Posts Tagged ‘Pittsburgh’

The July Recap

Hanging with the Longfellows on our birthday

Hanging with the Longfellows on our birthday

How time does get away from me… this is the first time I’ve gone more than a month without posting to my blog. It’s not that I haven’t thought about it, either. It’s just that somewhere in my two week trip to Pittsburgh, preparations for Evan’s return home and other summer activities, I just didn’t post anything.

July was a good month, though. It started off, as I mentioned, with two weeks in Pittsburgh where Evan and I mostly worked during the day and ate dinner together at night. I set up shop in the hotel lobby most days, with my laptop and cell phone, and dealt with a few episodes of being locked out of the room (only once my fault for losing my key).

The only real standout day was our birthday, which we share, on July 8. After working for more than two weeks straight, Evan’s boss gave him the day off from work. We had a wonderfully relaxing day, playing frisbee in Schenley park, going to the Phipps Conservatory to wander through the beautiful greenery and fun Frabel glass sculptures, and wandered around Oakland for a while. We went to the top of the Cathedral of Knowledge to check out the view, and headed to the Legume Bistro for dinner. Dinner was a comedy of errors, with our waitress bringing a wrong dish (which Evan ate anyway), and a corked bottle of wine (which we brought and decided to replace from a bar across the street, since the restaurant doesn’t serve alcohol). But despite all the little mishaps, we had a fun time together, and went back to the hotel to share our mystery bottle of Champagne with some friends — we ultimately found out that it was from Evan’s brother, but we returned to our room to find a bottle of Champagne addressed to “Francia + Avan,” with no indication of who it was from. We were amused to have another year of excellent birthday misspellings, though.

The rest of the trip to Pittsburgh was uneventful, save for a few delicious dinners at Kaya, and a great Fourth of July fireworks display over the river.

A little more than a week after I returned to LA, Evan finally came home after four months away. We’ve been busy enjoying the sunshine, and catching up with family and friends. I’ve also been on a cooking spree, and I’ve been taking some more UCLA Extension design classes (more about that to come in upcoming posts).

Frank Lloyd Wright Houses of Western Pennsylvania

fallingwater

One of the best days of my trip to Pittsburgh was spending a Saturday out in the countryside visiting Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob, two Frank Lloyd Wright houses.

We got to Fallingwater first and were set to take a guided tour with a small group of about 10. We all gathered at the visistor’s center, and when they called our group, we walked down the long gravel driveway to the house. On approach, you don’t really see the waterfall, but you do get to a small bridge that leads to the entrance of the house where you can look down on the stream that runs at the top of the platform, and you can see a floating platform with steps leading down from the house where the owners could sit and dangle their feet into the running water.

fallingwater floating platform

It was a beautiful late spring day and everything was very green. And though I had seen many photos of the house over the years, visiting it really felt like something new and different. One thing I was surprised about what how small most of the interior rooms were. The bedrooms and bathrooms were quite small, as were the hallways, but we learned that Wright designed that way — to compress you through the hallways to the rooms, and to bring the outside in by making each room’s patio similar in size to the room.

Fallingwater

There were fireplaces throughout the house and beautiful views from all the windows and balconies. It was also nice to see so much original furniture, as a lot of it is custom and built in to the house. The tour guide also loved to point out which designs weren’t Wright’s — some were the owner’s own designs that Wright disapproved of. We also got to see the guest house and walk around to the far side of the stream to get the classic view of the house, where we took most of our photos.

When we were done with our tour and walk around the grounds, we started to head over to see another one of Wright’s homes, Kentuck Knob. We had some time for our drive, though, so on the way we stopped in Ohiopyle to have a picnic lunch by the river, and we also checked out Cucumber Falls, where a large, drunken bridal party was clambering down the muddy path and over slippery roots and rocks to take a photo in their formalwear. It was quite a scene.

Kentuck Knob

Kentuck Knob

Kentuck Knob was very different from Fallingwater. First, it’s a good deal smaller. It’s also tucked into the knob of  hill, so it has quite a modest exterior profile. Inside, it has large windows that look out on the trees, and it doesn’t have quite as much of the original furnishings as Fallingwater does, but it’s still privately owned and shows off the owner’s extensive sculpture collection both inside and outside the house. Again the hallways were very narrow and the rooms were even smaller, but it felt nice and cozy and if we weren’t the last tour of the day we would have had more time to go to the sculpture meadow and check out more of the modern art collection.

On our way back to Pittsburgh we stopped for dinner at Chez Girard, a quirky but lovely and nice French restaurant. We weren’t dressed as nicely as we should have been, but we sat out on the patio, enjoying the nice weather, listening to French music and eating a delicious meal.

Check out more photos on Flickr and Facbeook

A Beautiful Walk Through Phipps Botanical Garden and Oakland

The elegant Phipps Conservatory Glass House

The elegant Phipps Conservatory Glass House

Friday was a beautiful, sunny day, so I decided to go check out Phipps botanical garden and conservatory, Schenley Park and some of Oakland’s other sights.

