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Exploring the revitalized Pittsburgh

Habeeb Salloum

To know the new revitalized Pittsburgh, especially its throbbing heart, is to see it from Mount Washington and to explore its Strip District. To experience the city, these two tourist attractions are a must and can be done on a one day tour.

The best way to begin is to rent a car and head to the spectacular breakfast and brunch restaurant, Waffles, INcaffeinated. The restaurant offers all types of delicious morning delicacies. From the dozens of varieties of waffles (you can even order them gluten-free) to the strawberry-banana crepes, omelets, steak and eggs combo for breakfast and brunch, once sated, one is then ready to leave for Mount Washington.

The drive should begin along Grandview Avenue that travels along the entire length of the mountain top – stopping here and there to view the panorama of the city from between homes and restaurants. Also, four overlook decks that protrude from the mountain at various points along the Avenue allow one to absorb the fabulous view and to take pictures. It is truly a marvelous sight. Yet, even though it is a super vista during the day, the view is more stunning in the evening.

From the mountain one should drive to Pittsburgh’s Strip District, park the car, then spend some time exploring the area to enjoy its many tasty foods and offerings and its multicultural ambiance.
The district’s authentic ethnic foods, eateries and retail outlets dot the area’s one and a half square miles of land and when the weather is sunny and temperate, the whole historic district is a beehive of activity and fun. The aroma of freshly roasted coffee and freshly baked breads saturate the atmosphere and people moving back and forth seem to be happy and content. It’s worth the adventure into this world of local flavours.

Shopping in the Strip is a tradition for Pittsburghians as this is the district to purchase products such as homemade Old World cheeses, olive oils, prepared meats, spices, clothing, antiques, and other goods not easily found in the greater city. It is a great way to end a tour of the ethnic Strip district with its exotic foods.

After resting awhile and when the time comes to enjoy a good meal, the Cure Restaurant in the city is an ideal dining spot that features in-house cured meats. A fascinating name for a trendy upbeat neighbourhood restaurant, its small menu focuses on local urban Mediterranean foods. A must-try is the chef’s salumi, the highly recommended tender Meyer Ranch Hanger steak with its delicious trimmings or the crispy Heritage Farm Chicken saturated with flavours galore.

After enjoying a filling and fine meal, a fitting conclusion to the tour is to return to Mount Washington in the early evening to enjoy a panoramic view of the city. On the mountain top visitors can make their way along Grandview Avenue and stop at one of the observation spots to view the city in all its nighttime glory. On both sides of Grandview are restaurants, homes – some luxurious – and night-spots that crowd the sides of the avenue. The night air is clean and invigorating as the lights sparkle everywhere from both the city and its skyscrapers and more than 15 of its bridges.

Below, the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers join together to form the mighty Ohio River. Their waters glow in the semi-darkness. Once totally polluted from the steel mills and other industries, they are now if not totally clean, almost free of pollution. It is an urban centre of lights in all its splendour. Paris, move over.

Pittsburgh has transformed from a once decaying city to a modern metropolis with a focus on green-friendly architecture, educational research, bio-technology, new software engineering and robotics, just a sampling for the future. And it has been successful. Today, Pittsburgh is a city of cleanliness, environmentally progressive and its people have taken on the role of friendliness. It is an urban centre that is roaring into the future with much potential. 


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