PNC Park is a magical place to watch a baseball game. Here are some of my favorite photos at PNC Park from the past two years. All photos were taken with an iPhone5 and edited with Instagram. Play ball!
I had been eyeing up the Pittsburgh to Paris flight for a few years now. About a year ago my husband and I decided it was time to trade in our fun in the Caribbean sun, fruity drink in hand, feet in sand vacation, and explore across the pond. The desire to explore Europe stemmed from a few places. One reason was understanding where our ancestors came from. Another reason was to explore history, architecture and civilization. Last, but not least, was a desire to explore how others live, since all we've known is the American way of life.
On May 19th, we boarded the nearly eight hour direct flight at 6:30 PM. This put us in Paris at 8:30 AM on May 20th. As we prepared to land, I looked below and realized France looked more familiar than I thought it would. Green grass, rolling fields, beautiful countryside. It felt more like home than I expected. After deboarding the plane, and passing through immigration I found a France public phone to call our shuttle to pick us up and take us to the hotel. We found our shuttle with ease and soon were stuck in Paris traffic. After nearly an hour long journey we arrived at our hotel.
Unfortunately check-in was not until 3 PM and we ended up at the front door of our hotel around 10:30 AM. With some time to waste, we left our bags at the hotel and walked the neighborhood and waited until it was an acceptable time to lunch. After lunch we walked to the Eiffel Tower and then back to our hotel. Jet lag was setting in. I couldn't think clearly and was starting to wonder if I had made a terrible mistake. Maybe I should have stayed within my time zone and headed south to a tropical island?
Fortunately we were able to check-in early at Grand Hotel Leveque (around 2 PM) and catch up on some sleep. After a three hour power nap we decided to venture into Paris life for our first dinner. The location of our hotel, on Rue Cler (a pedestrian street) was great. There were many cafes and restuarants nearby. We never had to go far for a good meal.
Entering our first cafe, we were clearly out of our comfort zone. We were seated outside, along the street in a fast (French) speaking, chain smoking, wine drinking group of Parisians. Panic ensued. I was in over my head. I had no idea what I was doing. But then our menus came and they were in English. I recognized items on the menu and the wine was good and cheap. Slowly I realized we would be ok. This is how falling in love with Paris happens. It happens slowly. Paris doesn't come quickly with an open embrace. Rather, Paris unfolds slowly and pulls at your heart. The more you slow down, take a step back, and open up, the more Paris gives back.
Everything here is much more beautiful and more detailed than you thought it would be. You've heard of the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, The Louvre, The Arc de Triomphe, but maybe you didn't know about the rose lined streets, the cobblestone streets, the welcoming street benches, or the friendly green spaces
around the city. No wonder all the chairs outside at the cafes face towards the street.
The French are certainly living differently than the Americans. The pace is slower, but still purposeful. Evenings are reserved for relaxing and reconnecting. Cafés are filled with patrons enjoying the end of the day. Cell phones are not seen at the dinner table unless one is waiting for their dining companion. The focus is on each other. No one seems distracted. After dinner we visit the grocery to pick up a bottle a wine. Many of the locals do the same. Slowly I feel myself slipping into this lifestyle. I'd like to live more like the French.
At night while I would drift asleep, I'd hear the rumblings of the cafe below as they were moving tables and washing dishes. In a strange way, it was comfortable background noise. In the mornings, we would walk across the street to eat wonderful crepes and drink expresso at Ulysse en Gaul. It was the perfect way to start a day of sight-seeing.
On our last night in Paris, we decided to visit the Eiffel Tower to watch the sunset. There is a large park surrounding the Effiel Tower and many gather here in the evenings. Some have blankets and a bottle of wine to enjoy the day's end. Locals finish up thier evening run in the park, then sit to stretch and watch the sunset. We take pictures of other tourists spending the evening with loved ones. Even if you don't speak the same language you can easily understand wanting to take a photo with someone you love in front of the most iconic tower in the world. Some of the people here are Americans too, but many are not. It strikes me how much togetherness I feel while I'm 3,000 miles from home and in a foreign country. Watching the sunset over the Eiffel Tower is something special, that no matter where you are from, you can enjoy.
Paris was the starting point of our trip to Europe and it was also the ending point. I'm hoping that one day I'll be able to return to Paris. It certainly made an impression that I won't forget. Au revoir Paris!
By: Sarah Warman
You are reading this article because of an intense physical workout called CrossFit. Now that I’ve stated the obvious, let’s examine the reasons behind my statement.
