A Travellerspoint blog

October 2009

I worked and we played some games

The deal for this trip, was that I would work one full day to make up for the extra vacation days I needed to go for 6 days like this.

So all morning, I emailed a LOT of travel-type people, to tell them that they are on our Top 500 Twitter Travel list.

If you haven't seen the list yet, please follow it here: http://www.twitter.com/travelpod/list

Arunan went out for a romantic walk amongst the fallen leaves with a ladyfriend of his and when he came back, we went with some other Couchsurfers to play games on the lawn of the Cathedral of Learning, organized by Adam.

He just loves obscure games. So much so, that he is putting together a festival of obscure games

www.pghplays.blogspot.com

I didn't have any running shoes, but no matter, I went around in my big black platform shoes that I foolishly wore this week.

We threw around his foxtail. A weird tennis ball with a tail at the end of it that you can catch, and then we played circle soccer, a really ingenious way of playing soccer with only one goal, and a giant exercise ball and then another game that was just invented, called fricket. Kind of a mixture of cricket and baseball, played with the aforementioned foxtail.

Some videos uploaded below document the day's events.

I didn't realize until it was pretty late, that wait a minute, there's Carnegie Hall! I was surrounded by all these famous architectural structures... *sigh*... how glorious.

Soon, it was dark, and we could hardly see the foxtail anymore, so we went for some food at Fuel and Fuddle. I had a "smashed potato" pizza (wha?)... it was delicious BTW.... and that was pretty much the extent of it.

The Cathedral of Learning

The Cathedral of Learning


Beautiful architecture...and lighting

Beautiful architecture...and lighting


Playing on the lawn

Playing on the lawn


Me vs. Fuel and Fuddle microbrew

Me vs. Fuel and Fuddle microbrew


Me vs. smashed potato pizza at Fuel and Fuddle

Me vs. smashed potato pizza at Fuel and Fuddle


The gang at Fuel and Fuddle, real Pittsburgh Heinz

The gang at Fuel and Fuddle, real Pittsburgh Heinz


Arunan and Simon at Fuel and Fuddle

Arunan and Simon at Fuel and Fuddle


Carrie and Adam at Fuel and Fuddle

Carrie and Adam at Fuel and Fuddle


No ball playing allowed! Oops...

No ball playing allowed! Oops...


Solar powered parking meter!

Solar powered parking meter!

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Halloweeeeeeen

Riiiiiiiiiing...

Oh my god, is it 6:30 already? I hardly got any sleep... bleh...

I quickly get dressed and go downstairs for breakfast. What is this? Make your own waffle? OMG, awesome. You put the batter in, close the waffle iron, rotate it around, and when the beeper goes off, it's done! Incredible innovation in hotel breakfast facilities. I'm thoroughly impressed.

The result is a perfectly browned waffle, complete with fake tasting maple syrup, I guess you can't fault them, this is definitely not Quebec.

Soon, it's 7:30, time for me to catch the shuttle bus. I am right on time. The driver does not come out... OK, she is now 10 minutes late. What's this? You forgot I was supposed to be at the airport? Ugh, whatever. I'm still early enough, but I have just enough time to make it through security and get to the gate again. No chillout time before the flight.

No matter, it's a really short one anyway.

On the way there, I realize that I left my very favourite hat that I bought in Philadelphia in my hotel room. I try to call the Comfort Inn, but 411 can't seem to find it. I have to quickly catch my plane and forget about it for the time being. Before I know it I'm in Pittsburgh! I call Arunan as soon as I get there, and he says he will STILL come and pick me up. He is a saint.

Miraculously....my bags are ACTUALLY THERE! WAITING FOR ME!

Phew!

I collect everything and eagerly go to the washroom to finally brush my teeth and everything else I didn't get to do, because I checked all of my hygienic products... you know... liquid ban and all...

While I am waiting to be picked up, I move some stuff from my carryon to my checked bag and lo and behold (!!!!trumpet jubliation!!!!!) I find my hat! Before too long, Arunan is there to pick me up in the drizzling rain. He had joked about me bringing him some maple syrup before, and I had it for him in the car. He didn't think I'd actually do it, HA! That showed him!... Maple syrup joker... serves him right... or... something...

