Cleveland – “It’s not too bad”

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.
Thanks Cleveland!

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New York, New York; The Sequel

[Moa]

So while I’m writing this blog post I am actually sitting in Cleveland, Ohio. What better way to spend a morning than reminiscing back to what we did in New York? (This is also an excuse because we’re trying to catch up with our blog posts…) 

In our last blog post (which you can find HERE) Matilda covered the first half of our wonderful New York week, so if you haven’t yet; check it out! Before I dive into the second part I just want to add to her post that the climbing place which I went to on the Monday morning is called Brooklyn Boulders and is AMAZING. So if you’re a climber, I highly recommend that you check it out if you’re ever nearby!

Anyways, Tuesday!
We were approaching the end of our New York stay and by this point we had already crossed of quite a few things from our bucket lists. While we had already spent a significant amount of time hanging around the NBC building at 30 Rockefeller Plaza when lining up for Saturday Night Live we didn’t get the chance to check out their gift shop properly (I love me a good gift shop), so that became our first destination of the day. A lot of both mine and Matilda’s favourite TV-shows aired on NBC (Parks & Recreation anyone?) so they were bound to have some pretty cool stuff!

As soon as we walked through the doors we were approached by a staff member.
“Hi, do you have anything planned for this afternoon?” 
We didn’t. 
“Do you want free tickets to the monologue rehearsal of Late Night with Seth Myers?”
Uhm, yes? You had us at free! 

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Yay – free tickets!

We were handed a ticket each and were told to come back at 3.30pm and suddenly we had a plan for the day. Since we didn’t want to go too far from the Rockefeller Center we decided to check out a building called the Citigroup Tower which I knew was nearby. This building is quite famous as it’s a skyscraper built on stilts and it has an interesting background story; basically the design ended up being flawed and there was a big risk of the tower collapsing! Who could have known that a 59 story building on stilts wasn’t a good idea? You can read more about it here if you’re interested, it’s a pretty cool story!

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The Citigroup Tower

The above picture isn’t mine as I sadly couldn’t get any good pictures of the building, but regardless it was impressive to see in person. Whilst on this little mission we found out that our Australian friend Harley, who we volunteered together with at the farm in Canada, had just arrived in New York. He also had time to kill so we decided to meet up and spent the next hour wandering around Midtown Manhattan together. 

Fast-forward to 4pm and suddenly Matilda and I found ourselves back inside the NBC building for the Seth Myers monologue rehearsal. If you’re unsure what a monologue rehearsal is (which I was – we had no idea what we had signed up for) it’s where they try out the jokes written for the upcoming show with an audience for the first time and decide which ones are funny and which are not. This was a really cool experience as it was quite relaxed – Seth Myers was dressed in a hoodie and was stood chatting with the audience for a bit before they started and then they did a few takes on the monologue. It was basically a free comedy show which lasted for just under an hour – Thanks NBC! 

Below is the bit we got to see;

At 5pm we found ourselves back outside the studios. We felt that we might as well keep this NBC-related day going, so we decided to sign up for last minute standby tickets for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon that same evening and were once again told to return a few hours later to see if we could get in. 

We decided to head over to the Marriott Marquis which is in the centre of Times Square as they have a spinning 360 restaurant and bar called The View, located at the top of the building. Yeah that’s right, the whole restaurant spins and gives you an amazing view over all of Manhattan – I can highly recommend to go here if you’re travelling on a budget! It’s completely free to go up as long as you order something from the bar, so instead of spending $30 on a ticket to the Empire State Building or Top of The Rock, this is a great and cheap alternative for a skyscraper view of the city. 

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Our view from The View

Around 7pm we had made our way back to Rockefeller Plaza (again) but sadly our luck had now run out – as we were last in line we didn’t manage to get inside to watch the show. We didn’t really mind though, as we had already gotten to see Saturday Night Live a few nights before and this also meant we could go for NEW YORK PIZZA! 

Our Airbnb hosts had recommended Joe’s Pizza for this activity and luckily there was one located 10 minutes away from us. As a pizza lover and advocator for Swedish pizza being the best kind of pizza (if you’re a Swede you know what I’m talking about) I was doubting this hype about New York pizza. However, this doubt was quickly knocked sideways because damn – That was some delicious pizza. I just mentioned the word pizza 7 times in for sentences by the way, go me. 

