Saturday, August 9, 2014

Stadium #6: PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA

 PNC Park is officially the prettiest park we've visited and Pittsburgh was a really fun city for the short time we visited.  Check out more of our adventures after the jump including multiple run-ins with Furries...

 After our quick stop in Cleveland we once again headed east to end our weekend in Pittsburgh and catch the Pirates at PNC Park.  The difference in returning our rental car Sunday versus Monday was a lot of money so we decided to return it on our way into Pittsburgh and then just take a cab into the city and use cabs/ubers/walk during our day in Pittsburgh.  That move ended up saving us money and working out really well.  The timing worked out perfectly and we got out of our Uber at our hotel downtown with just enough time to take a quick shower, change, and head out on foot towards the stadium.

Since we paid next to nothing for our Air BnB situation in Cleveland we kind of splurged for our hotel in Pittsburgh.  Most everything in the city was pretty expensive and there weren't any better Air BnB options so we booked at the Omni William Penn Hotel.  It's really old, has hosted presidents, and was gorgeous!  It was also a nice and comfy way to end this really fun five day whirlwind of a baseball trip.

After we checked in and showered we headed out on foot to walk to PNC Park.  To say we were excited is an understatement.  Both of us kind of have our own list of stadiums we are most excited about and least excited about.  For the most parts our lists overlap and PNC was in the top three for both of us.  And everyone who's been there told us we were in for a treat.  We didn't really have an opinion going into Detroit and ended up loving the stadium, we didn't love Progressive, so expectations to end the trip on a high note were huge as we headed out of the hotel.  We walked through the winding avenues of downtown Pittsburgh and then across the Andy Warhol bridge and over to the park.  The walk alone was incredible and we hadn't even set foot inside the park yet so things were definitely looking up!

not exactly McCovey Cove but still pretty picturesque!

I didn't mention it in my Detroit entry but Pittsburgh and Detroit both sent us tickets with Ticketmaster logos and not their team logos so we attempted to do what we did in Colorado and have them just easily reprint them.  Both stadiums gave us a hard NO on that option.  WHY?  So we found a solution by going to the box office and asking what upgrades they had and paying a bit more, getting better seats, and getting our souvenir tickets on team printed paper.  We had such an easy and friendly time of it in Denver that we thought every other stadium would be accommodating but it's honestly been a headache every time.  From now on we'll take our chances with will call.  In this case it ended up working out in retrospect because our upgraded seats were under the upper deck so when it was light raining for an inning or two we stayed dry the whole time.  We got our new tickets and headed to take our picture in front of the stadium and then head inside.

Honus Wagner.  If you're not a baseball fan you might not know that name but you do know it as "that famous baseball card."
We headed into the stadium, took our behind home plate pic, and walked towards the outfield because we had a food mission.
gorgeous view

in the outfield there was a spacious riverwalk

pennant flags

My best friend, C (you may remember her from our Wrigley trip!), lived in Pittsburgh for a summer while she was in grad school and she told us about the sandwich.  She said we had to get it at PNC Park and gave me multiple reminders as our trip got closer.  What's on the sandwich?  Oh just pulled pork on a pretzel bun with two pierogies on top of the pork (if you don't know what a pierogi is it's basically a Polish dumpling).  I cannot even describe to you how delicious this sandwich was except to say that after I ate my sandwich I immediately wanted another but knew the first one probably had a zillion calories I held off on the second one.  Even as I type this I wish I were eating this sandwich.  If you find yourself at PNC Park find the Manny's BBQ in center.  It's run by Manny Sanguillen who played for the Bucs for the majority of his career and his batting average is 10th all time for catchers.  It's not just his name up there, either, he's present at the games!  Our MLB passports have an "autograph" section which I thought was kind of silly until we ran into a former Major Leaguer so we went ahead and got him to put his John Hancock in our books.  I have no idea if this is true but according to Wikipedia he was supposed to be on the plane with Roberto Clemente but he couldn't find his car keys so he wasn't on the ill-fated plane.  Crazy if that's true.

I promise one of those was eaten by Cameron

C, are you drooling yet?

