Pittsburgh is not easy to describe. Each neighborhood could be misconstrued as a small town, and every "small town" consists of rows of old buildings: a reminder of Pittsburgh's rich industrial history. However, it doesn't take long to see the careful progression that the city is making. My friend Ali, who served as an amazing tour guide during my time in the Burgh, told me that Pittsburgh is the first city to welcome Uber's self-driving cars.
The city itself has a distinctive Yinzer culture (Yinzer is the name for natives of Pittburgh); but it is a welcoming place for every culture imaginable. This is evidenced by the Strip District, where a shopper can pick-up goods from Mexican, Asian, Italian, and Middle Eastern grocery stores within a few blocks of each other.
If nothing else, Pittsburgh clearly values authenticity. Nothing about it is fake. This might be the reason why some are calling it the next Portland, and also why it is becoming a hub for the contemporary subculture known as "hipster". That being said, for every new craft cocktail bar or gluten-free coffee shop, there is a dive bar where the true spirit of Pittsburgh lives; and there is a fierce sense of protection of these hidden gems.
And really, that is PIttsburgh: a hidden gem. Well, for now. I have a feeling it won't stay under wraps for long.
Ali's skeleton helped welcome me into the Burgh for the first time - through the Perks of Being A Wallflower tunnel and up to the view from Mount Washington.
The cool, indelible Ali.
I was elated to find a gluten-free spot near Ali's place! The Apple Cider donuts were absurd(ly delicious).
Ali is a gifted potter. She gave me a tour of her studio and a bud vase as a souvenir!
Ali has the cutest apartment. It was great to chill on the couch and listen to vinyls. (I fell in love with Scott Hamilton, pictured above.)
Exploring the Strip District
I feel like I won the lottery getting to see Pittsburgh the way that I did - it's an interesting city filled with great people. (Shoutout to Brendan, Zach, Joe, Hannah, and Colin for being so welcoming!)