If you're anything like me, the St. Louis Arch doesn't exactly seem like an adventure. It seems like it's a structure that you look at for like .2 seconds and then listen to some guy talk about the history for 15 minutes. Then you end up feeling semi-good (for seeing something new) and semi-bad (because... that's IT?)
But boy let me tell you. I had no idea that you could actually go up INTO the arch. That baby is TALL and it SWAYS with the wind! When you're looking at it from the ground, you can't totally tell that it's moving. Looking at the bottom half, it looks like a stone structure stuck in place. But as your eyes move up the structure... you can start to see how it's moving ever-so-slightly.
So when I went, my dad had already been so he knew what to do. There was a little station to buy tickets and then you had to go
underground before you could go up into the structure. After waiting in line for what felt like forever in this basement-type room (which had zero cell service by the way), we finally got to the "elevator". I use quotations because I feel like it's more of a pod (photo to the right).
You get cramped in this little bubble pod elevator, which has no leg room, and sent to the top of the arch. I won't lie- the whole time I was thinking I might actually die. It doesn't feel completely stable (I mean the structure IS moving) and you're stuck in the bubble... so, it's bound to make anybody a little nervous.
So, up you go!! Up and up, stick a little bit, up and up, and boom there you are. The top of the arch - a place I didn't even know existed until an hour before. You're allowed off your pod in a slow and orderly fashion (Remember how antsy you were in grade school during fire drills? This is worse).
Now you're in this small room with teeny tiny windows, over 600 feet in the air, swaying back and forth with the wind. I'm not going to lie and say it wasn't fun, but it definitely got my heart pumping pretty hard.
In the photo to the left, you can see just how tiny the windows are. If you're afraid of heights, or small spaces, this probably isn't the adventure for you.
They give you a little speech when you get to the top about the history of the arch - when and why it was built, how tall it is, how the swaying works, etc. I know these speeches aren't everybody's favorite but I think they're so important. The information behind something is what makes it cool. Do you think Pompeii would be cool without the backstory? No, man, it'd just be random ruins.
So if you find yourself in a situation - on a tour or excursion, and your guide is trying to tell you some information about where you are and what it means- LISTEN! Put your phone down, stop talking, be courteous. Those "fun facts" can make the experience 100x better for you.
Between the cramped elevator, the tiny room, the long wait in a basement with no service, the height, and the sway - I may have turned you off to the experience a little bit. BUT I will say, it was a really cool view.
NOW I KNOW, a lot of you are like "that's it? I'm doing all of that for the view?" but... yes, exactly. People hike mountains for views -- at least here you get to take an elevator. :)