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Cleveland: A City Worth Visiting
CLEVELAND: WHY NOT?
By Ernest Barteldes
When I told friends that my wife and I had booked a trip to Cleveland for Labor Day weekend, most of our friends gave us a puzzled look. “What's in Cleveland? ” many asked. Others wondered why we hadn't booked a trip to say, Myrtle Beach or Las Vegas, where surely I would have more things to do than in the Ohio city by the shores of Lake Erie.
My response was easy – for the last few years, I have been contributing music articles to the city's local alternative newspaper, the Cleveland Scene (www.clevescene.com), and I wanted to get to know the people I had been exchanging e-mail messages with since I began writing for the paper. Also, I felt like I owed Cleveland a visit, even if it just meant checking out all the music venues whose shows I'd been previewing all this time.
We got up before the sunrise on Saturday morning and headed to LaGuardia airport, where we took an early flight that reached Cleveland at about 10:00 AM. We then headed to the local RTA train http://www.riderta.com, which got us to the Downtown area in less than 30 minutes (why the NY subway does not reach either of the international airports here is beyond me), checked into our hotel and started planning our day.
The first thing we did was get some lunch, and the place we chose was the nearby Flannery's Pub located on the East Fourth St. restaurant district (http://www.east4thstreet.com, where they also have an outpost of the House of Blues). After satisfying ourselves with a tasty meal and a couple of local microbrews, we headed to Cleveland's best-known attraction, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame an Museum (www.rockhall.com).
In spite of the high admission prices ($ 22 at the door, cheaper if you book with your trip), the Rockhall did not disappoint. There are plenty of memorabilia, movie screenings, multimedia and much more to see and hear. My personal favorites were the Woodstock 40th anniversary celebration, the R & R history chronology and the Elvis Presley display. I also liked the Les Paul tribute, the current exhibit on the life and work of Bruce Springsteen and of course the striking views of the lake, which can be seen from the glass panels of the building's pyramid-like setup. After visiting the Hall, we hung out at the neighboring park, where there a street fair going on.
Later that evening, we checked out a foodie event called A Taste of Cleveland and ended the evening by paying a visit to Wilbert's http://www.wilbertsmusic.com, where we caught a fiery performance by bassist Doug Johns, who played backed solely by a drummer.
It was a lucky break that the National Air Show http://www.clevelandairshow.com was taking place that weekend. There we saw Air Force Thunderbirds and several acrobatic acts in addition to a collection of both civil and military aircraft. After that we met with a friend at Zocalo http://www.zocalocleveland.com, an upscale Mexican-style restaurant. After resting for a few hours, it was time to head to the Waterloo Cafe http://www.thewaterloocafe.com , where we saw a great performance by banjoist Tony Furtado (review below). There we also met with one of my local editors, who after the show took us on a drive around town.
On our last day there, we went over to The Great Lakes Science Center http://www.greatscience.com, where they have many interesting attractions, such as flight simulators and other curiosities. We ended our visit by having lunch at a sports bar and restaurant called The Winking Lizard http://www.winkinglizard.com, where we enjoyed a wonderful meal accompanied by even more microbrews.
There is much more to see in Cleveland. I surely hope we get the opportunity to stay there again soon.
Our visit to Cleveland would not have been possible without the help of some local (new) friends we knew via emails but who we had never met in person before. I'd rather not mention their names on a public newsletter, but let me tell you that Renata and I owe you big – you know who you are.