Category Archives: St Louis, Missouri

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Take Me to Church! The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.

There is something about historical churches that makes your presence there even more meaningful.

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The Basilica of Saint Louis is one of the landmarks of Saint Louis. The cathedral is famous for being named after King Louis IX of France, namesake of the city and only King of France to ever be canonized and considered as a saint. Saint Louis was notorious for his religious devotion during his rule. To find out more about his life and the events that led him to be canonized, click here. The rest of us, let’s proceed into the church.

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I found it very practical for me to visit the cathedral immediately after mass, which a lot of people do. While visitors are invited to take pictures after the Sunday service, no sightseeing tours are allowed during or immediately after mass.

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The Cathedral is also known for its large mosaic installation (which contains 41.5 million glass tesserae pieces in more than 7,000 colors). The mosaic is said to be the “largest mosaic in the Western Hemisphere”. 

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Construction of this cathedral began in 1907, and was completed in 1914 (the start of the first world war).

One of the peculiarities of the mosaics inside the cathedral is the fact that they were designed by different architects and they also have different meanings. For instance, the narthex of the church illustrates key moments in the life of King Louis IX of France. The rear dome includes mosaics of significant archdiocesan events, while the main dome by represents selected Biblical scenes from both the Old and the New Testaments.

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Mosaic from the Narthex: Saint Louis returns to Paris with the Crown of Thorns.

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Enter Mosaic from the Narthex: Saint Louis founds the Sorbonne.

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Mosaic from the Narthex: Saint Louis ruling his subjects.

There are sections in the church that are reserved for special prayers and in which no pictures are allowed.  The Blessed Sacrament is one of them.

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Here are some other great shots of the Basilica of Saint Louis.

 

If you’re interested in going there for Sunday service, this information will certainly be useful.

 

 

In a way, the cathedral was designed to reflect and illustrate St Louis’ love for architecture and art.

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I loved this building. And I think anyone visiting St Louis should take some time to stop by.

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”
― Henry Miller


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1,2,3… Mamma Mia! (The Fox Theater, St Louis)

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Mamma Mia! Here we go. The E-ticket.

Nothing can potentially explain how I feel about musicals.

They are one of the highest mode of expression of performing arts perhaps, in my opinion, and something that always brings me to a higher level of appreciation for art, creativity, music, and everything else that makes humans nothing short of amazing.

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Me at the Fox Theater, after having made everyone “go away” so I could take this perfect picture!

From the first time I went to watch Les Miserables in Sydney, Australia, I became a sucker for musicals. To see humans like you and I reproduce the sceneries from previous times, recreate in us the emotions that govern and directed success stories of before in visual arts, music and literature; to see them bring back the characters that we know from childhood tales or literature books back to life in today’s modernistic and contemporary world, and to make us, the audience, in turn, travel back in time and experience the very same emotions; is something that is far more than impressive. The word for this, I can’t describe.

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An ultimate moment to capture during intermission. Musical Program and of course, Personalized ice-cream. Compliments, the Theater.

I went to watch Mamma Mia! on tour, when the broadway musical was showing at the Fox Theater in St Louis, Missouri. The romantic comedy was inspired from the songs of the well-known Swedish group, ABBA (of which I only knew one track by heart: “Dancing Queen” and “Chiquitita”; I recalled the later from childhood memories). This was the final year of the smash broadway musical being on tour, after 18 years on the road. I was definitely one of the lucky ones (amidst all the other spectators who made the full house that night) to see this.

The plot narrates the story of a bride-to-be, Sophie sheridan, who secretly invited her three of her mother’s ex-conquests in her quest to find her real father. And for a story that I knew nothing of prior, I enjoyed the musical until the last song.

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Musicals are one of my “must-dos” whenever I travel and whenever I get the chance. Do you like musicals? What are your favorites? Drop a comment below!

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“To travel is to live.”

Hans Christian Andersen

 


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Discover the “Top” Nightlife Spot for Tourists in St Louis!

