Thoughts on the G-20, the third

logo with bridgeAs promised, here is part three, the part where I talk about my day in the Golden Triangle for the summit.  Pictures are coming in the fourth installment, I find myself with my camera at the moment (but using free WiFi at a Barnes and Noble!) and a fifth installment will go over how a “company” tried to scam me during the Summit.

It started, as most days do for me, with riding the bus into town.  Not unexpectedly, the bus was almost vacant.  Once we got past a couple stops on the East Busway, it turned out that there were two of us going into town.  And for almost the entire trip, we pretty much flew into town.  Until we got to the Arena.  Then, we pretty much just sat there, crawling down Centre Ave.

I think the slow speed, the detours, plus the fact that there were exactly two of us on the bus all contributed to the bus driver’s surly attitude, not that I could blame him for it.

But truth be told, the delays allowed me to view the first of a recurring theme throughout the day.  More after the jump.

While we were crawling down Center Ave, I looked out the bus window and saw a black sedan pull over and ask some commuters for directions.  The Pittsburghers gladly helped, pointing out the way the driver needed.  This was a common occurrence and one of the reasons I’m proud to call Pittsburgh home.  Strangely, there seemed to be more people in the city on Thursday than on Wednesday, but that might be because so many people came down to take pictures, but more on that in a bit.

Eventually, we snaked through downtown and the bus dropped us off down near Point State Park.  I got off and headed to see the giant banner on the Hilton (this is also where you can pretty much follow along with my day through the pictures I posted during the day from my phone).  I was stopped by a lady outside, she asked if I could take her picture with the banner, and she asked if I wanted mine taken as well.  I declined, but as we stood in the middle of the street chatting and taking pictures, I learned that she works at the Hilton.  This was to be the second big theme of the day: people with cameras

She was very kind and we chatted for a while before parting ways.  She offered me directions, since I work at the other end of town, I’m honestly not that certain of directions near the Point and her offer was heartfelt, and again, made me smile and proud of this city.

I meandered around Point State Park for a bit, taking more pictures, and eventually found a bench where I could spread out my detour map and figure out where I get my bus to go home that afternoon.  A cyclist came over and offered help.  I once again explained that I work at the other end of town, near the convention center and was a bit turned around down here.  We laughed about it, and he went on his way.  Again, Pittsburghers are more than happy to offer help, to talk about this great city and to welcome visitors.

And truth be told, it was not just the citizens of Pittsburgh, the police downtown were, throughout the entire day, very welcoming and helpful.  I never once had any problems with the security forces.

So, taking advantage of the opportunity to be downtown with time on my hands, I headed to Market Square.  Like I have mentioned before, I sometimes think that I’m a very bad Pittsburgher.  This was my first trip to Market Square, and even though it is just about demolished (at least the middle of it), I was really impressed with the amount of different shops and restaurants.  I’d love to spend some more time down there once the construction is done.

I headed into Starbucks for a while and read the PG (the actual physical copy), something I hadn’t done in a while.  A few groups of security came in, and after a while, I came to the realization that I was in one of the targeted businesses, one of the ones on the list of the anarchists.  But the Baristas were very kind and helpful, so I stuck it out for a while, despite my better judgement (not that anything happened to that location).

A bit of explanation is needed at this point.  With the regular bus schedule, after I get off the bus, I walk about three quarters of a mile up a giant hill to get to work.  Because of this, I carry a backpack, not a bookbag, a backpack, one that I could take camping (although I have another pack for that).  I have my shoes (I wear tennis shoes for the hike every day), my lunch, and other random bits like a rain cover for my pack, extra bus fare just in case, those kind of things.  This is normal for me.  However, it occurred to me, that while it is nothing out of the ordinary for me, it might cause some sort of concern walking around downtown during the G-20.  I hope that I did not cause any undo concern, but no one stopped me, although I would have been more than willing to open it all up if asked.  Another fun fact: I have a bag of trail mix in there.  I bought it once because I needed at least $5 to use my debit card, and I keep it in there just in case.  Just in case of what, I’m not sure.  But I have it.

So I continued to wander around, seeing lots of welcoming signs, the city really did want to warmly welcome the world.  Market Square seemed almost devoid of security, unless of course they were undercover, which is possible.  I did try to find Ginny’s Husband’s restaurant, but I forgot the name of it, and since it isn’t open yet, I didn’t have any luck.

A big moment of geek for me was when, on three different occasions I saw reporters and cameramen with NBC credentials.  No one that I recognized, but pretty cool nonetheless

I headed to Franktuary, which I have ordered from many times, but always delivery.  Getting able to go there was a blast, the people inside were a lot of fun, and the food is of course, delicious.  It was after this that I then met up with a friend, Robin, and we walked down Liberty Avenue towards the convention center.

First, we made a stop at Pittsburgh Popcorn Company’s new store.  That will be another post for another day, but I do wholeheartedly suggest it.

So walking down Liberty, we got to the barricade at the end of the street, which was almost silent.  It was strange and eerie.  We both commented about it, but then quickly stopped talking, since we were pretty much the loudest people there.  A march for Tibet was starting and soon after a march for Ethiopia began as well.  After those two groups left, the area was pretty desolate and devoid of people, so we left, and then we met up with my other friend, Nick.

We headed to Penn and walked around, all three of us taking pictures, like the majority of other people downtown.  As we wandered, we headed back to Point State Park so Robin and Nick could see the Hilton banner, which, by the way, really did a great job hiding the construction.  The banner looked excellent, and I liked how it was designed.  We headed towards the Portal Bridge, but sadly, the area behind it is still closed off.  The fountain was operational, which was great to see, hopefully construction doesn’t take too long on it.

Nick and I headed to Primanti’s for lunch and Robin headed home.  Over a lunch of fries, slaw and Yuenglings, it was nice to be surrounded finally be people in Black and Gold, people seemingly trapped in town who escaped for lunch.

The last stop of the day was PNC Park.  Nick had to pick up tickets for the game on Friday and was meeting a group from Flickr to take more pictures.  We wandered over to see the free speech zone across the river from the convention center, but it was empty.  Nick and I half-heatedly said something anti-government, just so the area wasn’t wasted, but it got some use on Friday, so it wasn’t for naught.

I headed back across the Roberto Clemente Bridge as the pierogi race was going on (I can’t think of anything more dramatic than walking across the bridge as bicycle police go past while listening to John William’s Olympic theme, “Summon the Heroes”).  I trekked my way up to the Boulevard of the Allies and found my new bus stop.  I waited for a while and at one point called PAT to make sure I was in the right spot.  Hint: I’ll be writing about that on Tuesday.

I headed home on a strange bus, or at least, not my normal route and pretty much collapsed at home.  The day was very humid and I didn’t drink nearly enough water (plus of course, the beer wasn’t going to help with dehydration).  But, I got to watch the non-stop coverage of the protest in Lawrenceville and the arrival at Phipps.

So that was my day in the Golden Triangle during the Summit, not terribly exciting, but a lot of fun, and I’m so glad that I went down for it.  Not because I got to be a part of history, although I did get to witness at least snippets of history, but because I once again got to see why I love this city so much.

Thanks for reading this long and rambling article, installments four and five will be coming this week, along with that PATransit Tuesday that I hinted about.

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