Meet me in St Louis
Arriving by means of a very twenty first century mode of transport made it easy to forget how important St Louis was a hundred and fifty years ago, but seeing the mural in the reception of the hotel was a good reminder. The hotel is in the old Union Station building and is very much a railway - sorry, railroad! - hotel.
So our room is decorated with images of the Pennsylvania Railroad, which pleases one of us somewhat.
When we arrived, we gasped at the hotel lobby, which is magnificent! It would have been the old waiting room and ticket hall, but now features as the bar and lounge. There were a few members of staff on hand and one of them noticed our gasp of delight as we arrived and said "just wait for the light show". Because from 5 - 11pm on the hour, there's a bit of a show and we had arrived at 4.55pm.
We sat down where Derrick suggested we sit and waited for the fun to begin.
The lights went out and the music started.
Individual architectural motifs were used as a theme to begin with, but then the plants began to grow into a flowerbed.
I was just beginning to think this was going to be a bit of nonsense when it gathered pace somewhat.
Though I didn't like the birds at all, they seemed to be relevant to the time when the station had lain neglected and derelict.
As the birds became floating peace lanterns, it seemed to symbolise hope and a better future.
The transitions between each scene were cleverly managed, so just as the birds had become lanterns, floating high above our heads, the lanterns were replaced by a burst of triangular chips of colour, magically assembled into...well, not quite the Sistine Chapel, but a rather amazing classical ceiling.
And that was replaced by something more baroque.
When the curtains fell, it revealed a vaulted ceiling. Altogether, rather magnificent. All the while, the soundtrack accompanying the light show was building to a finale of some kind.
You know, we have made some entrances and stayed in some pretty amazing places but I think this is the first time we've been greeted by a son et lumiere performance. Wow!
It seemed fitting to go somewhere special for dinner then. Somewhere with style, where the kitchen is on the pavement, perhaps? Serried ranks of ovens - barbecue ovens- line the roadside outside Pappy's Smokehouse, reputedly the best St Louis BBQ on offer. Taxi driver Karim, from Kurdish Iraq drove us there and seemed to approve of our choice.
The authentic surroundings of Pappy's "downhome digs" were spot on for our first St Louis BBQ.