That same weekend, My Roommate Jamie‘s wonderful relatives had come into town for Easter and were kind enough to invite me to join them on their excursions around St. Louis.
So my day began with brunch at Crepes STL, an extremely popular breakfast and desserts place in Central West End that’s just ten minutes away by car and seven minutes away by Metrolink (plus ten minutes of walking) from the U City Big Bend station on campus.
The streets of Central West End
Behind the counter at Crepes STL. Note the weather forecast on the right!
My Roommate Jamie looks for somewhere to sit.
Desserts! Flowers! Flowers and desserts! Desserts and flowers!
While searching for seats, I accidentally happened upon a back door in the restaurant that led to a beautiful courtyard. The decision to sit outside that day was a no-brainer: it was sunny, breezy, and there was nobody else there but us.
Jamie and I shared a Belgian waffle and an omelet, while the rest of the family ordered crepes.
Sweet and savory. Both equally delicious.
That was it for Crepes STL. Next up was downtown St. Louis.
Our original plan was to take a trip up to the top of the Gateway Arch…
…but we got sidetracked by all of the attractions surrounding the monument, including:
This manicured stallion!
Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher’s Riverboat Cruises!
(Complete with classic ragtime music so you can party like it’s 1901)
The Good Ole Mississipi River (and Helicopter Tours)!
And this guy!
Heading inside the Arch museum, we found that the lines were long and the crowds were dense. So we decided to save the trip up for the next morning in favor of the many other activities we could partake in around the Arch…
…like taking a walk around Citygarden, a sculptured oasis in the middle of the city between Chestnut and Market Street.
The park was filled with fun interactive sculptures, pools, and fountains like this one.
…and quickly became filled with sculptures-turned-interactive by Anastasia and My Roommate Jamie.
This next sculpture was particularly intriguing. All of the sculptures had titles that were deeply profound and/or evocative of the human condition like “Movement of the Spring Grass, Composition No. 5” and “Second Encounter of the Post-Apocalyptic World Order”. This one, for instance, was called something along the lines of: “Ecce Headimus Maximus Lying on the Groundimus”. If I were the artist I would personally call it: “Getting Inside Your Head”.
GET IT? Because we were literally going inside his head.
…And I guess that pretty much sums up why Igor Mitoraj is a famous sculptor and I am not.
There was also a larger-than-life pink suit with which I tried to carry on a conversation, and a pool you could walk across (and ostensibly swim in during the summer)…
…among other cool things like this musical object that makes sounds when you step on it!
All in all, ’twas a super fun place that, disingenuous comments aside, featured some really cool work from acclaimed artists like Keith Haring and Niki de Saint Phalle. Seems like it would be even better during the summer, when all of the pools are open for use! We’ll definitely be coming back here soon!
And now for something completely different.
Immediately following our trip to Citygarden, My Roommate Jamie and I had to double back to WashU to attend our first WUStock, a concert that takes place every spring smack in the middle of the South 40.Every year the show features not only awesome professional and student bands but also fun attractions and snacks. This year we had a Korean Taco food truck and cupcake caterers from the St. Louis area stop by to feed us with yummy treats, as well as several crafts workshops set up to satisfy our inner artist, like the “Make Your Own Sunglasses” tent that my friends couldn’t get enough of. There were also, as always, plenty of barbecues.
My Roommate Jamie and my floor got together to do some BBQin’ before the show.
Steak Master and Birthday Boy(!) Dennis takes charge.
The boys fire up the grill…
…while I sit back and eat some cookie cake from Paws & Go (our pun-licious campus grocery store) in honor of Dennis’ birthday…
…and others of my friends look beastly in their new homemade sunglasses.
Past headliners for the show have included Matt & Kim and Augustana, among others found mostly in the alternative/pop genre.
This year our headliners were the:
After a short and painless soundcheck,
Disashi, Travie, Eric, and Matt of the Gym Class Heroes came onto the stage and said their hellos to St. Louis.
Following their entrance, the crowd finally poured in, and the show got off to a rollicking start.
