Visiting St. Louis Like a Local Archives

February 1, 2008

Is This Really How International Visitors See the USA?


There is statistical evidence to support the argument. Direct from the 2008 inbound travel report from the ITA Office of Travel & Tourism for the United States.

Top 10 Countries of Origin (in order):
Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, France, Brazil, Netherlands, Italy, & Ireland.

Top 10 US cities of entry (in order):
New York, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Honolulu, Atlanta, Washington DC, Orlando, & Boston.

Because of major airline hubs, I realize that a few of these cities are probably ports of entry rather than final destinations: Atlanta comes to mind. But, I'm willing to wager that in most cases the city of entry IS the final destination for most international visitors.

I admit that it is a pet peeve for me. It's because I live in the central part of the United States. The part that Americans themselves call "fly-over country".

It is frustrating to be a traveler who loves to visit other countries and loves nothing more than to have visitors from other countries visit my town. But, getting international travellers interested in visiting my part of the country is an uphill battle. HECK, most Americans who live on either coast aren't interested in visiting St. Louis, so why should someone from London, Toyko, Berlin, Paris, Rio, Amsterdam, Rome or Dublin be any different?

I don't have an answer. I just feel better getting it off my chest.

August 24, 2008

Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony

This weekend I did two day tour of 80 countries.
I bought gifts for my grandchildren in Tiawan, Bolivia, Egypt, and Nepal.

I enjoyed watching interesting dance presentations in India, Scandinavia, Thiland, Bosnia, Greece, Spain, Bolivia, Liberia, Egypt, & the Appalacian US.

By eating small 'tasting' portions I managed to graze my way through Nigeria, Afganistan, Argentina, Berma, Eritrea, Peru, Pakistan, Scotland, Iran, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Belize, Turkey, Cuba, Bosnia, Thiland, Haiti, Senegal, & Brazil.

There were twice again as many cuisines that I didn't manage to get to.

It would be impossible to say which food I liked best. I like ALL of them best. But the actual experience that I enjoyed the most was the Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony. I hope the lovely lady who was my gracious hostess manages to have her son check this blog entry out for her. I promised her she was the first picture I posted from the 2008 International Institute of St. Louis' annual Festival of Nations in Tower Grove Park.

First you roast the coffee beans.


While the coffee brews, set the mood with some lovely incense.


From brew pot to serving vessel.


My own cup of coffee being poured by my hostess.


And in Ethiopian I thank my hostess for that delightful experience. Ameseginalehu

September 21, 2008

My Veterans Day Rant

(I've developed the habit of posting my thoughts about each holiday. My 4th of July post came while on a ferry from Montenegro to Italy. Memorial Day was about my reaction to visiting the American Cemetery in Anzio. But, it was Kim's comment to that post, about the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day, that started me thinking about this holiday. So I decided to post early. Maybe some St. Louisans will read it and decide to prove me wrong.)

Are the people of St. Louis going to show our veterans how little we care again this year?

In a month and a half, on November 8th, 2008, St. Louis’ annual Veterans Day parade will begin at the Soldiers’ Memorial. The veterans marching down empty streets will be surprised if they draw more than a few thousand spectators.

What is wrong with us? Are we so ungrateful that we can’t spend a couple of hours one Saturday a year to show a little appreciation for the men and women who have served our country? My guess is yes, we’ll continue to stay home in apathetic droves.

After all, we'll still be suffering from election fatigue. Half of us will be recovering from celebrating our guy’s victory. The other half will be crying in our beer and predicting the end of civilization as we know it. So 100% of us can use our hangovers as our excuse.

Coming just four days after the election, we won’t be expecting any politicians to show up, will we? They won’t need our votes any longer. The winners have secured their own political gravy train for one more term. The losers will be licking their wounds and pimping themselves out for nice fat consulting contracts.

And of course there is the whole war debate itself.

Is the anti-Iraq contingent so angry that they can’t distinguish between the actual war and the men and women who served? They give lip-service to “our brave troops”, but do they really mean it? And what about the pro-Iraq faction? You’d think they’d be out there proudly waving their Red-White-&-Blue, wouldn’t you? But, since being pro-war has become so unpopular how many of them are willing to stand front and center for their belief? They’ll just stay home to rake leaves or go shopping to beat the Christmas rush.

We can turn out by the hundreds of thousands to lionize our sports teams when they have a championship season. We can jam Soulard for a series of Mardi Gras parades that celebrate nothing more than what kind of foolish costumes our poor dogs are forced to wear -- or how much beer it takes to induce us to lift our shirts in exchange for some cheap plastic beads.

If you ranked the annual attendance at St. Louis’ major parades, from Annie Malone to Veiled Prophet, I’m willing to bet that Veterans Day would come in dead last.

