Saturday 13th was the first time since we arrived 2 weeks ago that we actually had a day to ourselves without a hospital appointment so we decided to make the most of it and went downtown. After queuing to get into the visitor's centre for the famous "Gateway to the West" St Louis arch that dominates the skyline (getting into the visitors centre requires a bag xray, walk through a metal detector, similar to passing through an airport) we were faced with another queue to buy tickets to ride to the top of the arch and even then the next available ride would require over an hour's wait. Luckily we were able to buy tickets with an even longer delay and so 20 minutes after entering the visitors centre we left with tickets to go up to the top of the arch mid afternoon - giving us just enough time to have our first hot dogs since arriving in the US and take a trip on the Mississippi onboard the "Tom Sawyer". After geting back we returned to the Arch for our trip to the top, there was still quite a lot of queuing to be done and, because the journey is made in small pods that just seat 5 people, we couldn't take Ella's wheelchair with us so she needed carrying for some of the time. The journey up was interesting, Ella was excited to be in "a rocket to the moon", and it was quite quick, only 4 minutes to the top where we looked out over St Louis - especially a great view of Busch Stadium where the Cardinals play baseball. After the short trip back down we left the Arch and wandered the streets downtown - it was quite packed due to a number of events - Cardinals playing, St Louis Rams having a pre-season football game against the Colts and a Taylor Swift concert but we managed to do a spot of shopping and be picked up by the hotel shuttle. A quick dinner and we were outside enjoying the evening until the girls started getting tired at 10.
Sunday was another great day, we skipped the hotel breakfast and headed off to a nearby park for the girls - Lois, unsurprisingly, found a 10-foot tall helterskelter irresistable and Ella had great fun on the swings and seesaw. After some time playing we went to the Firehouse Grill for a traditional brunch, the girls had pancakes with maple syrup, whilst we settled for eggs, bacon and cheese on muffins (Caroline) and a 1/2 pound beef patty topped with eggs, chilli, cheese and jalapenos (Chris) all with hash browns. We then walked back to the hotel, tackled the mountain of washing that had built up over the week while the girls slept before going out for pizzas to a great place (PW Pizza) one of the shuttle drivers had recommended. It was within walking distance of the hotel and on Chouteau Avenue, part of the old Route 66, we all really enjoyed the food, some very interesting pizzas on the menu and a great atmosphere. We wandered back and spent some of the evening with the other families outside and saying goodbye as one of them is returning to the UK tomorrow.