Archive for Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – Day 2

July 1, 2008


There are 3 rivers in Pittsburgh…which reminds me of Trois Rivieres, the little town I discovered and loved in Quebec.

They have bike/walking/jogging paths all along the rivers.  On Sunday, I cycled all over these paths, and all around downtown too.  I really like the architecture here.

They were having their first annual Tour de Pennsylvania – cycling race from Philly to Pittsburgh.  Ends Sunday downtown.  However, I had no idea what time the cyclists would be in town, OR if they were already in town [I headed out around 1 pm after the rain had stopped]. 

As I was cycling around town, I discovered there were all these festivals going on…fest for the cycling race, a Berry Festival, and the re-dedication of the Avenue of the Allies.  The berry festival is taking place in the Market Square, which they are renovating.  There is a stage with bands playing.  There is a chess club tent [and as I cycled around the trails along the river, there were areas with permanent tables for people to play chess or checkers].  And ONE booth selling berries – fruit and pie.

I asked locals where I should have lunch, and they said I had to eat at Primanti Brothers.  They are known for their sandwiches, which they add fries, coleslaw and a tomato on top.  They are literally 4” thick [top piece of bread is 1” thick].  I asked the waitress how in the world am I supposed to eat this?  She said just squeeze it together and open wide.  Ahem…doesn’t she know I cut everything up AND take small bites?

The cycling trails along the rivers were not as picturesque as I had hoped they would be, but they were OK.  It was nice to be on a path dedicated to walkers, joggers, cyclists…and not have to worry about cars and traffic.  And it was nice to be around water and nature.  I can tell that they are trying to upgrade the area and make it nicer.

There were activities all day long, including fireworks at 9.30.  After cycling for several hours along the rivers, I decided to go back to my room for a quickie shower, and then come back downtown.  As I cycled back into town, it started to rain.

As I entered town, it seemed as though a ballgame suddenly let out.  Major traffic jam and people everywhere.  Now…when I was in the city center before this, hardly anyone was there.  Maybe 100 people walking around, barely a car on the street.

Come to find out, the final stage of the Tour de PA was about to start.  I decided I was OK in missing this, but then realized that not only is there a traffic jam, not only is the street that my car is on is blocked off, but my parking garage has yellow tape across it cuz right in front of it is the finish line!  My… what they can do in 4 or 5 hours!

And it’s pouring down rain.

Then I decided to make lemonade.  I put my bicycle away. Donned full rain gear.  Grabbed my umbrella and went out to watch the end of the race. 

They halted the race due to a tornado warning.  Then I watched the 25 laps around the city to finish the race.  They rode down Grant Street, which is a cobblestone street.  Cobblestone + rain = people falling.  Not good.

They had a car in the front as the lead car, and then a car behind the lead pack.  And people on motorcycles along smaller groups of riders.  All with cameras…it was being shown on TV. 

As the racers are coming, the people working will whistle to let the people ahead know there is a racer coming.  So, there is constant whistling going on.

After the race, I meandered over to the berry festival, and everything was taken down.  No pie.  No music.

I headed back to my room to shower and go out and catch the fireworks at 9.30.  Got out of the shower…and it was raining again.  I decided to go check out South Side, which is the area along the Monongahela River, just south of downtown.  I had cycled along the river earlier, but didn’t cut in and check out their “downtown” area. 

LOVED it.  Block upon block of really cool shops, restaurants, arty people.

Loved it so much, I went back for several hours on Monday.  If I lived here, this is where I would want to stay.  Great look to it.

I can easily see myself coming back to Pittsburgh to stay for a bit.  I hardly scratched the surface.


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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – Day 1

June 30, 2008


I am headed to the NW states. 

I left Baltimore on Saturday.  After a whopping 30 minutes of driving, I just had to stop and walk around.  So, am unsure how long it will take me to get to the NW.

