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Another road trip with my niece--Rocheport, St. Charles, St. Louis Missouri

Another road trip with my niece--Rocheport, St. Charles, St. Louis Missouri

Old Nov 18th, 2011, 04:50 PM
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Another road trip with my niece--Rocheport, St. Charles, St. Louis Missouri

My niece was visiting me in October and so we took another road trip across Missouri. She came for a much longer time after her high school graduation, this time it was a MUCH faster version.

We had a blast. I'll split this into restaurants, lodging and activities. Restaurants first.

Les Bourgeois Blufftop Bistro
Both coming and going we managed to be passing Rocheport at lunch time. We swung off I-70 and had lunch at the Les Bourgeois Blufftop Bistro. I have had lunch there several times over the years and it is always good.

It's just such a beautiful setting. The first stop was cloudy and windy, but coming back it was a bright, crisp fall day, with beautiful blue skies. As we always do, we walked down to the area right on the blufftop above the Missouri River and took pictures. Back up adjacent to the parking lot were some rolling rows of vines, and even in the fall when the grapevines are past their prime it made for some picture opportunities.

I was driving, so no wine for me, but my niece had a glass and while I had to take a conference call she also went into the A-Frame a little further down, did some tasting, and bought a bottle.

We had their antipasto platter both times. They had different items on the two different days so it was fun to try. They change their menu a lot and it's been awhile so I can't remember exactly what we each had, but I can tell you it was tasty.

http://www.missouriwine.com/Blufftop-Bistro-Menu.php

Picasso's Coffee House
The food was good at our B&B but the coffee was atrocious (contrary to the innkeeper's contention--which was that everyone always thought coffee was good at a B&B and no matter what she used everyone thought it was good--people do know when coffee is awful, they are just too polite to say it to her face).

So, as soon as we got to Main Street in St. Charles, I spotted the coffee and made a bee line. If lines are any indication, this is a popular place. The staff was warm and friendly, there are lots of places to sit, the coffee was good.

http://www.picassoscoffeehouse.com/site/

The Boathouse Forest Park
My nephew lives in St. Louis and is newly married, and my niece wanted to meet the new wife (and see her cousin of course). We met them at the Boathouse in Forest Park. It was a blustery, chilly day, so the table right next to the fireplace was appreciated!

We each had the half sandwich and soup options. All I can really remember was that we all enjoyed it. Then, the server did a really nice thing. We had brought a little popup card for the newlyweds that was a wedding cake. We had it sitting on the table as we ate and at one point the server asked about it and we told her about the recent wedding.

At the end of our meal she brought out a beautiful dessert and four spoons, completely unprompted. What a thoughtful thing to do! I gave her a big tip

http://www.boathouseforestpark.com/

The Good Pie
My niece and I were going to a concert at The Fox and The Good Pie is close by. My nephew came and met us for dinner beforehand (Erika was going to a different concert over in Illinois that night so could not join us).

Wood-fired, Napolean style pizzas---so delicious! Roasted olives and the meat and cheese plate for starters, then classic Margherita for me and I don't care what the others had, I was focused on my plate! Ben got the leftovers. This is a fun atmosphere right by St. Louis University, and the food was very, very good.
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Old Nov 18th, 2011, 05:22 PM
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Okay, now for lodging. This is where we got stories we will laugh about for years to come, but oh my, did it make for an uncomfortable stay at the time.

The Bittersweet Inn Bed and Breakfast

I thought I would look for something different and fun, and I always liked shopping in St. Charles Missouri, so I concentrated on bed and breakfasts in or near St. Charles.

I don't know if I can convey the experience in words. I will say the food was good.

But the innkeeper was really into oversharing. We checked in about 5 and by the time we left at 7 we knew that she was menopausal, missed being able to walk around naked like she used to do in her house in Florida, how someone came to the door once when she was naked in the back room but was able to quickly throw on a robe, how she disapproved of her daughter's career as a bartender, at least two stories of men who came down in bathrobes and she was sure they were naked underneath (do you detect a "naked" theme?); and more.

It went on like this every time we were around. I think she is probably really nice, but maybe lonely, but we were just so uncomfortable. Maybe I am just not a B&B person and need more distance from my innkeeper.