As far as I can see there isn’t even a website devoted to St. Louis’ Veterans Day parade, or an organization sponsoring and promoting it. It appears that it’s being handled by someone working it the Board of Public Service – part of the bureaucracy of St. Louis City government. With no citizen’s organization behind them doing the real organizing, what is the chance the city of St. Louis can getting its act together enough to promote any event, much less a big parade?

But in case you want to contact the person in charge, her title is Special Events. You can find her at the Board of Public Service. I'm sure she could use your help, or at least your promise to show up.

If every municipality in the St. Louis Metro area adopted just one side of each block of the parade route and promised to fill it with spectators, just think what a view our veterans would have as they marched down the middle of the street.

March 16, 2009

Festival of Nations

Since some of my SlowTrav friends are in the middle of planning their trip to St. Louis the end of August this year, I thought I'd post some of my pictures from last year. Unfortunately, other than food, I don't have that many pictures. I had so much fun last year, I kept forgetting to use my camera.
But, if you want to see a really cool video go to the website for the International Institute and click on the red link.

I love this shot. It shows the crowds hanging out around the main stage. There are just so many interactions going on.


It was fun to watch the kids in the children's area learning the hat dance. And they were pretty good!


Backstage, waiting to go on. It was amazing the way these dancers balanced those platters on their heads as their hips gyrated.


These Bollywood dancers were happy to let me take a closeup picture of their beautiful outfits.


June 5, 2009

23 Things Every St. Louisan Knows & You Don't

If you live in St Louis... You'll understand this.
If you've ever visited St. Louis... You'll understand this.
If you've never been to St. Louis... Consider this your Visitor's Guide to Driving in St. Louis.


1. There are 75 "unofficial neighborhoods" in the City of St. Louis. St. Louisans commonly give directions--especially for restaurants--to strangers based on these neighborhoods, which aren't marked on any maps that are handed out by the tourist board, the AAA or Mapquest.

2. There are 54 school districts--on the Missouri side alone--each of which has their own school bus system with scheduled times to block traffic.

3. There are 91 official municipalities in St. Louis County. Each municipality has its own rules and regulations, and often their own police departments.

4. More importantly, most have their own snow removal contracts so it's not uncommon to drive down a road in winter and have one block plowed, the next salted, the next piled with snow and the last partially cleared by residents wanting to get out of their driveways.

5. Snow plowing is never a problem in the City of St. Louis. They plow nothing, and if the forecast calls for snow, they close everything. Except on "The Hill" (refer to #1 above) where each homeowner goes out to the street and shovels out one car-sized rectangle and then stands watch over it.

6. Any car parked longer than 4 hours in the city is considered a parts store.

7. The City of Ballwin actually proposed that drivers use connecting strip mall parking lots to get from place to place rather than drive on Manchester road to cut the traffic on Manchester. (And for good reason. There is a stoplight at every intersection on Manchester).

8. Laclede Station Road, McCausland, Lindbergh, Watson, Reavis Barracks, Fee Fee, McKnight, Airport Road, Midland, McKelvey, and Olive mysteriously change names as you cross intersections.

9. Gravois Road, Spoede and Chouteau can only be pronounced by St. Louis natives. (Highway 40 as is pronounced as "farty".)

10. A St. Louisan from South County has never been to North County and vise versa. West County just has everything delivered.

11. No native St. Louisan knows that Lindbergh runs from South County to North County. And if you tell them, they will not believe you.

12. Lindbergh belongs to every neighborhood except Kirkwood, who had the nerve to creatively change the name to "Kirkwood Road." (Which may be the reason for number 11.)

13. There are 2 interchanges to exit from Highway 40 onto Clayton Road and 2 for Big Bend. Stay alert, people!

14. If you need directions to O'Fallon, make sure to specify Illinois or Missouri. This is also true for Troy, Maryville, St. Charles, Springfield and Columbia.

15. The Page Avenue extension and Airport expansion projects took over
20 years to get approved. St. Louisans lost track of how many political figures claimed them as their own ideas.

16. St. Louisans were aghast when the federal government required them to redo the highway signs to indicate that the federal highways went to cities in other states instead of local municipalities.

17. Drivers are starting to cut their OWN plates rather than go through the Missouri Department of Motor Vehicles to get new tags. You can also purchase tags from dealers behind Quick Shops in the city. They are cheaper, the clerks are nicer, and the service is faster.

18. Lambert Field and St. Louis International Airport really are the same place. The East Terminal, however, is a different place.

19. Highway 270 is our daily version of the NASCAR circuit.

20. You can go all four directions on Highway 270: North and South in West County, East and West in South County, and East and West in North County. Confused? So are the St. Louis drivers.

