Food, nature, art, cider, and museums rank among the best things to do in Pittsburgh for couples. You're going to love this underrated romantic city!
In years past, Pittsburgh was known as “the Steel City” – thanks to its 300-plus steel-related business – and the city was associated with industry, building, and growth for decades. However, it’s also known as the “City of Bridges,” thanks to its 446 bridges and today Pittsburgh is just as famous for its food and art scene as its aluminium manufacturing and corporate headquarters. Pittsburgh is laid-back, friendly, down-to-earth, and eager to welcome visitors. Sounds like the perfect formula for a romantic weekend to me! Here are 12 things to do in Pittsburgh for couples.
If you love paintings by Maud Lewis, Nova Scotia's beloved folk artist, as much as I do, you'll want to check out these sites.
Maud Lewis was born Maud Dowley in 1903 in the southern Nova Scotia community of Yarmouth. By her death in 1970, she was recognized as a leading Canadian folk artist. Yet the woman who would become Nova Scotia’s treasure spent her life undervalued. If you love paintings by Maud Lewis, you will appreciate her talents even more after learning about her life and visiting the places in Nova Scotia that showcase her gifts.
In the most barren of circumstances, Maud created art – spectacular art. Her adulthood was a story of poverty, crippling and terrifying, and far from the romanticised austerity that sometimes creeps into her present-day narrative. Living with what we now recognize as degenerative juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, Maud bore constant pain. Married life in Digby brought a meagre house and a worse husband. Only a few neighbours offered comfort through hot meals, hot baths, and furtive visits.
Defying her circumstances, she generated one of the most impressive yields of any artist. She painted shutters, baking pans, and scallop shells, along with nearly every surface of her diminutive house. She sold thousands of paintings depicting rural life, including oxen teams with gilded yokes and fluffy farm cats with wary eyes, often for just a dollar or two from her perch by the side of the road, a ploy devised by her husband to exploit sympathies and coax sales.
Maud is often remembered as childlike with her petite stature and shy smile. But she was a gritty survivor, canny enough to turn her talents into a livelihood, carving a space for herself in an inhospitable world.
I grew up in Nova Scotia, and I can’t remember a time when paintings by Maud Lewis weren’t a part of my life. As such, I’ve come to love these tourist attractions dedicated to her. Visiting them should be on any art lover’s travel list.
Few shows have inspired wanderlust quite like Parts Unknown. These are five essential episodes for travellers.
The death of celebrated chef, writer, and television personality Anthony Bourdain in 2018 devastated food and travel enthusiasts worldwide. Among Bourdain’s many legacies is the groundbreaking television programming he spearheaded and hosted, which transported viewers from their living room to some of the world’s most delicious destinations. One of those programs, Parts Unknown, quickly became a cult classic. It played a key role in inspiring some of our favourite trips and Ryan and I have loved watching it.
Here are five of its most groundbreaking episodes, sure to inspire instant wanderlust.
At Neal Street Espresso, community and coffee go hand in hand.
In the heart of London's colourful Neal's Yard neighbourhood, one cute and cozy cafe is serving up delicious coffee but there's something else on the menu: Second chances.
Neal Street Espresso (34 Neal Street) looks in many ways like a typical hip London coffee shop. Indeed, it is one. There is a robust menu of flat whites, mochas, and chai tea. You can grab your beverage with oat, almond, or soy milk and add a plump pastry or toasty hot sandwich on the side. The baristas are briskly efficient, foaming milk and taking orders without skipping a beat. In every way, they're just like any other cafe staff but there's a much deeper story here. Neal Street Espresso supports community members who have been part of the penal system and that starts with their staff.
Are you a fan of The Curse Of Oak Island? You can actually visit Oak Island, Nova Scotia, home of the world's longest running treasure hunt. But you have to prepare.
What’s the most exclusive island in the world? Is it a flashy resort in the Maldives or a spectacular nature retreat in Fiji? Not even close! There’s no island quite so desirable as Nova Scotia’s Oak Island. Think I’m kidding? The annual allotment of 10,000 tour tickets sells out in less than three minutes.
Oak Island isn’t your typical island paradise. Located just 45 minutes from Halifax, there are no gentle turquoise waves here. But maybe – just maybe! – Oak Island has riches all its own.