In December of 2013 I started writing a blog. My original intention was to write race recaps of recent half marathons that I had ran. I assumed only my family and close friends would read the blog. Shortly after starting my blog, I tried CrossFit for the first time. I was completely blown away by how hard the workouts were and I knew I needed to write about it. I wrote my first CrossFit blog, and shared it on my Facebook page.
Soon after, the owner of my box, Crossfit Mt. Lebanon, saw my blog and asked to share it on the box’s Facebook page. After my blog was shared with other members of my box, I received a lot of positive feedback. I was stunned that so many people had read my blog! So I kept CrossFitting and writing about it. I wrote several more blogs and got even more positive feedback. All the positive feedback gave me enough confidence to submit articles to online magazines and they got published! In fact, right now you’re reading one of my articles all because of CrossFit!
What I soon realized about CrossFit was the support inside the box was also being given outside the box. When I struggled at the box, others encouraged me to finish a workout. When I would publish a new blog, fellow box mates told me to keep writing and they couldn’t wait to read the next article. Prior to CrossFit, I had been writing for a long time, but would rarely share my work with anyone. The supportive and encouraging environment I found at CrossFit finally gave me the confidence to share my work.
This made me wonder, “What else can be accomplished with a supportive environment like the one I found in CrossFit?” I know some of my box mates are starting to write; just like me. Some are expanding their photography or videography skills. CrossFit provides an encouraging environment where people and their creativity can thrive. As adults it's rare to find this kind of environment where we are encouraged to try new things and pursue our dreams. So what new confidence has CrossFit given you? What new things have you tried “outside the box”?
Romance and Cleveland usually aren't in the same sentence together; but this former industrial city is slowly wiping away its rust, and has enough soft edges to warm the heart of any romantic. Located on the shore of Lake Erie, Cleveland turns into a welcoming retreat during the summer months with none of the hustle and bustle that is sure to be found at East Coast destinations. Here are some tips for getting the most romance out of your getaway to Cleveland.
1. Stay in a historic building, like the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel located in the downtown. This hotel originally opened in 1918 as The Cleveland Hotel. It changed hands many times throughout the years but now has been restored to its previous greatness. The grand lobby, adorned with large chandeliers will transport you back in time. Ask for a room with a city view. After your day of sight-seeing enjoy a drink in the welcoming hotel bar adorned with marble floors and a wooden mahogany bar.
2. While in the downtown, make sure to visit other historic buildings. The Renaissance Hotel is conveniently connected to the Tower City Building. This grand building is on the National Register of Historical Places and houses the Horseshoe Casino, the Ritz-Carlton and a shopping mall. Try your luck at the casino, then spend your winnings at the shops, or on dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. If you win big, Morton's might be a better way to celebrate! On weekends you can ascend to the observation deck at the top of the tower. The final tour begins at 4:30 pm on Saturdays and 3:30 pm on Sundays.
Head east on Euclid Avenue to visit another iconic building, The Arcade. Opened in 1890, The Arcade was one of the first indoor shopping malls in America. Today the Hyatt Regency occupies the top three floors, while shops and eateries comprise the lower two levels. Take a moment to marvel at the ornate balconies and overhead skylights. They don't make buildings like this anymore.
3. If downtown living isn't your thing, cross the Cuyahoga River to the west to visit the Cleveland neighborhood of Ohio City. This artisan neighborhood was founded in 1836 and is comprised of many small businesses. Stay at the J. Palen House Bed and Breakfast to begin your day in this charming neighborhood. From the J. Palen House it's just a short walk to West 25th Street, which is home to many restaurants, ice cream stands, coffee shops and the West Side Market.
4. While in Ohio City make sure to visit the West Side Market. This market is home to over one hundred vendors supplying fresh meats and fish, candy and nuts. The yellow brick markethouse, which includes a stunning interior concourse, was designed by architects Benjamin Hubbel and W. Dominick Benes, who also designed the Cleveland Museum of Art. Across the street from the West Side Market is the Market Square Park. Grab a seat on a bench or at a table, and enjoy your findings from the market. Bubble tea, anyone? This is a great location for people watching. The market is open on Monday and Wednesday from 7 am to 4 pm and Friday and Saturday from 7 am to 6 pm.
5. The Great Lakes Brewing Company Brew Pub is also found in Ohio City on Market Avenue. The iconic brewery opened in 1988 in this historic neighborhood. Ask for an outdoor table on the patio and order the beer sampler to share with your significant other. Discuss your favorite beer as you relax on the tree-lined brick patio. Be sure to venture inside to get a glimpse of the beautiful Victorian era wooden bar.
