|Downtown Cleveland at Lakeside|
I reached Cleveland Airport with plenty of time to spare and there was nothing to suggest bad weather. The temperature in Cleveland most of the week has been in the mid-80s, there's been blue skies and bright sunshine. It's been tee-shirt weather, far too hot to wear a suit jacket, just shirt sleeves will do. So I was expecting the pilot to say something along the lines of 'excellent flying weather', although that's something that only British Airways pilots say and my BA flight was going out of O'Hare to London. Leg one was with American Airlines and the American pilots are generally pretty matter-of-fact and fast talking. They say as little as need be whereas the British pilots talk about the weather back home and very often use that consoling phrase, 'excellent flying weather'.
But clearly 'excellent flying weather' is not what we have today. There are heavy rain storms over Chicago and they're delaying flights in and out of O'Hare. My flight was due to board at 1800hrs and take off at 1830hrs but oh no, not only is my flight nowhere to be seen (it's not left O'Hare yet) but the flight before mine is just sitting at the gate and going nowhere. It soon becomes clear that my flight won't be getting there in time for me to make my connection to London so, along with many other passengers, I have to weigh up the alternatives. Do I spend most of the night sitting at the gate in Cleveland only to reach Chicago late at night and then search for a hotel, OR do I simply stay put in Cleveland and start again in the morning? I opt for the latter, re-book my flight (I'm now due to depart for London at 1810hrs tomorrow evening) and then I need to work out where to stay for the night.
My immediate thought is to head back to the Doubletree, but that will mean a $35.00 taxi fare there and then another one back ($70 in total ignoring the tip) and that's not far off what it will cost to stay in a hotel near the airport (Sheraton, $119.00) so I take the free hotel shuttle, check in and here I am, along with a few other familiar faces, people who live in Chicago but have been advised to book into a hotel in Cleveland and try again in the morning.
|View from room 418 of Cleveland's Hilton Doubletree hotel|
|Clippitty Cops – mounted policeman in Cleveland|
In fact, the word 'depressing' comes nowhere near describing how I feel about being here writing this when I should be halfway home.
|At the heart of Cleveland's downtown area|
The last time Juliette was in the UK it was one year after the London bombings of 7/7 and Leona Lewis had won the X Factor. Oddly, I said, Simon Cowell has followed her around as there's America's Got Talent and, of course, an American X Factor. We talked briefly about Sharon Osbourne, Piers Morgan and the Hoff and then got round to discussing how Cleveland was going all out to establish itself as a tourist destination with some decent restaurants, theatreland and, of course, the downtown. And that word 'downtown' kind of sums up what I was saying earlier; those skyscrapers that somehow don't ring true are not so much characteristic of a city centre but a 'downtown' area. I get the feeling that somebody, somewhere, must have said 'we need to have a 'downtown' and if we're going to have a 'downtown' then we'll need some high buildings.
|Cleveland's Doubletree – fantastic hotel|
I'm in my room and it's time to hit the sack, but before I do I need to inform the UK taxi driver that I won't be there tomorrow morning as planned.