St. Louis Part 2

The friendliness of the locals I met in St. Louis was nearly unprecedented. I couchsurfed with a couple in Lafayette Square and I really got to experience what the locals do there. STL has tons of really cute local spots. In the Benton Park area I got to see some of the houses and the park, and this one bar called Venice Café. It was reminiscent of the ruin pubs in Budapest in the sense that there are a lot of found items creating an assault-on-the-senses vibe filled with colorful and wacky installations. It’s a huge quirk-fest. There’s a great outdoor space and live music there as well, a truly remarkable local establishment.

One of our couchsurfing hosts Megan being silly with a concrete

One of our couchsurfing hosts Megan being silly with a concrete

Outside Venice Cafe

Outside Venice Cafe

All seeing eye at Venice Cafe

All seeing eye at Venice Cafe

Have a slice of brain birthday cake

Have a slice of brain birthday cake

Street art at Venice Cafe

Street art at Venice Cafe

We ended up having a bit of an all-nighter with our hosts which resulted in their friend opening his sporadically in-use speakeasy for our visit. Their friend Dick has a legit speakeasy in his basement that was used during prohibition; it was a piece of history. Everyone was really friendly and open about sharing what it meant to be from St. Louis. Dick even showed us his classic TV from the 1960s which he held onto for the speakeasy (unfortunately pictures cannot do this experience any justice).

The variety of food is also very impressive in St. Louis. Areas to check out for this are the Grove and Cherokee St. You can find anything in this city! I passed through Afghani, Mexican, Nicaraguan, Nepali, Peruvian, Italian, German, Japanese, you name it! I can attest that you can get an authentic Mexican meal for a good price at La Vallesana on Cherokee St. Good prices and ample outdoor area, alongside the oozing delicious and authentic Mexican cuisine makes this place a winner, even to high New Yorker standards. For a taste of some awesome deep dish pizza check out Black Thorn Pub where you can get behemoth and spicy deep dishes and play shuffleboard while the pizza is cooking. Who could forget some St. Louis specialties? Ted Drewes’ cannot be missed for its frozen custard. It is lovingly referred to as concretes because if you stick the spoon in it and put it upside your spoon won’t fall out! It draws a lot of Route 66 fans since it’s along the route. Nearby, there’s Gooey Louie which is famous for their extra buttery mini-cakes, which you could probably only handle one per sitting; you be the judge.

Gooey butter cake

Gooey butter cake

Horchata and other beverage at La Vallesana

Horchata and other beverage at La Vallesana

Amazing shrimp burrito at La Vallesana

Amazing shrimp burrito at La Vallesana

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Waiting in line to get some concretes at Ted Drewes

Ted Drewes' right off Route66

Ted Drewes’ right off Route66

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Concretes!!

Other famous things to come out of St. Louis include: 7Up, Nelly, Maya Angelou, Sheryl Crow, Chuck Berry, Yogi Berra, Andy Cohen, Panera (which is locally known as St. Louis Bread Company or “Bread Co.”), Miles Davis, Jon Hamm, TS Eliot, and Tennessee Williams, among many others.

St. Louis Bread Co!! It exists

St. Louis Bread Co!! It exists

I found St. Louis to be filled to the brim with surprises and charming treasures. It’s a city dying to be explored. Have you been to St. Louis? What are some of your favorite places or experiences?

Time to go!

Dear followers,

I’m leaving today for a 3-week jaunt to the Midwest! Starting off in Chicago to stay with my best friend, then going to see a friend in the Milwaukee area, then we are taking a week-long road trip up to northern Minnesota and then the twin cities Minneapolis and St. Paul. And then on the way back, pass through the mysterious state of Iowa. And once back in Chicago we will head over and experience all that is Detroit. If time permits, maybe even see a friend in Cleveland. The Midwest is not the most commonly traveled area of the country, but it’s a shame because there’s some beautiful scenery around the Great Lakes. But that’s fine, more adventure for those who seek it 🙂

Where are you going in the near future? Share your travel plans and ideas in this post or any post on my blog. Are you from the Midwest? Have any suggestions for some must-see place for me to go to?

 

Happy travels and get lost!

-The Wanderlust Guru

 

PS – I have now connected my Instagram with my WordPress, so feel free to follow me on Instagram @wanderlustguru so you can keep track of the pictures of my Midwest jaunt and all my future travels.

Traveling for cheaper – how to save on accommodation

It really flabbergasts me every time when people are so amazed at what I do when I travel. There’s nothing new about budget travel. It’s not innovative, it’s not up-and-coming, and it’s just plain practical to me. As with many industries in this world, marketing is created to have us perceive travel in a certain way. Do you really think that in far off destinations like the islands in southern Thailand, Bali, Barbados etc. that the only way to travel is by a 5-star all-inclusive luxury resorts? Is that what the locals do when they’re traveling within their own country? The sky is the limit in terms of options for the way you can travel. You have the ability to make your own decisions while you travel. If you decide that’s through a hotel, so be it. But there are plenty of other options that can save you money and allow you to travel for longer periods of time, or more frequently. I’ll take the latter choice, every time. Here are a few of the basic options that could save you a buck and help you travel better. 

  1. Hostels – Of course there’s the classic option of hostels – to which I always get the responses “OH MY GOD, haven’t you seen the movie hostel?? I would never stay in one of those places, I could get killed!” Well…first off how do you think those places stay in business if all their customers are getting killed off? I’ll get into this further in another post. But, hostels are a great value option. Most cost around $25 a night in a shared dorm (depending on the country some can be way cheaper). Most people who are staying in hostels are looking for the exact same thing as you – just to have fun and make memories while traveling. Your setting already proves that you’re like-minded in this way, and through my experiences I’ve met amazing individuals in hostels whom I had great nights out with, great days exploring the city together, and have even kept in contact down the line and hosted/been hosted by them later on. Hostels are a great way to meet lifelong friends on the road!
  2. AirBnB – another great budget option if you want to have a little bit more privacy and you wanted to just make a trip with your friends. It is a very reputable website which allows you rent out someone’s apartment or a room in their apartment for a much cheaper price than a hotel. You read through people’s profiles and access whether they are a good match based on the location of their apartments, the pictures of their apartment, and you have access to previous reviews that they have from customers who have rented out their apartment before. (Other rental sites include wimdu & roomorama).
  3. CouchSurfing – my personal favorite. Another aura of negativity surrounds the idea of CouchSurfing to the untrained eye. “Stay at someone’s place with them? What if you stay with a crazy ax murderer?” Another silly fear that I find humorous because I’ve made amazing connections with my time using CouchSurfing. Just like AirBnb, you scout out people’s personal profiles so you already have an idea whether your host is a good match for you based on their interests, you get to read about their past experiences in previous reviews, and of course any good profile has pictures of the individual (many include them traveling to different locations so you can see they’re looking for the same things as you) . And obviously you will already be communicating back and forth with your potential host to explain the details of your trip and you’ll get a sense of who they are before you even meet them. I’ll include a separate post about the great connections I’ve made through CouchSurfing in another post.