I am in Pittsburgh.  I really like it here.  The few times these last 2 years that I have driven from Baltimore to Michigan, I have gone by Pittsburgh, but never stopped in.  When I was in Houston, I re-connected with a guy who travels around the states with his boys to go to baseball games and to check out all the stadiums.  By far, his favorite stadium is in Pittsburgh.  He said the team colors are black and yellow [maybe gold], and they used materials and paint that are those colors.  So, it is really nice how the stadium matches the uniforms.  Also nice is the layout/setting where you can lookout and see downtown in the outfield.

So, I had planned on coming to Pittsburgh and spending at least Saturday nite…and seeing a game.  I had my mind set on this.  So of course for the entire 5 hour drive, it is raining and then not.

Once in Pittsburgh, as I’m driving downtown, it’s not raining, but it sure looks like it’s brewing up a big one.

Pittsburgh was settled on 3 rivers.  I’m not sure if one would call them big hills or baby mountains, but that is all around.  So, you have tunnels, lots of bridges [over the rivers, and also “regular” streets], and houses built on the side of the mountains/hills.  Looks really pretty.

I walked over the Roberto Clemente pedestrian bridge [just on game nites] and talked to some guys who were selling souvenirs re buying a ticket on the street.  They told me the guy to buy from…and got my $8 ticket in the bleachers [$9 at the window].

They have several tall bronze statues – probably 12’ high, outside the stadium.  Roberto Clemente. Willie Stargell.  Some Homer or Honer guy… When I talked to people, I asked the statues were life size, but people didn’t get my joke.

Inside they had the very stereotypic ballpark food.  Nothing new or interesting.  They have helpful people working there and a guy told me to go to the Hall of Fame Club, which is open to the public and they have better food up there.  So, I went there and the moment I got inside, the skies opened up and the wind and the rain came pouring down.  I didn’t care, cuz I was inside, and had my greek salad, which was unusually tasty.

After about 45 minutes, the rain stopped and they announced the game would start in 15 minutes.  I went and found a seat under the awning/whatever it’s called.

After the game started, it started to rain again, and rained the entire game.  Unsure when they call it [I’m sure some of my readers know], but thought it interesting that they never called it, and there were all these people sitting out in the open [NOT under an awning].

Several thoughts:
As mentioned above, they have regular food stands, except …they sell pierogies.  They even have a cartoon with pierogie characters that plays between innings and then people dressed as pierogies come onto the field and run around.

Chili pie = bucco pie

People here call the team the bucs, not the pirates.  Lots of bucs or bucco mentioned.

Now, the layout of the stadium is spectacular…you can see downtown and a bridge just above the outfield.  However, contrary to what I was told, the stadium isn’t black and yellow.  The back/outfield area is painted all green.  The stadium seats are midnite blue [per my childhood box of 64 crayola crayons].  Everything else is cement color.  And then the coolest thing happened, at one point,  it was as though someone flipped a switch…at a certain point the sun was setting and the reflection off all the downtown buildings was this yellow/gold color.  AND a rainbow.  Unbelievable.  It seemed surreal.  I have attached a photo. Doesn’t do it justice.

You know how in between innings some stadiums will “shoot” t-shirts out of the gun-like thing?  Well, here they shoot hot dogs.

Minimal signs/adverts along the outfield wall. 

On my way to the game, I went thru a little run down area and then a really nice area – big beautiful older houses.  The whole time everyone I saw had dark skin.  Of course, no big deal…just what I noticed.  Then, around the 5th inning, I looked around me…and the crowd seemed 100% Anglo.  I then searched the stands for people of color.  I found 4 [not together].

The lady at my hotel says NO ONE goes to the games.  I think the stadium was probably 40% full.  Of course, the threat of rain probably kept a lot of people away.

The game tied up in the 8th inning.  Still tied at the bottom of the 9th.  I was cold so I left.   It went for 13 innings, with the pirates/bucs winning.

I like Pittsburgh enough to spend another nite here.

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