The hows and whys I ended up in Cleveland this summer began one June day when my friend Pat messaged me that there was a flash sale on floor seats for Paul McCartney's concert on August 18th at the Y Arena in Cleveland. Third row?! I hadn't had third row since Regina three years before and that was with a VIP ticket. This one was regular price...I mean really how could I resist? So I jumped on it. However Paul was doing TWO shows in Cleveland and if I was going to one well it would just not be possible for me to miss the other one. So the search for tickets for the 17th began...then another Facebook message...more flash seats coming up for the 17th? Was I in? Of course! Not only that but two together in the fifth row - Pat and I hadn't sat together in ages as it's always easier to obtain better seats when you request one at a time. When Paul is on stage I am focused on him and not the person beside me. (in fact I noticed from my pictures that Paul appears to be the only person on stage - he does have four other band members...) Somehow the tickets got lost in the transaction and there was mutual wailing but our friend Vickie came to the rescue and was able to scoop them up for us. We were set!
Upon getting the first ticket I had booked my flights and planned my trip already...leaving an open space for August 17th of course. I was able to get a sweetheart of a deal flying into Toronto and back from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (why there you say? Stay tuned!) for less than $400 Cdn. It was meant to be!
In the meantime more and more of my Paul friends were getting tickets and it looked to be a great time of Paul music and visiting with friends.
So on Tuesday August 16th I boarded my WestJet flight to Toronto which was the first leg of a trip to Buffalo that would involve a plane, train, bus and automobile. Once we landed in Toronto I then took the train into downtown Toronto and then the subway to Dundas station. After a quick lunch of not even half of an Italian meatball sandwich (yuck..won't be doing that again!) and a run in with a prolifer throwing brochures at people (don't mess with me when I've only had three hours sleep) I headed over to the bus depot. I was about twelfth in line when after a HUGE load of baby gear and luggage was put under the coach the driver shouted out "who else is going to Buffalo"? (the bus was destined for New York City) Well of course I raised my hand so was told to go and get my luggage weighed. When I finally got back to the bus I had to go to the back of the line and ended up sitting in one of the last remaining seats - I had the choice between the one I chose and one with an extremely overweight gentleman and there was no way the two of us could share! Turns out I was sitting beside a fellow who had just gotten out of jail and was heading to a halfway house in St. Catherines. Behind us sat a man who had also just been released but he was an old hand at this sort of thing so the entire journey to St Catherines involved a question and answer session and as well as discussing their preferences for drugs. That was interesting. I learned all sorts of things including you can't do drugs, drink alcohol or buy lottery tickets at the halfway house but you can hire a hooker if you have the money. My seatmate was sure looking forward to that after over a year in the slammer. It was interesting to say the least to hear his story but sad as well..this fellow was estranged from his family and when you steal from your friends....well you have no friends left. And this was all to feed his addiction to drugs. He was certainly nervous about the halfway house and I hope he can turn his life around - he was nothing but respectful and polite to me. (but I still kept a close eye on my possessions!) The fellow behind us...well he had been in the same halfway house twenty years ago so I certainly hope my seatmate doesn't follow in his footsteps. It's always an education traveling on the hound. One of these days I am going to write a blog post about my time on the Greyhound as believe you me I have quite a few stories.
After dropping my two "friends" off in St Catherines we were soon at the Peace Bridge which is the border between Buffalo and Canada. We filed in and it all went smoothly with no hold ups this time. I had planned to phone Pat from there but found my phone would not work. I had recently (as in one week before) gotten a new Samsung and I just could not get it to dial out in the U.S. so I frantically spent the short time to the depot in Buffalo pushing buttons. In the end I put on data roaming to quickly message Pat on Facebook letting her know I was nearly there - luckily she was online, saw it and replied she would leave then.
When Pat picked me up we headed out for a traditional Fish Fry at a restaurant/pub near her. The meal which consisted of beer battered fish, french fries and a buffet of soup/salad was delicious. Nope, no pictures!
The next morning about 11 a.m. Vickie picked us up and we headed west to Cleveland passing through Pennsylvania with Lake Erie on our right quite a bit of the time.
Hi and bye Pennsylvania - I'll see you again soon!
We checked into the Hampton Inn and settled in a bit. Pat and I were taking in a couple of signs that night - because I was meeting friends for dinner she graciously took my sign in as well - they were adjoining signs. I don't normally do signs but we decided it would be fun to do this.