We ended up having really great seats to this game and had a great view of everything:

PNC really goes all in with the Pirates theme
My favorite player that isn't a Cub--Andrew McCutchen on first 
I'm not sure if it's because I'm a Cubs fan or some of my earliest memories of baseball games are day games at The Vet but I am really partial to day baseball games.  There's just something about the sun shining down on the players and still having your evening ahead of you after the game is over.  This isn't to say I dislike night games, I just love day games.  A park with a view like PNC is best seen during the day.  I think I had a smile from ear to ear for the entire ballgame.  Even though I'm a Cubs fan I grew up in close proximity to the Phillies and as I said my first baseball game was at The Vet so they'll always have a special place in my heart.   So it's always nice to see the Phils.  Additionally, my favorite player that doesn't wear Cubbie blue is Andrew McCutchen.  Not only is he a great baseball player (2013 NL MVP!) he just legitimately seems like he absolutely 100% without a doubt loves what he does so much.  The athletes that are competitive freaks but also somehow convey a genuine love for their sport are the most fun athletes in my opinion.  Cutch is exactly that.  Okay, if you're my Grandma (hi Grandma!) or one of my friends who only read this because you like me and not baseball here's a reason for you to like him: he proposed to his girlfriend on Ellen!  And it was the cutest thing ever!  Love him.  It was fun to get to see Cutch on his home field and to see the ole Phils in a fun Pennsylvania rivalry.

three games, three days, three states.  
A.J. Burnett was the starting pitcher for the Phillies but used to pitch for the Pirates.  Depending on the circumstances of how a player leaves a team sometimes when they return to their former stadium they get an ovation and other times they get booed to death.  The classy folks in Pittsburgh gave A.J. a great standing ovation and "Thank You, A.J." appeared on the screen.  The Pirates won 6-2 and we got to see a few triples which are one of my favorite things to see in a baseball game.  Cutch hit an RBI triple and I loved every second of it!  A Philly player got a homerun so Wrigley remains the only stadium out of six so far that we didn't see anyone go yard.  We've so far seen 12 homeruns in 6 games which is a pretty good average.  (The 6 we saw in Denver helps bring the average up.) No ejections or proposals at this game but it was the perfect way to end our trip: a wonderful afternoon baseball game with plenty of exciting offense.

the parrot mascot with a hot dog gun.  that's right, hot dogs. not t-shirts.
Andrew McCutchen hitting one back to the pitcher

Cutch safe at 3rd!

Phillies having a little chat on the mound

batter swings as the bases are loaded up with Pirates--this ball was caught at the wall. our hearts skipped a beat because we thought we were going to get to see a grand slam!  close but no cigar!

some liquid fireworks to signify a home team win!  "Raise the Jolly Roger" is the Pirates' version of the Cubs' W flag
After the game was over we headed back over the bridge into downtown with three great baseball games in the books for the weekend.  On our walk we went by a bar whose wall was covered in ivy and an empty lot next door.  It was so cute and right in the middle of downtown, I loved it!

Now I have to tell you guys about the furries.  If you don't know what a furry is go ahead and read the Wikipedia page and then come back.  I'll wait.  During our really quick check-in at the hotel we saw a few people wearing tails around the hotel and the city.  We thought it was kind of weird but we had a baseball game to get to so we weren't too worried about it.  Once the baseball game was over it was around dinner time and as we were making our back to the hotel to chill for a while before going to dinner we noticed a lot more people wearing tails.  Then we noticed people wearing boots/socks made of fur and then finally we saw some people wearing full on head-to-toe animal costumes.  We were obviously wondering what the hell was going on, Pittsburgh?  We Google it and sure enough every summer Pittsburgh plays host to a national furry convention.  And we happened to be in the city for the last night of it so there were furries crawling all over the city.  It was hilariously weird.  Once we walked into the hotel we noticed them everywhere so we think our hotel might've been one of the official hotels or they had a group rate or something but they were everywhere.  When we went out later that night we asked our Uber drivers and bartenders about it and everyone we talked to about it laughed heartily and said yeah every summer for a weekend the city is lousy with furries and everyone thought it was hilarious and fun.  Who would've thought that Pittsburgh would be such a welcoming place for weirdos who dress up like animals?  I got a pretty good paparazzi creep shot:
this was just the tip of the iceberg too.
We decompressed at the hotel for a bit and then headed out for some dinner.  During our walk after the game we stumbled upon Meat & Potatoes and had a drink and decided to just head back there for dinner because it looked really yummy.  We had some incredible mac and cheese (I could eat mac and cheese every day for the rest of my life and never get tired of it) and some good beers that we don't get in Texas.  They had a mussel of the day so obviously had that and it was mussels with curry, lemongrass, chili, kaffir lime, coconut milk, and cilantro.  Some of the best mussels I've ever had, too.  After dinner we headed to a little strip of bars in a different area of town and drank the night and our vacation away.

really wanted to steal this barware from Meat & Potatoes

we went to this bar, Wingharts, and since it was Sunday night it was pretty dead and we chatted with the bartender for a while.  They had a zillion whiskeys and Cam ordered a random one that turned out to be $22 a drink...

