CRA Distributed Mentor Program (Summer '02)

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Around Pittsburgh

  Fun Places Around Pittsburgh

Considering the fact that I don't get out much even at home where I have a car, I have been making some kind of effort to get out and about Pittsburgh (with much persuasion from Hiba, the other CRA intern, and some other people from my dorm).

This is also a guide from my perspective, as a person who has lived in the Bay Area all my life and the closest place to the "East Coast" that I've been to is Disney World.

Weekend 1: 6/1-6/2

Carnegie Library - I haven't had a chance to explore this place much. However, the very first Sunday (6/2) that I spent in Pittsburgh, they had a carnival fair sponsored by the Library. Everyone got free food and drinks, and I took pictures with the Pittsburgh Pirates parrot and this guy's adorable pet pitbull.

Phipps Conservatory - After the library carnival fair, we visited the Phipps Conservatory which has a bunch of interestings plants. Ok, so maybe it's not that exciting unless you're a botanist, but they did have the bleeding white heart flower and some nice covered bench areas.

Weekend 2: 6/8-6/9

Three Rivers Arts Festival - For the second weekend, I went to Point State Park where three rivers meet. They have a big arts festival that lasts for about two weeks. They had some amazing performances there, although I wasn't actually there for them. The day before I went, the Indigo Girls performed there. The day after I went, Norah Jones performed there. And all these performances were free! This was also the first time I rode a public bus in Pittsburgh from the CMU area to downtown Pittsburgh. The public transportation here is quiet efficient. There is also a mobile Krispy Kreme that serves hot and fresh donuts. They actually transported the whole factory that they have in the stores to the festival! You get to see the donuts floating in a sea of oil and the waterfall of glaze frosting that envelops the donut. Appetizing, eh? =) For more info about the festival,

Weekend 3: 6/15-6/16

Station Square - Many quaint restaurants there where the locals go for a nice weekend dinner. There is Bucca di Beppo there too! (They have that in SF too) There is also a small indoor "mall" with tourist shops, restaurants, Express and Limited. They had some interesting vending machines there. There was a make-your-own-postcard photo booth, a machine to dispense Kodak disposable cameras and film and another machine that dispenses Dipping Dots ice cream.

Mt. Washington - The Duquesne incline is right next to station square, and you can use your bus pass to ride this. Supposedly, there is a historic incline down towards the 3 river meeting point that costs more money. We took the duquesne incline up to Mt. Washington which has a view of Pittsburgh. We were quite disappointed that the view didn't really match the pictures in the postcards of Pittsburgh. The river water was greenish-brown and most of the buildings were orange, brown, and dingy. There were a couple modern buildings though. The apartments up on Mt. Washington that has a view of the city were amazing. We can tell they are quite expensive, as the first car we saw driving out of one of these apartment complexes was a Jaguar. There are some nice old-fashioned estates along the road and a majestic catholic church.

Weekend 4: 6/22-6/23

Squirrel Hill - has Panera, Rita's italian ice, and chinese desserts (pearl milk tea - bubble tea - boba, and shaved ice). I would definitely live here if I come to CMU for grad school. There are much more stores and seems like a more friendly and bustling community than Shadyside, even though Shadyside is supposedly the best neighborhood to live in (equivalent to Northside at Berkeley?). There are also Rite Aid, Giant Eagle grocery store, card shops, and many many many cafes and restaurants. If you need anything, definitely go to Squirrel Hill to look for it.

Waterfront - An shopping center by the river. There are shops like Gap, Abercrombie, Starbucks, Target, Giant Eagle, Panera, some home improvement store, and some restaurants. Oh yeah, there is a huge movie theater that is the biggest, most "las vegas" style movie theater to be built in Pittsburgh. However, I think that it is similar to many of the theaters back in the Bay Area.

Weekend 5: 6/28-6/29

UPitt Nationality Rooms - I took a self-guided tour where they basically rent you a cassette tape player and a key for the 1st level rooms for 3 bucks. The 3rd level rooms are all open to the public. Unless you are interested in some of the cultural and historical significance of the rooms, all of them become quite monotonous after awhile. Also, the 3rd level rooms are the new classrooms anyway. I wonder how accurate the resemblance of each room is to how it would be in the country itself. I believe they need to conform to some standards because they actually use these classrooms for classes during the school year. For example, all the classrooms have desk-chairs, which I thought was not the case in some Asian countries. I really liked the fact that these classrooms are used by students nowadays. Imagine taking a class in one of these rooms! Also the halls in the UPitt Cathedral of Learning are dark and creepy, just like the gothic cathedrals you see from the movies. However, the regular classrooms are well-lit and just like any regular old classroom.

Andy Warhol Museum - There were 2 special guest exhibits: LD covers throughout the years and a paparazzi photographer's collection. The coolest room was the silver clouds room. Another exhibit I liked was the one that had many pictures of Andy Warhol from childhood and some of the things he obtained while he was growing up, such as his diplomas and his acceptance letter to Carnegie Tech. The cafe there was a disappointment; be sure to eat out in the city before going there. Also, everything at the museum store was quite expensive. For a tiny little beanie dog with Warhol hair, it was about 11 dollars.

Cinema in the Park - During the summer, ever Wednesday and Sunday evening at dusk, they have a big movie screen propped up at Schenley park. Anyone can come to a free showing of a movie that is out of the theaters but still pretty recent. The audience sits along the slope of Flagstaff hill. When I went, they were showing Rush Hour 2.

Weekend 6: 7/6 - 7/7

Fallingwater - Frank Lloyd Wright's architectural masterpiece. Located about an hour's drive west of Pittsburgh. It is built on top of a small waterfall and it is quite an amazing sight. The interior is obviously extremely modern, considering the fact that it was built in the 1930s. They actually used the indirect fluorescent lighting throughout the house. This house is actually the only building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright that is still intact. From the pictures, it seems like the interior of the house is really spacious, but in reality it is quite cramped and cavernous, and the ceilings are pretty low (in some rooms, the ceiling is only 6'4" tall). The bedrooms are usually half the size of the terrace connected to it. Many of the architectural intent was to draw people to look outside and to stay outside more than they are inside.

The Strip - This area in the northwestern part of downtown Pittsburgh is the place to be on a Saturday night. There are a lot of clubs and bars in this restaurant. We also noticed a lot of cops patrolling the area. There are also a couple asian supermarkets in this area too.

Weekend 7: 7/13 - 7/14

PNC Park (Thursday, 7/18) -
This is the new ballpark built recently by the riverfront.  It was reminiscent of San Francisco, especially with the fog from the rain.
Pittsburgh Pirates vs.Cincinnati Reds.  It was raining pretty badly earlier in the day, so we weren't sure if there would be a rainout.  We were hoping to see a home run, and was delighted to see a grand slam... except it was by the opposing team.  I also had a
chance to try perogies, these dumplings with a cheese and potatos mixture inside and are also supposed to be a Pittsburgh tradition.  It was good, except it was really greasy.