Saturday, October 14, 2017

[ST. LOUIS] No Gateway Arch for You

It's just that I don't think people really go to Missouri for sightseeing. Place "Tourism" and "United States" side by side, start mentioning states, and it'll probably take you a while to get to MO. People seem to go there either to study or to visit friends. In my case, I am visiting a friend who is studying there, which satisfies the hypothesis. It wasn't an easy process, though, because it seems the universe wanted me to suffer for this decision for some reason. In the end, I was triumphant. Tired, but triumphant. 

My 8 AM Megabus left without me. Why the fuck is it always the case that when you are late for your bus it leaves early, but when you arrive early it departs late? What gives? Seriously? Long story short, the wheels of the bus had literally just started rolling as my UberWAV made a left turn at the corner of the street. The Uber driver asked me if we should chase the bus. Exciting! Nah, I don't think that's going to work. This is real life, not a Hollywood popcorn flick. And so I gave up and just went back home. 

Technically, I was still checked-in at my Airbnb place at the Lower West Side. After talking to the host, I was allowed to stay and chill until the next bus to Missouri left at 8 PM. Basically, I was bussing to St. Louis for six hours, staying there for 24, and heading back to Illinois via another six-hour journey before going straight to O'Hare for my 14-hour trans-Pacific flight. You know how I'm very vocal about my wish to join the Amazing Race? With these itineraries, sometimes I tend to pretend that I'm on that show. And then I complain that I'm tired. Hooray, me?

But it still turned out better than it would've been had I stayed in Chicago where the heavens were bemoaning my departure. Rainy days in the Windy City are not so pleasant, you see. Arriving in St. Louis at two in the morning, my friend picked me up at the station and we called it a night. I slept like a baby for ten hours straight before we headed out for lunch on a quiet Sunday afternoon. What's up, Missouri? "Nothing much," Missouri replied, and Missouri meant it. 

Again, to make it clear, I wasn't there for sightseeing, although we did take a walk at a big park after lunch for lack of better things to do. The night was already planned but the afternoon was more like anything goes. Friend is doing her PhD in St. Louis and she also showed me some of the hospital and university buildings where she does her lab work. Those buildings are huge, and Friend of Friend did mention that they serve as some sort of landmark for them whenever they venture away from the city center. 

After indulging in Korean hotpot, we were finally ready to terrorize the neighborhood with our angelic voices. The Karaoke room was better than expected, although still a million years behind the luxury that we had back in Xiamen. Hey, we can make do. Some songs were hard to find but were eventually found. After two hours of belting, screaming, rapping, and soju, we decided to spare some eardrums from our Karaokepocalypse. But the night was young, and there's a place called Pink Galleon across the street. 

You see, that's the thing. I wouldn't be able to find these places if I were on tourist mode. Sometimes meeting friends as your primary goal yields way better results. Let whatever sightseeing that comes out of it be purely incidental. The Pink Galleon is a bar/gaming center where they have a good collection of arcade games, foosball and Ping-Pong tables, as well as those iconic billiards tables covered in attention-grabbing pink felt. Sunday night meant less people, and we enjoyed the place so much.

I planned to see the Arch before leaving at 3 AM, but I was already contented just seeing it from afar. Why should I waste time and money to go near a structure that you can see from miles away anyway. Still, I don't have any decent photos of the landmark which makes me feel kind of guilty. But then again, I wasn't there for tourism, right? I'm marking Missouri red on my map anyway. Despite the lack of sightseeing activities, I was there and lived like a local for a day. Sort of. And isn't that a better deal? 

If you plan to visit St. Louis for whatever reason you might have, then I recommend Megabus. I booked my tickets early and paid only USD12.50 (~PHP625) roundtrip, which is super cheap. Greyhound will probably charge you four times that amount and for what? The brand name? I think the only Megabus route from St. Louis is either onward to Kansas City or back to Chicago. You might be better off flying if you are headed to either the east or west coast. After all, you are at the heart of America now. 'MERICA! XD
[ST. LOUIS] No Gateway Arch for You

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