The first issue is partly my fault. I had driving directions from Google maps, but figured the hotel knows where it is, let’s use the directions on the web site. We got to a street where we thought we might need to turn, but street signs are rare as fat tweakers. The Beloved Spouse grabbed the attention of a passer by, who said, sure, this is the street she asked about. Within five minutes we were completely off the map I printed up that covered the area a mile in every direction from the hotel. No mean feat, since we realized on the way out we hadn’t been five blocks from the hotel when we got directed.
This directional thing was highlighted when we arrived at the hotel and learned there is no concierge; the Renaissance Hotel has a Navigator. Most hotels have a person who asks what you want; the Renaissance has someone to tell you where to go.
In the room, we opened the curtains to the anti-lake vista of an alley. Not just any alley, but the alley where the hotel parks its Dumpsters, as I learned at 5:45 Thursday morning. Beep-beep-beep-beep as the truck backs up to the Dumpster and I’m thinking, “Okay, I know how long this takes. There will be a crash and he’ll be gone in a minute.” Beep-beep-beep-beep. 5:50. Beep-beep. 6:00. Beep-beep-beep-beep. Now I’m up, looking out the window. The Dumpster is immediately below the window—which is why I didn’t notice it last night—and it appears to be stuck half way up the truck bed. Beep-beep-beep until 6:05 when it finally gets sorted out.
Friday morning, the Beloved Spouse turns on the TV for her Morning Joe fix, but the channels won’t change. The TV screen shows the remote signal gets through—the channel number appears on the screen—it just doesn’t go there. Even better, we can’t turn it off; there’s not even a button on the TV, it’s remote only. I should have unplugged the bastard, because that’s what the guy from maintenance did when he showed up almost an hour later. We spent more time watching ads for Ted than we did watching the movie when we saw it in the theater. I now her, “I should have asked for Teddy Ruxpin” in my sleep.
I’ll give the hotel credit for one thing: no one getting any swelled heads there. I’m sitting at the table in my first Bouchercon panel, feeling pretty good about myself, over a hundred people in the room, things are going well, and a roach the length of a quarter runs across the tablecloth in front of me. Kudos to moderator Sandra Parshall, who shooed the little vermin away without drawing much attention or flicking it into the first row. A female panelist a few hours later lacked Sandra’s aplomb, squealing like a mouse had crawled down her blouse when the little critter—or a cousin—crashed her panel.
So, no, I’ll not be detouring to Cleveland to stay at the Renaissance. (Though it does have the world’s greatest bartended, the only barkeep I’ve met in 56 years who knew what I wanted as soon as I nodded to him on entry.) The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Meh, but I’ve never been a rock and roll guy. (It doesn’t help that Dick Dale—King of the Surf Guitar—Tower of Power, and Tom Waits are not enshrined.) The row of restaurants of 6th Street was pretty cool.
What was very cool were the people. I’ve traveled quite a bit, to just about every corner of the country, to many places that pride themselves on their hospitality. I have never been treated nicer than I was by the people of Cleveland. From Eddie—waiter extraordinaire at the Hard Rock Café—to the hotel staff and the people at the Tower Deli, everyone we met was charming, good-natured, and genuinely helpful. (My favorite story was of a cop who gave a panelist a ride to a liquor store and offered to wait for her.) It took me a few days to figure out the deal. We were all wearing our conference badges, clearly from out of town.
They wanted us to take them with us.