Soon, we are off to meet some CSers at an Indian buffet, the Maharaja. It's not as bad as it sounds. I picked it without knowing it was a buffet. It was better than Ottawa buffets. Arunan is Indian and he doesn't like it so much. It's "just wrong", he says.

Anyway, Cathy, Ruchi and Ben join us and we eat wayyyy too much. AND I have to go to Primanti's later... Oh my, that is a disaster waiting to happen.

We hang out for a couple of hours just talking about Pittsburgh things. At one point, a guy at another table overhears us debating the different Rambo movies. I've only seen the parts I saw last night, so I have no idea, but he comes over to explain to us the various parts of the series. Thank you, random guy!

After the relaxing meal and conversation, Arunan and I agree that it would be a good idea to go back to his place and take a nap. I definitely need it.

We wake up around 5:30 and then plan our night. I'm going to go to Primanti's to meet Jeremy and then over to Clearstory Studios for the rest of the time.

So, Arunan (aka my private chauffeur, as he came to be known over the course of the weekend) and I headed to Primanti's. Jeremy was there waiting for us and we ordered a big giant sandwich each.

I was not too impressed with it, it seemed to be that this sandwich that is so famous is really bland! Even after adding hot sauce.

Arunan went to some house party and Jeremy and I decided to hang around and chat a bit. We walked to the house party, but didn't find anyone there. That was because they were in the backyard, as we found out later.

So, we just went to Clearstory Studios for our $8 party. There was a crazy amount of booze available, as well as a giant orange Gatorade container labelled "Mark's Mystery Punch". There were also lots and lots of kegs in the back corner, that many people had already broken into.

So... what goes with all of this drinking? Lots of peeing of course.

There is only one bathroom for the entire place.

You can see where this is going.

Before even 10 p.m., the toilets are clogged beyond recognition, the floors are flooded and the whole back-left corner of the place stinks of sewage. Dis-gusting.

There is a Giant Eagle (similar to our Metro) that is open until midnight just down the street. I head over there and find that I'm not the only one who has thought of using this washroom. I am shocked to find that someone's ass has exploded all over the toilet there. Blech!

When I get back, Jeremy has found his "cow". His girlfriend, Angie has dressed up as a cow and he has dressed up as a farmer.

Soon after this, Arunan shows up in his "Son of Man" costume, which surprisingly, a lot of people understand.

Rosie the Riveter is there too. She has just been elected to city council and will be starting her term in January. How cool of a city is this, when reporters and city councillors work TOGETHER to put on such a crazy awesome Halloween party every year? Pretty amazing.

I also meet a few social media types like @iheartPGH (Stands for I love Pittsburgh, for those out of the loop) and @deeplocal.

The beer runs out, and people need to pee even worse than before, so the party thins out. The prizes are given out and we end up at another bar down the street where Arunan's neighbours are. I get to try a Yuengling (nobody drinks the famous Iron City brew, I'm told)...

I talk politics with a former marine and then go home for a good sleep back on Arunan's pull out couch.

Me vs. waffle

Me vs. waffle


So good, I had to take two pictures

So good, I had to take two pictures


Washington Dulles Airport check in

Washington Dulles Airport check in


Finally our flight to Pittsburgh!

Finally our flight to Pittsburgh!


Me vs. Pittsburgh airport

Me vs. Pittsburgh airport


The Maharajah crew

The Maharajah crew


Me vs. the Maharajah crew

Me vs. the Maharajah crew


Me vs. Primanti's

Me vs. Primanti's


Me and Jeremy

Me and Jeremy


Me and Jeremy

Me and Jeremy


A free for all!

A free for all!


