Thursday, April 2, 2015

I've Given Up On Spring, So Let's Go Somewhere That They Just Don't Care...Cleveland!

It's baseball season, well almost, and that means that it's time for all this snow to go away.  I still have a glacier in my yard and it snowed the other day.  So, while it's been nice talking about all the wonderful ways that we can go far far away and be warm, it's time to talk about someplace near and dear to my heart.  That place is Cleveland, Ohio, home of the Indians amongst others.

Cleveland is one of the truly unsung amazing places in this country.  I've been going there since I was a little kid, and I've always loved it there.  The legend is true that at one time the river caught on fire, but since then, they've been really good about pollution.  When I was a kid, the smog was pretty bad there, and now the skies are clear, even though there are clouds a lot of the time.  There are so many things that I could talk about when it comes to Cleveland that I could sincerely write the longest blog entry ever written about this city.  But I won't.  Cleveland has great architecture, amazing museums, great botanical gardens, fabulous neighborhoods with amazing food, some of the most notable sports teams in the country and the world.  It's all right here in Cleveland, baby!

We love the Indians, Cavaliers, and Browns (both old and new).  This town loves their teams, so don't wear anything offensive while visiting.  Not that anyone will care.  They all know their teams are the greatest, and consider all the other fans uninformed.  I just think it's rude in a great town like Cleveland to wear garb that supports other teams.  But, there are many things that the city is known for, and believe it or not, one of those things is the airport.  That's right, Cleveland has the most interesting airport I've ever been to in the Cleveland Hopkins Airport.  This place has a branch of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and a hall of art museum exhibits in addition to great shopping and food.  That place even has an English Pub with bangers and mash on the menu.  It's a great place to get stuck on a layover, and for any of you that have flown much, you know how important a good layover is.

I mentioned the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, because it is one of the most famous spots in all of Cleveland.  There's always something going on there whether it be great exhibits or great events.  If you like rock music, you cannot miss this.  If you like museums, you should also check out the Great Lakes Science Center, all of the art museums, the Cleveland Botanical Gardens, and so many other great tourist stops.  If you like, you can visit some of them on the trolley tour.

Nearby is one of my all time favorite locations.  Cedar Point is the amusement park that I visited throughout most of my life.  From the time I was a kid, I couldn't wait to go there, and I still love it.  All we wanted to do as kids was go to the world's best roller coaster park and scare the crap out of ourselves.  As an adult, I discovered that Cedar Point is indeed ranked the world's best roller coaster park, proving that my judgment isn't all bad.  But, whether you like the coasters, the beach, other rides, mini golf or great IMAX movies, it's a great place to spend some time, and it sits right on the beach along Lake Erie.

But, let's get down to it.  I don't write about a town just because I like it.  There are some one of a kind things to do in Cleveland.  The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is one of them, but there are many more.  Surfing is something that folks in Cleveland love to do.  You can go to the beach and watch or try it for yourself.  It's not quite spring yet?  That's okay, these guys go surfing most of the winter as well.  This is the one place in the world that surfing isn't really seasonal.  It's a crazy concept, but the locals have a whole lot of fun surfing in the dead of winter.

Cleveland is a great place to strap on the old feed bag too.  Just ask Anthony Bourdain.  There are several neighborhoods in Cleveland that are noted for their specific food genres.  The West Side Market is the zenith of the idea of being a foodie in Cleveland.  It's one of the oldest and largest city markets in the country, and you can find just about anything there.  You should really make it a stop while in town.  But that's not the only shopping that you should do.  Cleveland is known for it's books.  That's right, these guys read, collect, buy and sell books by the tons.  Loganberry Books is in the oldest part of town and has thousands of books to pick through, and if you want to combine a love of food with a love a books, visit Zubal Books in the old Twinkie factory.  It's one of the largest new and used booksellers in the world, and the fact that the place used to produce Twinkies is pretty cool.

For all of it's amazing qualities from the fireworks factory to the best Polish food I ever ate, Cleveland has some great stuff, but one of the things that you really need to do is see some sights that you can't see anywhere else.  Stop in at the Horseshoe Casino and the Cleveland visitors center and discover a piece of history that most of us can identify with.  The Horseshoe Casino used to be Higbee's Department Store, and we all know what that means.  That's right, the movie A Christmas Story was largely filmed right here in Cleveland.  The downtown area was the backdrop for the movie and the sections where Ralphie was desperately trying to tell Santa that he wanted a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas.

But that's not all.  The actual house where Ralphie and his family lived in the movie has become a museum, and for anyone who loves that ridiculous old movie as much as me and my family, this is a must see stop on a trip to Cleveland.  While at the house museum, you can get information on other sites in town that relate to the movie like the chinese restaurant and the location of the fire truck that was called to the school.  Across the street from the house is a gift shop where you can buy all kinds of crazy things that will always remind you of the movie, including a number of items based on the electric sex leg lamp.

There's always a Christmas Tree in the living room here, and there's always a leg lamp shining in the window.  It's really something special for all of us who have spent our Christmas Eve's watching the movie with our families.  It's a one of a kind special place and it's in one of my favorite cities in the world.

So, maybe spring really isn't ever going to come, but if you go to Cleveland you won't care.  It's still snowy there, but the surf's up.  It's always Christmas over on Cleveland Street.  Maybe the idea of going someplace warm is the general conventional idea for getting away from a lingering winter.  Sometimes I just think that flying in the face of it may be the best way to fight it at this point.  So, come to Cleveland.  Lay in wait for the roller coasters, do some surfing and spend some time remembering one of the funniest Christmas movies of all time.


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