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'A drinking town with a baseball problem' Add to ...

When you're in St. Louis, forget about getting a microbrew. You're in Annheuser-Busch country, so embrace your inner Budweiser, Bud Light, Bud Light Lime, and Bud Select drinker. I mean really embrace it, because at a number of places in and around St. Louis, it comes cheap.

I met a friend of mine, who now only goes by Dr. Anand (congratulations!), at Harry's, on Market Street, slightly west of downtown, near Union Station. We enjoyed a happy hour bucket of five Budweiser selections for only $10. So it goes in St. Louis, Dr. Anand told me, and showed me, especially up by St. Louis University. Also: Harry's, and a number of other drinking institutions in St. Louis, offer shuttle service to Busch Stadium on game day.

At the ballpark, a 20 oz. draft beer of Budweiser will cost you $8.75, and a 16 oz. bottle $8. Bud Light Lime was on sale, I guess, for $6.75.

Around the ballpark, I was told Al Hrabosky's Ballpark Saloon and "The Outfield" at Mike Shannon's Steak and Seafood are the places you want to be, before and after the game.

St. Louis Fare

The Gateway City is known for its ravioli. Who knew? I never would have guessed, either. Anyway, it's delicious. Thanks to my good friend Dr. Anand, I enjoyed it with local Schlafly beer, and was told that's about as St. Louis as you can get. I read that Schlafly is available at Busch Stadium, but didn't find it during my visit.

St. Louis also puts together a mean bowl of nachos, which was lunch for me at the ballpark. Mucho Nachos, to be precise. Check this out: for $9.75, you can have ground beef and cheese on one side, and pulled pork with barbeque sauce on the other. All over nachos. With toppings - salsa, jalapenos, cilantro, olives, sour cream, etc. - available as you see fit. It was heaven. But, take note: go with the pulled pork and the pulled pork only. Best. Lunch. Ever.

Finally ...

If you're in St. Louis, you have to visit the Gateway Arch. It's only minutes from Busch Stadium. Now, I don't know about you, but I've never given the Arch much thought, or much credit. But it's a pretty remarkable structure; much more impressive than I ever imagined.

I'd also recommend the Museum of Westward Expansion, in the Arch complex. Admission is free, and you can learn all about how North America's Natives were pillaged many years ago. You'll also find the "Baseball's Gateway to the West" exhibit, detailing St. Louis's baseball history, and baseball history, in general, as the game expanded west. And, if you're interested in going up the Arch, it costs $14.

After an afternoon of baseball and a visit to the Arch, I went and sat by the Mississippi River. I stared at the mystic body of water, and into Illinois, collecting my thoughts. I couldn't help but get Cardinals left fielder Jon Jay out of my mind. A pinch-hitter that afternoon, he came up to the plate to Jay-Z's Public Service Announcement, with Hova's "Fresh out the frying pan and into the fire ..." lyrics playing on the speakers. That was just about as perfect as at-bat music would ever get, I knew.

St. Louis was in the books. My time in the Gateway City, the Gateway to the West, was coming to a close, but I wasn't headed west just yet. I was following the Cardinals, actually, to Cincinnati. I'd be seeing Albert Pujols play again, after watching him in action for the first time. Even though he went hitless that afternoon, he, and his Cardinals, were worth the $19 I paid at the box office. My seat in the upper deck, in the Outfield Terrace, section 429, row 1, seat 1, sounded like a decent one. (I never got there.) A little pricy, I thought, but Albert's got to get paid. I also knew, as well as you do now, that you can't put a price on weekday afternoon baseball.

<iframe width="600" height="600" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src="http://maps.google.ca/maps/ms?hl=en&ie=UTF8&msa=0&msid=103335406819895550235.0004840a93555ed353405&ll=40.178873,-90&spn=10.068955,13.161621&z=6&output=embed"></iframe><br /><small>View <a href="http://maps.google.ca/maps/ms?hl=en&ie=UTF8&msa=0&msid=103335406819895550235.0004840a93555ed353405&ll=40.178873,-90&spn=10.068955,13.161621&z=6&source=embed" style="color:#0000FF;text-align:left">Stealing Home: The ultimate baseball road trip</a> in a larger map</small>

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