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The rarely updated blog of Joel Dixon
< Chicago - Blackhawks, Bulls and a bean, 2017 | New York - Third time's a charmed lamp, 2017 >

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Pittsburgh Return - Fleury, Fleury, Fleury!, 2017

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 14/12/2017 09:02:27
Updated by Joel Dixon at 20/09/2018 05:01:42

Continuing our jet-setting lifestyle, we flew back to Pittsburgh from Chicago just in time to see another hockey game - this time against the Tampa Bay Lightning and my first game at the Penguin's new-ish home - PPG Paints Arena (seems like a strange mouthful for a name, but I'm actually used to it now). I was wearing my awesome Magnitogorsk Malkin top (a gift from my equally awesome girlfriend) and it attracted a fair few double-takes. I also ensured we were all wearing a hat that we wouldn't miss, as I was sure one of the Penguins would score three goals allowing us to engage in the age-old tradition of throwing our hats on the ice to celebrate a hat-trick.

A much better view, sitting with a much classier bunch of fans (Penguins fans, of course)

Our seats were pretty cool, we had an awesome view of the Penguins attack in the first and third periods - but when the puck was up the other end of the ice the view was limited. Seeing Malkin take control of the game was awesome, and he scored two goals in the second period leaving me assured that he would get the hat-trick and I would be able to toss my headwear skyward. It was pretty lucky as the seats we had for this game was easily close enough to clear the distance to the ice. Malkin did have a few chances in the third period to score the final of his trick - but he could not do enough to have my hat leave my head. The Penguins won, so that was more than enough for me as we walked back to the hotel in high spirits.

We had a day off between hockey games, so I wanted to cover off some more of the local flavour of Pittsburgh. This started with a trip to Gaucho Parilla Argentina, a highly recommended Argentinian restaurant in a trendy part of town. The food was amazing (as Argentinian food so often is) and we all agreed this was the best meal of the trip to that point. We were in walking distance to a few local tourist spots, the first of which was the Warhol museum.

Line Up
We thought we'd get there early (as booking are not accepted) but still had a bit of a queue

Gauchito Gut
A picture cannot do this meal justice - although you can see some empanada remains on my plate that were quick to disappear

Somehow I didn't already know that Andy Warhol was born in Pittsburgh, although further research has suggested that he was pretty happy to get out of the 'burgh and wasn't too interested in highlighting his Steel Town upbringing. It was an interesting museum and pretty cool seeing some of his more famous works, but on the whole the celebration of an avant-garde artist is not exactly up my alley.

Soup For You
The Warhol money shot

Three Jeans
There wasn't many pieces I recognised - but this was one of them

Surprisingly more up my alley was the nearby Randyland and Mattress Factory, a colourful local landmark and public art space respectively. More than anything, Randyland was an excellent idea of Randy Gilson - to clean up and bring colour to the Mexican War Streets of Pittsburgh by decorating his home and collecting and painting pieces of junk found or donated to the cause. I frequently pick on my partner Pao for her junk-collection compulsion (Pao never throws anything out - reusing it as part of her job educating children) - but she's got nothing on Randy.

Randy Baby
It certainly catches the eye

Take A Seat
Randyland was more for Pao's benefit - but I actually thought it was pretty neat

If Randyland was a pretty good spectacle, the Mattress Factory was a great spooktacle (I may have been listening to too many podcasts that over-value the use of horrible puns recently). The Mattress Factory is a public art space that is available to rent for short-term projects - and when we walked through it was a super creepy installation, but in a good way. The building itself was curious to start with, with tight corners, narrow staircases and winding hallways. The artist had decked out every available surface with cool minute hobby trains, doll houses and anything else that shouldn't be creepy, but somehow is (especially with the eerie music being pumped out of the speakers).

Weird Gets Creepy
Shadows, stairs, string and creepy music - still enjoyable

Feeling culturally full, we headed towards a local burger joint that was recommended to us - Burgatory. A build-your-own-burger establishment, we were blown away by the options available to us, and may have gone a little overboard in our selections. People joke about US portion sizes compared to the rest of the world, but this seemed especially true in Pittsburgh. I wanted to try all of the delicious options as I would not have a the same chance back home, but this meant I was consistently ordering more than I needed and feel terrible when I left anything on the plate. I'm guessing the meal at Burgatory was the exact point when I put back on any weight I would have lost during the gruelling exercise of the hockey camp.