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Matilda is excited for the pizza

After pizza we found a desert place called Junior’s Restaurant & Cheesecake which served… you guessed it, cheesecake. If you’re going to be unhealthy you might as well go all the way right? This place was also AMAZING and the cheesecake pieces are massive, definitely worth the money. Go here, you won’t be disappointed. Eat all the food. With our bellies full and an awesome day behind us we took the subway back to Brooklyn.

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Don’t trust this picture – she loved her cheesecake
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This is how much I enjoyed mine!

Wednesday morning came around and Harley met up with us in Brooklyn to spend the day exploring together. We didn’t really have a plan on where to go but the weather was beautiful so we just started walking. Somehow we ended up in Queens and Long Island City which offered some great views over the Manhattan skyline along the way. We decided to cross Queensborough Bridge which was not as pretty as we had hoped and ended up just being a very cold half hour walk next to a highway. Oh well, not everything can be picturesque and perfect, so I’ll forgive New York for that. Or just blame Queens. 

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Beautiful Manhattan

After some coffee at Starbucks (there are a million Starbucks in New York by the way) the three of us headed to Central Park. Matilda and I had already been there on our first day but as we were about to find out, we had barely seen the start of it. We spent a good few hours exploring it further, walking around the lakes and making friends with the squirrels and birds. In the middle of Central Park we found Belvedere Castle which you can go up in and it offers an incredible view over the whole park.

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When the sun started to go down and we all realised how cold it actually was becoming we headed to 30 Rockefeller Plaza (AGAIN) to grab some food at one of the restaurants there followed by a drink at an Irish bar nearby. It was now 7pm and time to say goodbye to Harley before we headed back to Brooklyn for our last New York activity – Another comedy show! 

One of the things both myself and Matilda had wanted to do in New York was to s hopefully catch a show by one of our favorite comedians as they quite often do last minute shows here and there. Luckily enough, we found out that comedian and SNL cast member Chris Redd was doing a standup show at a venue literally 3 minutes from where we were staying, so of course we had to check it out. 

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This is how close we were…

The show was called Comedians You Should Know and was located in the back of a bowling alley/bar called The Gutter in quite a small room. As we got into the venue quite early and were seated at the very front of the stage – the last place you want to be at standup comedy if you want to avoid getting pulled into the jokes… I’m happy to say that I managed to get through the evening without this happening to me, but Matilda was not so lucky. She had Chris Redd do a handful of jokes on her expense which was something I thoroughly enjoyed watching. I’m such a good friend. The night eventually came to an end and the show was AWESOME – all the comedians on stage killed it. I’m pretty sure I had a full core workout just by laughing so much.

We headed back to our Airbnb to pack our bags and prepare for the next day, all of which seemed bittersweet. By this time I had completely fallen in love with New York and knew that I would be returning to this amazing city.

So that’s all of our New York adventures! Like you’ve probably understood by this point I am in complete awe of “The Big Apple” and I know that I still haven’t seen more than just the surface of it. I’d love to come back again and explore it even further, but all in good time right? 

So thanks for everything New York – we will be back! 

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Our Travel Itinerary (so far)

[Moa]

Hi everyone, hope you’ve liked our recent updates about the so called farm life we’re currently trying! I thought I would get you all up to speed with not only what we have done, but what our plans are for the next month or so. Our time here at the farm is coming to an end which feels very bittersweet as we’ve had an amazing time. Hans has been a wonderful host and we’ve also gotten to know Harley from Australia and Nicki from Germany, two other helpers who’s been staying here with us. But every ending is the start of something new right? 

So, on Wednesday we are packing our bags and are taking the train to Montréal where we will be staying for just one night before we get on a train to… NEW YORK CITY!
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Yes, we are finally making our way over to the US and I am so, so excited – I’ve always wanted to go and over the next few weeks I’m gonna be able to tick off several things on my travel bucket list. The train from Montréal to New York takes approximately 10 hours and is supposedly one of the “Most Beautiful In North America“. 

