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Trip Report Cleveland for a weekend

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We (4 adults) took our quick weekend trip to Cleveland (Saturday to Monday) and had a great time - many thanks to all who contributed!

Our first stop on the journey from Detroit to Cleveland was a stop at the Original Pancake House in Toledo. Although there are a few of these in Michigan I'd never been to one. The hostess was the sweetest lady and I'd eat there again if if the food wasn't good (it was). It had a homey Cracker Barrel kind of feel to it. Everything on the breakfast menu comes with 3 small pancakes. Four huge meals (really enough to feed 5 or 6) of pancakes, omelets, corned beef and hash, eggs and toast and we were back on the road again. Oh, but not before the first coffee mug of the trip was purchased (my friend collects them).

Our next stop was the Rutherford B Hayes house and museum. We decided to do both the guided tour of the house and the museum. We spent a lot longer here than I'd anticipated but it was all very interesting. The museum had lots of interesting artifacts and information about this president that I knew nothing about. He was a family man and didn't let politics change that. He coined the term "First Lady", was the first president to have the Easter Egg Roll on the lawn of the White House and was the first president to travel to the West Coast during his presidency - and it took something like 41 days to get there!! Yikes!!! The house has been very well preserved - perhaps it is because of the somewhat cranky elderly lady that gave the tour and constantly reminded us to not touch anything, stay to the center of the room, and heaven forbid do not wander off. Nevertheless, I loved the tour of the house with the period furnishings, wallpapered ceilings and tons of books in the library room. After another coffee mug purchase at the museum store we were back on the road and finally to Cleveland.

Our next stop was a quick bite to eat at a joint called Happy Dog. If you've ever seen Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives this place would be a Guy Fieri dream! It was a typical dive bar serving dogs and fries (or tots) with an astounding 50 topping selection. For the dogs, you pay one price and pile on as many toppings as you want. The fries and tots did have a few items available for an extra cost. For a Saturday afternoon, between lunch and dinner, I was surprised at how many people were there. They have a great beer selection and the NCAA basketball games were on - great place to hang out. Try the fries topped with the churizo chili and cheddar cheese - super yum!

I had bid on Priceline for our room and was awarded the Radisson downtown Cleveland. I loved the hotel. The staff were super nice, valet parking was $20/day which isn't terrible for a downtown area, especially since there was in and out privileges. There were a few times that it was raining or just downright cold and it was nice to have the car pulled right up to the front door, literally 3 steps away.

Saturday evening we signed up for a free tour of the Great Lakes Brewery. All I can say is beer really isn't my thing (did this one for my friend with the coffee mug addiction) and I'm so very glad it was free. It was a bit hard to hear the tour guide in most of the rooms because of the equipment that was running, but come to think about it, most of what I did hear was either bad jokes or ignorant flirting with the drunk girls (who looked like they could have been his grand-daughters). For my friend and DH it was all worth it for the free beer samples at the end.

Sunday we decided to go down by the water. A few of the things we wanted to do (tour the submarine and the steamship) were actually closed still, as it is the off season but we still wanted to view Lake Erie from the other side :) There was a snowstorm coming in Sunday night/Monday morning so I figured we had better go by the water before that happened. Wow.....standing on the shore of Lake Erie when a storm is blowing in....not the smartest (or warmest) thing to do! Needless to say, we didn't hang out too long. We did run into the Great Lakes Science Center - mostly to warm up, use the bathroom, and yup, get a coffee mug. Next we were off to University Circle. Laura M gave us a great tip on taking MLK Blvd and checking out the gardens. It was very neat, and I loved the architecture. I can imagine it would be nicer when it's warmer and there is more greenery and flowers. A lot of the neighborhoods we drove past/thru reminded me of Detroit.

At the University Circle we went to the Botanical Gardens - loved the greenhouses!! We also went to the art museum and was very impressed. We spent all of our day in these two places and didn't get to see anything else. I think University Circle is a gem and it will be on my list of places to visit next time we are in Cleveland. Score 1 more coffee mug. Sunday night we had reservations for Lolita. The 4 of us absolutely adored Lolita. Everything was perfect. I loved the casual atmosphere and the swanky decor. We all agreed our waitress rocked when she took a lot of time going over the beer list, and different menu items. The appetizers - mussels for the guys and some super yummy prosciutto for the girls were gobbled up and we all anxiously awaited our entrees. Timing of the meal was perfect. Everyone was really pleased with what they ordered, especially me with the Tagliatelle with wild mushrooms! Other meals included duck which was fall off the bone tender and yummy, pork chop (because someone just had to get pork at Michael Symons place - it would have been wrong not to), which was gnaw off the bone good, and the goat cheese mac and cheese. Dessert was equally as good - a chocolate bread pudding and an apple tart. One of the very best things about Lolita was the amazing mix of classic rock that played throughout the entire night. Smart phones were brought out on more than one occasion when the artist could not be named. As we were going to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the next day, the music selection was super fun for us.

As I have been to Cleveland before, I knew that no trip would be complete without a stop at West Side Market. We first had breakfast at the cafe. And believe it or not, they sell coffee cups (add one more to the growing collection)! Breakfast was really good and we all fell in love with the rosemary bread/toast. Our meals included omelets, sausage gravy over toast (sounds weird to me but DH liked it a lot) and super good and actually crispy like we ordered them hash browns. Here is where we spent the most money...how can you not with all the yummy treats. Highlights included popcorn from Campbells, bread from Mediterra Bakery (sadly though, we weren't able to get any of that good rosemary bread), pastries from Theresa's Bakery and finally lots and lots of jerky from Czuchraj meats.

Our last stop of the trip was the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We had a great time here. There's a lot of information, videos, and of course guitars to look at. I loved every minute of it. Is every artist who was ever considered a rock musician there - no, of course not, but if you want a general overview of the history of rock and roll and some of the highlights of popular artists and songs, then go there. Don't miss the 4th floor that concentrates more on the hall of fame than the museum. The gift shop was fabulous, and yes, the last coffee mug of the trip was purchased here.

I decided we had to go to Melt as we headed out of town. The smartest thing to do - carb overload and then almost 3 hours of driving - nope...lol. I had been to Melt a few years ago and remembered it being just a touch better than it was this time. Don't get me wrong, I would go back. But I remember the staff being more welcoming and the food being a touch better. It was still a big portion but DH said this time was more bread, less filling in between the bread. It's really just a lot of food to eat. Next time we will split a sandwich. Choices were, the fish sandwich (good but the tarter sauce is spicy), an italian sandwich, once with crab cakes (and lots of rich cream cheese - a bit too much) and the special of the month (the reuben). Yeah, it's just a lot of food (did I already say that?).

Thanks Clevelanders - you really do rock!

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