May 27, 2012 – Pittsburgh

We headed for Pittsburgh, and it was a relatively uneventful drive, as we began to see the rolling green farms of Pennsylvania.  It had been surprising to me that I hadn’t seen a single roadside Rotary gear sign all the way from San Diego.  Finally, on the way into Pittsburgh, we saw two gears.  They let travelers and visitors know when their meetings are held.  It’s our plan to to have at least one “make up” meeting in New York, although our World Science Festival schedule is pretty full.

Our Marriott is on Liberty Avenue, and since I knew Liberty Ave ran to the center of town, so when I made the reservation I assumed that’s were we would be.  As it turned out we are in Shadyside 20 minutes to the East and was disappointed until I began investigating restaurants for tonight’s dinner.  I asked the clerk, “What’s a really good restaurant downtown you would recommend?”  He answered, “You have a far better selection of excellent restaurants right here!”  And our guide bbook ageeed. He pulled out a sheet of paper with 34 restaurants listed.  He pointed out Belgian, Asian fusion, French, Contemporary American (“whatever the chef has fresh that night”), Middle Eastern, Italian, and more until I said, “Enough!”.  We selected Abay Ethiopian Restaurant (pronounced Ah-Bye).

Before dinner we took a ride down Liberty Street to the center of town just to see what it was like.  I had spent a year in the suburbs of Pittsburgh in the late fifties, and I didn’t

A cafe garden in Pittsburgh

really know much about center city, or the Golden Triangle, as they call it.  We went past the arts district, some beautiful churches, strings of row houses, and interesting store fronts including some sculptures outside a cafe.  The transit center, including an Amtrack center, was very interesting architecturally.

We then headed for Abay. It turnedout to be in an interesting neighborhood. The costume of the evening seemed to be hoods and hookers but I really think it was pretty benign.  They were hanging outside a bar we had parked in front of.  We found Abay, and inside it was beautiful.  We picked a four-item sampler to share. We picked beef, shrimp, chicken, and veggie (bean) items, and they were all really good.  To eat you tear off a piece of injera, a spongy flatbread, and pick up your food with it.  Forks are strictly optional.  All of our choices were excellent, as was the baklava which they served with extra honey, a wonderful idea.

Back to the hotel to get rested for the final leg of our journey.

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