Friday, 2 August 2013

Leaving Cleveland and arriving in Pittsburgh...

The media circus in full swing outside the Cleveland County Courthouse.
With an afternoon to kill in Cleveland, I had lunch and then wandered around for a while, checking out caffs and coffee houses for my other blog – yes, I'm a sad, sad man who, very slowly, is turning into a bit of a computer geek. If you're interested in teashops and caffs, then you might like to check it out. The address is pretty self-explanatory, it's http://teashopandcaff.blogspot.com. Rich drove me to the airport at just gone 4pm local time and around 6pm I flew out of Cleveland, bound for Pittsburgh, in a Bombardier twin-propped aircraft. It was tiny, but it was probably one of the most pleasant flights I've had to endure, although the word 'endure' ain't right – it was a pleasure. For a start, it didn't fly high. Then, because there was hardly any cloud, it was relatively smooth. Had their been thick cloud or rain, it could have been one helluva ride, so thank God for favourable weather.

It was a United flight and the air hostess was a little grating. She wasn't your usual 'trolley dolly' glamourpuss and I guessed her name was Martha and that she made a good apple pie. But that wasn't my problem; it was the way she talked to the passengers. Not unfriendly, just a little too homely and mildly condescending. I'm not sure if I could convey it using the written word, but she treated the us like a bunch of unruly kids who needed talking to in a specific kind of way to keep them quiet and well-behaved.
Real flying! It took around 40 minutes to reach Pittsburgh in this plane.

Propeller-powered planes are, basically, 'real flying' and I prefer it (as long as the weather's good). The total flight time was little over 30 minutes, which suited me fine and soon I was in a yellow cab en route to my hotel, a Quality Inn (not ideal and definitely not quality, although, it has to be said, what it lacked in quality it more than made up for in terms of the staff and service down on the front desk). They bent over backwards to be helpful, providing me with maps and suggestions on where to eat out, but with the time at just gone 9pm, I was thinking about an early night, watching the television and catching up on the Ariel Castro sentencing – not that there's much to catch up on.

Cleveland County Courthouse
While in Cleveland, I nipped over to the courthouse to watch 'the media circus' at work. There was Fox News and various other vans with satellite dishes on top of them and there were a few television journalists doing their 'piece to camera'. As for Castro, he's now serving something like 1,000 years in jail and one guy I spoke to earlier in the day said he wouldn't last long in the jail he was being sent to.

Mention must be made of my taxi driver from Pittsburgh airport to the hotel: he was friendly and helpful too, pointing out various landmarks once we arrived in the city.

As I say, the Quality Inn has nothing on the Marriott in terms of quality and I wish I'd been put in a better hotel. I knew that Quality Inn, as a brand, was very much at the budget end of the market, but after the Marriott which, don't get me wrong, is nowhere near as good as the Hyatt brand, I was kind of expecting more – my self-perceived status went from 'international businessman' to 'encyclopaedia salesman'  and now I'm wondering whether the latter still exists. Still, it's a bed for the night and if I don't like it here, how the hell can I talk about wanting to spend the night in The Joyce hote in Portland, Oregon (more of a hostel for drug addicts and down and outs, according to on-line reviews and, let's not forget the roaches and the fights in the corridors of an evening). Sounds kind of fun!
Coming into Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

What's wrong with my room, Room 606? Well, there are no light bulbs in the bedside lamps for a start. I hate that sort of thing, but I think that's it; it's just a bit run-of-the-mill, a bit rough around the edges. There's a big, brown fridge with nothing in it, a microwave oven sitting on top of it, a flatscreen television, everything you might expect, but it's not polished and why should it be? It's cheap, but as I say, the staff are top notch and, ultimately, that's all that matters.

I discovered that none of my lights were working so I called the front desk and they told to check the plugs and to ensure they were switched on and then try the switch by the door; this I did and, sure enough, the lights worked (except for the bedside lamps, which, as I remarked earlier, needed bulbs).

It was getting dark outside when I considered taking a stroll down the road to the nearest restaurants. Being out alone after dark didn't really appeal as I wasn't 100% sure of the area I was in, but nevertheless I went out and when I reached the local downtown (I'm in the Oakland region of town) I found a neon oasis of coffee shops and mid-spend restaurants, none of which appealed. When you're on your own, you want a restaurant where you can merge into the walls and not be spotted as the loner with a book, but none of the restaurants here fitted the bill so I strolled back to the hotel, mindful of who was behind me. I never encountered any trouble and when I got back to the hotel I switched on the TV and jumped from channel-to-channel – all very boring so I switched off the lights and went to bed.

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