Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tiny feet on my hand - The National Aviary

Since I am coming to Pittsburgh I wanted to go to the National Aviary on the North Side, but never made it. Once I had even already booked a penguin connection, but had to cancel because we were stuck in traffic and would not have made it in time. This spring we did not book anything in advance, but we resisted to have a lazy, rainy Sunday at home and got out of the house relatively early to finally visit the National Aviary

As you can guess the institution is focussed on feathered friends. You walk through halls with different climate zones and wherever it is possible the birds are flying around free - something I absolutely loved. The Aviary also offers a lot of interactive elements. You can go to some of the feedings and get in contact with the birds, watch one of the shows, where the staff explains a lot about the animals they take care of, or you can book connections, where in a controlled situation (better for  the birds!) a small group of visitors can meet some of the Aviary residents like the penguins, flamingos or parrots.

Interesting enough lots of Americans seem to be terrified by birds. A decent percentage of our local friends said "Brrrrr - thank you, but NO thanks." when we asked if they wanted to come with us to the National Aviary and I could witness lots of scared parents failing to make straight and tough faces walking through the free flight halls, where indeed .... birds are crossing.

By the  time we arrived the lorikeet feeding was on the schedule and I could not wait to attend. We had budgies when we were kids and my sister still does have a pair of  them. I do not have any pets at home simply because my apartment is small and I am  traveling too often and too long to properly take care of any feathered or furry roommates. But when I got my cup of nectar and the first bird landed on my hands little warm feets ahead I realized that I really, reall miss this. So one day when things in my life may slow down a bit and I have enough space to give the little ones enough and decent room to live and fly, I might go back to having birds. They are gorgeous creatures!

This is my happy hand and a new friend of mine:

Next stop was another obvious highlight. THE PENGUINS!  (It is btw pretty amazing that practically EVERYBODY visiting the Aviary shows up in Pens gear - and so did we :).)

Inside the Aviary it was mostly too dark for Gabrijela to make decent polaroids, but never the less she made the shot of the day. Penguins totally rock - on ice and under water!

Twice a day you have also the chance to have a look at this handsome young lady - the an Eurasian Eagle Owlet. Her parents are the National Aviary's owls X named for the owl X on Mister Rogers Neighborhood and her partner Dumbledore.

She is already as bigger than most of the parrots - although the blue one here is HUGE

Bird sleeping positions are always an impressive act of balance.

These two little ones were so cute with each other.

I would have loved  to play with most of the birds, but not so much with these big, big guys.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Drop the puck Vol. 2 - Pens 8 (!!!) : Canes 3

Yes, I know I posted this picture of myself already in the last Pens post, but I SO have to repost it, because of ... JAMES F***KIN' NEAL! 

But ... let's start with the beginning. Two weeks in Pittsburgh means more than one Pens game to go to and that means this German blogger is in HEAVEN!
Saturday was the day of game 2 for me and the last regular season game for the Pens versus the Carolina Hurricanes - the new club of former Penguin Jordan Staal. He returned to Pittsburgh the first time after the trade and received long, long standing ovations. These fans are world class and Mr. J. Staal looked like he woud start crying any moment. And honestly if I would be him - I would cry as well because the Canes had not much to laugh about that night, but good lord - I had!

It started already when I was picking up my ticket and instead of the small piece of paper they handed me over a huge envelop. I opened it and in addition to my ticket for the night I found already THIS:

SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE - my first playoff tickets EVER!!!!!  I SO CANNOT WAIT! BRING ON THE ISLANDERS AND EAT THEM ALIVE (yes, hockey makes me a little violent)!!!
We have only tickes for game 1 although we will be in town for game 2 also, but I won't complain. This is already super awesome!

The game on Saturday was also a highlight for me personally because one of my abosulte favorite players - James Neal - would return after a concussion sporting a really badass tinted visor. It looked like that:

And what an amazing comeback it was! After missing each other through several injuries FINALLY Geno and Jimmy were together again and you could watch their brains melt to one big hockey brain right there on the ice. It looked like nothing bad ever happened. They passed to each other without even looking  - behind the back, through legs, over long distance, from sick angles and produced alone four goals. One for Geno with James Neal assisting and THREE - a full blown hat trick - for James - The Real Deal - Neal!!!

