By Olena Goncharova | Olena

There’s a flip calendar on my bedside table where I mark special dates and other little things to remember. As summer finally brings a warm breeze to Pittsburgh, I realize that I’ve spent almost three months now in the United States, two of them in Steel City.

It feels like home and I enjoy every single day here — even the one in late May when I witnessed a snowfall, which was quite surprising.

Pittsburgh is a perfect blend of big city and small town. It has almost all the perks to make it my “dream city.” Pittsburgh is home to both a National Hockey League team and a professional football team. It’s known for having some of America’s most beautiful views because of the rivers, 446 bridges and vibrant architecture, as well as an interesting art scene. There is a great array of parks, one in literally every neighborhood, so it’s not difficult to find a place for jogging.Pittsburgh Riverfront Park

It’s truly friendly, which I experienced a lot. Having people talk to you anywhere from a bathroom line in the museum to bus stops, just like in a small town, might feel strange for the first-time visitor, but it’s great if you’re a journalist.

When I embarked on this six-month adventure, I didn’t think I would become so attached to this place. Here is what I enjoy about my days in Pittsburgh and the Post-Gazette newsroom where I work during my fellowship:

  • Listening to Nellie, the barking basset hound. She’s the Post-Gazette publisher’s dog who is known to visit the newsroom on occasions, although it turns out to be every day.  
  • Working to the sounds of constant police alerts, because some journalists who cover the police beat listen to the police transmissions over the scanner all the time. They call it working on “day and night cops.”
  • Watching Pittsburghers jaywalk, which happens about 99 percent of the time. I’m happy not to be a driver in this city.
  • Talking to people. That’s how I got to know a music professor from Ukraine who works for the local university, a lady who showed me the best art materials shop in town and a gentleman who suggested the shortest way to the grocery store.    
  • Learning about new places to visit. I have already crossed out Andy Warhol’s Museum from my list. One of the four Carnegie museums here, it’s an absolute must-see. The downside of its incredible popularity: long lines all the time. This incredible seven-story museum features everything: from his early paintings to iconic pop art, time capsules and weird films. One of the installations that usually draws the most attention is called simply “Clouds.” It’s a room filled with huge silver balloons everyone can play with. (Big bonus: except for in the lobby, no photos are allowed there, so you can simply enjoy art instead of people with selfi-sticks.)
  • Checking out the Pittsburgh Opera, the eighth-oldest opera company in the U.S. There is an incredible 4,700-pound, 20-foot-high main chandelier that exemplifies the theater’s true charm.Pittsburgh Pirates Stadium
  • Finding my way in the downtown along tall skyscrapers and enjoying an occasional ride in a cable car up the incline, as it offers the best vantage point to see the city. Pittsburgh is lucky to have two of the inexpensive and fun attractions. The incline always reminds me of my hometown funicular that was opened in Kyiv back in 1905.
  • Watching Pirates’ fans lining up in front of the PNC Park, an elegant, classic-style baseball park that’s located on the bank of the Allegheny River. Usually by the time I leave the office they start gathering near the closest light rail station to enjoy the game. As I enter the subway on my way home, some guys who stand there holding “Need a ticket?” signs joke that I’m going in the wrong direction.
  • Going for a long walk to Squirrel Hill, one of the most scenic residential areas in town,  just to find that particular store that sells chocolate from my home country, Ukraine. Squirrel Hill apparently received its name because of the big population of gray squirrels, and it’s also known for its large Jewish community. More than 20 synagogues are located there as well as kosher food stores, restaurants and bookshops.

Last but not the least:

Being happy that I still have time to explore, as Pittsburgh has a lot more to offer.

Pittsburgh Bridges