Heinz Field, Home of the Steelers
Joel and I both have a hard time saying no. For him, it's the people lover in him- he wants to make the people around him happy. For me, it's the kinetic driver in me- I feel worthless unless something is getting accomplished, and I'm always convinced I can do more. But we both recognize it and have tried to get better about saying no to things, especially when it comes to Sundays. As with many things, Joel is better at this than me, but we make a concerted effort to spend Sundays together with the pups, especially during football season. We'll wake up, take the dogs on a run, clean the house/make breakfast, maybe make a Costco run, and then pick a spot in the house to watch football from the morning game all the way to Sunday Night Football, interrupted only by the occasional nap or to check on the crockpot dinner we have cooking. The early slate of games is great- we have RedZone, so we follow along all the excitement while cheering or yelling depending on how our fantasy teams are doing. Afternoon slows down a bit, but is still entertaining, especially because this is the time when the Raiders often play. But I think I love the night game the most. The focus narrows to two teams playing in one stadium that I'm probably chomping at the bit to get to (or get back to). With the Steelers being consistently good, we've had plenty of opportunities to go to bed Sunday night dreaming of the day we got to twirl the Terrible Towel with the Pittsburgh faithful. Lucky for us, we were finally there! Add in the fact that it was the Sunday Night game and an opportunity for the Steelers to clinch the division, and we knew we were in for a not-terrible time.
We woke up fairly early and were antsy for a full day of fun, so we left the house a bit before we needed to. We were early for our brunch reservation and decided to try and find a bar for a morning mimosa. However, we were quickly reminded about the conservative history of the town when we found that hardly anywhere served alcohol on Sundays, and certainly not before noon. After wandering around for a while, though, we lucked onto Piper’s Pub, a soccer bar full of people who call it football. Despite the fact that we weren’t wearing kits (or those funny scarves they all have), they let us in and we had a great time sipping some cocktails and people-watching the people watching games going on half a world away.
Our reservation was for a spot called The Grand Concourse. I found this in a search for the best brunches in Pittsburgh, and while it was a bit pricey, I’m a sucker for converted purpose historical spots, and this was in an old train station with some impressive architecture. The food is served buffet style, but this is NOT your typical buffet. There was soooooooo much delicious food that we could barely hit it all up. Omelets, meats, waffles, casseroles, fruits, every kind of pastry you could possibly think of, and probably many more things that I am either forgetting or didn’t see spread throughout the area. We ate way too much and topped it off with freshly fried donuts with our choice of toppings. Before the feast, Joel had silently expressed his displeasure at how much we were paying for his least favorite meal of the day, but by the end he was singing The Grand Concourse’s praises and thanking me for finding it. Boom. Wife win.
We had another break before our next planned activity, so we decided to take the advice of the random bar-goer the night before and go to The Church Brew Works. Keeping with the converted purpose theme, this is an old church that has been transformed into a brewery. I was thinking it would just be a funny place to stop by, take a picture, and send it to my dad with the caption “decided to go to church this morning lol” but it was actually pretty impressive inside. First of all, the building is huge, and they’ve balanced out the things they’ve changed well. They left enough that it’s very clearly a former church, but changed enough that you don’t feel too guilty about sitting and having a brew. Joel was like a kid in a candy store taking pictures of the brewing drums in the pulpit, stain glass windows, and flags that said “On the 8th Day, God Made Beer.” The beer itself wasn’t anything to write home about, but they can get away with it!
We didn’t eat at the stadium (huge mistake) but there were tons of sandwich options that I was tempted by. We figured we would get food afterwards without considering that 1. There weren’t any fast food spots near the stadium or our AirBnB and 2. It was a Sunday night. So we didn’t eat anything except brunch. Which was filling, but we went to bed hangry.
Between The Church and the game, we went to a sip and paint event. I always check out the sip and paint situation in every town we visit ever since Boston, where we had such a great time and had some cool Boston mementos to bring home. However, I never plan a day of the trip around doing this (it’s more of a fun time filler), and I usually pass unless we’re painting something specific to the city. This particular spot did offer some Pittsburgh specific options, which I was going to book, but then I saw that they had an opportunity to paint your pets, and Joel and I were both sold. One of the only dampers to the fun we have on vacations is that we miss our dogs, so any opportunity to do something that fills that void is great- go see a movie about dogs, go to the zoo, and now paint them. Unfortunately, they said we wouldn’t have enough time to paint more than one dog (I was doubtful, but they were definitely right) so we had to leave one dog out. After much discussion, we decided on Fenway- she gets the most attention (because she demands it) and we figured we’d have another opportunity to paint her some time in the future.
We had sent in our pictures, so we came and the pups were already sketched out on the canvas. The folks leading the class were super helpful, but it was HARD. Way harder than the last time. Still, though, we had a great time and they didn’t turn out terrible, so overall I’d call it a success.
Every stop this day had easy parking, including the Steelers game. We sorta followed the crowd to a casino with a parking garage. They were charging $60, which was pretty steep, but we were super close to the stadium and they gave you $60 to spend at the casino after the game, so it felt like a wash. We felt like it was a super great deal until after the game when it took over an hour to get out of the parking garage. Hindsight, we should have parked farther away and just walked, but I guess we’ll know for next time!
The walk to the stadium was pretty cool- the stadium was lit up brightly and looked awesome, and there were people all along the sidewalk selling gear for super cheap. I bought myself a hat and we got a couple of Terrible Towels to take home as souvenirs.
Between the 8:00 game start time, taking forever to get out of the parking garage, and our fruitless attempts to find food after we did escape, we made it home later and hungrier than we would have liked. Thankfully, we crashed quickly, because we had two stadiums to look forward to the next day!
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Just a couple of sports fans touring the world, one stadium at a time.