My 1st Trip to Da 'Burgh
OK, folks, here�s the full report. I finally made the trip to Mecca - even though I've long been a Steelers fan, I've never been to the city or the stadium. I don�t know if any of it is worth putting onto this site � I�m not that much of a journalist.
First, the city of Pittsburgh itself: I was shocked! I swear as I came out the Ft. Pitt tunnel the 1st time, I thought I was in Germany. The hilly surroundings, all the buildings and houses perched on the slopes, the way old, renaissance-style buildings were mixed in with modern skyscrapers -- all were exactly like Germany. Even the frustratingly irregular roads were fun � at times. But the whole experience turned surreal because American life was being lived out in this "European" city. I was like in a daze the whole weekend, but maybe that was the beer. But nonetheless, I had no idea the Burgh was like this.
Besides the places the staff of Stilers.com recommended, I found some restaurants and brewpubs on the Internet, since I�m a brewpub fan. We checked in Sat. around 1 PM and then went to Station Square. (I will leave out the 30 or so times I got lost throughout the weekend!!) We hit SS at just the right time. As we went in the mall, I saw a sign that said Joey Porter was giving autographs from 12:30-2:00. It was 1:45. We went over there, and there he was. The line wasn�t too long, and I got a chance to talk with him for a few seconds. Basically I just told him I hope he got more PT quick. He was very nice, real subdued, but I�m sure his PR side is different than his locker room and field personality. We then went to Hooters and hit the incline to get some good photos.
Next we reconned The Strip and went to the Penn brewery across the river. Now that place was exactly like a German Gasthaus, courtyard and all. I tried a bunch of beer and took a 12-pack with me. For dinner, we went to Mallorca�s and then to Fathead�s (for the Belgian brew). Both places � awesome.
Got up the next morning a little hungover but didn�t care. We walked to Market Square and got there around 10:00. Actually, it was pretty dead, and Primanti�s had just opened, so we walked down to The Point. There were a lot of people already heading across to the stadium, but we went back to Primanti�s. It was still kinda empty around 10:45, but by 11:45 it was packed. Good chow and a couple pitchers of IC Light and we were ready for the game. We went in the wrong gate (Stillers.com guys TOLD me to read the stadium map ahead of time!), but got a chance to see the stadium. I caught a glimpse of green through a gate and went up to see the field. As I saw the green turf with the beautiful black and gold endzones, my heart stopped. It then hit me that I was actually there.
Our seats were nosebleeds in the endzone across from the scoreboard, but we still could see everything well. As you know, the game started well with Bettis throwing a TD pass (to Ward, I think) right into our endzone. Overall the crowd was more subdued than I expected and there were a lot of empty seats, but I know that�s due to the current slide we�re on. The game was fun even though we lost, and the beer lines and latrine lines weren�t too bad. I was surprised how much I could see compared to TV, and the group behind us had on Myron Cope, so it was great.
After the game, I refrained from spending my life savings in the Pittsburgh gear store and we walked back to the hotel. We went to the Church Brew Works for dinner � a cool-as-hell brewpub. Then we went to the strip. Surprisingly it was kinda dead, and the brewpub I wanted to hit was closed. We went to Whiskey Dick�s, and it was kinda dead, too, but a cool place. The bartender said it would pick up in an hour or so (it was around 8:30 PM then), but we were pretty burnt out then and had to get up early for the flight, so we hit the hay.
Another cool thing was that on the way there in the Atlanta airport, there were some guys with NFL bags talking across from us. I couldn�t hear very well, but from the way they greeted each other and how they talked, I told the wife I guessed they were refs for the game. Sure enough, at the game we pulled out the binos and recognized all of them as the referee crew!
All in all, an awesome time. The city was incredibly cool, especially since I felt I was in Germany. Everywhere we went, from bars to malls to nice places, and this is no exaggeration, at least 4 of five people had Steeler attire on (the others had Penguins stuff on). I�ve been in many big cities � Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago, St Louis, LA, SF, Denver, etc. And I would guess that only Green Bay rivals the �Burgh in its loyalty and passion for its football team, even in the position the Steelers are currently in. We may be critical, but we�re passionate.
Well that�s it. Maybe I can make it an annual trek. I know I gotta go the 1st year in the new stadium. With Arrington and Porter as bookend OLBs and a real QB, maybe we�ll even win this time. OK � now that�s the beer talking. See ya.