I was sitting in my corner with Flower (Section 114, row C - defense twice, down at the ice - my favorite place to be) watching the magic unfold on the ice and it was just gorgeous ... and Sid did not even return yet. What the heck this team will be able to do when it is complete again? I guess the goalie of the Canes does not even want to know - he for sure had enough for the season once this game was over, but let's tell the story in pictures:

The Consol Energy Center dressed up for the playoffs

Watching the warm up is always a lot of fun. Some of the guys skate without helmets, they throw pucks over the boards to the fans or shoot pucks against the glass making the kids scream. And there were LOTS of kids and puckbunnys - one of the downsides of Neal's return. That man has more girl fans than Kris Letang and that's really not easily to achieve. 

In this picture we got Brandon Sutter stretching. 

The first of many James Neal shots. Here he still looks a bit sceptical. 

It's not me visiting a Pens game without a nice picture of Kris Letang

Iggy & Duper - two real fan favorites! 

James Neal getting ready to do gorgeous things. 

The sign of my lovely friend, the Pens Knitting Lady and her husband, who's blog no Pens fan should miss - he has the BEST pictures. 


The young man between Pascale Dupuis and Kris Letang is Duper's little son, who is daddy's spitting image and already a great skater. 

Jeff Jimerson singing the National anthem. I love this so much!

New daddy Marc-André Fleury without helmet during the anthem. Welcome, Estelle - the newborn baby daughter of Flower & his wife Veronique!

Now shit got serious and this is the line the hockey world shoud better be scared of - Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and Chris Kunitz!

A pretty awesome shot of shoulders / back of my future husband - Mr. Douglas Murray. Yes, I have a huge big boy crush ;) 

My favorite game shot:

Flower: "Hi Jordy! How are you doin', buddy? Long time no see."

Jordan Staal: "Hi Flower, congrats to you and your wife. How I am doin'? Well ..."
Flower: "Nice to talk to you, but could you get up? You are in my way to the playoffs." 

I guess it was something just like that. 

The Hurriances bench. 

Rookie of the year - Simon Depres

Iggy & Duper hanging out while the ice crew was out.

Here you can perfectly see how awesome my seat was - and you can see Iggy and that is also always a good thing. 

The ice fresh and beautiful right before the glorious third period.

Flower watching the other guys getting some work done. 

Mr. Future Husband with the No. 3 really focussed on the puck. 

Sadly the boys moved a little too fast for the camera but I kept the picture anyway  -  Mr. Neal & Mr. Malkin - may they never ever get seperated on the ice again. 

Nothing special - just hanging out with Iceburgh a little bit. 

The final result - Pens 8 (!!!) : Canes 3

The first star and the one with the happiest smile of the night:
The Real Deal - James Neal!!! 

PS: All pictures enlarge to be even more fun, when you click on them.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood - Lawrenceville

I am in love. I am in love with exactly what you see in this picture. Every morning when we get out of our house in Lower Lawrenceville, climb in our car an turn around one little corner we see: THIS! 

We always live in Lawrenceville, when we are in Pittsburgh and we drove down here already hundreds of time, but this view makes my heart stop for a second every time and when I return home again in a couple of days I will miss this so much. Wouldn't you, too?

Saturday morning came sunny, summer warm and gorgeous and it came with the glorious knowledge that we would NOT need to drive to the aiport now after ending our time in Pittsburgh but just stay another week. Glorious! To celebrate the day we ... slept in and then went for a long breakfast to our other home - Espresso A Mano (I wish I could fold it together, put it in a pocket and take it home with me!). Hanging out at our table we considered what to do with the wonderful day before we had to get ready to meet friends for early dinner and me going to the next Pens game and like so often the best things are the easy ones:

We decided it is just like Mr. Rogers used to say  "A beautiful day in the neighborhood" and definitely time to show some love for the place that we pratically call home - Lawrenceville! 

Some people love to make jokes about the hood being the epicenter of Pittsburgh's hipster community and indeed you see lots of  "accidently" stylish people around, but to be honest: I like it.
And I like to be around people with mostly creative jobs and lots of tattoos. I mean ... I am myself not exactly 20 anymore, but love the growing ink work on my skin and at least here in Pittsburgh we are a traveling writer and a traveling photographer. So that is definitely a fit.

Lawerenceville is also beautiful, lively and special. It is additionally close to everything - at least every place we usually go to and we LOVE IT!

So people of the world - meet our hood!

All polaroids by Gabrijela Obert

 Lunch at Franktuary - super duper delicious!