Every savvy traveler likes to have a good time, and sometimes, after a long day of walking around downtown and sightseeing, all you need is a sophisticated cocktail to unwine. And the 360 Rooftop bar (St Louis) offers you just that!

Where Is It?🔭

With such a magnificent and unbeatable view of the entire city of St Louis, there is NO other spot like 360. The bar is located at the rooftop of the Hilton St Louis at Ballpark, and gives you amazing views of the city’s most impressive attractions such as the Gateway Arch, the Mississippi river and the Bush stadium. The outside bar features a contemporary style and great city-like vibes, with a rectangular fire place perfect for cold winter nights or chilly summer evenings. A photo ID is required to access the bar.

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View of the 360 Roof Top Bar from Outside.

How Much is It?💰

Entrance to the bar is free, and so is the view! They do offer a wide variety of delicious cocktails that you can choose from based on your mood (and of course, your pocket). While they also offer food options (let me correct that – bite size snacks), I wouldn’t recommend buying any there because it didn’t turn out to be a good “value for your money” deal. The taste was not that great and the sizes not that generous.

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Pizza Margharita (or what is left of it..). Sara’s order.

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Crab Sandwich. Clem’s order.

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A serving of Mussels. Ruki’s order.

What makes it SO amazing?😎

The view, the cocktails, the music, need I say more? I know for a fact that once I stepped in the zone, I could feel the energy and understand why this is the top nightlife spot for all tourists who are visiting St Louis, at least for the first time!

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That Margarita did not stand a chance. Ruki was pleased.

How Can You Get there?✈️

The bar is easily accessible via car or app-based transportation services.

Is It Safe?👔👗

I think it is definitely safe to access and safe to stay. The handrails are high enough as arm rests, but if you’re afraid of heights, it’s better to stay further. You can still enjoy the great view, music and cocktails from inside!

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Roof Top Bar, View from Inside. Sara and I.

Have you ever been to the 360 Roof Top Bar? Drop your comments below!

“The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.”
― G.K. Chesterton

 


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5 Reasons Why The Missouri Botanical Garden is a Must for All Tourists…

“Just living is not enough…one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower.” 🌺Hans Christian Andersen

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Me looking at “Three Sturgeons”. Artwork by Sirio Tofanari. The Missouri Botanical Garden. Photocredits: a total stranger.

When I think of sightseeing overseas, I tend to “stay away” from anything that reminds me of Nature because having lived in Dominica for a long time, I have had my share of Nature (and a pretty generous one). But when I got to St Louis and was repeatedly told by all locals that the Missouri Botanical Garden was a must, I decided to put it on my “to do list” and to check it out before the end of my stay there.

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Map/Visitor Guide and Entry Ticket to the Missouri Botanical Garden.

And so said, so done. After having gone there, I can definitely testify that this is one of the best gardens I have ever seen, and for many reasons.

1. The History Behind the Creator is Simply Fascinating.

The Missouri Botanical Garden was not built out of mere necessity to have a botanical center in the city, but was rather created from the passion of one single man who was fascinated by and dedicated to botany. When he was still a teenager, Henry Shaw, a British native, was sent by his father to find, recover and sell a shipment of steel goods that was lost in New Orleans. Shaw ended up finding the missing shipment, but by that time, there was no buyer to whom it could be sold. So, in the spring of 1819, Shaw purchased a trip ticket on a steamship called the “Maid of the Orleans”, and after a 40-day trip, landed in a small French village in the Mississippi called St Louis, where he set up his own hardware store to sell that shipment. He started selling high quality metal products, including cutlery. Back then, St Louis was only 50 years old, and it was a great time for such a business to bloom in the city. Over the next 2 decades, St Louis exponentially grew, and with hard work and dedication, so did Shaw’s business. By the time he was nearing 40, Shaw had  a successful career in the hardware industry and decided to retire and focus on his lifelong passion: botany. Shaw built his house, the Tower Grove House, and then built an immense garden on the land around his estate. As the garden grew bigger, he decided to open it to the public, and it became the Missouri Botanical Garden (also known as Shaw’s garden).  You can learn more about the history of Henry Shaw here.

