Cleveland in 36 hours—Can it be done? YES!
Well, here is my small but mighty account of my 36 hours in Cleveland. You may be scratching your chin and wondering “why- my dear friend-why Cleveland?” Well, to tell you why I must transcend you back in time approximately 2 weeks ago. The idea was conceived over a tasty batch of salty chips and salsa accompanied by two for one bloody Mary’s at Chili’s happy hour. Sitting at the bar with the Hubs and glancing over at highlights of a Cleveland Cavaliers basketball game-the plan was formulated. By the time the warmth of the vodka percolated in my veins and the acidic combustive concoction of dueling tomato products began to ignite my reflux- the tickets were purchased. Some couples celebrate their 4 year wedding anniversary with the gift of flowers, linen or silk but for this daring duo it is a 2 day getaway to the “land of Cleves”. Oddly, Cleveland has been on the “bucket list” for many a years. My desires for my Cleveland quest were fueled even more so by the astonishing looks of bewilderment, amusement and disbelief for my worrisome weird wish.
So, after a bright and early 4:30 am wakeup call- the Hubs and yours truly embarked on the 2 hour flight to Cleveland. Upon arrival we hopped on the RTA –Cleveland’s railway system http://www.riderta.com/. The train is pretty quick, cheap and convenient. It plopped us off in Tower city http://www.towercitycenter.com/, a grand shopping complex, open and airy with many distractions. However, the Hubs and I had much to cram into a 36 hour excursion- so no time to waste….
A rather grumpy Uber driver, not representing his city very well, took us the 0.4 miles to our residence for our day and a half stay at the Westin http://www.westincleveland.com/ . Quickly, we disposed of our bags and with an anticipatory shimmy in our step, we marched on down to East and 4th Street www.east4thstreet.com for lunch. This hip, young hopping area was crawling with throngs of lively peeps out in full force for the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankee baseball game set to start. The stadium was a stone’s throw from the potpourri of aromatic, tantalizing restaurants nestled on this street. We decided on an appealing establishment called The Greenhouse http://www.thegreenhousetavern.com/ . One enters this festive dwelling with bicycles descending from the ceiling, a staircase, the wall- basically bicycles everywhere. The concept is innovative farmhouse fresh. A unique veggie burger on a vegan bun rocked my socks accompanied by a rather pricy and spicy bloody Mary. The Hubs went with an old favorite waffles and chicken. The portions were adequate but slightly on the meager side. This was a plus as our tootsies would be doing a lot of walking eventually racking up 20,000 steps for the day.
With nourishment in our bellies and a magical mystery musical mission we followed the crusade of rock worshippers to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame http://www.rockhall.com/. The sun was bright, the sky was clear, a calming breeze settled in the air. The weather was simply idyllic-leaving behind the humid, rain forest- like moist heat of Tampa now a distant memory- a mere 4 hours ago. Instead, our wimpy internal thermometers usually profuse with sweat welcomed the practically artic like weather conditions.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame resembles the unique glass pyramid of The Louvre in Paris. Opened in 1986, over 700 inductees have been honored there. It is a multilevel structure with wide open space and illuminating sunlight streaming in. Located on the shore of Lake Erie, the white capped waves salute the monolithic building. Once in there –it is hard to ignore the crowded and popular United Nations demographic encompassing every ethnic, cultural and age spectrum. Young and old, black and white, the millennial hipster as well as the aged octogenarian joined teamed for a mutual interest-Music. And, not just any music, but the kind that gets your toe tapping, fingers snapping and hips a swaying. The experience takes you through chronologically the interesting roots of rock and roll. The exhibitions are multisensory retrospectives offering inviting videos, graphics, costumes and memorabilia. My personal favorite was the display on The Beatles. There was an interactive, stimulating energy that penetrated the crowd igniting a pervasive spirited vibe. At one point, a live band echoed throughout the hall. The amplified staccato lingered in the air offering intangible lyrics floating by like dispersed dandelion petals. The acoustics washed over the crowd in wondrous waves evoking smiles and forming new memories. We spent several hours exploring, once fully satiated, we left checking one more item off our list.