Frabel Longfellows at the Phipps Conservatory

Frabel Longfellows at the Phipps Conservatory

The botanical gardens, almost entirely housed inside a giant glass house, were lovely. To add to the already impressive array of trees and flowers, there were also Frabel glass pieces dispersed throughout the gardens — lizards and frogs in the amazon room, floating, lacy bowls on top of a fish pond, fairies in the butterfly room and my favorites, the “Longfellows,” near and in many of the water elements.

A Brachiosaurus at the Carnegie Museums

A Brachiosaurus at the Carnegie Museums

After spening time in the gardens, I did a quick walkthrough of the Carnegie Library and also poked my head into the Carnegie art museum. It was near closing time so I didn’t buy a ticket, but I did go to the Pitt campus to check out the Heinz Chapel and the Cathedral of Learning (both closed for weddings) and took a look at the military museum from a distance, too (also closed for a wedding).

Heinz Chapel

Heinz Chapel

Oakland was such a pleasant place to wander and relax that Evan and I returned the next day to explore a bit more of Schenley Park and have a late breakfast at Pamela’s, a rather famous Pittsburgh diner chain. The pancakes were delicious.

Check out this slideshow of photos from the conservatory:

Check out more Pittsburgh photos on Flickr and Facebook

A Day of Immersive Art on Pittsburgh’s North Side

Paths to the Park, Pittsburgh

I finally got to head back to Pittsburgh for a second visit and I arived in the city on the brink of summer. Everything in lush and green, the sun is out and my allergies are making my nose run and eyes itch.

Like my last trip, I’ve had a good amount of time to wander about on my own, so I decided to check out some of the sights I missed on my last brief trip. Friday, I took a nice walk to the North Side and headed to the Mattress Factory, a museum down an alley that specializes in large-scale installations from contemporary artists.

There was an inyeresting wood sculpture exhibit by Thaddeus Mosley that made me feel like I was walking through a semiurban forest of undulating yet stoic tress.

There was another exhibit almost entirely in the dark by James Turrell that played on perceptions of light, shape and space with a floating red projected cube that you realize is just a corner in a room, and a flat purple rectangle that you come to realize is an entire room lit up and shown through a frame. It was creepy walking around in the dark by myself, especially listening to the creaky footsteps from the floor above and other building noises, but it was also interesting and immersive.

Infinity Dots Mirrored Room by Yayoi Kusama

Infinity Dots Mirrored Room by Yayoi Kusama

Another near exhibit was two mirrored polka-dotted rooms designed by Yayoi Kusama that I walked through with my shoes off.

Mattress Factory Slideshow

While at the museum I saw information on a new interacive art project, Paths to the Park, which paired North Side students with people at locals arts and community organizations and had them walk to the park in West Commons wearing chalk shoes to show their trail. The walk was going on that evening, so I went to check out the event and watched people coming into the parks leaving neon green trails, talked to some people involved with the project and even tried on the chalk shoes. They were harder to walk in than I thought they would be. (Paths to the Park Flickr Gallery)

Chalk Shoes for Paths to the Park

Chalk Shoes for Paths to the Park

Since I had some time before Paths to the Park started, I also stopped by the National Aviary where I saw a bunch of birds, including 2 of the biggest in the world — Andean Condors — as well as cute little penguins, rambunctious flamingos and some pretty parrots. I got there too late to catch any of the day’s shows, though, so there wasn’t quite as much to do as I’d hoped. (National Aviary Flickr Gallery)

A bird at the National Aviary

A bird at the National Aviary

When I finally headed home, I got to walk by PNC Field where the Pirates were playing. I fought foot traffic on the bridge from downtown as the only one walking away from the game. Next week, when I’m back in town, we’re going to see about getting tickets to a game.

6th Street Bridge by PNC Field

6th Street Bridge by PNC Field

Check out more Pittsburgh photos on Flickr and Facebook


A Few Days in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh

Thursday morning, I arrived in Pittsburgh to visit Evan, who has been working there since the beginning of April. While he was working during the day, I spent my time wandering about the city, taking photos.

Thurdsay, I walked across the Smithfield Street Bridge and started exploring downtown and the Cultural District, where all Pittsburgh’s big theaters are. I also crossed the bridge into the Northside and walked around the Commons and by the Andy Warhol Museum. I also checked the few things at Station Square, where Evan is living, which mostly involved a walk through a mall and a peek into the beautiful historic train station converted into a restaurant, the Grand Concourse.

Friday, I decided to head up to Mount Washington, and took the Monongahela Incline up to the top. Then walked along the ridge of the mountain until I reached the Duquesne Incline (which is much quainter and cuter and has exhibits about the incline’s history in its top station). I rode the incline down and walked across the Fort Pitt Bridge to Point Park and walked around downtown again, this time making it all the way out to the Strip District before heading back.

