Detour in downtown Pittsburgh

If you’ve ever casually driven through downtown Pittsburgh, you know it’s crazy. The narrow lanes and confusing routes… it’s a wonder that people even manage to navigate around the city!

But if you’ve truly absorbed the appearance of downtown Pittsburgh, you know it’s lovely. Entering through the long and beautifully lit Fort Pitt tunnel takes almost a minute, but the wait is definitely worth it when you come out in the end. You are rewarded with a gorgeous view of the entire downtown landscape, including the US Steel Tower, Heinz Hall, PNC Plaza, Fort Pitt Bridge, and Fort Duquesne Bridge.

In my opinion, Pittsburgh would be the perfect place to hold a NASCAR race; the drive on the roads looks like a scene straight from racing video games—with sharp and winding turns, cool tunnels, and hilly terrain in the backdrop.

However for most of us normal drivers, who can’t legally zoom through streets, the narrow roads can be tricky to get through, especially if you’re only familiar with wide, multiple-lane roads.

Even our GPS unfortunately continued to confuse us as we tried to reach our hotel. “Take the next left, stay on the right-most lane, and take a U-turn,” it continued to yell at us, drowning us into deeper frustration because around every corner we were faced with inconvenient restrictions like One Way and No U-Turn.

“Did we take the wrong turn AGAIN?” we impatiently said during what must have been the sixth attempt at trying to reach our hotel.

When things go wrong, as humans, our first instinct is to push the panic button in our heads. We have this natural, incessant need to stick to the plan or else we’re doomed…or so we think. Silly us. Why don’t we realize that everything happens for a reason?

Besides a little frustration and loss of time, we didn’t really suffer when we mistakenly kept taking the wrong turns and changing our route, so why unnecessarily complain? In fact, I enjoyed our little detours.

Looking up at the cute houses on the hilltops and experiencing unqiue views of the city from all angles was worth the slight inconvenience. I was able to see things I couldn’t before, even though I had previously lived in Pittsburgh—it was like getting glasses for the first time and seeing the things right in front of me with better clarity.

Isn’t that what travel is all about? To break from familiarity and explore the new? A fancy digital camera and travel guide don’t necessarily represent a tourist anymore because really, we’re all tourists at heart—with curiosity being the defining factor.

So on your next vacation, throw those maps and “Top 10 must-see” tourist guides out the window. Follow your heart…or compass (whichever you trust more). Take the off beaten path and the road less traveled; you’ll just have to trust that it will be worth it. If you get lost in the middle of nowhere though, I’m not taking the blame!


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