n celebration of my birthday, welfy and I went to Pittsburgh for the day. Like a lot of U.S. cities, Pittsburgh has converted its old railroad station into a commercial district. In Pittsburgh, it's called Station Square. What's unique about it from some of the other renovated stations I've seen is that it's not exactly in downtown Pittsburgh; it resides on the other side of the river, giving one a fantastic view of the city's skyline.
Near our table were a few pieces of memorabilia which reminded me of some of my livejournal.friends. For instance, there was the sheer bearded genius of Michael McDonald gazing over our table, reminding me of lossfound.
Also nearby, was an old Fender which used to belong to Mark Knopfler, one of tpbrcombo's heroes.
fter our little snack we mulled around the waterfront taking pictures and enjoying the view of the skyline. We then window-shopped inside Station Square for a while, just killing time until the the fondue place opened. The restaurant finally opened, and although neither of us were really hungry any more, we plopped down in a booth and stuffed ourselves with a bread, fruit and vegetables dipped on a garlic-laden cheddar fondue. It was a lot of fun. The fondue was prepared table-side on a hotplate built into the table. We topped it off with a dessert fondue, dipping strawberries and sponge cakes into a melted confection of chocolate and marshmallow cream.
Completely stuffed, we waddled back to the car: destination Carson Street, a little bohemian arts community just down the street. On our way out of Station Square, we stopped by the parking lot of the Duquesne Incline and took a few photos. We decided to save the Incline ride for later after it got dark. Across from the Incline, the home of the Pittsburgh Steelers reflected in the dark waters of the Three Rivers.
arson Street is what you would expect of any community of this sort: over-priced bistros and cafes, hipster boutiques and thrift shops, and a smattering of tattoo parlors, record stores, and pubs to round the whole thing out. After fighting the traffic into the area and finding some street parking, we surveyed a few shops which seemed interesting. The first door we darkened was that of a pop culture collectibles store. Inside were countless action figures, vintage lunchboxes, and heaps and heaps of trading cards. I very nearly considered purchasing a Hong Kong Phooey lunchbox for myself, but decided against it as, well, what the heck would I do with it?
A lot of the shops were closed, being so late on a Saturday evening. A few of the clothing stores which interested Welf were locked-up for the day. We had some fun messing around in a costume stop for a while with the wigs and gawking at the more, uhhh, risque costumes for fantasy play. We did find one clothing store open which offered a lot of unique, hand-made clothing. While Welf rummaged through the clothing racks, I was thankful that they had a "boyfriend seat"; you know, the lonely little chair in the corner where the boyfriend sits while the girlfriend shops? I amused myself playing with the store's kitty. She was a sweetheart, and playful, too. There is a green light which emits from my camera very briefly that takes a light reading when you depress the button partially. I used it to tease the kitty by shining the light on the floor and moving it around.
By the time we had made the circuit down one side of the street and back up the other, Welf was in dire need of a restroom. We tried a nearby convenience store as well as a Starbucks, but neither had public facilities. There was a place nearby which had piqued our interest, a church which had been renovated into The Halo Cafe. At street level, there were stairs leading down into the sidewalk to a bar which advertised music and dancing below street-level. Arched steps led upward from the sidewalk to the main entrance of the building. Welf was thinking, "coffee shop" = "bathroom". What we found when we walked inside was a restaurant and were immediately greeted by the hostess. Rather than just asking to the use the bathroom or leaving, we shrugged and were shown to a table. I personally was still really stuffed from the nachos and fondue from earlier, but I thought maybe I could find room for an appetizer. The Halo Cafe had a very eclectic menu, with some exotic offerings. Since neither of us were terribly hungry, we decided upon two of the more exotic appetizers. Being from the rural South, I had had occasion to eat frog legs on a number of occasions, but Welf had never had them, so this was one of our choices. The other was a dish comprised of ostrich meat, a new one for me. It was very dark and un-fowl-like. The manner in which it was prepared was very salty, giving it flavor not unlike pastrami. I wasn't terribly impressed, but I think it was largely due to the salt than the meat itself. I'd have to try it again, prepared in some other way before passing judgement on it.
e returned to the car and headed back down to the incline for our final event of the day. We bought our round-trip tickets and boarded the car, which soon rumbled on its way. At the top, there was a small museum with some history of the incline and a tour of the machinery. We look through the old photos and followed the self-guided route beneath the station to look at the gears which operated the cable car.
We then went onto the observation deck, which overlooked the joining of the Monongahela, Allegheny, and Ohio rivers; the Three Rivers of Pittsburgh.
have an assortment of additional media from the trip if you're interested. The entire set of photos can be found in the photo album.
I also made two short videos and one rather long one:
See the incline pulley in action! (4.7mb, WMV)
See a panning shot of the Pittsburgh skyline from the observation deck! (1.9mb, WMV)
See the entire ride down the incline and the walk to the parking lot! (10.7mb, WMV)