2. The Garden Holds the world first geodesic dome greenhouse, the Climatron: a geodesic dome is a massive structure shaped like a thin-shelled hemisphere and designed following the pattern of a geodesic polyhedron.

 

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Geometric Representation of a Geodesic Dome.

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A geodesic polyhedron is made of multiple triangles that are joined together to form a sphere. These triangles ensure structural rigidity and help the entire formation to withstand high amounts of stress (that could come from heavy loads, weather conditions, etc.). The Climatron Greenhouse of the Missouri Botanical Garden is the world first geodesic dome greenhouse and hosts approximately 1,500 plants. Its dome also inspired the domes in the SciFi movie “Silent Running”. To learn more about greenhouses like I did, click here.

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10 ft steel spiral flowers representing Spring – Artwork by Craig Mitchell Smith.

3. It contains at least 10 individual iconic gardens: every corner of the Missouri Botanical Garden tells a different story, and there are no two areas that look alike. In every garden, you learn something different and encounter different plant species; and because you can’t complete your entire visit in one day, you absolutely want to go back to the Missouri Botanical Garden after every visit. Discover Shaw’s orangery (the Linnean House), admire the Climatron and Reflecting Pools, walk around the Biblical Garden, or smell the roses at the Gladney Rose Garden.

 

 

 

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Fused glass sculpture of “Orange Blossoms”, representing Shaw’s orangery in the Linnean House, and shaped as a brooch of sentimental value to the artist (aunt’s jewelry). Artwork by Craig Mitchell Smith.

4. It is the site of multiple cultural festivals all year long: one of the great things that I love about the Missouri Botanical Garden is the fact that it hosts a lot of cultural shows and exhibitions all year long. In fact, there are at least 10 signature events and exhibitions that the garden is known for. Depending on the month where you’re planning your visit, you can spice up your experience by attending one of the unique seasonal shows. Right now, the Missouri Botanical Garden is preparing for its Japanese Festival, which will also highlight the 40th anniversary of its Japanese Garden. Oh, and did we mention that it is the largest Japanese Garden in North America?

5.There is More to Do than Watching Beautiful Plants and Flowers: the Missouri Botanical Garden offers workshops for adults and kids, gardening sessions, community gardening classes and even job and volunteering opportunities for all those who are interested in science and nature conservation. It is also a current site for ongoing research in the field of botany. There is also a St Louis Master Gardener Program, which, for 34 years, has been grooming and forming master gardeners in areas including Horticulture, Plant Medicine, and in many areas outdoors on the grounds. This initiative is done in collaboration with the University of Missouri Extension.

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Me admiring the waterfall next to the fused glass structure of a Bromeliad – artwork by artist Craig Mitchell Smith.               Photocredits: a total stranger.

🌷5 Tips on Maximizing Your Garden Visit (For any garden in the world!):🌷

Visiting a garden when traveling is not as tacky as someone might think, and in fact, it is perhaps the best opportunity to take the most amazing pictures when on vacation! (Beautiful flowers, who can beat that?) Here are my top 5 tips on maximizing your garden visits, regardless of where you go in the world!

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Fused glass sculpture called “Bird Nests”, representing 30 blue bird nests assembled like the St Louis Arch – Artwork by artist Craig Mitchell Smith.

  • Do your Research🔮: for a garden such as the Missouri Botanical Garden, there is a lot to do and a lot to see. If you have limited time, do your research and identify the gardens that you’re more interested in and spend more time there. If you have a lot of time, you can decide to do a full day visit or even return on another day.
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Map of the Missouri Botanical Garden.

