Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Pen Pal Meeting

Jackie & Claudia 

Summertime means the long anticipated vacation break.  Every year I look forward to a trip back home to Upstate New York or the excitement of where my husband and I decide to escape off to to get away from life's every day routines.  This year due to our big kitchen remodel escape vacation was mentioned but not persued.  We still have our huge hopes of travel to one of our favorite get a ways Montreal which I will prey means a day stop in my hometown area of Utica/Rome N.Y.  

As my vacation time has come up this year I have been fortunate to take my days to enjoy a very good friends wedding, do work around our home and currently experience a magical week.  My pen pal of of some years now who was visiting the states from Germany with her family was taking some time out of her months vacation to spend time here in Pittsburgh  with Mike and I.  What a magical 4 days.  Visiting, touring our city, spending the day at Kennywood amusement park, cooking and shopping.  And having Batmobile sightings a few times.  Yes the new Batman Darknight Movie was being filmed in our city and added excitement to their visit.  

The weather couldn't of been more perfect for their Wednesday thru Sunday stay.  Our first evening together we hung out at home and enjoyed the evening with grilling out and just visiting and relaxing on the back porch.  

Thursday the local adventures began.  We started with a late lunch at a must if you visit Pittsburgh stop at Primanti Bros. for their "Almost Famous" Sandwich but as most know yes it is famous.  Yes the sandwich with the slaw and french fries served between the two slices of amazing bread.  It's always fun to see peoples faces / reaction when the servers place the sandwich in front of someone who has not seen this sandwich before.  The large opened eyes and the Oh My reactions.  Get's em every time.  

Then we moved on to sight seeing downtown.  Starting at Station Square, riding the incline up to Mt. Washington to the overlook.  I have lived in this city 24 years now and to this day I still get excited to see the cities skyline.  We then strolled over to the cities exciting "T" transportation and road over into the cities hub and wandered the streets looking about and showing famous building.  Ending up at the Point where we studied the outline of the fort.  Which by the way we did discover the French's spelling of the Monongahela river which was far different than the way we are all familar with.  

We made our way back to Station Square where Hard Rocks Bike Night was in full swing.  That got everyones attention.  It was alot of fun seeing all the bikes and oh the people watching was even more the thrill.  Yes Hard Rock puts on this spectacular show but naturally we were going to Houlihan's for dinner.  Luckily we got a table out on the patio so we could still admire the nights outside festivities.

Thanks to the amazing staff at Houlihan's Station Square that I miss dearly.  We had a ball between Bike night, food, beverage and the great company it was a great night.  We sampled many of the small plates on the menu and of course every dessert.  We were officially full when we left.  

The next day we packed up a cooler for a traditional picnic to be enjoyed at Kennywood Amusement Park.  Again the weather was in our favor.  When we got to the park we found a great picnic spot set up shop then off to enjoy the park.  Road many rides and again took pleasure in people watching.  It's always fun to watch how people react to rides or even react to watching people ride rides.  We stayed till the park closed.  We also introduced our friends to deep fried oreos and funnel cake while we were there.  Again the reaction is great when you say "oh you must try the deep fried oreos."  "Deep Fried Oreos!?"  And then the look.  And wouldn't you know yesterday my favorite cooking magazine (Food Network) arrived in the mail and it had a whole article on what foods to and not to deep fry and it gave recipes on how to.  Guess I will be making deep fried oreos at home now.  

Kennywood was a blast riding rides with friends who had never been to the park and seeing it through their eyes.  I remember my first time going to the park back in 1988.  I was in awe that this park was just minutes from my home.  Where I grew up to attend a park like this my friends and I had to travel over 3 hours to get to this type of fun.  A day of riding and enjoying a traditional picnic brought back many childhood memories for me.  It was a great day.

Saturday brought shopping for the girls.  We wandered down into Pittsburghs famous Strip District with one store in mind.  Penzeys Spice Store.  Yes we did look at a few other things but the spice store was our main destination.  And so worth the trip.  Everytime I have been there I just want to buy one of everyspice.  As my friends wandered through the shop I think they got the same feeling too.  Amazing how spices make your mind work to oh I can make this or that.  Then we went on back over to Station Square to New York New York for some clothes shopping, great customer service from the gal who was working the store.  Nice when sales people have personality and don't make you feel like you are bothering them.  We then traveled on up to the Waterfront to Famous Footware and then on to Rock Bottom for a delicous glass of sangria then on to Giant Eagle for dinner supplies.

Dinner that evening was alot of fun.  We made grilled pizzas ~ 3 different types.  It was a fun way to visit and cook together.  A few played video games and of course the Pittsburgh Steelers were on one of the televisions.  Yes it was a great night.

Sunday and the goodbyes came to quickly.  We truly enjoyed our visit with our friends and hope we will have to oppurtunity to do it again.  I can officially say this has been the most memorable stay at home vacation we ever had.