6. Even if you're not a fan of baseball, there's much to love about a Major League Baseball game in the summer. Progressive Field has been home to the Cleveland Indians since 1994 and makes great use of the downtown skyline as a backdrop to a baseball game. The stadium sells a wide selection of beer from many local breweries and offers an array of Tribe Town merchandise. After rooting for the home team (long time fans in the bleachers bang on drums!) take a walk to the upper deck of the stadium for unique views overlooking the City of Cleveland.
7. Take a stroll on East 4th Street. This pedestrian-only street showcases many restaurants and a coffee shop. Try the upscale, renowned Lola. Or for something less formal go for a burger at The Corner Alley. Eat inside to the sound of falling bowling pins, or outside under the lights. Buy a cool, vintage inspired t-shirt at the CLE Clothing Company. 4th Street is just a couple blocks away from the Quicken Loans Arena and Progressive Field, making it the perfect location to recharge before or after a game.
8. Last but certainly not least, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is an obvious choice for visitors to Cleveland; especially if this is your first visit. The building architecture is intriguing; just like you would expect from the building housing Rock and Roll artifacts. Discuss your favorite Rock and Roll bands with your partner while strolling this unique and one of a kind museum. Before making your trip to the museum overlooking Lake Erie, visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website for details on upcoming events.
There's no doubt that Cleveland has struggled for many years, yet it seems poised for a grand comeback. The magnificent downtown buildings are being restored. Construction of new hotels is being seen and heard. Retailers and breweries are popping up, and a basketball player named LeBron just decided it was time to move back here too. The backdrop of old, framed with the promise of a new era creates a romantic adventure. Maybe it's time for you to go see what all the fuss is about.
When my husband decided to travel to Europe for our vacation this year I knew I was going to have to pack light. Traveling to four cities in two weeks wasn't going to allow for a large wardrobe. He purchased Oakley backpacks for each of us to take on our trip. That's right; a backpack for two weeks in Europe. Now we weren't camping or even staying in hostels, but to survive four flights, four train rides, taxi and shuttle rides, two mile walks to a train station and a water boat taxi, I knew the backpack was my best bet.
It's been long known by my family and friends that I love clothes. Lots of clothes. I'm not exactly sure when the love affair started but I think it was around 13 years old when I started seeing clothing as a way to express my personality instead of just something to go to school in.
How was I going to do this? I needed to survive two weeks with one backpack. Plus I was going to be visiting some of the most iconic places in the world. I didn't want to be wearing a wrinked cotton t-shirt and jean shorts in a photo with the Effiel Tower that would probably be displayed in my house for years to come.
I knew I had to pack "light". But what does that mean? I did eventually end up packing light because my bag only weighed 15 pounds. But I think a better term may be to pack "smart". Here's how I did it.
1. Solid Colored Clothes
Why take solid colored clothing? It gives you more options for outfits than say, a patterned or striped shirt. Take for example this Express Portofino Shirt. This shirt was so easy to wear with jeans, shorts or dress pants. It could easily be dressed up or dressed down. This lightweight shirt is 100% polyester so it didn't wrinkle much. It was cool enough in hot weather and still protected my shoulders from the sun. It also could be easily hand washed and hung to dry quickly. (More so than cotton clothing.) It looked great with jeans, shorts or dress pants.
*Shorts are not worn as much in Europe as in the U.S. They were almost never seen in Paris and rare in Munich. The further south we traveled they seemed to be more acceptable. I felt comfortable wearing these shorts in Venice. The popular style in Europe was to wear jean shorts with black pantyhose underneath.
As we moved from city to city, I decided that each new city was a chance to re-wear my clothing again. We also rented an apartment in Venice which had a washing machine. Since this was halfway through our trip it was the perfect time to wash our clothing and give us a whole new wardrobe again.
When it comes to dressing up with ease, dresses are the way to go. I packed three dresses for our trip. Dresses are a favorite of mine to pack because they provide one complete outfit with a single article of clothing. My favorite dress on our trip turned out to be a black dress I bought from H&M.
Scarfs are the perfect way to accessorize an outfit. They are lightweight and take up mininal room when packing. It's also great to have a scarf to cover up your shoulders in case the sun is strong and you're worried about sunburn. In the photo below I wore my multi colored scarf from Anthropologie. I bought this as a birthday present to myself a few years ago. It went well with a lot of my outfits and automatically dresses up an outfit.
