Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

After a Chilly Start, She's Warming Up to Hilly Pittsburgh

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

After a Chilly Start, She's Warming Up to Hilly Pittsburgh

Article excerpt

In December 2009, I took the 11-hour Amtrak ride to Pittsburgh from Connecticut, transferring from the Northeast Regional to The Pennsylvanian.

It was the week between Christmas and New Year's. I was making my first voyage to Pittsburgh to stay with my new boyfriend and his parents in the South Hills.

As much as my boyfriend's family gave me lovely Pittsburgh- themed gifts on that trip and told me about the wonders of their City of Bridges, this outsider had three initial impressions:

1. People were really into sports.

2. It was cold and dreary.

3. It was hilly.

Those three impressions led me to the conclusion that I would never, ever live here. Even before getting here, during the 10th hour of the train ride, I texted my boyfriend: "I think everyone on this train is wearing Steelers-themed clothing."

His reply: "You must be getting close."

I had never seen sports-themed jewelry or such a large quantity of people walking around in sports-related gear, unless they were headed directly to a game. This culture of celebrating men chasing after an oblong-shaped ball fascinated me.

There is so much merchandise celebrating sports here - products I have never seen before that carry the logo of the Steelers, Pirates or Penguins. As a gift on that first December trip, I received a Steelers-themed Snuggie.

I certainly needed the Snuggie while visiting my boyfriend. He held my gloved hand as we walked from store to store in the Strip District with me bundled up. The sky was overcast, and everything was a hue of gray. I had about a quarter-inch of face exposed around my eyes, and I needed ski goggles because the wind was making them water so.

At least my mother back in Fairfield, Conn., had helped me pack my suitcase with the guidance one needed when visiting a boyfriend's parents for the first time. …

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