Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Roaming the Rust Belt (2017)

Forest City is far from wooden

It was time to move on from our sole two-night stop and hit the road once more. An earlier start today led to a better breakfast experience at Embassy Suites, and a shorter queue meant that on this occasion, we both felt able to go for freshly cooked eggs - always a nice start to a new day. Bruce took the wheel for the 135-mile drive to our next destination - Cleveland, Ohio - and we paused for a coffee break thirty minutes after crossing the state line. The highway service area seemed very nice compared to a typical UK example, but sadly the coffee itself was quite poor.

On eventually leaving the freeway to take to city streets, we were presented with a classic view of our latest destination, complete with a helpful hint for any travellers who might have lost their bearings somewhere along the interstate. Cleveland is located on the southern shore of Lake Erie. The city itself has a population of just under 400,000, but it is the centre of a much larger metropolitan area. It is not the state capital; this honour goes to Columbus, which lies 140 miles to the southwest, almost on a straight line between Indianapolis and Pittsburgh. Cleveland was nicknamed Forest City in the first half of the 19th century, as a reference to the surrounding landscape of the time. More recently, and rather less kindly, it has been dubbed The Mistake on the Lake, making the city a perfect fit with our Rust Belt itinerary.

Our first objective was the Uptown neighbourhood in the city's east end, noted as the home of a top-ranking university and a number of museums, yet situated close to at least one district described as "predominantly poverty-stricken". More specifically, we were headed for the Museum of Contemporary Art. A bit like the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh, this was another collection of ultra-modern work which, in all honesty, was a bit weird.

Next, we drove back downtown and straight out the other side to the Ohio City neighbourhood and West Side Market. This is situated in a very cool building, complete with clock tower, dating from the early 20th century, although the market itself has been operating since 1840. We had a good look around before having lunch at a microbrewery across the street, which incuded a very acceptable Christmas ale.

Our next objective was situated just 2.5 miles away to the northeast in the downtown area, across the Cuyahoga River and on the shore of Lake Erie: the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Although this has existed as an institution since the mid-1980s, the museum building itself is some ten years younger, and was built in Cleveland after the city fought off intense competition from Memphis. Speaking of Tennessee, if the country music equivalent in Nashville (visited in 2014) had stretched my horizons as a classical music fan, this latest venture seemed set to expand them further! But just like that previous visit 600 miles away to the southwest, this actually turned out to be an enjoyable and interesting experience. Much as expected, it featured a number of acts that I remembered well, others whose names were familiar but whose tracks were perhaps not, and a few that I had simply never even heard of.

We relocated to our hotel, the Renaissance, just a mile away within the city centre and conveniently positioned adjacent to a public parking lot. I was impressed with the hotel's dramatic Christmas decorations, which seemed to have a Germanic feel. After drinks in the hotel bar, we went for a Japanese dinner at nearby Hanabi Sushi and ended with a stroll around the very Christmassy-looking Public Square.

Wed 29 Nov

Next Day

Previous Day