Today began by hitting the start of Route 66 in the middle of Chicago on Adams Street, then we wound our way past the spectacular Willis Tower into the Chicago suburbs. They say that you see the best and worst of America along Route 66 but we weren´t going to be on it for that long. Instead of travelling “more than 2000 miles” to LA we were off to St Louis, the Gateway to the West and because of time had to take the mammoth 8-lane I55. This wasn´t as bad as it sounds; we saw some wonderful countryside and never travelled for more than a couple of hours before having a break.
Pushing onto St Louis in the afternoon, we are about 10 miles away when we caught our first sight of the Arch. Now this is going to show what a real ignoramus I am, because I didn´t really know anything about St Louis other than it had a really, really big arch, and wasn´t there a film about meeting someone there?
Like most people, we were dropped at the Gateway Arch upon arrival in St. Louis and wandered under the enormous structure feeling like ants. Of course, I had seen pictures but didn´t really appreciate just how high it is. I’m always somewhat sceptical of large architectural projects, at least as far as enjoying them (seem to remember I felt the same about the Millau Viaduct and was wrong then as well) I have to admit the Arch is quite something. There wasn´t much of a queue, so we tagged on the end and waited our turn to climb into the very small capsule that carried us to the top. I can only compare it to a sitting inside a washing machine drum and anyone who is the least bit claustrophobic should give it a miss (that was Carole – never opened her eyes once on the way up or the way down). For the not-so-faint-hearted (that would be me) if you can bear the journey up the 192m, the only way to describe the view is “wow!” You can feel the arch sway in the wind but also feel safe probably because you are so close to heaven.
It was raining hard when we came down so after looking around the adjoining Museum that describes how Lewis and Clark made the journey from the East to the West of America, we climbed back on the coach to drive to our hotel. We could have walked if we were ducks, but the rain was bouncing so high, a bit like this unfamiliar storm we have today in Tenerife.
On the short journey, we spotted the unique Broadway Oyster Bar, with its awesome outside patio and the notice to leave your attitude at home attracted us. It was also supposedly the best place to hear the Blues but due to the weather, we ended up eating in the Top of the Riverfront restaurant, which was the top floor of our hotel. The restaurant takes almost 2 hours to rotate giving great views of the city particularly at night. The food was first-rate and imaginative, although not cheap, and the staff couldn´t be more attentive, but the music was piped and not what we associated with St. Louis.
Next stop Nashville.