Driving through the hills of Western Pennsylvania has always been special for me. I find it to be incredibly beautiful and peaceful. I went on a solo trip to one of the oldest and fondest cities in my life, Pittsburgh, PA. I hadn’t gotten the chance to really explore the city as an adult so…here we go.
Steelers…here we go!
Pittsburgh’s going to the Super Bowl!
I love driving out of the Fort Pitt Tunnel and across the bridge into the city. Boom- You see where the rivers meet, Station Square, PNC Park and Heinz Field, all the buildings, it’s great. As kids we tried to hold our breath while riding through the tunnel. I always cheated. I’m pretty sure my sisters did too. We went into the city for Steelers and Pirates games. I remember the excitement surrounding the stadium during game day. All strangers, but unified by our love for the best damn sports team around. The Primanti Brother sandwiches my parents used to take us to get…DAYUM. One of the best regional traditions, in my opinion, is the addition of fries to all things. Especially salads and in The Primanti Brother’s case, the sandwich itself. Omg and the cole slaw. It’s just amazeballs. If you haven’t had one and you’re in the area you MUST try it. Located in the Strip District.
During my current trip, I stayed in Lawrenceville. It’s a dope lil neighborhood Northeast of the city. I wasn’t entirely aware that Pittsburgh had city neighborhoods. I mean I knew about The Strip District and Oakland because of my fam (Dad went to Pitt), but I wasn’t expecting the areas to be so pronounced…?? Anyway, my AirBnB was reasonably priced (the fees get ya though). It was above Caffe Mona, which was an ADORABLE, lil coffee and grub cafe. I took full advantage of their whimsical patio (pics posted on my instagram account @goodgirlmadcities). I had great access to restaurants and bars in the area. I basically parked and walked all around taking photos and dropping into shops.
Pittsburgh is so industrial, I really dig it. Maybe because I come from a family of coal miners and steel workers. My kin folk are the Slovaks and Italians of small town PA. But, I adore the brick buildings, factories, houses stacked on hills, the hills on hills and the rivers. It feels old in Pittsburgh, but a good kind of old. Like historical. It’s like the city has been through so much. You can see it in the architecture and the streets. And the people. It’s a friendly city but not overly friendly. People help each other out, but ya kinda get the side eye as an outsider. Ya dig?
My first destination was Church Brew Works. It reminds me of my Dad (Everything in PA reminds me of fam). He was so excited to take me and my Mom there when I was home from college one year. We got pierogies and tried a bunch of beer. Me and my mom are super light weights but my dad LOVED draft beers. He was in his glory in a church drinking draft beer, lol. Anyway the pierogis are traditional and tasty. Traditional being that they are served with potatoes inside, butter, onions and a dollop of sour cream on the outside. Delicious. During my solo trip to the brewery, my bartender was friendly. We chatted about him taking his girlfriend to Vegas (where I now reside) and he asked my advice on where they should stay. I suggested Caesar’s 😉 because it’s my fave. The church itself is beautiful with it’s stained glass windows and arches. I love churches, especially old, ornate churches that have been repurposed. The way the light shines through the stained glass, it’s so enchanting to me. Although I struggle with religion sometimes, I always feel nostalgic in a Catholic church. It just feels like childhood for me. I get an odd feeling of relaxation from knowing I’m just to listen, absorb, and pray for an entire hour. I actually recently got a rosary tattooed on my ribs in rememberence of Dad. He hated tattoos…LOL, but I think he’d appreciate this one. I truly do. Especially with all of this craziness with the Catholic Church going on. His faith never wavered. He never provided excuses, but his faith stayed very strong. I think it was hard for him to watch. I don’t think a rosary represents me, but it will definitely be a permanent reminder of my Pa and his resilience, perseverance, and discipline.
