The Strip District and BBT with Ray and Arunan

Trip Start Oct 30, 2009
Trip End Nov 05, 2009

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Flag of United States  , Pennsylvania
Wednesday, November 4, 2009

We woke up quite a bit earlier today and made our way down to Pamela's for breakfast. This is a chain in Pittsburgh, of insane greasy breakfasts.

I ordered what was their specialty. Crepes with fruit and whip cream, covered in brown sugar. It was like, insane sugar overload. The blueberries had a funny texture, they were really granuley and not like blueberries used to taste. I wonder if they were not ripe enough or something... but anyway, total sugar rush for breakfast.

The waitress kept bringing out plate after plate of more and more food. I had no idea where the hell people were putting it, but they kept eating it. I was crazy full with my giant crepe already. Lee chatted the waitress up, who had been working at the establishment for over 20 years.

I was done early, so I went upstairs to a strange Peruvian craft store, and then walked around Shadyside. I gotta say, Shadyside is definitely pretty gross. From what I saw, it was full of chain stores, American Apparels and Banana Republics, more than you could ever ask for.

I quickly became bored and went to take a nap in the back of the bus. This caused some confusion, because Kristin was looking for me for a few minutes. However, I don't think I made anyone wait because Lee was buying some sort of Peruvian blanket.

Next stop was the Frick mansion and the art gallery of the same name. I was pretty interested in this, and I wanted to spend as much time as possible on the grounds of the estate. However, Kevin took it upon himself to argue with the public relations guy about the merits of allowing him to videotape footage while touring the mansion. The PR guy would not give in. It was really embarrassing how pushy Kevin was.

"Well there's no point in me going on the tour then," he said with a huff....

OK, weirdo, let's just go before we run out of time.

Always on these tours, you are constantly rushed. It's not a bad thing for writers, because it gives you a LOT of unique content and you can create lots of different stories if you're writing for a mass audience.

I certainly enjoy the fast pace, and it makes me irritable when someone takes it upon themselves to cut into my very short period of time by greedily trying to get more footage than is really necessary.

Anyway, whatever.

The house was marvelous. Built in the late 19th century, it had a children's playhouse just as big many regular houses are today. There was a stable (which now houses a museum of automobiles), a greenhouse and lots of fancy stuff inside the house.

Most of it was kept as it originally appeared when Henry Clay Frick lived in it back in the day. So he had all the latest trends in convenient living. Electricity, one of the first "paging" systems for his staff, flushing toilets, aluminum on the ceilings, you know.. all that awesome stuff.

Our tour guide was pretty amazing. It wasn't that she was in "period" character, she just really talked like somebody from the early 19th century. You could tell she just lived and breathed this house. I WISH I had a video, just of her. I should have asked her to talk to me outside....

After a tour of the rest of the grounds on our own, and a visit to the art gallery, (which had a really great photography exhibit on an old children's hospital) we were off to the strip district for a kind of walking lunch tour.

Our first stop was Wholey's Fish Market, something that Allison recommended I visit. We had some vegetarian sushi,... go figure, and then some deep fried smelts. If you go, make sure you check out the live fish in the back, it's almost as good as going to a real aquarium... almost.

Next up, Mancini's, a very popular place to buy these things called pepperoni rolls. They are baked fresh in this bakery. It's almost like a pizza, without the sauce, but in the shape of a roll... I thought it was delicious.

We stopped in at Labad's for some hummus, then onto Primanti Bros. to try their famous sandwich with the french fries in it. This time, it was moderately delicious, the coleslaw was a lot more vinagery. I wonder if going to the actual original restaurant made the difference?

Then, we tried a bunch of CRAZY cheese at the Pennsylvania Macaroni Company. There were at least 200 different types of cheese there, and the manager knew everything about every single one.

There were three more stops on our tour and I was already starting to fall asleep after eating all this delicious food.

Kristin was ushering us along quickly now, so we were briskly taken to eat some pumpkin biscotti and taste some homemade wine at Enrico Biscotti.

After that, one more tasting of "mele" at Colangelo's. An amazingly flaky pastry stuffed with almond pudding type stuff. The original mele has custard in it, which contains raw eggs. However raw eggs can't be sold in American restaurants like that.