My niece got a lot of milage about the fact that there was a deadbolt on the outside of our door, and visions of Kathy Bates in Misery danced through our heads.

So, all of that could be dealt with but the room and bathroom were filthy. I mean random hairs on the shower walls, eyelashes and dust on the bathroom counter. The dust on the bedside tables was thick, and I don't mean a week's worth. That dust was seriously thick.

Her breakfasts were really delicious, and the house beautifully decorated (she'll tell you all about that as well. I am guessing that she concentrates on the things she likes to do, and cleaning wasn't one of them.

I think I am done staying at bed and breakfasts.
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Old Nov 18th, 2011, 06:10 PM
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And, activities! We went over to St. Louis to see a group my niece really likes, and because one of her friends goes to St. Louis University and she wanted to visit her. We managed to pack in a few tourist activities as well.

Shopping St. Charles Main Street
Union Station
City Museum
Soulard
Fox Theatre
St. Louis University

St. Charles historic Main Street
I love shopping the Main Street here. The atmosphere is fun, cobblestone streets, lots of different shops and restaurants. If you don't know the history, it was founded in 1769, is the starting point for the Sante Fe and Oregon trails, and was the first Missouri State Capitol.

If you are in the area and celebrate the Christmas Holidays, St. Charles usually puts on a show.

http://www.historicstcharles.com/visitors.aspx

Union Station, St. Louis
Like many other cities with big beautiful historic buildings, often train stations, St. Louis has tried to repurpose one of theirs--Union Station. And, like other cities, they continue to struggle to keep it viable.

The buildings are so big, and ornate, how do you keep them full of enough tenants and draw enough people to support it and keep up the infrastructure? (a side note, perhaps they should start by not charging for parking unless you spent money? You don't always find something every time you shop.)

I had a purpose though, and that was Cardinals gear! We were there the first week of the World Series and I had some serious Cardinals fans to shop for. My niece was pretty amazed by the amount of people we saw in red around St. Louis that week

But, as many times as I had been in Union Station before, for some reason I had not gone upstairs at the front of the building. The Grand Hall is definitely worth a visit. There was something to look at everywhere you looked.

Union Station's own site says it best (link to web site below) "These designs are most evident when entering the Station's Headhouse and the impressive Grand Hall, with its sweeping archways, fresco and gold leaf detailing, scagliola surfaces, mosaics and art glass windows. One can imagine the incredible impression the room created in 1894 on opening day."

Have a drink and look around in awe at a really magnificent time in our architectural history.

http://www.stlouisunionstation.com/info/history.cfm

All right, I hope this ends up being of help to someone sometime. I'll come back to the rest later.
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Old Nov 18th, 2011, 07:47 PM
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Toucan - I enjoyed reading your report.

I have always wanted to go to Rocheport - We are big mountain bikers and I think the Katy Trail goes through there. I beleive there is a B&B there that is very historic.

Union station is dying unfortunatley. The hotel is soo beautiful though.
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Old Nov 19th, 2011, 04:24 PM
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annesherrod, yes, the Katy Trail goes right below the Blufftop Bistro I mentioned above. You will often see a Katy Trail postcard showing the trail against a huge bluff of autumn trees...that's the spot. Really beautiful, you should definitely make the trip.

It seems to me that they have been saying that Union Station has been dying since we moved here back in 94. I don't know what the answer is, they are such beautiful spaces. I admit being annoyed by the parking situation and it would seem if they wanted to draw people in they would be more welcoming.
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Old Nov 19th, 2011, 04:58 PM
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Okay, I'll try to wrap this up.

City Museum
Wow! I've heard people talk about this place but I hadn't really delved all that deeply. The City Museum is amazing. What a fun place. I'm not sure how well I can describe it, even reading the web site on it doesn't fully reflect the place.

It's interactive, it's surreal, it's fun. There are tunnels and ladders, and water features. There is a ferris wheel on the rough and a bus and plane hanging precariously in the sky. And you can climb on them!

