20 Hours in Pittsburgh Through Photos

Road trips with my family have always meant a mix of too much time together and countless fond memories. The past few years, road trips have turned into a time to bond with either my mom and dad in order to get my car to and from Delaware. Slowly I have developed a urning to do the drive by myself, and by some miracle my parents agreed to let me do so.img_8325

I originally divided my solo drive from Delaware to Illinois with a stop in Cleveland to visit my friend Caitlyn. I loved experiencing that city, but I wanted to switch it up on my way back. Pittsburgh, which my family had stopped in to break up our drive before, struck my fancy. It is about 7 hours in to the 12 hour drive, making it the perfect location. I was fortunate to have my parents pay for a hotel for the night, but I took it upon myself to explore a bit while I was there.

Pittsburgh gave me a good vibe as soon as I was within city limits, with the bridges and buildings making the drive to my hotel different from what I had expected. I had never been in an American city with mix of mountains and roads before. Snow started to fall soon before I entered the city, so I was excited to wake up to a heavily dusted version of my hotel view. The next morning I visited a highly recommended coffee shop and took it upon myself to explore the streets as I did. Here’s what I found.

Commonplace Coffee On Buena Vista Street

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In true anxious fashion, I went in and out of this unfamiliar coffee shop quicker than planned. Maybe it was my day-two-of-the-roadtrip-“bum” look, or it was my fear that my car was somehow illegally parked, but I only took a few minutes to take in the interior of the shop. That was still enough time to appreciate some of what it had to offer. My dirty chai was a solid 6/10, and my blueberry muffin a 9/10. If I lived in Pittsburgh, I would definitely spend a lot of time here.

The Rest of the Mexican War Streets

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Up the street from the coffee shop, I found some beautiful buildings. I was stunned by their bright, rich colors. I took the opportunity to whip out my Nikon and take some shots. I explored a few snow-covered streets and did not care whether people questioned why I was photographing their comes. They must know what they have, right?

On The Way Out

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I placed my Nikon on the dashboard of my car and occasionally pressed the shutter button, while keeping my eyes on the road, to see what would happen. As expected, most of them were blurry or boring. I was pleasantly surprised by this shot that captured the snow and the diffused light.

I can’t wait to hit the road again, whether it be alone or with some company. Tackling the road alone created a sense of accomplishment that I had never felt before. Having that feeling again, or experiencing a new route and place with friends, is something to look forward to.

I am forever thankful it was a smooth trip both to and from Delaware.

 

Casey

Spain Countdown: 2 Weeks

One year ago, I was bouncing around the idea of studying abroad during a winter session.

Eight months ago I found out that I was accepted into the program.

Two weeks from now I will be on my way to Spain.

The process to studying abroad is a slow one, but it has still been barely enough time for the fact that I am living in Granada, Spain for a month to sink in. I’ve taken action on something Idsc_0815 had talked about doing for years but with a twist.

I never thought I would study abroad in Spain. The plan was always London and only London. The UK is not off my list, but I couldn’t wait until junior year of college. I also wasn’t about to have my first experience abroad be for a full semester. That brought me to the magic of a month in Spain, with a host grandma to lessen the strains.

It’s this huge leap of faith outside of my comfort zone, into a Spanish speaking country that will support my minor and nurture my terrible accent, that I am eagerly counting down to.

As I prepare for all of tricks and turns of travel, I am kept awake at night by a few particular ideas:

1. Familia de acogida

If there’s one thing that moving halfway across the country for school taught me, it’s that there’s nothing like family. Or family-like figures. The idea of my host family, which is essentially three generations, is so comforting. I might still be overly optimistic in hoping that I’ll develop some incredible bond with all of them.

2. Hablando Español

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Taking up a Spanish minor is mostly for my own enjoyment, no matter how un-naturally the language can come to me sometimes. Time for me to embrace how terribly I sound in the start in order to not just get by but enhance my skills.

3. La comida

Get back to me on this after I make eye contact with what’s on my plate, but the authentic cuisine and endless coffee that I am bound to enjoy already make my tastebuds water.

4. La belleza pura

Everyone I know can expect a lot of Instagram posts, and this trip was my main motivation for purchasing my Nikon, but pictures are really only worth taking if I have a beautiful subject. It’s not hard to be better than my current polar vortex location, but Granada is going to have a type of classic European beauty that I have not yet been able to witness.

5. La perspectivaimg_7908

I used to have this idea that traveling would change me. That every stamp on my passport would practically bring me to enlightenment. I’ve changed my tune a bit, or perhaps just my wording. Spending a month in Granada will give me the perspective I need to grow as a person. That growth, no matter how big or small, will allow me to enjoy not just my month in Granada but all future endeavors. Whether it be more independence or appreciation for what I have, Granada ought to teach me a little something more than what my SPAN208 class has to offer.

~Be on the look out for more travel posts~

Constantly excited,

Casey

Follow my travels more on social media! @caseyirwin97 @penneformythoughts