We are staying in New York for a week, to give us as much time as possible to explore the city. So far we don’t have much planned except to try to go to a stand-up comedy show and catch some live music somewhere for a night! On Saturday we are also attempting to get tickets to one of mine and Matilda’s favorite shows – Saturday Night Live. More on that if we succeed… 

After New York we are getting a Greyhound bus to the capital of the United States of America – Washington D.C!
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We thought we’d give Trump a hand now that the government apparently has shut down… hehe. Again, Washington DC has for some reason always kind of fascinated me and I really can’t wait to explore it. Apparently all the museums there are free so we will be going to a lot of those, as they’re supposed to be very good. That is of course, if the government isn’t still shut down… C’mon guys! We’ve also applied to go on a guided tour at the Pentagon which would be AMAZING, but we won’t know for sure until a few days before as they have to do a background check – which I guess is pretty fair considering it’s the Pentagon after all. Hopefully it should be fine though, as I’d like to think we’re not too shady. 

After DC is where our journey gets a little weird. We had planned to go to Chicago to visit a good friend of mine for a long weekend, but we realised after we had booked accommodation in DC that;

  1. We have to leave DC on a Monday but are not going to be in Chicago until Thursday
  2. There’s no easy way to get from DC to Chicago
  3. It’s really far to Chicago!!! 

After some searching, comparing and staring at Google Maps we found a route that seemed easy and cheap – So that is why we are going to Cleveland, Ohio, for 3 days.
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All I’ve ever heard about Cleveland are jokes and one-liners in tv-shows and movies always saying that Cleveland is the most boring place in the US… After some research I have found out that in 2010 Cleveland was deemed the “most miserable city in the US” according to a poll – so let’s see if it lives up to the hype! Worst case I’m sure they have cinemas in Cleveland and you can’t go wrong with going to the cinema. 

After Cleveland we are taking another Greyhound bus to Chicago where we are staying with my awesome friend Jared.

We met in Paris a couple of years ago when we were both travelling there and he and his friend Kevin were exchange students in London. Jared is gonna show us the best of Chicago and is so nice that he lets us stay on his sofa for 3 whole nights – we promise to not be too annoying. 

After Chicago our little US trip is coming to an end as we will make our way back to Canada for the next big adventure, which somehow seems to be even more incredibly awesome. From Chicago we will fly to Calgary, Alberta where we then will make our way to a small city in The Rocky Mountains called Golden. In Golden we are getting picked up by our next WorkAway host called Leo who will drive us to his – wait for it – BUFFALO RANCH. Yes, we are going to be living and working on the Rocky Mountain Buffalo Ranch in the middle of The Rockies surrounded by some of the most beautiful nature and scenery in the world. Banff National Park for example will only be about an hour away, which is a place I’ve always dreamed of going to. 

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Our future host Leo and his buffalos – take a look at his website leodowney.com to read more about the ranch we’re going to be working at as well as check out his music!
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Banff National Park, just an hour’s drive away
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Rocky Mountain Buffalo Ranch

I can’t describe how excited I am for this next chapter. It’s always been a dream of mine to go to The Rocky Mountains and explore the nature there. It seems like one of those truly magical places that are still left untouched and I don’t think pictures can do it justice.  To then add buffalos to this mix is just too good to be true. What’s also going to be incredibly exciting is that Leo is a musician as well, so I’m sure we are going to all get along wonderfully and create some beautiful tunes together. So that’s it!

Ottawa ➞ Montréal ➞ New York City ➞ Washington D.C ➞ Cleveland ➞ Chicago ➞ Calgary ➞ Golden

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The travel route between January 24th – February 14th

8 cities, 3 Canadian provinces, 9 US states, 2 train rides, 4 bus rides, 2 flights, 22 days. 

What do you think? Any suggestions on what we should do in all of these places? We welcome any and all and hope that you will stick with us and keep on reading this blog throughout our journey! 

Temporary farm life in Kenmore

[Moa]

Alright so, turns out that a consistent blogging is quite difficult after all – SORRY! We’re going to do our best to get you all up to speed and keep these blog posts coming a little bit more frequently.

So, where are we and what have we been up to?
The past 2 weeks we have stayed at a small farm in Kenmore, a tiny town situated outside of Ottawa, Ontario, where we are helping out in exchange of accommodation and food. We arranged all this through a website called Workaway.info, which I can highly recommend to anyone who are looking to travel on a budget. As described by Workaway themselves;

Workaway.info holds a database of families, individuals or organisations in an extensive range of different countries who have registered with us and are looking for volunteer help in a huge range of different fields. From painting to planting, building to babysitting and shopping to shearing, Workaway.info aims to introduce working travellers and language learners to like minded hosts, without having to pay expensive agency fees. 