For hundreds of years, Oak Island has been the site of rumours, wild speculation, and – depending on who you believe – treasure, spectacular treasure, the kind of treasure that would make a pirate proud or drive the Knights Templar to create an elaborate hiding spot. The type of treasure that has fueled a top television show, The Curse Of Oak Island, for 11 seasons. In short, Oak Island is home to the world’s longest-running treasure hunt.
So, is there really a literal king’s ransom of gold and jewels on Oak Island? Go see for yourself. Here’s how to visit Oak Island, home of the world’s longest running treasure hunt.
At Barbados Food & Rum Festival, a renowned chef shared her secrets for creative, sustainable food (as well as the treat she can't travel without!)
"The smell of happiness is, for me, frying plantain in Barbados."
Shelina Permalloo is a British-Mauritian chef, restaurateur, and cookbook author specializing in Mauritian cuisine. She's known worldwide as the first woman of colour to win BBC's MasterChef competition in 2012, but when I met her, she was thrilled to simply be an attendee of the Barbados Food & Rum Festival (just like me!)
Permalloo first visited Barbados after finishing university (she reports: "There were 16 of us... and the island knew when we arrived!") That initial trip made some lasting impressions, as the large group quickly made friends with locals, got invited home for homemade dinners, and provided the future chef with an abiding love of Barbadian (Bajan) cuisine.
During the Food & Rum Festival's Chef Classics event (an intimate series of cooking demonstrations with celebrity chefs), Chef Shelina shared her thoughts on elevating traditional comfort food, embracing sustainable ingredients, and the special treats she can't live without when she travels.
What happens when you combine a hotel cat and cheap wine? Bed bugs, that's what. Here's what happened to me.
Venice in August is not the best time or place to get a great meal.
During this traditional month of Italian family vacations, many a restaurant shuts down for a week – or more. Despite my advanced planning, I still ended up at a tourist trap during our 2016 trip. The dour staff refused to serve free tap water. Only pricey bottled water was available, chafing against my frugal principles. Given the dire circumstances, I opted for a more economical choice: a bottle of cheap rosé. And thus my bed bug saga began.
Skipping merrily home to my clean but threadbare hotel, I encountered the property’s resident cat, Pierre, on the steps. I should pause and say I assumed it was the property’s cat, based on his cat-like claim of the courtyard space, but, as Ryan points out, it really could have belonged to anyone – or no one at all. But with the demon liquor in my veins, I considered it prudent to scoop Pierre up and bring him to my room in a brazen hope of enjoying a genuine cat nap with him.
Intoxicated with the love of a temporary pet (and bargain-basement wine) I didn’t perform my customary bed bug sheet check...
Some people explore via food tours or shoe shopping. It seems my destiny is to discover the world one optometrist at a time.
What do Paris (France), Portland (Maine), and Yarmouth (Nova Scotia) have in common? Not much, to be honest. But I’ve come to see them through a new lens – if you’ll pardon the pun – thanks to local optometrists.
Some people see the world through – here’s that pun again – a specific lens. They explore destinations via a particular filter or set of experiences, discovering cities via food tours or shoe stores. I hadn’t thought that approach applied to me until I realized I was getting to know the globe via eye health facilities, one city at a time.
Sometimes the best travel guides aren't guidebooks at all. These ten books will help you see travel, food, wine, life, and culture in a new way.
Do you remember the first book that inspired you to travel?
I have several. I vividly remember the details of Anne's voyage from Prince Edward Island to Nova Scotia to attend college in Anne Of The Island, the third instalment in Lucy Maud Montgomery's Green Gables series. I was enthralled by the packing scenes in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. What does one bring when you embark on a long carriage ride to see Charlotte Lucas and Mr. Collins? Early biographies of The Beatles made Liverpool's gritty streets and warm culture feel not that far away.
I bet you have some memorable novels and memoirs that helped inform your travels, too. And now I have some more to add to your list. I'm confident there's something among my list of ten non-travel travel books that will appeal to every reader. These texts will change the way you look at food, drink, towns, cities, forests, fears, and friendships forever. Tuck one into your suitcase for your next trip.
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