We trudged on back to the hotel to change and rest. Once our energy stores were replenished we headed down to our hotel’s restaurant Urban Farmer http://urbanfarmercleveland.com/. This unique restaurant is a modern steakhouse with a rather rustic feel to it. You may wonder- what could a vegetarian eat at a Steakhouse? Well, eat I did-and what a magnificent meal! Seated on a brown speckled cow hide couch, we were given fresh cornbread presented in a tin can with homemade rolls. The menu included all your usual steakhouse regulars, but all with a fresh, flavorful and enticing twist. The Caesar salad was fresh and crisp and the dressing had all the perfect components. A young lady wheeled around a tempting charcuterie plate fit for a still life painting. Although we did not partake in this indulgence, each time she circled round, I appreciated the beauty and splendor of the cheesy wonders. A creamed spinach side dish perhaps the best I have ever had followed by oysters and salmon for the Hubs rounded out this magnificent marvel of a meal. The service was impeccable, the food a bit pricey-but a real must if in the area.
After dinner, stuffed to discomfort we walked around the energetic streets of downtown. The baseball game earlier went into extra innings. The Hubs tethered to his cell phone monitoring his team –the Yankees progress. Nail biting, praying and negotiations with the Almighty were coming out of the Hubs-eventually paying off, because in the 10th inning the Yankees pulled off a win. As we wandered the streets, sad solemn beaten faces greeted us as we pranced around with pride as we adorned the enemy’s hats. Even amongst the palpable disappointment, there still remained an excitement and revelry in the air. The Republican National Convention (RNC) is scheduled for next week. Due to this thrilling event, the city was spruced up displaying proudly red, white and blue -all clean and shiny. After a 16 hour day, we were pooped-we made our way back to the hotel to rest up for our final day.
The next morning we were greeted with the same beautiful 75 degree weather. We then ubered to our last item on the bucket list-The Cleveland Museum of Art http://www.clevelandart.org/ . This is described by many art critics as one of the top 4 art museums in the United States. So, do not be surprised if next year “A Girl, Her Hubs and a Suitcase” is off to Detroit to tackle another top rated art museum.
Approaching the museum, which is located within the University district we passed the massive sprawl of the Cleveland Clinic http://my.clevelandclinic.org/. This was a shining moment for me as many years ago, I worked in their satellite campus in Florida. I beamed with pride at my previous employer, proud of its reputation and its contribution to the economic and healthcare needs of its community and really the world. Arriving to the Cleveland Museum of Art right at opening, for me this is the best way to experience an art museum. Walking through the silent, art filled galleries stirs up a meditative internal peace within my core. I am open to all ideas and ready to immerse myself into the historical, imaginative, evocative journey that only art can offer. This art museum is truly a hidden pearl veiled in a completely underrated and misunderstood city. We made our way through the time periods, European and Renaissance, Medieval, French Impressionist and Modern. Some highlights worth mentioning include the Tiffany room. The art deco shimmery stained glass vivid with intense colors delighted my soul. The armory room full of medieval pomp and circumstance transferred me back in time. I could almost hear the guttural cries of 15th century knights as my eyes caught sight of the steely, intimidating swords.
There were numerous old masters such as Goya, Picasso, Van Gogh, and Botticelli just to name a few. After a morning of visual stimulation, we built up an appetite. We ate brunch in one of the two dining options in the museum Provenance http://www.clevelandart.org/visit/provenance. A delicious and visually beautiful offering of fresh items were provided. As we discussed our favorite pieces and munched on our tasty provisions, we enjoyed our window side view of the museum’s plush grounds.
Renewed with stamina- fueled by brunch we continued on with the museum, perusing the outside grounds and a highly interesting “carcass” of sorts of Rodin’s Thinker, which was partially blown apart back in the 1970’s by the Weather Underground. It remains there as a testament to the strength and pride of Cleveland. Wrapping up our tour, we circled back around for an encore -savoring our last final moments of our adventure.
As we made our way back to the airport, the friendly Uber driver George, recounted Cleveland’s history and how it has evolved. We passed posh neighborhoods with mansions made of brick and old world charm. We skirted through run down communities, neglected buildings and abandoned warehouses. It was interesting to see the different layers of this diverse city. I came to Cleveland on a whim with nothing but curiosity in my heart. I left Cleveland with a new found fondness for the inaptly place they call “the mistake on the lake”. This lovely city showed me what an underdog is made of- the grit of a fighter, the grace of a dancer, the courage of a soldier, the steadfast loyalty of a trusty companion and the frenetic energy that some good ole rock and roll helps sooth the soul.
Thank you Cleveland for the whirlwind of fun we had for 36 hours.
Tune in for more traveling tales in September when A Girl, Her Hubs and a Suitcase set off for Norway!