They played an hour’s worth of virtually their entire discography, from their beginning rap-rock roots on For the Kids to their most recent album, Paper Chronicles II.
It was like attending crash course on all their best songs. Cupid’s Chokehold, Peace Sign/Index Down, Guilty as Charged, Stereo Hearts, and even Billionaire made their way onto the set list. For Gym Class Heroes connoisseurs and newbies alike, this show was more than satisfying.
And, before I forget to mention, allow me to mention once again that this show was made about 20 times better by the fact that it was…
(take a guess)
Because that’s how we roll at WashU. I know you’re probably sick of hearing how everything we ever do at this university is both awesome and free, but this is the unfortunate/not-so-unfortunate truth, and thus I must report it as a law-abiding journalist for undergraduate admissions.
(and here’s Travie seconding my statement:)
In other news, I witnessed a tambourine solo.
And then this happened:
Disashi jumped into the crowd.
(By this time he was already coming toward the stage from the back).
I can’t even believe this photo is real.
I almost died taking it, too, snapping the shutter three seconds before he (almost) crushed me. But I knew the photo had to be taken, and so I took it.
It is at this time I would like to extend a thank you to good gentlemen in my vicinity for saving me.
And that pretty much sums up why I love WashU: I came 3 inches away from a celebrity and my life was saved from irreversible demise/face surgery, all in a matter of seconds! Just another day in my life.
And so it went: fan girls screamed, a mosh pit formed, and we were frequently asked, for whatever reason, to profess our love to the Heroes of Gym Glass with hand gestures.
And so the show came to an end, and I headed back to my room for a quick breather before the night began (it was only 4:30 when the show was over), slightly deaf in my right ear but oh-so-content to have witnessed three live acts in under 24 hours.
(and all of them for FREE)
After only about a half an hour in the room, it was already time to start making reservations for our *family* dinner (as in My Roommate Jamie’s family’s dinner, yet another event that I crashed that weekend).
There were so many restaurants we wanted to try that it took us about an hour to settle on a single restaurant. If you haven’t heard about the cuisine in St. Louis, you haven’t been listening at all. Not only its there a rich culinary heritage within the city itself, there are also enclaves of immigrant communities that have opened up incredible restaurants with foods you’d be hard-pressed to find even in a city overrun with people like New York. Are you craving Bosnian? What about Nepalese? Latvian, anyone? Why not? If you come to St. Louis you can satisfy your most foreign needs; if you’re craving more popular genres like American or Chinese, though, you can find plenty of that, too.
That night, for instance, we were on a mission to find a nice French restaurant in the area, and even having narrowed our search down to this category we were overwhelmed by all of the options. We finally settled on Franco, a restaurant specializing in classic French cuisine located in the famed Soulard district in St. Louis.
Let’s just say we were very pleased with our decision.
It’s right next to the Soulard Farmer’s Market, one of the largest and oldest open-air markets west of the Mississippi (started in 1779)!
Seeing this, I knew we had come to the right place.
And this: actual window seats. So cool!
Old doors from the original building lining the wall. Even cooler!
And here’s more of the interior:
Trying to order just one plate was almost as difficult as trying to find just one restaurant. Eventually I made up my mind and picked the Grilled Missouri Rainbow Trout (stuffed with goat cheese, caramelized onion and apple with fingerling potato and spinach salad with bacon vinaigrette on the side).
We all started off with some warm bread,
and I sampled some of the seared scallops that Jamie’s aunt had ordered, topped with arugula, orange supremes, spiced pepitas, and an apricot canelazo dressing.
that’s about as far as I got photographing the food because,
I was too busy eating it.
So there you have it!
If you want to see the rest of the food, it looks like you’re going to have to go to Franco by yourself.
But you won’t be disappointed, I promise. After all, if the bread and appetizers looked that good, imagine what the entrees and desserts looked like…
So My Roommate Jamie and I returned home, now with a food coma to add to our fun-induced ailments, including our slightly deaf right ears and our general exhaustion. We crashed in our beds and before we knew it, it was already time to prepare for the next day’s adventures.