So in exchange for accommodation and food we work an approximate of 5 hours/day 5 days a a week, which is a pretty amazing deal if you think about it. The “work” is usually very rewarding and doesn’t feel as work at all because you are always learning new things. We are staying with our host Hans, a lovely German gentleman who moved to Canada about 9 years ago. Our days consist of helping him with his horses, cats, dog, wood stove and general chores around the farm which might need doing. 

We first arrived here on January 2nd after taking the train from Toronto the same morning. Hans picked us up from the train station a little later than originally planned (our train had been delayed due to “extremely cold weather”) and then took us to a local diner for some well-deserved pizza. After refuelling ourselves we kept driving to his home right on the edge of Kenmore, Ontario, which is about 40 minutes outside of Ottawa. Hans’ home is absolutely amazing and I felt at home almost instantly. We each got our own room and share the farm with Hans, the cats Princess and Crazy Cat, the dog Chiquita (the cutest and fluffiest dog we’ve ever seen), and last but not least the horses PJ (Plain Jane) and Snowman. I’ll let Matilda introduce you further to the animals in the next blog post along with the photographs she’s been taking of them – but let’s just say they all have their strong individual personalities! 

 

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Our temporary home in Kenmore, Ontario

A regular day on the farm:
We normally get up around 8.30am for some breakfast, to then get dressed and go out to the horses for the first chores of the day. The morning routine consists of bringing in wood for the house (the house is mainly kept warm using wood stoves), cleaning the stable of horse poop, giving the horses hay, fill up their water and fire up the wood stove in Hans’ workshop. We usually finish this around 10.30 and then we might take Chiquita for a little walk. During the day Hans is working from his office in Ottawa and he usually leaves while we are out in the stable. 

After the morning chores have been finished we pretty much have free reigns until the evening, as long as we keep the fires going in the stoves. Sometimes we might be given additional tasks to fix during that day, such clearing the path to the hot tub which is standing in the garden… 

Our chores start again in the evening where we once again feed the horses, clean their hooves and make sure that the fire is still going in the workshop.

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Matilda and PJ
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Our darling Chiquita on an afternoon walk in the snow

The rest of the day is usually spent quite relaxed. There are no stores or restaurants or anything at all really nearby, so we are really bound to the farm since we don’t have a car – but I don’t mind this at all. In a way, it’s very therapeutic. After feeling like I was running through the marathon that was 2017 it’s a well-needed break where I get to slow down and just be. Allowing yourself to not be productive is sometimes the best thing you can do I think. I haven’t felt like I’ve been able to do that for so long. 

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Hanging out with my new friend Princess

We’ve also spent all this extra free time on our music writing new songs and looking over our repertoire from the last few months because we have a gig coming up next weekend! That’s right, right here on the farm we’re staying we’re going to hold a small living room concert for an afternoon for some of the locals and neighbours around here. We’ll make sure to write a separate blog post about that, because I’m sure it’s going to be a special event. 

The weather: Snow, snow, so much snow!!! And it just keeps coming… like Matilda mentioned in her previous post the weather was one of the things we worried about before going – how could was it actually going to be? What does minus 25 feel like? Will we freeze to death? We’ve now found answers to these questions and no, it’s actually not as bad as we thought it would be. Being a person who’s constantly cold (queue the “but you’re from Sweeeeden, how can you be coooold?” comments) I was seriously scared that I was underestimating the weather in Canada before I went. But I’m fine! Like really! Okay, so there were a few days last week where there was a storm and the wind chill got to -40 degrees and it actually hurt to be outside – but besides that it’s completely manageable. As us Swedes say: There’s no bad weather, just bad clothing. I’ve found this to be very true – as long as I’m wearing my thermal underwear I’m staying relatively warm! 

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A look at our daily view – the snow-covered garden!

So that’s the update for the day – now you know what we’ve been up to. Sorry again for the lack of updates but then again, I think that was well-needed to. Now that I’ve been here for some time I’ve found my place more, which I think is important to do before you share it with others like this. Keep checking in here for another update soon where Matilda will share some of the beautiful photography she’s been taking of the surroundings and animals here.

Also, if you have any questions at all or if there’s something specific you want us to write about – please feel free to ask them whether it’s here, on Twitter, Facebook or by email. 🙂

Peace out! 

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We love this dog so much we might just keep her…