Friday night, Evan and I got to explore the city together. We went to the Warhol Museum, where we saw a great collection of Andy Warhol’s work and learned a lot about his life. There was also a special exhibit: The Vader Project, which was really entertaining. We got to see 100 Darth Vader masks as interpreted by different artists. Some of the projects were really impressive artistically and others were conceptually funny. I’m not a big Star Wars fan, but I did enjoy the exhibit.

After the museum, we went for a very tasty dinner at Eleven. The service was a bit strange, but the food was delicious (see my Yelp review for more details).

Here are a few of my favorite photos from my wanders:

The Duquesne Incline, with Downtown Pittsburgh in the background

The Duquesne Incline, with Downtown Pittsburgh in the background

Crossing the Fort Pitt Bridge into Downtown

Crossing the Fort Pitt Bridge into Downtown

A Downtown office part with lots of metallic buildings -- Pittsburgh is steel city and its downtown architecture shows it

A Downtown office part with lots of metallic buildings -- Pittsburgh is steel city and its downtown architecture shows it

One of the most delightful things I cam across in Downtown Pittsburgh: A transformer/robot sculpture made of models of Pittsburgh's bridges

One of the most delightful things I cam across in Downtown Pittsburgh: A transformer/robot sculpture made of models of Pittsburgh's bridges

There are tons more photos in my Pittsburgh galleries on Flickr and Facebook

Playing a Little Catchup: News and Reviews

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, so I figured I should do a quick catch-up for anyone who feels they’re missing out. Things have been busy over here in the past few weeks, so there’s plenty to catch up on.

One of Evan's first pictures of Pittsburgh

One of Evan's first pictures of Pittsburgh

The biggest change is that Evan took a job that will bring him to Pittsburgh for 3 months. This pales in comparison to leaving for Budapest nearly two years ago, back in the time when I didn’t even know exactly how long we’d be apart, but it’s still a bit sad for me and it will be an adjustment. He just left this morning — on a 6 a.m. flight — and I’m going to be heading out for my first visit April 22.

Evan also just launched a new site about assistant editing and Avid tips and tricks. It looks really professional and clean and already has tons of useful information.

Though this week was busy workwise and I’ve also started a design class at UCLA Extension, there were some fun events leading up to Evan’s departure, like playing with his cousin’s new King Charles Cavalier puppies (so adorable!), seeing a movie and going out to eat. Here are some of the highlights.

villageidiotWe went to The Village Idiot twice. Once to check it out before deciding to have Evan’ going away shindig there (I’d been there, he hadn’t), and the second time was for his party. This gastropub, which is unusual for LA, offers interesting dishes — I had a beet and horseradish greens salad, acorn squash risotto and ginger bread budding with Guinness gelato (amazingly delicious and different) — a nice wine and beer list, and a fun atmosphere. The wallpaper in the back rooms is covered in stags, and as we found out, it gets quite crowded on a Friday night, so if you want to enjoy your food, have dinner there earlier in the week.

The goodbye party was a nice gathering of lots of friends. It was tough to get to talk to everyone and the room was realy bustling, but we were there until closing time, enjoying the company and the beer.

We also went to eat at the Gardens of Taxco, which we’ve been meaning to try out for months. This Mexican restaurant is quite the experience. With no menus — just a choice of meats and veggies for your five-course meal read off by an animated, showboaty waiter — you’re surprised at every step along the way of your dinner. And it just makes ordering that much easier. We had quesadillas with delicious quacamole, soup, tacos and enchiladas, and Evan had carne asada while I had a chile relleno and a zucchini taco, along with rice and beans, of course. There were also the requisite chips and salsa, as well as some pickled vegetables. I was also serenaded by the guitar player, singing a very sweet song Evan requested.

We were surprised to find that the restaurant doesn’t serve hard alcohol, which meant no margaritas, but they make their own guava-wine margaritas. It wasn’t a perfect replacement, but they were pretty tasty — and they come by the liter! (We shared, of course).

For Evan’s last day in town, we went to the park and played some frisbee. I have very little talent when it comes to throwing or catching things, or sports in general, but I’ve been improving. Then we ran some errands and went to dinner. Evan didn’t want anything too stuffy, so we headed over to the Panini Cafe. As we were walking toward the restaurant, I had the strangest sense of deja vu, and then it hit me — this is the last place we ate before he left for Budapest. Strange that it was completely unintentional. When he was leaving for Budapest, we went for lunch with his grandparents; this time we went for dinner on our own. We like the place, with its relatively quick service and tasty sandwiches, salads and kabobs. I just couldn’t believe we were really back there again, in nearly the same situation.

I’ll try to post a bit more regularly, and I’m sure I’ll have plenty to talk about after my first trip to Pittsburgh and to Syracuse (we should be heading up there the weekend I’m in town). After 2 and a half years, I’ll finally see Evan’s hometown. I think it’s about time for that. And I’ll finally get to check out the ever-mysterious Wegman’s.

If you have any recommendations for things to do or places to eat in Pittsburgh, we’d love to hear them.