Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Night on the Northside

Good morning from the Priory Hotel's Business Center!  My original plan to write my new post in the company of my donut from the Refrectory room was quickly scrapped by the large amount of people enjoying breakfast there right now. So I found a much quieter spot on The Priory's ground floor which offers a few computers, printer, free Wi-Fi and is very private. The Business Center was a new addition with the extra rooms the Priory added on to its property about a year and a half ago, and I must say, I am very impressed. You can even three-hole punch down here if you need to...good stuff!

Anyway...I digress.  After returning to the hotel yesterday after work, Brian and I were really starting to feel the overwhelming uniqueness of this whole experience.  The first night didn't really feel like we were on this "getaway" since we spent the majority of our time in the Grand Hall drinking wine and arguing about the Godfather, but now, as we sat there looking around our enormous and elegant hotel room, it was finally sinking in.  After a few "this is really weird" comments from Brian, and yes, at one point, I even said it out loud, the really weird was starting to turn into

Brian's signature in the Priory's guestbook.
I knew Brian was starting to get in to it, when half way to our hotel room, he stopped in the hall and signed the guestbook.

Taking a better look around the room, I could see the excitement in Brian start to grow.  As much as I love our home, there's just something so wonderful and exciting about staying in a nice, big, clean hotel room.  Chocolates by the bed and two robes waiting for us in the closet, I was ready to get this trip underway.

Our original plan of a Pirates game was pushed back til Sunday.  Apparently a free visor is much more appealing than a free shirt.  Since it wasn't the most weather-friendly evening, we decided to take in some of the Northside's nightlife down by PNC Park, so we could we still enjoy the atmosphere after a sold out Pirates game.

But first, we had to make a stop at The Priory's Monks' Bar.  The quaint, somewhat romantic, cozy room was lit by a dim bar light and four tea light candles perfectly placed on each bar table. Immediately outside of the bar, was a sitting room, where a couple was enjoying Martinis by the fireplace and quietly talking amongst themselves.  As we took a seat at the bar and ordered our usual Captains, I didn't think it would be long before Brian would want to head out and explore the Northside.

So it was to my surprise when I found ourselves still there an hour later, watching the Pirates game from our bar stools and talking to everyone who stopped in...from the bartender to hotel guests who had just started returning to their rooms for the evening.  But perhaps the one factor, person I should say, that kept us there so long was a hotel employee named Henry.

Brian & Henry in front of The Priory's shuttle.
Henry, maybe the nicest man you'll ever meet in this world, was the hotel's shuttle driver.  As he was making his rounds for the evening, he would quickly pop in the bar and give a quick hello to the bartender and now, to us, who had been enjoying several Captians and making small talk with some of the hotel guests.

During one particular pop in, Henry started talking Buccoball, and I knew it was going to be bad from the way Brian's eyes immediately lit up as he turned to start talking to Henry like he had known him for years. I wish I could elaborate on what the two were actually talking about, but after so many minutes of baseball talk, I found myself more amused by the computer the bartender so kindly let me use behind the bar.

Before I knew it, it was the 8th inning of the game and time to head down to some local establishments to celebrate what looked to be a Pirates win with fellow Bucco fans.  So we hopped into the shuttle, where Brian and Henry continued to talk Pirates, and we headed down to Bettis Grille 36, located right smack in between PNC Park and Heinz Field.  When the bar opened in 2007, I originally had thought it was too, okay I'll say it - "high-brow" for someone like me, who's favorite bars almost always get dubbed a "dive."  But over the years, the sports bar has really turned into a pretty chill place.  The walls are plastered with televisions, all with sports on of course, and paintings, photographs and memorabilia recognizing all of the great sports and sports legends that that Pittsburgh produces.

The servers are all friendly, and after only a few times visiting there this summer, some of them even recognize us and know us by name.  We watched the rest of the game from the bar area, where Brian was in typical fashion, chatting with everyone about anything sports.  Thank goodness for iPhones, because there's not much for me to contribute during a 45-minute Tiger Woods discussion.

Of course, we had to try out the food and though I was leaning towards some fancy dip and chips, it was Brian's birthday weekend and we ordered his favorite instead: chicken quesadillas.  I enjoy Mexican food, but usually when we get a quesadilla from a non-Mexican restaurant, they are pretty blah, typically featuring some under-seasoned chicken slabbed into as chewy tortilla and siding it with some salsa to help drown out the bland taste.

Nom nom nom
I must say though, they were excellent at Bettis'.  Folded into a sun dried tomato crispy tortilla, the lime cilantro infused chicken was moist and tangy.  Topped off by a dollop of guacamole and salsa, they did not disappoint.  They did, however, make me feel suddenly tired, and though I had planned on bar-hopping all the way back to the hotel with Brian, I could feel the sleepiness start to overtake me.

And so, as I promised Brian we would do so much more tomorrow, which is today, he reluctantly agreed and we returned to our hotel room, where he was so excited to try out the enormous shower (we have a very tiny bathroom at home!), he quickly forgot that I totally crapped out on him.

As the morning turns to early afternoon now, it's time to go explore the Northside further today at the Warhol, Aviary, Science Center and many other attractions, hopefully paired with some good eats and drinks at some of my favorite Northside restaurants.

Look forward to recapping with you later!

- Stephanie

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