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.