28 May 2016--(The title clears up later in the blog--haha) On the go for the past couple days; there are all kinds of things to see and do here. One of the things we have been surprised about most are the number, and size, of churches of all denominations here. Almost every church you see is about the size of a Catholic Cathedral, like this one below. This is the "new" Basilica Cathedral of St Louis, built in 1908. The Cardinal who got it started is buried in a crypt here, which made me wonder if it was a monument to God or the Cardinal himself!? haha
This Cathedral is 83,000 square feet and has 41.5 million Mosaic tiles...the tile placement began in 1912, but wasn't finished till 1988!!!
I don't ever recall being told anything about this as a kid, nor do I remember ever seeing them.
Not surprising it took so long to place all those tiles!
I thought you'd get a better look from a couple videos. This one is a look at the front, from the floor to the ceiling.
The sides and back of the Cathedral.
And from the ceiling down to the floor.
Tuesday night I had a Facebook message from Bernice (McGuire) Irwin, who grew up in Southie like I did, and who has been living in St Louis for the past 33 years. Basically, she and her clan of 11 brothers and sisters went to school and were in the same classes as my clan of 7 or my cousins' clan of 7, so we all know each other from the neighborhood. Anyway, Bernice saw our posting on Facebook of going up in the Arch and then invited us to meet at her house the following evening.
Bernice told us that Forest Park, very close to her home, was really nice, so we decided to head that way for the afternoon to see what we could see. WOW! To say it was 'really nice' was an understatement. To give you an idea, it is the 7th largest urban park in the country, and was the site of the 1904 World's Fair. It is 450 acres LARGER than Central Park in NY and is 6 miles around the perimeter!!! The city's Museum of Art, Museum of History, and the Zoo are all in it, and they are all FREE, supported by taxpayers and wealthy donors. They also have an outdoor theater, 2 golf courses, an ice skating rink and God only knows what else I already forgot. haha
This is a view of the Museum of Art, the 1st looking towards it and the 3rd looking away from it.
Though free, it is not an insignificant museum. I am posting these pics for my friend Linda Farin, because she loves Art Museums while Cathy and I would probably rather go to a Prison Tour or hiking (haha), but I just wanted to show her that I have some culture, so there is still hope for me. lol
Here is a vase from from the Shang Dynasty in the 11th century, followed by a picture of a Hong Kong high rise in 2003. You have to blow up the picture to see that it is covered in bamboo scaffolding from head to foot, and there are actually a few people climbing on it on the left hand side. The last pic is a portrait of a prostitute...from 1535! A little racy back then, no? haha
Actors practicing at the outdoor theater for something this coming weekend.
And a quick look in the zoo. We were able to spend a lot of time here, because we had to meet Bernice, but we took a quick walk over to the big animals to see if there was any action.
On the way there we passed a Capybara...basically a hog-sized rodent looking thing, and this beautiful bird, called a Superb Starling. Then we hit the 'bigs'...starting with the Black Rhino.
There were 4 hippos in this area, all swimming and surfacing...we think it was around feeding time maybe (haha). The last pic shows 3 of them gathering and looking away from us...God forbid they would turn and give us a great view! haha
Look at this beautiful Cheetah!
And then as we were treated to these little guys, maybe 7-8 inches tall at the most. They're called the 'Dwarf Mongoose', and just couldn't be cuter!
A handful of Elephants...this 1st one appears to be smiling!
And a Sun Bear...they eat termites.
To end the day we met up with Bernice, visited with her husband Tom and one of her daughters for a little while, and then Bernice took us for about 2 1/2 hours on a great car tour of different areas and neighborhoods in St Louis. I didn't take pictures, but the homes here, street after street, in one neighborhood after another, are absolutely huge brick structures, some of which are still homes while others are now condos. It is really a beautiful city and thanks to Bernice we got a great feel for it. She had a wealth of knowledge about each neighborhood, from what immigrant group settled it to what group rehabbed them over the past several years to make it the beautiful place it is today.
To top off the day, Bernice treated us to the 'world famous' Ted Drewes frozen yogurt. We got the 'concrete' serving...so thick you can turn it upside down!!! Thanks for a wonderful evening Bernice, we truly enjoyed it and loved seeing you and yours again!
On Thursday we headed over to the Anheuser-Busch Brewery and took a tour of the place.
Although a local brewery since 1852, Adolphus Busch wanted to make his brewery a country-wide company, so changed the ingredients to appeal to a wider audience and introduced "Bud" in 1876. They actually changed the beer name to Budweiser to make it easier for Americans to pronounce it.
The Clydesdales came around at the end of Prohibition in 1933, even delivering the 1st case of beer to FDR at the White House. The horses weigh about 150 lbs at birth, but generally grow to between 6 1/2 to 7 ft tall at the shoulder by age 4, and weigh about 2000 lbs!
Beer-making is a 7 step process, but it is in step 2 that the different beers are 'made'. For instance, a Bud brews here for about an hour, while a Bud Light brews for 4 and a Select 55 (which is usually what I drink) brews for 8. The longer it brews the less sugar, carbs, calories and alcohol content it contains.
These are all the beers they make. Hey Gayle...even Stella Artois! Who knew?
On to the Botanical Gardens. Unfortunately, large swaths of the garden were not in bloom, but those that were in bloom were beautiful, and overall the place is very pretty.
A couple Cacti in bloom.
A sampling of others.
Look at these 2 up close! I really love the one in the 3rd pic.
The 2nd one here is hard to the touch...really different.
And this one is weird. It is called the Peruvian Snowball, and is a little creepy with that hair-like stuff on it. haha
Looking at the Climatron and other scenery.
Japanese Garden area...check out the Koi all fighting to get at the food they are being fed.
How pretty is some of this scenery?
Look how tall this purple plant is...it is called an Ornamental Onion. I was surprised how thin the stem was but could still support the flower. And I don't remember what kind of tree this was, but I liked it. haha
In the 3rd pic...Cathy is growing a bit bored. haha
And some pretty chihuly...notice my halo in the 3rd pic!
So that was a whirlwind 2 days of touring St Louis. It is a great city...someplace most everyone I know could happily live in. We have been more than pleasantly surprised!
A couple more days before we leave...hmmm, what's next?