  • Target the “Free” Daily Tours✔️: why pay for something you can get for free? a great way to really learn about the garden in speed time is by attending free tours! Virtually every garden that I have visited offers these, and usually twice a day (morning and afternoon sessions). So it would be useful for you to know what time those tours are, and work on getting there on time. Here is one of my top tricks on how to best manage your time when traveling.
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Photocredit: The Missouri Botanical Garden website

  • Look out for Special Exhibitions🍀:  when I visited the Missouri Botanical Garden,  a special exhibition called “Garden of Glass” was on, with displays of unique flowers sculptures made of fused glass by artist Craig Mitchell. A lot of the awesome shots I took there are featured on this blog post. If you plan on attending a special exhibition like this, it is crucial that you choose to attend during the night because the sculptures are better highlighted when they light up and you get to see their full beauty. I was short of time, so I only went there during the day. ☀️
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Pamphlet and Ticket for the “Garden of Glass” Special Exhibition

  • Check out Seasonal Shows🌻: seasonal shows tend to put an emphasis on something specific about the garden that you’re visiting. Right now, the Missouri Botanical Garden is preparing for the Japanese Festival, and their Japanese garden, which is the largest Japanese garden in North America, will be at the center of the attention! So this is somewhere you want to be if you’re anywhere close to St Louis or Missouri! They also have other signature events such as Spirit in the Garden (October) and Garden Glow (November – January).
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Photo of the Japanese Festival. Online Resources.

  • Dress the Part!👗: this never gets old and I will say this over and over again. When you’re a tourist, you take pictures, and there is no point in taking pictures if they don’t look good! I could have worn anything else to go to the garden that day, but instead, I decided to wear this…
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Me, always “dressing the part”. Photocredits: a total stranger.

Think this happened by chance? Nope. And just so you know… again, I got amazing reviews. Just like I did with my Dragon Tattoo here!

Have you been to the Missouri Botanical Garden? What were your favorite moments? Drop it in the comments section below!

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”         Albert Einstein

 


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Don’t be Stuck Up When You Travel: Be Fun! The St Louis Science Center Experiment!

The more we grow as adults, the more we are expected to take ourselves seriously. This is an inevitable fact of life. In fact, it is implied in the very definition of “adultness” ( I don’t know if this is a real world, and I choose not to look it up to find out).  People seldom believe me when I tell them how serious and stuck up I was until this amazing thing happened to me.

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But anyways.. when I went to the St Louis Science Center, I totally felt out of place by how “overage” I seemed to be for all the attractions. And though there were adults there, those were parents who had come to bring their kids their kids to that intellectually stimulating place, and nothing more. So, they had a reason to be there and it seemed like I didn’t. So whilst the “adult” in me contemplated leaving this “happy-kids” place, I thought about the philosophy I’ve been trying to live by: “Carpe Diem” (which means “seize the day”), and I said “Effe That. I’m going to be a kid for the day!”

So I decided to….

1. Dress the Part

 

The best way to “be” a character is to “embody” that character (ask anyone who did acting or art, they’ll tell y’all). But think about it: being in character makes you less inhibited to do the things that your character does. Plus, I got so many great reviews from this face painting that I kept it for the entire day. You can see me wearing it again at my Escape to the Saint Louis Contemporary Art Museum.

2. Now… Play the Part

Welcome to the Energizer Machine! Running forward on the treadmill creates a momentum that propels a tennis-size ball upwards in the system, and the ball in turns moves all other components of the system without you even realizing it.

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Clearly, as you can see, I was the most entertaining kid there:)

3. Be Open Minded

It’s always great to know how many little random things you can learn from places like these. For instance, though I knew that there are different types of energy, I didn’t really know how much energy a joule was, practically speaking. I also finally found out little random interesting things such as how light goes from a power plant to your house, or how rollercoasters use energy. Now I can brag about knowing the latter random fact.

 

4. Discover: Science is for Everyone 

This goes hand in hand with being open minded. Unless you get into a mindset that is conducive to learning and open to new experiences, you won’t learn and you won’t grow!! Regarding this random fact on farming, I thought female labor was difficult – but then I felt “oh, poor chicken”.

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5. Jump in for the Live Demos!

A great way to enhance your experience at the St Louis Science Center is to participate in a live demo. Luckily I was able to catch one before making my exit. Call me uninformed, but I did not know that water could boil when exposed to HOT as well as COLD temperatures.

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Being so involved in medicine has sheltered me to some interesting aspects of science.