The early crowd at Clearstory Studios

The early crowd at Clearstory Studios


Clearstory Studios' Halloween Party

Clearstory Studios' Halloween Party


Clearstory Studios' Halloween Party

Clearstory Studios' Halloween Party


Clearstory Studios' Halloween Party

Clearstory Studios' Halloween Party


Clearstory Studios' Halloween Party

Clearstory Studios' Halloween Party


The winning costume

The winning costume


Oooooppppssss... at the Giant Eagle

Oooooppppssss... at the Giant Eagle


Jeremy and Angie

Jeremy and Angie


Clearstory Studios' Halloween Party

Clearstory Studios' Halloween Party


Rosie the Riveter and Arunan's "Son of Man"

Rosie the Riveter and Arunan's "Son of Man"


Arunan vs. Yeungling

Arunan vs. Yeungling


Arunan's neighbour was Bonnie from Bonnie & Clyde

Arunan's neighbour was Bonnie from Bonnie & Clyde


Me vs. Yeungling

Me vs. Yeungling

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Stranded at Dulles airport

I rushed from work ready to tackle the giant U.S. customs lines at the airport before my 7:20 p.m. flight to Washington.

I got there, sort of disappointed that there weren't any.

I flew through the screening process, faced no interrogation by the customs officer and waited around, patiently for about 1.5 hours only to find that my flight was delayed until 8 p.m.

Ohhhhhhh man. All of us crowd around the Air Canada booking agent guy, frustrated and wondering if we'll catch our connecting flights. Most people still will, but I'm left wondering about mine.

"Oh yeah, they'll hold the flight for you once you get there," the cool and collected African American man tells me with a tiny grin and a nod. I briefly sense a tiny bit of insincerity and bullshit sliding through the gap in his front teeth.

"Well, can you please make sure that my bags are transferred very quickly, like, flag them or something?" Everytime I go to the states, I lose my bags, no word of a lie.

"Oh yeah, for sure," and then he types something into the machine and I go back and sit down waiting for my flight to finally leave.

I decide to use the facilities and I have to tell you, I really have a beef with automatic toilets in airports. The toilets flushed not once, not twice, but FOUR times in one visit to the lavatory.

It turns out they needed to change the brakes on the plane from Ottawa to Washington, so we were delayed at least an hour and a half.

My plane to Pittsburgh leaves at 9:55 p.m., we slowly taxi into the airport at about 10:03 p.m. I run to the gate, only to be told that yes, of course, my flight has already left. Why on earth would they wait a few moments for a stranded Canadian to get on the plane?

Anyway, me and another guy from Cornwall (Ontario), Dwayne, are both stranded tonight. We are directed to the customer service line, where we are given a voucher for $15 for dinner, a stay at the Comfort Inn & Suites, and our boarding pass for tomorrow. I guess it's not THAT bad. I mean, I'd rather be stranded than be on a plane without any working brakes, right?

The problem comes however, with the clueless United Airlines staff sending us on a wild goose chase to our hotel.

"Go out these doors and then wait for your shuttle, it should come in 20 minutes."

OK, so we wait... and we wait. A half hour goes by and everyone but us has already found their shuttle.

We're out there all alone, so I decide to call the hotel and ask how long the shuttle runs. Of course, it doesn't run right now. Back inside to talk to United.

"Yes, of course, here is a voucher for a Washington Flyer, go out the door and make a left and then a right."

We follow the signs to the Washington Flyer bus, not the taxis. Mistake again. We wait for a while, I find a schedule that says the buses aren't running either at this time.

Back to the United desk.

"Nooooo, go straight right there, take a taxi!" A different lady from before tells us.

Grrrrr.... OK, I'm need a drink, I'm spending my food voucher. The only thing still open is Guava & Java, so I try to buy one of their famous guava juices. I have to spend all $15... on what? Some yogurt and fruit?

The guy behind me in line offers to pay me if I buy him a sandwich. Sweet. $7 for free!

Thanks guy behind me in line. I also order an orange juice for Dwayne.

Dwayne has gone ahead and ordered the cab, by the time I get back there it's there. Finally, we take the cab with an unresponsive man with a big grey beard.

We get to the hotel and it's nice and new, and pretty plush, thank you Air Canada. I guess.