I set off to meet two long time friends Mary (from South Carolina) and Linda.(from Pennsylvania) for dinner before the concert. They were penpals of mine back in the 60's whom I had lost touch with but reconnected on Facebook a few years back. There were three other friends of theirs as well so we all had a great visit. Being as it was a place called "The Chocolate Box", well of course I had to have something chocolate - so voila! Behold a chocolate martini complete with edible chocolate straw!
It went down very nicely thank you. Mary treated us all - what a sweetheart. Thanks Mary!
Then it was time to head off to the Quicken Loans (the "Q") arena...
It was fun going into the arena with Mary and Linda to see Paul - who would have guessed nearly 50 years later we would all be attending a concert together. (Linda and Mary attend concerts together all the time). People can knock Facebook but I absolutely love it for this reason - being able to connect with old friends once again.
Tonight I was in the fifth row beside Pat which is why we decided to bring a sign. And then the concert began...
I had a great time as always and loved being so close.
The next morning it was time to head to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame which was only about a fifteen minute walk from the hotel. Everyone else I was traveling with had seen it already so I headed off on my own but kept running into people I knew in the museum.
It began with the early roots of Rock and Roll but my focus was the 60's!!!
Michael Jackson's jacket from the 1984 Grammies
John Lennon's mellotron.
Ringo's drum kit!
Mick Jagger is so tiny!!!
Jacket Michael Jackson wore at the 1985 Grammies and later that evening when he recorded "We are the World" with other artists.
One of Ringo's cool "out there" outfits from 1967 - I remember seeing this in Sixteen Magazine!
The Beatles suits from the early days of Beatlemania
And last but not least..."The Glove". Crappy photo but the lighting just wasn't working for me. It was such a thrill for me to see so many iconic memorabilia and learn more about music. If you are a rock and roll fan you have to put this on your "bucket list". If I ever return to Cleveland I will allow a whole day to explore the museum.
The view from the cafe outdoor seating area. As I was going out for lunch I didn't try the cafe so I can't comment on it - but the view was great!
I could have spent hours more watching the videos and looking at more displays but I had a 2 p.m. lunch date with some friends. We met at the Winking Lizard and yes as you walked in here was this guy....he didn't wink at us though!!!
Pat and I walked back to the hotel via the Cleveland Public Library which was such a cool building and in the garden beside it were some whimsical characters.
Meerkats! Coloured meerkats!!!
The entrance to the library - my biggest regret? I didn't go in - I planned to the next day and I was too Paul zapped to think of it.
I loved this little critter perched on the gate in the garden next to the library - these are permanent fixtures.
Sitting with the snails...the kid in me loved this!
I do regret not going back the next day and getting photos when perhaps the light would have been better. These are just a temporary exhbit so if I do get back to Cleveland some day (and I hope I do) they will no longer be there.
We headed back to the room for a rest before heading over to the "Q" for concert number two. This time I was in the third row on the side.
Another great concert - of course!!!
Near the end of Band on the Run about 100 of us held up "Fans on the Run" signs. There is a huge Facebook group called Fans on the Run dedicated to fans who travel to see Paul's shows. A huge contingent was here in Cleveland - it was like a convention and such a blast to see so many old and new faces. Our intrepid leader Rick organized signs for us to hold up. Paul was "gobsmacked" as the English expression goes and was really pleased. It was fun and a thrill to be part of something like this. Paul has changed the lyrics to the song singing "Fans on the Run" now and again at concerts in the last year or so. Needless to say he changed the lyrics at the end to "Fans on the Run" at this concert as well - singing it even more than usual. And lots of thumbs up at the end.
Here are a couple of photos posted on the Fans on the Run page that show the signs...I still have mine and it's a keeper! What a fantastic way to end the summer leg of this tour and to end two fabulous nights in Cleveland!
We were all pretty buzzed from this concert - so much so that we forgot to wait for our fourth amigo Debbi. We were half way back to the hotel when I said "where's Debbi". Oops. Luckily she made it back safe and sound to the room and in fact beat us back there. Sorry Debbi!!!
What a fabulous two days it was...yes Cleveland DOES rock! It was so good to be with "my people". They are "my people" because I may love traveling but music and the Beatles are my first love. These fellow Beatle fans "get it". When I can combine music AND travel it's the ultimate thrill for me.
The other three headed back to Buffalo the next morning but I stayed on for most of the day to do a 6 km walk in downtown Cleveland before heading east to West Virginia. But that's another blog post!