There are mosaics and sculptures and something fun to see everywhere you look. There are cafes and places to get libations. At first glance it would seem to be a children's place, but, I think it speaks to the child in all of us! I can't recommend it highly enough. Go. Just go.

http://citymuseum.org/site/

Soulard
This was just a driveby, really, as we had a little time to kill before meeting Ben at The Good Pie. Downtown was packed with Cardinals fans so we circled around and I drove my niece over. She took a few pictures around the market, and we drove up and down the streets. I love looking at the homes in this district, home of the fabulous Soulard Farmers Market.

http://www.soulardmarket.com/

Wikipedia gives you a bit of an overviw

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soulard,_St._Louis

The Fox Theatre

Another place I had heard about, and it lived up to it's reputation. We were there for a concert, but the venue itself was worth the visit. It reminded me a bit of The Chicago Theatre as well as The Fifth Avenue in Seattle (but on a much smaller scale).

Very ornate, far east influences complete with an elephant head above center stage. Something to see everywhere you look, just visually stunning. The glowing red eyes of the lions flanking the main staircase were a little unnerving!

http://www.fabulousfox.com/default.aspx

St. Louis University

I really didn't spend that much time here, but while my niece was visiting her friend I drove around a bit. It was evening, and there were some incredible churches lit up beautifully at night (and the Fox was just down the street).
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Old Nov 19th, 2011, 05:00 PM
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All the above, of course, doesn't even touch on how much fun we had just laughing and talking and experiencing new things together. I'm blessed with some incredible nieces and nephews, and I am lucky to spend time with them!
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Old Nov 21st, 2011, 10:51 AM
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Wow! What detail! Sounds like a great trip. Sounds like that's one B&B to avoid! She'd be a lot better off investing in a cleaning person to keep things fresh.

Thanks for sharing your trip report. Glad you and your niece had so much fun.
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Old Nov 21st, 2011, 07:26 PM
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I'm thrilled at least two people read the trip report
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Old Nov 22nd, 2011, 06:43 AM
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I read it too! I was in Missouri in July and also went to Les Bourgeois Blufftop Bistro and The City Museum so it was fun to read your report.

I stopped in Rocheport because riding a section of the Katy Trail has been on my to do list and the B&Bs there look charming. I enjoyed the restaurant and especially the views but I'm a little unsure about staying over in Rocheport now. Granted it was at least 104 degrees during my visit but the town was dead. We did not see a single person. I expected a few more small restaurants and art galleries. I'll need to do a bit more research before making the bike ride because I'm afraid an overnight could entail a long boring afternoon & evening. If I'm wrong please let me know!

Loved, loved, loved the City Museum!!! I wish more children's museums would use this as their model and just let kids be kids and have the freedom to roam and have fun. My fourteen year old had a blast and spent the day with a huge smile on his face. If I had young children it might have been stressful as my son would disappear into a tunnel on an upper level and then about 20 minutes later pop out under a giant whale one floor below. If you have small children be prepared to climb and crawl after them or it will be difficult to find them.

LLindaC recommended the Good Pie a couple of years ago when I asked about St. Louis so I'm glad you can also give it a thumbs up. I'll try to get there the next time I'm in St. Louis.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2011, 07:02 AM
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I know that feeling, toucan

The good thing = more people will be reading over time via searches.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2011, 05:39 PM
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wtm, I'm not sure about staying in Rocheport. It's actually been years since I went all the way to the town! I seem to only get as far as the Bistro We'll have to find one of those Katy Trail riders to give advice.

You're right about City Museum, sneakers and comfortable trousers with the willingness to crawl and climb will best prepare one for a visit!
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Old Nov 22nd, 2011, 10:03 PM
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Enjoyed your report, Toucan. It brought back many fond memories of St. Louis and how much there was to see and do there. What a good aunt you are! Very sorry to hear that Union Station is on the decline, it is such a magnificent building. You can almost feel the past... We saw previews for the new Martin Scorcese movie "Hugo" and the scenes in the Paris station ( no idea which Gare) reminded me of Union Station and its wonderful mechanical, turn of the century vibe. We lived there for a couple of years when DH was at Barnes, and I'd love to go back and see it all again. (I'd avoid your B&B like the plague, though!)
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Old Nov 25th, 2011, 09:15 AM
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I'm glad you enjoyed the report and that it brought back good memories kswl
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Old Nov 26th, 2011, 09:02 AM
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Thats the best kind of trip report, toucan!
Next best is one that makes me want to visit a new place
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Old Nov 27th, 2011, 01:57 PM
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agreed kswl2!!
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