Aug 28, 2012

Weekend in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh has never been on my top 10 list of cities to visit, but Raisin Bread and I wanted to do a short weekend trip within driving distance. Although I did quite a bit of traveling this summer, all of my trips were solo, so I was excited to spend some time with my hubby out of town.

Pittsburgh, it turns out, was much more interesting than I assumed it would be. Our first day was spent exploring the downtown area including some visits to art galleries, places with good eats and the Cathedral of Learning (aka Hogwarts).

The day was very wet and rainy, so it was a good thing that we had planned indoor activities for most of the day. Our first stop was breakfast at Pamela's Diner. It was greasy, kitschy and everything a diner should be. I ordered an omelette that came with toast and potatoes. Raisin Bread had banana French toast. I don't know what was in the potatoes but they were like crack.

After breakfast, we went to The Mattress Factory, a museum located in a former Stearns & Foster mattress factory, hence the name. The museum actually is situated in a number of buildings now, but the main exhibition space is in the factory. What makes The Mattress Factory different is that each piece is a room-sized installation that is created on-site.

Ever since I saw MOCA's Warhol retrospective in 2002, I have been pretty fascinated with Andy Warhol. Pittsburgh was his hometown and it is now home to a museum dedicated to his life's work. My two favorite parts of my visit was learning about Warhol's archives. Warhol created over 600 Time Capsules, which were in essence cardboard boxes filled with the stuff that passed through his hands. When he filled a box, he sealed it and sent it to storage. I can't imagine the stories those objects can tell about what his life was like and what the time was like. The other thing I most enjoyed was the educational aspect of the museum, where you can learn in a hands-on way some of Warhol's methods in art-making.

The butterfly is one of my creations from that afternoon!

Once we ran out of creative juices, we visited the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning. Located inside this building are a series of Nationality Rooms. The rooms are styled to represent some of the cultures that settled in Allegheny County, such as Polish, German and Irish. We were only permitted to see the rooms on the third floor that afternoon and these included Armenian, Japanese and Austrian. How lucky are the students who get to attend courses in this beautiful building and in these rooms.

The common area of the Cathedral of Learning made me feel like I was at Hogwarts. I believe if I were a student at Pitt, my favorite place to study would be this space.

The second part of our weekend was spent with Raisin Bread's aunt and uncle. His uncle was participating in a vintage car race.

During the lunch break, spectators can make a donation to take a lap around the track in one of the vintage cars. I doubt there will ever be another opportunity for me to ride in a 1950s Lotus 7 on a race track!

I was pleasantly surprised by Pittsburgh. It was fun, relaxing and filled with plenty of good times. 

60 21st Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

500 Sampsonia Way
Pittsburgh, PA 15212

117 Sandusky Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15212

4200 Fifth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15260

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