I'm back from the Great Midwest!!! I saw neither the Gateway Arch nor the Golden Arches during my time there, but it was a fabulous trip nonetheless. I'll share (some) of my adventures in different posts throughout the week...today we'll begin with my introduction to the city of St. Louis...
I'm not a fan of public transportation. I didn't grow up in the city, my hometown had no trains or taxis or buses (unless you count John the Taxi Guy who escorted the elderly ladies to their hair appointments and decorated his cab with holiday-themed toppers like a giant turkey for thanksgiving.) Here in Boston the whole transportation thing is such a debacle that everyone agrees, it's often best just to stay home. So when visiting new cities, I tend to take the "People in glass houses..." approach and keep my thoughts to myself.
But I have to take the gloves off with St. Louis. Not because their Metrolink system was complicated (there was a very nice man in the airport whose entire job was to make it easy for folks like me to buy a ticket and find our way onto the proper train), or because it was dirty or outdated (the cars were all clean and lovely, with a vague scent of eau de new car wafting through the air), but because it was terrifying. WHO, I want to know, thought that the best way to introduce people to the great city of St. Louis was to SUSPEND them in tiny trolley cars HIGH ABOVE the highway??? (Notice, if you will, that all the metrolink websites feature pictures of the bus...there are no pictures of the roller coaster adventure awaiting you if you decide you'd rather take the $3.25 bargain route from the airport than pay $40 for a cabride downtown). They call it a light rail system...as in, "the cars are lightly attached to the rails..."
So I sat there in my little trolley car fifty feet above the highway, trying to avoid looking out the seven-foot windows at the rushing traffic below, astudiously NOT thinking about how, even if I survived the fall to the pavement, I'd still have an approximately 100% chance of being ploughed over by an 18-wheeler. I didn't think any city could take a worse approach to infrastructure development than Boston, but the whole dangle-the-new-arrivals-over-the-traffic thing can't be doing much to build repeat visits...
(As I type this, all my colleagues are calling in late because the Mass Pike is shut down this morning by a raging car fire. And as much as they're complaining about the delay, I doubt that ANY of them would prefer to witness said fire from a track suspeded over it, roasting them slowly as they roll by...)
I felt MUCH better when I got to my hotel, though, because the reservation clerk told me he had an EXCITING OFFER for me. Because there were no rooms left at the inn, he said, he could offer me a huge luxury suite for my 3-night stay, one that usually goes for $500-600 per night. In my case, they would give it to me for my normal one-room price.
"It has everything..." the young clerk gushed. "a living room, a gorgeous kitchen, a gigantic bath. It's fabulous! The only thing it doesn't have," he continued, speeding up and starting to mumble, "Isabed."
"It doesn't have a bed?" I repeated, certain I'd misheard.
"Itdoesnthaveabed" he mumbled once again. "It has a pull-out sofa, and housekeeping would put sheets on in and make it up JUST LIKE a bed! Did I mention that the suite has a kitchen???"
Um, thanks. But no. I had no groceries; I didn't plan to cook. I did however, hope to sleep during my visit, which was really the reason I initiated this relationship with the Renaissance Grand in the first place. I have no idea why they have suites with no beds - perhaps that's where they calm the people who have just been terrified by the Metrolink? Anyway...
After the roller coaster ride and my brush with luxury hotel living, things got REALLY FUN in St. Louis, including a fun run-in with one of my favorite blogger friends. Tune in tomorrow (or later today if everyone I work with is still stuck in traffic) for more! :)