...but the bartender comped half of it because he liked the sound of our baseball trip!

remember the "don't tweet til you're back in your seat" toilet PSA in Cleveland? this is officially tied as the most ridiculous PSA I've ever seen.  this was on bar coasters at another dive bar in Pittsburgh

I need to talk about Herr's for a second, you guys.  Herr's is a brand of potato chip that is from Pennsylvania and all over the northeast.  Hands down one of my fave field trips of childhood was going to the Herr's factory and getting to taste warm just baked chips! anyway my favorite snack of ALL TIME is Herr's Old Bay Potato chips.  after we were tipsy I realized "holy shit we are in Pennsylvania I can get old bay here!" so a convenience store search began.  Alas, I came up empty.  But they did have their salt and vinegar which for my money are the best salt and vinegar of any brand ever so I bought this bag and proceeded to eat the entire thing.  No regrets.  

After we drank just about everything Pittsburgh had to offer we headed back to our hotel.  We slept in the next morning because we didn't have a lot planned and our flight wasn't until the afternoon so we had some time.  I really wish we would've been there on any day but Monday so we could have visited the Andy Warhol Museum (he's a Pittsburgh native) but it's closed on Mondays.  The only thing we really wanted to do before it was time to go was check out the Duquesne Incline.  All the pictures I've seen taken from it are beautiful panoramas of the Iron City so I knew we had to do it. The inclines were little cars that went up tracks to the coal mines. When we were ready to go there weren't any available Ubers so we took a taxi.  We got in and said "Duquesne Incline" and a few minutes later we were there.  We went up the little car and were greeted with great views of the city but for some reason it looked different than the pictures I had seen but didn't think much of it. We took tons of pictures and enjoyed a nice leisurely walk around this really cute area.  It was later once we were eating lunch that we realized that she took us to a completely different incline, the Monongahela Incline.  Whoops.  It was still really nice up there but really wish we hadn't gotten such a dunce taxi driver.

Our next and final stop of our whole trip was Primanti Brothers.   The steak sandwich at Primanti Brothers is pretty famous.  Everyone says you gotta get one when you're in Pittsburgh.  I know this is blasphemy but I just wasn't that impressed?  It's a steak sandwich with fries on it.  Okay?  Don't get me wrong it was a good sandwich but it was definitely way over-hyped and didn't knock my socks off or anything.  But it's nice to do the things that a city are known for. I suppose it was definitely better than the rocky mountain oysters we ate at Coors Field...

Once our bellies were stuffed it was time to head back to the hotel, grab our luggage, and get a car to the airport.  My Googling of the furry convention led me to discover that Sunday night was the last event so that meant all the furries would be heading to the airport Monday right along with us so we made sure to leave pretty early to avoid any crazy airport furry mishaps.  (Not a sentence I ever thought I'd type but they there's a first for everything.)  I was right, too, because as we were checking out the lobby was crawling with furries.  We ordered an Uber from the app and went outside to wait for it.  As we were waiting I thought to myself, "oh man people at the airport are just gonna think we are furries since we're a couple who is flying out of Pittsburgh today!"  Sure enough as soon as we hopped in the Uber the driver says, "so, the convention's over?" I made it very clear that we were just in town for a ballgame and not to dress up as animals and do weird stuff.  We had no problems at the airport and got home without incident.

This trip was us crossing up numbers 4, 5, and 6 on our stadium tour.  (Side note: I can't wait until we're in double digits because on this trip we met and talked to a bunch of people about our trip and they would inevitably ask what number stadium we were on and it was sad to be so early into it, no one was impressed! I think once we can say "10" or "11" people will be a little more impressed with the dedication.)  It was the first trip where we completed more than one stadium.  I'm pretty proud of myself for how my months of planning worked out.  I think we saw an amazing amount of cool local stuff but didn't spread ourselves too thin and it was still a relaxing trip.  While the point of these trips is baseball of course it's great to soak up as much regional culture as we can while we're there and I think we did a good job.  And the baseball was great!  An ejection! A proposal! A bunch of triples in one game! It was all wonderful and as I write this I'm sad that we only have one more stadium to cross off this year.

iPhone panoramas of each stadium

Oh, and here are some Michigan beers we got in Detroit that made it to Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and in our luggage safely home with us back in Texas.

No comments:

Post a Comment