I get to my room, can't resist catching a bit of Rambo on Showtime, drink some decaf and then promptly pass out.

Four flushes! One visit!

Four flushes! One visit!


Delayyyyyyyyedddddd

Delayyyyyyyyedddddd


Me vs. Washington Dulles Airport

Me vs. Washington Dulles Airport


Dwayne vs. Washington Dulles Airport

Dwayne vs. Washington Dulles Airport


The bathroom

The bathroom


Satin comforters!

Satin comforters!

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)

The rideshare home

Welllllll we slept in a little bit, then lounged around and made some breakfast of eggs and toast... and more cheese.

Carrie and Kim went home later, but I hung around until 6-ish because that's when my ride was coming.

We tried to set up the DVD player, but that didn't work with Jamie's TV... then we just read some books and things and kind of napped.

Jamie had to go take some stuff back to Wal-Mart and Home Depot, so we did that and then she dropped me back off at the Wendy's, where I had to wait quite a long time for my rideshare. But they were nice and called to tell me they'd be late.

I ended up getting home at about midnight, after falling in and out of consciousness in the front seat of the car. Aw.

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

IT'S A PARTY!

Jamie and I woke up early, I was awoken by some birds freaking out after they heard me stretching in bed.

I was feeling really dirty, so I took a shower and after that, we went to the Dollar Store to buy decorations, Sobey's to buy food (I made a cheese tray) and the LCBO for some wine.

We didn't have breakfast, so I snacked on some dollar store chocolate yummy nummy.

After we got back, Jamie's mom was there setting up a baby swing, in case Tara came with her baby. She ended up not coming.

Then basically we just cleaned up and Jamie called me a wimp because I wouldn't clean the toilets without a toilet brush. She just shoves her hands right in there! Wow. We set up the crepe paper and balloon decorations and made fruit kabobs, it was good times.

By the time people came over, I was about to pass out on the floor from all that.

We quickly got reacquainted, drank a little too much wine and danced to 90s pop music, but not before cracking open the old yearbooks and gossiping about all the people that never left Welland.

Carmen went back home for the night and Carrie and Kim slept over.

The sign on the door

The sign on the door


The cheese tray and Jell-O shooters

The cheese tray and Jell-O shooters


Jamie and Carrie

Jamie and Carrie


Carmen and Kim texting each other

Carmen and Kim texting each other


Jamie Kim Carrie

Jamie Kim Carrie


Kim Carrie

Kim Carrie


Jamie Kim Carrie

Jamie Kim Carrie


Me Kim Carrie Jamie

Me Kim Carrie Jamie


Me Kim Carrie Jamie

Me Kim Carrie Jamie


Kim Carrie Jamie my hat

Kim Carrie Jamie my hat


We are ready for the party

We are ready for the party


We are pretending to be civilized

We are pretending to be civilized


Me and Jamie

Me and Jamie


Carrie and Kim

Carrie and Kim


Kim, me, Carrie, Jamie

Kim, me, Carrie, Jamie


Kim

Kim


The jump shot

The jump shot


I don't know what the point of this was

I don't know what the point of this was


Kim and Jamie

Kim and Jamie


Kim

Kim

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Rideshare to Ajax

I arranged my rideshare to Ajax at 4:45 at the Bayshore Shopping Centre "outside the TD Bank". Problem is, there are two entrances for the TD Bank.

Luckily, I met Neeru, a lady I was getting a ride with while I was waiting at one of the doors. She said that Jeffrey drives her all the time to Toronto so she knew exactly where to wait.

Oh lucky day.

"Yep, there he is."

Right on time, Mr. Jeffrey is behind us. Then Abdul shows up a few minutes later, and we are off. Quite possibly the most efficient ride sharing machine ever. It's a full car all the way to Ajax.

We take a very interesting way to town and get there in record time. I don't know how he did it, but it was quite amazing. The rain pelted us all the way there, and I got dropped off at the Wendy's near Jamie's house.

I called her and she picked me up right away. We had a few drinks, caught up on our lives, I got the grand tour of the new premises and then we went to bed.

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)