, if such a thing exists, kind of like the setting for Hill Valley in Back to the Future (!)

One of the many colourful signs in Delmar Loop.
Whilst on the street we ventured into a place called Subterranean Books (curiously with no downstairs) and a record store called Vintage Vinyl. This store was particularly cool and had wide ranging sections from blues, folk, soul to local and world music, as well as a whole section dedicated to Prince. Some good prices were to be had as well as some rarities, and I took a chance on a folk/roots/bluegrass album by New Yorker Eileen Ivers (appropriate), as well as a compilation of local artists traversing a number of genres including blues, folk, country and rock which seems pretty appropriate for music from this neck of the woods.

A couple of CDs by a mix of local artists and a native New Yorker.
As it turns out both CD's are excellent and seem set to be good reminders of my time here (although I haven't gotten to New York yet). I left the store feeling very satisfied and wondered what other cool record stores I might find in New York (Rough Trade aside). Whilst making our way slowly back to the metro station I took the time to study the LA-esque stars in the sidewalk commemorating local legends and those with a link to the city -  including Tina Turner, Chuck Berry and Pierre Laclede, after whom Laclede's Landing is named downtown.

Statue of Chuck Berry.
There was also a statue of Chuck Berry just off the sidewalk, as well as a number of cool coffee places selling great coffee and interesting flavours of tea. The whole area has a cool vibe but is not too crowded, and is definitely worth a visit. Lastly, I picked up a copy of the latest Riverfront Times, a cultural guide to what's hot and what's not in the city, as well as detailed listings. There's a live blues band on in town tomorrow night so may make an effort to get there and see that. For now it's time to settle in with some more TV (once the signal comes back on 'cos of the storm!
Latest copy of the Riverfront Times - cool cover!
On a parting note it's struck me that when I wake up tomorrow it will be two days until we're bound for New York. Excitement is definitely starting to build but I'm conscious of the fact I need to make the most of my time left in St. Louis, as I'm not likely to come back here as soon as I am to New York. Chances are I won't even have time to blog in New York, but here's hoping I will try!

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