Today we drove hell for leather out of dry Kentucky, through Illinois to St Louis, Missouri. The drive was fine, without the rain which had been forecast, the car drop-off went smoothly at the airport and then a very friendly welcome woman told us about the Metrolink train from the airport direct to Union Station. This worked fine (and was a lot cheaper than the airport shuttle bus) but dropped us a couple of blocks from the “Union Station Hotel” where we are staying. This proves to be in the old Union Station buildings, which are utterly splendid, but several blocks from the current actual train station from which we leave tomorrow. The hotel, a Doubletree Hilton, is also a bit tired, and has the worst internet connection we have experienced on our whole trip. I am typing this in the corridor, outside our room.
St Louis is not dry, but is hot, so we had a naughty mid-afternoon beer in a bar overlooking what used to be the train tracks. Today it houses the layouts of five local model railway clubs. The nerd level is very high.
Tonight we will try to find a restaurant which serves wine, but despite the apparently touristic location there is a dearth of restaurants within walking distance. But we shall overcome!
And we did, having a good steak in the hotel restaurant, after which we saw the most fantastic sight of the whole trip: The delightfully restored main hall of the station is now the foyer and bar of the hotel. It is vast, with astonishing detail. This evening they premiered a light show projected on to the ceiling and walls. It was spectacular. I have never seen a better son et lumiere, and this was free and we stumbled upon it serendipitously. Hurrah for unplanned holidays!
St Louis appears to be, perhaps because we have used public transport, the blackest city we have visited on this trip, but friendly with it.