Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Gateway to the West

Seeing as how the subtitle of this blog is From suburban St. Louis to the streets of Madrid, it seems only wise that I give some background on the former before I move on to the latter. When living in Madrid I am typically identified solely as an American. Occasionally I am asked what state I’m from. I always say, “Missouri,” of course, and immediately follow that with a lesson in US geography. “It’s in the middle.”

St. Louis is not a city immediately known to foreigners. Perhaps it isn’t even that well known to many Americans. Frequently it is ignored like a proverbial middle child, second to Chicago in the “family” of the Midwest. In truth, St. Louis can hold its own just fine when compared with some of the more prominent American cities. Sure, we’ve got the stuff that everyone knows about – the 2006 World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals, for starters. And the Gateway Arch, Budweiser Beer, and the start of the Lewis and Clark Trail. How about Chuck Berry, Route 66, Nelly, and toasted ravioli? There’s even a St. Louis-style pizza. i think it takes living in a place to really understand and appreciate it. I’ve had the fortune of doing that in St. Louis.

Madrid, perhaps, is like the St. Louis of Europe. For many Americans, it is overlooked in deference to London, Paris, Rome, and Berlin. But it boasts its own unique culture that needs to be explored. Just as St. Louis does.

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