for my birthday ma and i went to cleveland, i know, i know, what kind of twisted man would want to spend a birthday weekend in cleveland. i did and i enjoyed it. a few observations
-cleveland has done a lousy job of recognizing the value of its waterfront, it’s hard to access with a freeway and rail lines running down the shore
-cleveland has a decent transit system, especially for a city that size. dedicated bus lanes and light rail system, ma and i took a ride and found it a pleasant experience.
-clevelanders are not as friendly as detroiters. i’ve grow accustomed to the random chats, and constant hellos
-seems no smoking in bars and restaurants. how nice.
ma and i had few objectives, mostly just eating, a little culture, and a bit of rest. we visited great lakes brewery, the beer on tap was great but the food was mediocre, around the corner we visited a little place called bier market while we waited for our table. focused mostly on belgium draft beers, wasn’t too crowded though the beers were somewhat pricy. they served up the beers right. also had a nice meal at greenhouse tavern. we shared a big long table in the basement with some folks celebrating a birthday. simple high quality foods, the fries in particular were elevated to another level. i really enjoyed the space, great service too.
culture wise we took in the art museum, which is currently under construction. this is ok as i only have about a 2 hour window of art viewing before i lose interest. cleveland art museum is full of great works, from many of the masters, it was enjoyable, but didn’t really blow me away. across the street is the botanical gardens. the gardens themselves are pretty unremarkable, i mean nice an all, but i’ve been to better gardens – but the conservatory was great, mainly cause it was more like a zoo than a glass house. butterflies, little colorful birds, turtles, frogs, enormous insects, and even a hedgehog looking thing that wasn’t a hedgehog. as soon as we entered the house my eyes must have swelled to the size of dinner plates as i tried to take in all the colors, sounds, and movement. i’m not fond of liking this sort of thing as it reminds me too much of a zoo. i also can’t help but notice that the place is packed full of birds and butterflies and little creatures tucked in cages. it’s as though in order to get people to actually take interest in the natural world, they have to create an unnatural world, one which is full of action and excitement. well it worked for me.
we of course drove around, taking in the scenery, cleveland has plenty of heavy industry, especially along the river an area i belive called the flats. and there are spots of urban prairie and abandonment, but nothing like we see in detroit. for the most part cleveland seems to have weathered the storm much better.
the highlight for ma and i was the west side market
food shopping, or even food browsing is among ma’s and i favorite past time.
mostly a market for retailers, processors, and small restaurants, there are few if any farmers selling. that’s ok by me, it’s just important to recognize what it is and what it is not.
the outside stalls are mostly produce, and they all seem to pretty much carry the same thing, how you decide i’m not sure. vendors have a somewhat annoying habit of identifying you and telling you what they have on special, “sir i got cantaloupes on sale today”, “you look like you want some of these nice grapes” this actually a method i often employee at the market we do at the soup kitchen, but then it’s just one person saying it, not a row of 40 vendors.
inside the market is the folks selling meat, cheese, baked goods, and other prepared products. we buy a coffee and some amazing homemade baklava. it’s much thicker and more rustic than the type i’m used to and i like it very much.
over all cleveland is not half bad, certainly worth at least one trip, and i think a return. special thanks to michael ruhlman for his recommendation of sites to visit. even though he is a big fancy cookbook author he still took the time to recommend some great places to visit in cleveland, and for that i am thankful, and it definitely takes him up a notch in my book.