21. The outer belt is Highway 270 which turns into Highway 255 in South County. The inner belt is Highway 170. Highway 370 is an outer-outer belt. Highway 40 is the same as Interstate 64 (but only through the middle part of St. Louis). If you are listening to traffic reports and they are calling it 64, the traffic jam is in Illinois. If they are calling it 40, the traffic jam is in Missouri.

22. The morning rush hour is from 6:00 to 10:00 AM. The evening rush hour is from 3:00 to 7:00 PM. Friday's rush hour starts Thursday morning.

23. Never ever try to cross a bridge in St. Louis during rush hour unless you have a sack lunch and a port-a-potty in the car.

September 11, 2009

What Do You Do, When There's Too Much To Do?

As some of you know from my tweets and facebook posts, I'm feeling a little sorry for myself.

Dan is going to Phoenix next weekend for a few days of golf with a buddy, and leaving me at home alone.

Because my holiday bookfair season is going into full gear soon, it will be my last totally free weekend until Christmas. I want to do something, but don't know what. So I decided to see what might be happening here in St. Louis. I came up with just a few ideas.

Friday, September 18th:

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy is going to be at the Touhill with a tribute to Cab Calloway

Chris Botti will be at the Fox Theatre

Collinsville, IL (just across the river) is having their 25th Annual Italian Fest

Great Forest Park Balloon Glow & Balloon Race. Glow is friday night with race on Sat. morning.

All the haunted house attractions open for the season on Fri. including Creepyworld and The Darkness

The Omnimax film, Van Gogh: Brush with Genius opens at the Science Center

Saturday, September 19th:

9th Annual Old Webster Jazz & Blues Festival

It's time again for Schlafly Tap Room's beer festival, HOP in the City 2009

Fall Fine Arts & Crafts Festival at Faust Park

Pioneer Days Folkways Festival at the Historic Daniel Boone Home

Sunday, September 20th:

Fall Equinos Sunrise Observance at Cahokia Mounds Historic Site. 6:30 am

St. Louis Cardinals will cream the Chicago Cubs in a 1:15 game. This can be enjoyed as a fundraiser for Ovarian Cancer Research


September 30, 2009

My Top 10 "Only In St. Louis" Food Experiences

We're having a little contest on SlowTrav. Everyone is being encouraged to put together a list of 10 things to do; costing no more than $20.00 per person; and no further than 30 miles by car from their own front door. The prize is a $40.00 value. Thus the contest name: 10, 20, 30, 40 Contest.

As a rather obnoxious "cheerleader" for the St. Louis area, I knew there was absolutely no way I could limit myself to only 10 things. Heck, I'll have a hard enough time limiting myself to 10 categories. But, I've managed to come up with just one subject and posted an entry in the designated thread on the SlowTalk message board, choosing a subject that everyone should address when visiting another city -- how to avoid chain fast food stores, and where to find tasty, but cheap food that is unique to the city.

After the contest is over, I'm going to indulge my need to boast about St. Louis by blogging my "Top Tens" of other things about my city. For example: 10 Things to do with Kids, 10 Great Spectator Sports; 10 "Bet-You-Never-Know" Historical Sites, etc, etc.

I'll post all these lists here in my blog category: Visiting St. Louis Like a Local.

But, in the meantime, please head over to the message board, Check out the contest thread. And how about posting a list of your own?

August 28, 2010

Day One - 2010 Festival of Nations

Had a great time with Jane at opening day for the Festival of Nations. We shopped at my favorite Ecuadorian clothing booth. I bought four more of the cotton shirts I dearly love. Went a little crazy this year and bought a red one! I usually stick to white.

The food booths have expanded and they can no longer accomodate all of them on food row, so they are in several additional locations. One of this year's new food offerings...


I took that picture for Jerry and Doug. :grin: Believe it or not, I didn't even ask them what Canadian 'speciality' they were offering. Any guesses?

I filled up on my two favorites: Eritrean and Haitian.


I had a full meal at the Eritrean booth. I just can't resist their spoungy flat bread called injera served with zigni (which is a kind of spicy beef stew), mixed veggies, and the best greens this side of Clarksdale, Mississippi!


The reason I love the Haitian booth is summed up with a single word - goat. Kabrit, (roasted goat meat) from the hands of a good Haitian cook is the most sublime thing you will ever taste.

We gave in to the heat before we saw everything we wanted to. With so much left, I'm seriously thinking of going back tomorrow.

August 29, 2010

What Do Canadians Serve to Represent Their Traditional Foods?

OK, Jerry & Doug...I took your assignment seriously. Here's your answer:

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Old Shoes - New Trip in the Visiting St. Louis Like a Local category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

This Week at Global Foods is the previous category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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