What better way to turn 26 then to take a road trip with friends that I love? My original fascination with Pittsburgh was the permanent Yayoi Kusama exhibit at the Mattress Factory and also the fact that I had already "kinda" visited before. In the summer of 2012, Carolina and I had a Megabus stop in Pittsburgh on our way back from visiting my good friend D.J. in Washington, D.C. We thought we'd be saving a few bucks with Megabus and ended up stranded in downtown Pittsburgh for about 8 hours overnight. There was literally nothing open. I won't get into details, but we made it out alive haha.
We set out right after work on a Friday, braving the ugly 7-8 hour ride and arrived to meet Pittsburgh as the sun was barely rising the following Saturday. I still remembered the beautiful view of all the gleaming lights illuminating the homes in the hills. We napped, got ready and spiffy, and then headed out for lunch. Carmi Soul Food Restaurant was our first visit, and the food was so. GOOD. Chicken and waffles, mac and cheese, corn, mashed potatoes, yams, you name it...they had it. We enjoyed every little crumb. After food we hit up the Mattress Factory, spending a good amount of our afternoon there.
You might have seen Yayoi's work, as she's become extremely popular in the last couple of years. In the past, I've seen her work online, but it was just an image displaced from its original creator. I never really connected a face and name to the work until Carolina told me about her a couple of years ago. Dot obsessions, glittering infinity rooms, she's one of my favorite new artists. As she gains more and more popularity, and as she ages, her work is more sought after. Her exhibit at the Mattress Factory was so low-key though, giving our group the opportunity to see the two rooms not just once, but twice, during our visit. I hear at The Broad museum in Los Angeles, each visitor is only allowed 57 seconds (or something crazy) to enjoy the room. For me, that's not even nearly enough time!
I have to admit, out of all the art museum's I have visited SO FARRR, the Mattress Factory museum is my fave. So far, but that could change of course. The norm is that I love only one or two exhibits in an entire museum, but all the works/pieces in the MF were pretty stunning. After the museum, we walked around and shot pictures, making our way to the City of Asylum buildings, an amazing thriving community that provides sanctuary to endangered literary writers. Such a beautiful concept. Finding ourselves hungry again, we got some food at Rasta House, coffee at Crazy Mocha, and headed back to the Airbnb. The rest of the night was spent eating some more, getting ice cream at Klavon's Ice Cream Parlor, and just enjoying each other, the best way to end my birthday.
The next day we visited the Duquesne Incline, an inclined plane railroad that scales Mt. Washington. It was pretty neat to view the city from a bird's eye point of view. Pittsburgh is very, very, very hilly. And it has a ton of bridges. It's not known as the City of Bridges for nothing haha. After we went in search of Primanti Bros., sandwiches someone had mentioned was a must try. They have a few locations, and we finally happened upon one that wasn't terribly busy in the Strip District, which crazy enough is ALSO on 18th street, like Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood! In the Strip District there were cool art vendors, local grocers, a little Asian food market, and a group favorite, Peace, Love and Little Donuts. The yummiest and cutest donuts I've ever seen. I really enjoy when we just happen upon offbeat parts of a city.
We were in Pittsburgh literally less than 48 hours, but we packed in so much! I can't express how much I love my friends, my amazing, beautiful, friends for coming with me. I'm just so sappy haha, but without them I probably would have done nothing and just stayed home and watched Netflix. They gave me the best 26th birthday a girl could ever have, away from her family. Because of them, Pittsburgh, you were magical for me.