I spent the rest of the evening sitting on the cafe’s patio in Pittsburgh. A grid of colorful umbrellas above me acted as a filter to the sunshine, casting a beautiful warm glow to the moment. It’s nice to have time to just be. Appreciate life. So I spent some time thinking and writing, drinking, reading and shared a great conversation with a fellow patron. I was feeling creative and let my thoughts drift back to when I was younger and used to write short stories. Like way younger. High school. And they were mostly love based because duh. So indulge me…
I could feel his stare. You know when you want to look over but you know you’ll meet his gaze and you’re not ready that. Fuck it. I’ve always been too curious. Whoa. Zing. I felt it immediately in my chest. Immediately. Weird. He was tall. Tan. Tattooed. Dangerous. He sat there sipping on a cocktail, a screwdriver maybe? Funny because he looks like a beer kinda guy. He was making no attempt to hide his curiosity of me. I could feel his eyes follow me across the room. It didn’t make me nervous though. The way he looked at me, it was warm.
The next day I headed to Oakland. Spent a large chunk of time in The Carnegie Museum of Art. It’s an impressive museum. A must see in my opinion. You can glide through the different movements of art. Get lost trying to process the evolution and revolutions. I LOVED the Contemporary work and Cubism and Abstract Expressionism. It was very energizing and motivating. Pittsburgh in general was. I want to do all kinds of creative things now.
It was sprinkling when I walked out of the museum. I was in one of those post-inspired dazes. Like when you see a really good movie or read a really good book or go to a really good museum. So I didn’t mind the rain. It was refreshing. I walked the adorable book and art shops that line the streets around Oakland. So many hills and I’m not sure if Pittsburgh is a super green city or I’ve just been in the desert for a bit and forgot about the regional GREEN vegetation. Green on green. But picturesque, indeed. I found a real gem in Caliban Book Shop. It was fantastically overcrowded with stacks of books. But organized and easily navigated. I found the photography section and buried my head for a bit. Remember, post-museum daze. Only $20 later, I am now the proud owner of Photographs by Man Ray 1920-1934 and a Walker Evans book. Slam dunk. Had to pop into Pittsburgh’s own Zeke’s Coffee. Because coffee is LIFE. Especially art museum and book store-browsing coffee. Yep. ‘Twas a good day indeed. One of my faves in awhile.
He found me somehow. It’s like he gravitated towards me. He didn’t say much just slid his hand into mine. I was caught off guard, but I liked it. I felt safe. Warm again. What’s with this warmth?!? It was so easy. We talked, touched, and connected so naturally. It’s something I never felt before. It’s like I’ve known him my entire life. Whatever souls are made of…his and mine are the same.
That night I checked out Brillobox, a bar right by my place. It was interesting. Very chill with a dark enchantment vibe. Loads of the artwork on the walls. Art was really prominent and plentiful in Pittsburgh in general. This trip was exactly what I needed for a lil inspiration and some zen time. J’adore all the flowers in the city. If there is something I will take away from Pittsburgh, it’s the creative inspiration it gave me. I’m often inspired by city architecture and urban environments, but it felt heightened. There’s a lift that takes you to up a mountain to see beautiful views of the city. It’s called the Duquesne Incline. It feels like you are riding to heaven. Great photo opp and view of the city. I was only in town for a day and a half so there is much more to Pittsburgh. So much more.
On my way home I got lost trying to locate a riverside park. I mean I had to get lost at least once. Pittsburgh is kinda a tricky city to drive in, especially if you’re a space cadet like me. But to my pleasure, I ended up in the West End, on top of a huge hill looking over the entire city. Yep. Wow. Pittsburgh has my heart. There are so many things that make this city dear to me. We move around a lot, I would never say no to moving to Pittsburgh. Especially now that I know how dope of a city it is with all of it’s unique neighborhoods. I didn’t make it to The Strip District, one of my favorite spots, but I’ll be sure to hit it up next time I’m in town. So long Pittsburgh. Salute.
*Caliban Bookstore (bookstore- duh)
*Church Brew Works (food, drinks)
**Caffe Mona (adorable cafe)
*Primanti Brother’s (lunch)