Posts Tagged 'Pittsburgh'

Start spreadin’ the news

There came a point at the party yesterday night where I would find that people knew who I was before I actually introduced myself. One accentuated syllable was all that was required. Make no bones about it; being English in America is pretty damn awesome. The amount of free drinks alone

Anyway, anyway.

Between spotted sleep patterns, headaches, and eating at strange hours, the last two days have been a real blur. Having crashed out for a good seven or eight hours following my arrival, I went to the aforementioned party, which turned out fantastically well (I got the chance to say a grinning hello to someone I met over 75 days ago in Gatwick airport. Her eyes nearly popped out of her head). Much drink and dance was had. There was a film about robots with Italian subtitles. There was cake.

I subsequently came home and couldn’t sleep, but I mustered enough energy to venture out today on a drivey-walky tour of Pittsburgh. It’s a nice place, sequestered between the fork of two rivers. Smaller than I had expected, the city nonetheless has a distinct feel to it – though describing what that is is a little bit tricky. There are individuated districts, such as quaint Little Italy where my friend whom I’m staying with is based, or the affluent and hipster-populated Shadyside area with its myriad lounges and bars (definitely more my type of scene than clubland).

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Those are tucked away somewhat in the back of the city, away from the water’s edge. Today I saw more of the downtown area where only a day or two ago met the most important people on the planet (except for the secret Jewish illuminati freemason enclave that controls everything, of course). For the most part it’s a fairly quiet place; clean, compact and economically stable, the skyline dominated by the PPG plate-glass building with its gothic parapets. Its steelworking legacy is clearly evinced by the many bridges that branch over the surrounding waters – four hundred and forty-six in total! The main ones over the twin rivers are often painted a cheery yellow colour, which brightens up the view through the mist and drizzle that we ran into today. The weather unfortunately meant that taking photographs was often a pointless venture, but we did go up to the top of what’s called the ‘incline’, which is a funicular or cable-car that is winched up the sharply sloping side of a cliff to the south of the city, and the view from the top was pretty good.

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Sadly doesn’t really do it justice. Pittsburgh is a nice place, really. Kind of reminded me of San Diego in character, but a northern version. It has that same quiet sense of self-possession and stability, with the gilded edge of financial strength. Well worth a visit should you ever find yourself in the area.

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Being of the exciting and whimsical adventures undertaken by the author

Hey all,

Sorry for the radio silence, but I’ve had another few quiet days. This time, I traveled to Purdue college in Lafayette, Indiana, to see a friend I’ve known for years. It worked out with us mostly just tooling around playing games, going to bars and eating (Lafayette isn’t a particularly big place), which although fun for me does not make for particularly gripping reading.

I had an entertaining time getting to my next stop of Pittsburgh, however. You see, Lafayette doesn’t have a Greyhound station. You can’t book the tickets online, nor at the Amtrak desk in the train station where the bus company is sort-of based, in that they have a brightly-smiling person sitting behind the glass who tells you she can’t really do anything. So, you go out to a street and stand there. In the rain. With no sign telling you where to go, so you have to more or less guess where the Greyhound is going to stop.

And then it doesn’t come. Two soggy hours later, I was feeling rather fed up of waiting (thank goodness my backpack has a rainproof sheet), so I teamed up with another passenger and we hitched a lift with his buddy to Indianapolis. Later, we would find out that the bus had broken down – which of course wouldn’t have been a serious problem, if we had any way of knowing at all.

Indianapolis I only got to see a little of, so I can’t pass comment on it, but I was starving by the time I got there. My eyes, stomach, imagination and spiritual wellbeing ruling out the slop being served up at the station, I went wandering down the road a little and found a place called the Slippery Noodle. It’s a large establishment that takes up half a block or so, but that never feels impersonal. Split into several different rooms, the place has an obsession with the Blues Brothers, live music, good food and what even I recognized as an impressive array of beers on tap. Chowing down on loaded potato skins, I had a nice discussion with the person behind the bar about traveling and all that good stuff, which proved far more entertaining than sitting in the station playing Puzzle Quest for three hours. I recommend the place.

The next bus journey was as dreary as it was tiring, another overnight haul on uncomfortable seats. Let me tell you, I’ve got traveling on these things down to an art now, but it’s still near-impossible to grab any sleep.

GREYHOUND SERVICE ALERT: Beginning at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, September 23, the Greyhound station in downtown Pittsburgh will be relocated to the McKeesport Transportation Center, 408 Lysle Blvd. This move is temporary, and is due to the G-20 Summit taking place at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

Oh, goody. Landing about 13 miles out of town in unfamiliar territory after 14 hours travel is just what I wanted. But never mind! I eventually found out how I was to get to my destination, and jumping on another bus made my way into the city. Pittsburgh feels kind of strange at the minute, due to the G-20; lots of protester-looking types with dreadlocks and big cardboard signs to be seen on the street. It’s on everyone’s mind, too: the conversations I overheard were all about the rigor of police checks and difficulty in getting anything done, or in some cases resent at being chosen to host. A small but granite-like old woman nearly poked me in the chest after overhearing my British accent.

‘Are you here for that G-20 thing? What do you do in it?’ she demanded. I explained that I was just a traveler, but that only seemed to redouble her conviction. ‘That’s just what you’d say, you just don’t want us to know, I bet you can’t talk about it.’ I made the mistake of trying to laugh that one off, which only served to further antagonize her. ‘It’s not a laughing matter’, she grumbled darkly as she stepped off the bus, leaving me rather bewildered.

Not everyone is feeling quite so wronged, though. Passing a pub on the way, they had hung up a sign: ‘We’re protesting sobriety’.

I arrived at my contact’s house here and promptly fell asleep until about an hour ago. I better get going though because we’re doing things tonight and my word, do I need a shower. More impressions of Pittsburgh to come tomorrow.


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