Journey with Jes


The nonbeliever’s guide to Jerusalem

I received no religious instruction as a child, teen, or young adult. I’m embarrassingly uninformed about every monotheistic belief system. The few times I’ve attended a Catholic church with my family, I’ve either dozed off or started laughing uncontrollably, horrifying my mother. And I’ve only recently learned it’s not acceptable to bring hot chocolate and a pumpkin muffin into a mass, no matter how hungry you are.

I have a lot of questions about religion. I still don’t quite understand the significance of eating that cracker in Catholic churches or why some people have ashes on their heads one day a year. Just a few days ago I asked my friend, “Who exactly is Noah?” (And yes, the question was prompted by a movie poster, not a religious awakening.) Continue reading

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The thrill of a Middle Eastern city

I think of myself as a city person. In high school, I wouldn’t even dream of applying to the colleges in Iowa and southern Illinois that were the top choices for my classmates. I referred to them as universities in “shanty towns” and shot down the idea of spending four years of my life in a corn field. Continue reading

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The beer hater takes (yet another) brewery tour

Though I’m not a beer drinker, I frequently find myself in local microbreweries, on beer tours, or being offered a free bottle of the beverage. Despite my dislike of most carbonated drinks, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to take a tour of the Anheuser-Busch factory in St. Louis. While most people were probably there for the free beer at the end of the tour, I was interested to learn about the historical significance of the company in the city. Continue reading

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The St. Louis specialty

While recently traveling to St. Louis, I decided I absolutely had to try the local specialty – gooey butter cake. I did my research and determined the only place I could have my first bite of this treat was at Park Avenue Coffee, the small coffee shop located in Lafayette Square that’s rumored to have the best in the city. Continue reading

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Meet me for a weekend in St. Louis

Because I haven’t really seen much of the Midwest despite living here my entire life, I took the opportunity to travel to St. Louis recently. Not only was the weather absolutely perfect for so late in the year, it was a really fascinating city to visit. St. Louis manages to combine the old and the new; its downtown area is modern and sleek, yet it is surrounded by old neighborhoods each with their own unique flavor. Continue reading