Hello from the United States!
I know plenty of you know I’m away and I haven’t written anything. How rude of me! As it turned out, it has been a fairly busy time so far, and especially the first week when in Pittsburgh.
I was in Pittsburgh to attend the ASSETS conference, the primary international conference for assistive technologies. I travelled over with my colleagues Leona and Chatai, where we spent three days at the conference, as well as a day visiting the University of Pittsburgh. But luckily for us we did get to spend our Sunday to explore Pittsburgh. I also got up to some extra things 🙂
Leona and I arrived on the Saturday evening after an epic journey from Oz, where during that time we had to run to our transfer in Dallas where we made it but alas our bags did not. Thankfully they did get delivered later that night… at 1:45am. Hhhmmm. At least I got to sample some local speciality cuisine in the form of a pastrami sandwich full of fries 🙂
We spent our Sunday exploring a bunch of weird and wonderful things around Pittsburgh. We started the day with waffles! I opted for ones filled with jalapeños! of course I did…
Next up was a walk to the base of Mount Washington and a trip up the funicular. Great views over the three rivers and all the main parts of town. While up there we saw the houses getting ready for halloween!
Our main destination for the day was a strange place that Leona had read about. Randyland! What is Randyland? Well, a guy called Randy has decided to collect A LOT of random things, paint them day-glo, and then put them in his yard for people to visit! Ha! It was so great. Pictures can’t do justice for just how weird the place was.
We then hot footed it to the Bicycle Museum, again a strange place. What is ostensibly a bike store, the upstairs is an incredible museum of vintage bikes, with the centrepiece being one of the 4 original bikes from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure! So cool.
While we were full of Pittsburghian culture, we decided to do it a little more formally and visit the Pittsburgh Heritage Museum to get some local history. Did you know Heinz originated here? And did you know I ate a chocolate covered pickle? Of course I did 🙂
It was dinner time by the end of this, so we discovered some Tacos and then back to the apartment.
Monday was day one of the conference. I won’t report on that but will fill you in on my evening fun… my first NFL game!!! I was so excited. I don’t really have a team, but I guess I do now. Go Steelers!
It was Monday Night Football and Heinz Field was close to full for the game against Miami. I had am absolute blast. Everyone was so friendly and seeing it live, I now understand why football is so huge in the States. The atmosphere was something else. After a slow start the Steelers got the business done. What a great night.
Day Two of the conference was our presentation and it went well… we got lots of nice compliments and had some great discussion throughout the day.
But the night was where the fun times were had. The conference reception was at the Andy Warhol museum! We knew this so purposefully didn’t go on Sunday. We got to explore much of the museum with hardly a soul around. The museum was great… it is quite large and actually very spacious. It was nice that we even found some tactile versions of some of the work!
After the dinner Leona and I went to find some food and ended up at a Pittsburgh burger institution. And yes I chose the burger with peanut butter in it 🙂
This was the last day of the conference. After we wound up, Leona, Chatai and I went for a wander to the “point”… where the 3 rivers meet. I was quite liking Pittsburgh by this time. The people were lovely and there were some nice parks and spots to wander. And the sentiment on the street signs was on point too.
This was our last day before heading off. Leona had teed up a visit to visit a colleague at the Uni of Pittsburgh which was great. We also did a visit to the “Cathedral of Learning”… a literal cathedral that was used for classes. What was amazing was that there were over 30 class rooms that were all themed to different countries! Apparently the local community of that country get together and raise funds and design a room. It means there were 30+ incredibly ornate and gorgeous rooms of all kinds. You really have to see it to understand.
After that Leona and I wandered back downtown (through a couple of run down neighbourhoods) to try and find some Halloween action. Unfortunately the weather was so bad most trick or treating was cancelled. But we did find som up top of Mount Washington where we went to an amazing vegan restaurant called Onion Maiden. Yep, a play on Iron Maiden. It was delicious! I had a great Halloween dessert too.
And with that it was then leaving the next day! As mentioned, I became quite fond of Pittsburgh. A city I never really thought to visit, but can see how locals are quite fond of it. Best do a return visit to the Uni of Pittsburgh one day again 🙂