Yes, thanks for bringing us the left over milkshake in the mixing cup. I will certainly be needing that...

After our meal we had a chance to head to the local casino and try our luck at the table games. Instead we chose to go straight home and sleep. After all of the recent eating, I'm very content with the choice we made.

For our final full day in Pittsburgh with my little brother, we packed into another Uber and headed out to the top-rated of Pittsburgh's escape rooms (we'd caught the bug in Chicago). It was another great fun experience, and we even escaped this time, but there was certainly a dip in quality noticed compared to our last outing. After our success we took yet another Uber, this time to the Duquesne Incline (which I still have no idea how to pronounce). The incline goes up Mount Washington, and was on all of the "things to do in Pittsburgh" lists. It certainly was a thing to do, but I suspect it would have been much cooler at night time (as the Pittsburgh skyline is actually pretty cool at night). At the top of the mountain we had lunch at the nearby Grandview Saloon (which, I must admin, did have a grand view). The lunch was pleasant, but a few minutes after sitting down I noticed that most of the paintings on each wall contained children smoking cigars. Further research suggests the Grandview is also a cigar bar, but I'm not sure this is enough to explain the artwork of kids partaking in the habit. After declining Mount Washington and heading back to the hotel, we took a quick detour to the Milkshake Factory with a predictable result (delicious but impossible to fit in) before getting to the arena in time for an afternoon Penguins game.

The view from the incline and the corner of my very photogenic thumb

More Shake
Absolutely no need to buy this milkshake, still delicious though

We had some average tickets for the Buffalo game, but one of the guys I met at the hockey camp very generously offered to let Pao and I join him and his partner in their seats - a far better part of the arena. We were situated basically at center ice in the top of the lower bowl - an absolutely perfect view. One day, when I make my millions selling advertising on this blog site (*cough*) I would love to have season tickets in that area of the ice.

View Please
Watching a hockey game from any of the seats is an unbeatable experience - but these seats certainly added a little something!

Pao and I are both huge Fleury fans - mainly because his impeccable on-ice performance is only surpassed by how much of an awesome guy, father and teammate he has proven to be (as if you needed more proof). I was lucky enough to see him play in his first season with the Penguins, way back in 2005, and I was hoping we'd be able to watch him play in a few more games during our trip - in what would surely be his final season with Pittsburgh (due to the early resurgence of Matt Murray). Unfortunately Murray (being Sullivan's guy) had been starting many games for us, and he also did so this afternoon against the Sabres. However, after the Pens let in three goals in the first period, Fleury took the ice in the second and he seemed determined to right the ship.

The Pens were still a little off their game, but Marc-Andre was certainly ready to go. He played incredibly, making multiple amazing saves while waiting for the Penguins offensive machine to get started. Eventually they did, with goals from Schultz, Malkin, Guentzel and Sheary propelling the Pens over the Sabres - but the crowd certainly knew the star of the show. I couldn't have been happier to join the chorus of "Fleury, Fleury, Fleury!" shouts that led to Fleury later commenting to a reporter that the Penguins fans are good to him. No matter how good the fans are to Fleury, he was certainly better to us!

This is the 7th in the Joel Goes To Camp series
Game 1 - Pittsburgh Arrival - Border Security Magic, 2017Game 2 - Mario Lemieux Fantasy Camp 2017 - Day 1 (Registration and Penguins Stadium Series)Game 3 - Mario Lemieux Fantasy Camp 2017 - Day 2 (Contract Signing, Training and Game)Game 4 - Mario Lemieux Fantasy Camp 2017 - Day 3 (Outdoor Game, Injury, Dinner and Drinks)Game 5 - Mario Lemieux Fantasy Camp 2017 - Day 4 and 5 (Final Games)Game 6 - Chicago - Blackhawks, Bulls and a bean, 2017Game 7 - Pittsburgh Return - Fleury, Fleury, Fleury!, 2017Game 8 - New York - Third time's a charmed lamp, 2017Game 9 - Miami, Naples and Tampa - Beaches, Babe and a Baby Sloth, 2017Game 10 - Philadelphia - Not that sunny, 2017Game 11 - Pittsburgh - For some hockey (why not?), 2017 Back to Top

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Pittsburgh Return - Fleury, Fleury, Fleury!, 2017
Chicago - Blackhawks, Bulls and a bean, 2017
Mario Lemieux Fantasy Camp 2017 - Day 4 and 5 (Final Games)
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Marc-Andre Fleury still giving high fives to his injured buddy
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