Thursday, May 30, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend Pittsburgh Trip

By Vicky Nardone

Matt and I decided we needed an overnight getaway for Memorial Day weekend.  Originally we were going to go visit our friend Mel in Detroit but then she got scheduled to work all weekend.  It worked out for the better though because my passport that would have allowed us to make it to Detroit in 3.5 hours by cutting through Canada instead of the 7 hours it takes to go around the Great Lakes didn't arrive till the day we got back from Detroit.

We decided to take a trip to Pittsburgh from Friday to Saturday.  We did something new and booked our hotel through Hotwire.  If you've never used Hotwire before, it's a little scary.  You pick the general location (i.e. downtown Pittsburgh in our case) and the number of stars you want and it tells you the price and gives you a general idea of amenities but you don't find out what hotel you're staying at until after you actually book.  By doing it this way, you get a super cheap price.  We got a room at the four star Omni William Penn hotel for $118 tax included.

The hotel was actually really gorgeous.  Our room was kind of small and no frills but clean and nice.  We weren't very concerned because we planned to be out and doing stuff on this trip and not spending a lot of time in the room.  We have had vacations where we did want to spend a lot of time in the room and I don't think I would use hotwire to book that kind of trip.  We did have a lovely view of the city from our room as you can see from the picture on the right.

Here's the lobby of the hotel.  The website says that JFK stayed there at one point.  Matt loves to take panoramic photos so it looks a lot more curvy than it actually was.  The lobby was beautiful though.

For dinner we went to Mccormick and Schmicks for a seafood dinner because Matt was craving seafood.  Matt had a seafood grill plate that had a couple different types of seafood (he was really craving scallops which was why we went there).  I had a mahi mahi that was really good.  We both liked what we had but we thought it was kind of expensive for the quality/amount of food you got.  We are used to Buffalo prices though which are pretty inexpensive.  We were surprised at how early the city of Pittsburgh shuts down though!  It was about 9pm when we finished dinner and there was nothing open.  We wanted to find a CVS to stop at for a couple items we forgot to bring and besides restaurants nothing was open!

We spent the next day at the Pittsburgh Zoo which was a lot of fun.  It was a bright, sunny day so the zoo was a little crowded, but we still managed to get some great photos of the animals.

One of the coolest things that they had was a whole kids section of the zoo.  They had areas where you could actually walk into some of the animal pens and pet the animals if they came up to you.  Matt got so excited because one of the animal pens in this section was kangaroos!  We were so hoping they would come close to us but they were too busy sunbathing.  It was still cool to be that close to them though!  The deer in the picture below got pretty close to us though.

I have to tell you the grossest thing that happened at the zoo (besides the elephant taking a giant dump right in front of us at the elephant house).  We were in the monkey house looking at the monkeys.  There was this one who was being all cute and doing acrobatics.  He was in a semi-head stand position and everyone was watching him.  He proceeded to start peeing from this position and aimed the pee directly into his mouth for about a full minute and a half while all of us watched in shock.  He looked pretty proud of his accomplishment too.  And these are the animals we're descended from!

After we finished at the zoo we headed back into this small town we had passed on the way to the zoo because there was a restaurant I had found the night before when browsing best places to eat in Pittsburgh that I wanted to try before leaving.  It's called Tamari and it's an Asian/Latin fusion restaurant.  They have Tapas plates so you can order a few things and share.  This place was incredible!!!  We so wish they had something like it in Buffalo because these are two of our favorite food types.  When we were there we tried their guacamole, the edamame, the lobster maki and the california maki.  They also gave us a sample of salsa verde that was really unique and really delicious.  I really can't say enough about how excellent Tamari was.  We got to sit at the counter and watch the chefs prepare everything.  Everything was made fresh right in front of us.  If you're ever in the Pittsburgh area look this place up.  It's a bit pricey (it was cheaper than the seafood place the night before) but worth every penny.

They have an option to sit outside as well.  We didn't because it was a little cold that day, but the seating area was really cute outside too.

All in all it was a nice little getaway and we were glad we did it.