The drive to Pittsburgh isn’t too long, so we’re okay with it, but we’re sad to be leaving Fort Wayne, where we’ve been treated like High Kings. The good news is that Pittsburgh shares three rivers with Fort Wayne. At least we’re not leaving it all behind.
There are two places that Mandy our sat-nav/GPS doesn’t like : Newark & Pittsburgh. In Newark, Mandy goes offline, leaving us helpless in the streets driving through random street gangs, and muggings. In Pittsburgh Mandy clearly hasn’t been here since college. All the streetnames have changed; roads closed; junctions moved and renamed. Or Mandy just never went to class here, and instead got high and to this day doesn’t know her way around. We regularly add ten miles to simple journeys in Pittsburgh by taking wrong turns… all thanks to Mandy’s lost years.
The one benefit of Mandy’s incompetence, is that we get to see more of Pittsburgh. Myself and Kevin went exploring one night, in search of water (very useful if one is to avoid dehydration in constantly air-conditioned rooms). We drive for miles and we’re directed around in circles the whole time. Pittsburgh’s quite hilly though, so when you start roaming around the hills, you can end up driving on ridiculously steep lanes, one car wide, like you’re in a remote part of the Slieve Blooms or something. Norm, our trusty Town & Country, is a match for these lanes, but I shudder to think what these lanes were like only last week when the blizzards were here. Imagine a roller coaster reaching the peak of a ride… now remove the track!
Kevin likened Pittsburgh to a large scalextric track that his brother set up in a room at home. The highways seem to cross rivers to through buildings, disappear through mountains, only to reappear and cut across another river. Everything’s made of steel, unsurprisingly as it is the City of Steel and home of the Steelers… but still.
Mark Dignam, a fellow Irish musician based here, takes us out for a meal and gives us the low down on Pittsburgh. Of course, to divulge what he told us would not be befitting of a gentleman. We notice while we’re out that Pittsburgh seems to be a very tattoo-friendly town, which is kind of cool. All the waiting staff and bar staff seem to sport them prominently.
The show at Club Cafe goes well, and although Pittsburgh seemed quite interesting, we’re glad to be leaving our hotel rooms which are a little bit dank and could only have been co-ordinated by a Thomas Hardy fan. It wasn’t cheery stuff. Not a patch on our palatial Fort Wayne digs.
A word of advice to tourists. If you buy foreign beer at a restaurant, make sure you check the price. We got killed by that one evening, for a mere beer each – twice the price expected. At the same fabulous place though, I got a chipotle ice-cream and chocolate cake. Rarely do we manage dessert here, because the food is normally portioned for pre-hibernation bears, but I really wanted to try this. For the uninitiated, chipotle is essentially the spicy treatment. To enjoy this dessert, really you need to use the chocolate cake to soothe your mouth, after you set it on fire with the spicy ice-cream. Kev hated it. I loved it.
One sign around the corner from the venue, that really brought me back to Dublin, said, “Buy 10 tans, get 2 free!”… I hope they were spray-on tans and not UV tans. Ugh.