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Every age is a good age to learn, and the more open-minded you are, the more you get to discover things. So don’t be stuck up when you travel! Dress the part, play the part and enjoy the experience!

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
― Augustine of Hippo


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5 Life Lessons That You Can Learn from the Gateway Arch (St Louis, Missouri)

Welcome to the World’s Tallest Arch and the Tallest man-made Building in the Western Hemisphere!

If we choose to look at things differently, we see different things.

And while I am pondering on how fortunate I am to have visited the St Louis, Missouri Arch recently, I instantly reflected on what other meanings this arch could have, and how the importance of a symbolic, 630-foot (192 m), stainless steel monument could be applied in different areas of one’s life!

So here are 5 lessons we can all learn from The St Louis Arch.

Lesson 1: If It’s Worth It, You Have to Work For It

So many things in this world make us prone to consciously (and unconsciously) seeking instant gratification. We are occasionally forgetting the values of perseverance, endurance and simply, grit. This is so prevalent that we tend to give up, even on things that are worth it.

Looking back into history, the bidding process for the St Louis arch started on December 20, 1961, then was postponed to January 22, 1962. Building of the arch itself didn’t start until a year later, in February 12, 1963.

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Sometimes, you’re plans get delayed, rearranged and reshuffled. But if it’s really worth it, you keep working on it.

Find out more about The St Louis Arch here.

Lesson 2: The Journey is Molding you for the Destination

I used to believe that being at a place was important, until I realized that “getting there” was the most important thing. And if someone had told me that the journey was more important than the destination, I don’t know if I would have believed them. But be it as it may, I am here now: at the point where I understand that the journey is more important than the destination, and when you get to the destination, you feel compelled to start a new journey. Life is not meant to be static, we have to constantly be moving. So you have to enjoy and live your life while you’re on you journey to get to your final destination.  Allow the experiences to teach you, transform you, mold you, and build you for your destination.

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Lesson 3: There are Always (at least) Two Sides to a Story 

We could leave this here, and you’d still understand what this means. But for the sake of this article, let’s develop.

Sometimes, we fail to see other perspectives because we are so stuck in our own ways of seeing/doing/understanding things. But traveling has an amazing way of opening your mind to so many things that it never leaves you the same. You learn to see things in a different way. For instance, I would have never looked at this magnificent arch as a source of 5 key life lessons. So remember, there are always “at least” two sides to a story. And there is no need to pick sides. Embrace them all.

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Find out more about The St Louis Arch here.

Lesson 4: Life is a Story of Transitions. You’re always moving, from One Point to the Next.

Look at The Arch. It is intrinsically meant to take you from one side to the other (and for the historical purposes, it was built as a monument for the westward expansion of the USA). And so, people passing under the arch were always moving. And so are phases in our life. We always have to be moving, growing, learning, discovering. This is the essence of progress. So do not allow yourself to be stagnant. Keep growing. Keep moving, especially intellectually.

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Find out more about The Arch here.

Lesson 5: Always Do Your Best. You never Know when Your Chef D’Oeuvre will Turn into  a MasterPiece. 

When the Finnish – American designer Eero Saarinen submitted his idea for the St Louis Arch in 1947, I doubt he knew this was going to be the tallest man-made building in the Western Hemisphere. When workers started construction in 1963 and tirelessly dedicated their time and energy to this building for 2 years, they probably had no clue this was going to be world’s tallest arch and Missouri’s tallest accessible building. But here we are. Whatever you put your mind to, do it at your best. You never know when your chef d’oeuvre is going to turn into a masterpiece.

Find out more about The St Louis Arch here.

Have you been to St Louis, Missouri? Have you visited the Arch? What were your thoughts on it?

Drop a comment below if you feel inspired by these words, or if you’ like to share your own. ☺️

PS: to find out more about how I got that “super cool and totally unplanned face painting tattoo” on pic #5, subscribe to see my post: Quick Guide: Don’t be Stuck Up When You Travel: Be Fun! The St Louis Science Center Experiment! .

“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”

 Ibn Battuta


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