Phew... so we all just rolled ourselves back onto the bus. Sadly, there was no time for me to purchase a Steelers touque. It had already started getting cold and I only brought a spring jacket, because someone advised me that it was sooooo warm south of the 49th parallel. (Mom!)

I probably would have regretted that touque later on anyway...

We had a couple of hours to go through the Carnegie Museum, which I was pretty excited for. We saw some dinosaurs and Steph and I made a new 5 year old friend while hanging out inside a giant plastic Blue Whale heart. We asked him where his parents were, he simply said, "I don't have any parents."

Oh boy...

So I sort of kept an eye on him until the people who actually were his parents showed up.

So the whale exhibit was good, even if it was a bit smelling of fish. After that, we went to the art part of the museum, which was also good. I especially liked this piece (found at the bottom), where children's books were made to look like a flock of birds taking off into the sky.

We went back to the Duquesne Incline, but this time we actually went up the hill. I didn't understand how the apparatus actually worked, but I took a video of the machine part for my dad, because I'm sure he'll be interested in that.

After learning all about the history of the incline, it was about time for dinner. DINNER!? Just the fact of THINKING about food physically hurt my stomach.

There WAS still room for some pumpkin beer, however. So, I watched everyone chow down... (I don't know HOW) while sipping on my beer and waiting for Ray to show up.

I noticed all of a sudden he was 15 minutes late! Oh no, the place was busy, so I assumed he hadn't seen us all the way at the back. I got up and there he was, just getting in. Good!

He sat down and there magically appeared in front of me a pierogie. I was informed that I couldn't leave Pennsylvania without trying an authentic pierogie, so there I went again, eating some more carbohydrates and saturated fats.

Ray is a funny guy, always bursting into laughter and telling lots of funny stories about his travels over the years. You can find some of them here:

Everyone else at the table was ready for bed, but I still wanted to go out! Arunan had just gotten there, and he said that the famous "BBT" I was told about was right down the street. PLUS it was drum n bass night. How could I possibly resist?

So we all carpooled there in Arunan's car, and then when we got there, the place was a little sedated. That's too bad. I was the only one dancing, except sometimes Arunan would join me.

Ray was not into it, unfortunately. "Yeah I have not danced to this in like... 10 years"

"I know it's great!" I yelled back. He made a slightly amused face right back at me.

This crazy guy with a huuuuuuuuuge drugged out smile wearing tie dye and everything else to make him look like a typical rave-kid, drug dealer was talking to me and I tried to get him to dance with me. I figured if ANYONE in this place would dance it was this guy. He did, but I think he really was too crazy to concentrate... I dunno.

OK, so we dance dance dance and then a few $1 beers later, we were all pooped and went home.

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Steph on

I love that Steve is giving you and the pierogi a goofy look at Fatheads. It's nice not to have to eat 8 times a day back in real life. :)

jacquesl on


I'm looking at those louise VS photos and I can't help but think about Louise VS all those pounds.... :-0

greekcypriot on

It seems you are having fun. Good. Enjoy it.
But plse stop eating all these fatttening things!

starlagurl on

You didn't HAVE to eat 8 times a day, Steph! Hahaha...

Jacques, that's what I ride my bike 30km/day for...

greekcypriot on

What happened to that old motorbike Louise!
Oh Ok I see that you are exercising. Good for you then.
I apologise. Hope you did not mind me telling you all this???

starlagurl on

The motorbike is out of commission for a while. Me and Derek will try and get 'er back on the road next summer, though.

loolie on

what a great read - I am actually going to Pittsburgh for the day in a couple of weeks so it is good to know of some things I should check out! I can't imagine eating all of that food though, wow!! What would you say are some definite must-see places if we could only go to a couple? Also, would you say it is better to see the Incline during the day or at night?

starlagurl on

I would have rather been on the incline in the day, but I think the view from the top is the best at night, because of all the city lights.

As for stuff to see: I would recommend the Andy Warhol gallery, and definitely visit the Strip district for a pepperoni roll or a Primanti's sandwich. At night, I'd recommend Carson St. on the weekend, it is a CRAZY party area, and definitely a sight to see.

Hope you have fun! When/why are you going?

jeremystravels on

I just now noticed, but I am glad to see that you went back to the original Primanti Brothers and got a good sandwich! The location we went to totally shafted us on the vinegary goodness.

starlagurl on

Yep, it's definitely better with more vinegar. That is the key to the Primanti goodness.

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