4. Dress Pants
I packed one pair of black dress pants for this trip, which proved to be pretty valuable. I typically wear Banana Republic pants to work, so I took a pair along. I wore them pretty often especially in Paris and Rome. Also, they were much easier to wash and dry than jeans. It was very uncommon to see jeans worn in Paris and I felt more comfortable wearing my black pants there.
5. Comfortable Shoes
This is probably the single most important item to pack for a trip to Europe. We averaged around nine miles a day of walking just from sight-seeing! You want to make sure you have something comfortable on you feet. In the photos shown above I wore Easy Spirit Karelly Gladiator Sandals. I bought these shoes specifically for this trip and I was sure glad that I did! They were really comfortable and didn't give off the appearance of a "walking" shoe. I walked miles in these shoes and they have easily become my go to summer shoe when I'm going to be walking for a while.
6. Cheap Sunglasses
As tempting as it much be to wear designer shades around Europe, think about how you'll feel when they get scratched, damaged or lost. That's why I decided to leave the designer shades at home and spend $30 on a pair from Express. (Seen in above photos.) I wasn't worried if I lost these glasses. Fortunately I held on to these glasses and they actually have become a favorite of mine to wear out and about.
7. Waterproof Jacket
A good, waterproof jacket is essential to European travel. I invested in a lightweight zip up jacket from Colombia with a hood. This jacket turned out to be perfect for cold and windy days. I wore it mostly in France where we dealt with the most rain and wind during our trip. I didn't worry about having a jacket that was too lightweight. If it was cold, I simply wore a shirt with a sweater under the jacket. As the day warmed up I would take off layers.
Since all my luggage was going to going to be carry on I had to adbide by the TSA guidelines for 3 oz. bottle in a clear plastic quart size bag. I bought all my shampoos and bodywashes in the travel size containers. We knew we would probably run out of something, but one of my favorites parts of our trip to Europe was shopping in local stores, trying to decipher words on products. We did end up needing toothpaste in Germany and brought the remainder of it home. It made me smile in the morning to look at the German words when I went back to work. Also, most European hotels do not provide a washcloth. I packed one along for this trip. If you are used to using one, I would suggest packing one too.
9. Flat Iron for Hair (and power converter)
I knew when packing for this trip, the curling iron probably was going to be left at home. It's kind of big and bulky and was going to take up too much space. I was going to just resign myself to putting gel in my hair and leaving it curly for the duration of the trip, but then I remembered I had a small flat iron. This easily fit into my bag and is really lightweight. Curly hair problem solved. All the European hotels supplied hair dryers so I could leave that at home too. Just don't forget your plug adapter and power converter!
I would suggest leaving all your expensive jewelry at home. Not that it's likely to be stolen, but it's easy to forget something or lose something when embarking on a long trip . I took two pairs of earrings: one pair of hoops and one pair of studs. I took a cheap necklace too, but never put it on. I also wore a watch, but left bracelets at home (except for my RoadID bracelet with medical info). I wore three rings including my engagement ring, wedding ring and a ring I wear on my right hand. I never took these off.
What did I miss?
Surprisingly not much. At first I was somewhat sad that I didn't have a large option of wardrobe choices with me. But as the trip went on, I became more creative with putting outfits together. I did miss my heels. I like wearing heels to dinner with my husband who is over a foot taller than me! Next time I would probably try to squeeze a pair of heels in my bag. I would go with a wedge heel since many of the streets are cobblestone. Also I wished I had packed an additional sweater. I underestimated how chilly sixty degrees in France would feel and ended up wearing my one sweater quite a lot.
Other than that, I probably wouldn't changed what I packed. It was so easy to have just one carry-on bag; I never had to look for baggage claim or worry if my bag got lost. I kept my belongings with me all the time, throughout the trip. It put my mind at ease.
Living out of a Backpack for two weeks did change my perspective. From now on, I'm only going to buy clothing that can be paired with more than one item. A lot of the items I bought specifically to use in Europe have become favorites for their ease and convenience. A dressy shirt for work that doesn't need ironing? Yes, please! A simple wrinkle resistant dress? Makes getting ready so easy! Why haven't I done this before?
Overall I was really happy with the items I packed and the amount of items I took with me. I also used this packing list from Rick Steves to help with my packing. I think the outfits I came up with were practical and still fashionable. Hopefully I will look back at my photos and not wonder, "What was I wearing?" If I can pack light for vacation, so can you!
** All photos provided by Bobby Warman
Author: Sarah Warman
I like to run, take pictures and write. I've combined all three in this blog.