Oh Cleveland, Cleveland… how did we end up in you!?
It all started back in Canada when we were planning our US travels for the next few weeks. We realized that we had a 3 day gap between leaving Washington D.C and had plans to arrive in Chicago and we needed to decide on a travel route. I had already cracked a joke or two on Cleveland’s expense (“worst case we’ll just go to Cleveland, ha!”) because what you hear repeatedly in American tv-shows and movies are that Cleveland sucks. Cleveland is the worst. Cleveland is so boring. You get the picture! We knew it was kind of in the middle of our two destinations, but were looking at ways around it.
Anyways, whatever route we looked at the one through Cleveland ended up being the cheapest one and as we are travelling on a budget we gave in and suddenly had plans to go to Cleveland for 2.5 days.
Early in the morning on February 5th we dragged ourselves to the Washington D.C Greyhound bus station and got on an 11 hour (!!!) bus with final destination Cleveland, Ohio. How fun! We were so excited! Yay!
Actually though, the journey wasn’t actually that bad. The drive was mostly, for my part at least, spent listening to true crime podcasts and reading a book. We even got to stop at a rest stop in Pennsylvania along the way, so I can now cross off that state from my list.
We arrived in Cleveland around 5pm and walked to our AirBnb, which was located not too far from what is considered to be “Downtown”. We then headed out to a Chili’s restaurant nearby to have dinner.
The following day we decided to walk into Downtown and explore all that Cleveland had to offer. We headed towards the water (Cleveland is situated by Lake Erie, one of North America’s great lakes) because waterfronts are always nice and to our delight we found a massive Cleveland sign! Obviously we had to sit inside it and take pictures, which you can view below. You’re welcome.
Cleveland is also famous for having a Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame and it was situated right nearby. We decided to head there to check it out but we didn’t really feel like paying (budget you know), so we settled on walking around the gift shop for a bit.
After this we thought, “time to finally explore Downtown Cleveland!”. Now let me tell you about Downtown Cleveland. There’s nothing there. Like really. You might think I am exaggerating, but it’s true. We kept walking and walking and looked for anything that resembled a city center but all we found were the occasional café and like 5 Subway restaurants.
We did see one cool place and that was the Cleveland Arcade, an old shopping mall that still looks exactly like it did back in the 1920s. Unfortunately there was not much happening inside the mall, but it was pretty to look at.
We also found a Cleveland gift shop nearby that had t-shirts with slogans such as “Cleveland – it’s not that bad”. So they say.
After our Downtown experience we headed back to our room. Matilda wasn’t feeling too well at this point as she had caught some kind of cold (Cleveland Cold) so as the good friend that I am I decided to check out a climbing gym I’d found on Google that seemed pretty cool. Since it was in another part of the city and I didn’t really feel like wandering around by myself after dark (fun fact: Cleveland has the 5th highest murder rate in the US per capita) I got an Uber there.
Warning: This next section will be me geeking out about climbing so if you’re uninterested… Keep scrolling.
The climbing gym is called Climb Cleveland and is a bouldering facility, and it’s seriously awesome. The owner, who apparently built it himself, had focused on adapting it as much as possible after outdoor climbing to make it the ultimate training facility which meant there were a lot of features I hadn’t seen before at a bouldering gym. They have a massive section where you can actually top out onto the floor above like you were climbing a real boulder, a big crack climbing area to destroy those knuckles on and a massive traverse section with holds made from real rocks – just to name a few features. I spent the next 3 hours there climbing and chatting with the staff and other climbers and had a really fun night. By the end of my session I was even offered a ride back from one of the staff members, which I happily accepted. So if you’re a climber and are ever in Cleveland, I can highly recommend Climb Cleveland – it’s definitely one of the coolest bouldering places I’ve been to.
Moving on to Cleveland, day 2. When researching “things to do in Cleveland” I had come across the Cleveland Museum of Art which was supposed to have a great collection of paintings and artifacts. I’m going to be honest, I’m not usually the type of person who goes to art galleries and museums but this one had me intrigued.
We spent a few hours at the museum and indeed, they had a range of cool collections. My personal favorites were an exhibit with old medieval armor and weapons which always fascinates me, as well as a collection of landscape paintings of North America showing scenes of the land before it was developed to the US we know today. They also had a massive collection of artifacts from ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt that you could geek out about for hours if you wanted to.
After a few hours at the museum we headed back to “Downtown” and bought some groceries for our bus journey the following day. Since we were both quite tired we then decided to go back to our Airbnb, watch a movie and pack. Our bus to Chicago was leaving at 8am the next morning which meant another early start.
All in all, Cleveland wasn’t too fun as a city – but I am all in favor of that a place is what you make of it and the people you meet along the way. Climb Cleveland was amazing and really added some extra points to the city from my part, and the art musem was also a good timewaster. It might not be a place I’d choose to go back to just to simply visit Cleveland, but if I ever randomly travel through it again, I won’t suffer.