Tuesday, October 6, 2015

2015 - Pittsburgh Day 2 [Pittsburgh]

Breakfast was quick and was nothing special. Typical Holiday Inn breakfast, it looks pretty standardized, something that I miss about going to new hotels is what their breakfast might be like. There is a variety of cereal, bread, yogurt, fresh fruit, a pancake maker, eggs, sausage, biscuits and gravy and a few other things.

Our breakfast at Holiday Inn.
Our first stop is a viewpoint from Mt Washington. You have the option of taking one of two inclines (Duquesne Incline or the Monongahela Incline), driving up and parking on/near Grandview Ave (which is what we did) or hiking up. We parked near the Duquesne Incline and it provided we with a very nice view of the city from just across the river and you can see a lot of the major points of interest such as Heinz Field, Carnegie Science Center, PNC Park, downtown Pittsburgh and more. A definitely stop in my opinion if you visit Pittsburgh. We will try to see what it looks like at night tonight since we missed the chance yesterday. The incline is very inexpensive at $5 round-trip if that is the route you choose.

From Mt Washington with Duquesne Incline in the foreground and downtown Pittsburgh in the background.
Next stop, bicycle heaven, a bicycle museum dedicated to bicycles. Initially I wasn't planning on visiting this site, but since we had time before the Nationality Rooms opened, I decided that we should stop by for a peek since it is free and just a short 10 minute drive from Grandview Ave on Mt. Washington.

Front of Bicycle Heaven.
Bicycle Heaven is a museum dedicated to bicycles with free admission (donations are welcome), it is a very neat stop, and frankly, I'm surprised by how large it is and the variety of bicycles and random things that they have. They are also a bicycle repair shop, so if you have any issues, you can let them have a look. Don't let the small storefront kill your excitement because the main display is upstairs and you are in for a treat even for people like myself who don't know much nor care much about bicycles. I did not know that there would be so many types of bicycles and how some are so rare that they cost over $40,000! We spent about 30 minutes here and worth a stop if you have time to spare.

Bicycle Heaven!
Bicycle Heaven is located at the corner of Columbus and Metropolitan and is part of the warehouse-looking buildings. Well worth a stop in my option.

Bicycle Heaven.
The Nationality Rooms was next and is a series of rooms in the University of Pittsburgh that is dedicated to what classrooms would look like if you were in different countries (hence the name). They are actually used as classrooms, so sometimes you may not be able to step inside them. Luckily, since it was a Sunday, we had full access to all the rooms. $4 will get you an audio guide, map, and room key which you need to access the rooms on the first floor (there are rooms on the third floor but they are all open and have a switch to play the audio guide in the room itself). The map explains where the rooms are and what nationality they represent.

Nationality Rooms.
Nationality Rooms.
Frankly, this was more interesting than I expected. It was fun trying to predict what the rooms would look like, although by the time we were on the third floor, we just popped into the room, took some pictures and left. The reason is, since the audio guide is built into the room, you may walk in part-way through the audio guide and need to wait to listen to the parts you missed. I liked when we had control on the first floor. I thought this was a neat stop and worth visiting.

Nationality Rooms.
Conflict kitchen is where we stopped for lunch which is just across the street from the Nationality Rooms and features food from nations that USA is currently in conflict with and it is currently Cuban food. The food was good and the price was fair. I thought the drink that I got was nice and refreshing although the portion size is a bit small (I like drinks to be big). The menu is on their website, so check it out if you are concerned about what they might be when you go. But, fear not, there is a Chinese stand and a stand with gyros just next door if you find out it isn't to your liking.

Conflict Kitchen
Beef on the left, pork on the right, fried plantains, and a drink.
Initially we were going to do the Carnegie Museums, but Allison wasn't feeling well, so we ended up going back to the hotel to rest. While she was resting at the hotel, I decided to go visit the local casino since the hotel actually offers $20 of slot play per guest (check Holiday Inn's website for details). I was initially going to take the shuttle but since I did not know how long I would be, I decided to drive. There is plenty of street parking available on Allegheny Ave, near Maolis Way and it was free on Sunday (I'm not sure about other days). It is about a 10 minute walk away which isn't bad since I had no idea what the cost of parking is at the casino and it is nearby a couple fast food chains (McDonald's, Subway, Wendy's to name a few) if you wanted to stop for anything.

I probably spent about 1.5 hours to 2 hours before I got back to the hotel (including driving, wandering around, time spent at the casino). Of course, I didn't win anything with my $20 slot play, well, actually I walked out with $2 if that counts. Headed back to the hotel to see how Allison was doing. She seemed better and we decided to head out for dinner at a restaurant near the incline called Shiloh Grill.

Salad de la burgh from Shiloh Grill.
I ordered a salad, which, not surprisingly, has french fries in it again!  Allison got a specialty seasonal burger. The food was good, nothing memorable. It did provide us with free parking which is nice since you can just walk out afterwards for a view since it is just off Grandview Ave. Also, there is a very popular ice cream shop that we saw after we finished our meal but I said that I had a different one to visit afterwards, so we didn't get any there.

Specialty seasonal burger from Shiloh Grill.
After some pictures near both inclines, we stopped by Page Dairy Mart, a VERY popular local ice cream shop that is known for their soft serve ice cream. We both thought it was strange that as we followed the GPS instructions, the city was disappearing, street lights were becoming fewer and it just seemed like I was going somewhere where I wasn't supposed to.  Fear not though, you really can't miss this stop if you headed there in the evening like we did. All the glowing neon lights and the massive line is something that you can't miss as you drive towards it.

Downtown Pittsburgh at night.
Downtown Pittsburgh at night.
While they are known for their soft serve ice cream, I don't know if I am a fan of it. I got the peach sundae and thought it was good and Allison was adventurous and got a flavoured soft served, it was good, but I'm not sure if it deserves the high reviews it gets. It is possible that I'm missing something since I am not generally a fan of soft serve. For reference, my go-to ice cream brand now would be Ben & Jerry's.

Me and my peach sundae.
We finished our treats and called it a night and concluded our stay at Pittsburgh. Tomorrow, we drive back to Toronto.

Come back for Day 3, our final day of our Pittsburgh roadtrip!