Plenty of reasons exist to fall in love with Cleveland

Though a West Coaster at heart, I cannot help but love Cleveland. I realize this has isolated me from partake in common ranting material and has caused my peers to fear for my mentality. Yet, regardless of all the stares, questions, and denial, I am regularly content, surprised, and impressed with Cleveland.

Before I subject you to the rest of this column and explain exactly why Cleveland is so underrated, I feel I must clarify a few key facts about myself: I'm from southern California, a location with no shortage of warm beaches, where winters dip down to the low 50s and the most common religion is that of recycling. I moved to Cleveland in 2006 to attend Case and to gain a taste of this once-bustling city of industry.

CWRU friends, west coast friends, family, and ID-checking bartenders all question my love affair with Cleveland. But what is there to question when one is surrounded with colorful, charismatic friends, always challenging weather, and plenty of amusements?

I distinctly recall the summer before moving to Cleveland. I was having lunch with my older brother and his friend when I received my first word of advice on Cleveland that I have held with me for the past three and half years: go to the wine cave in Coventry. Upon turning 21 last year, I quickly learned that the "wine cave" is actually "La Cave Du Vin" - a quaint bar on Coventry, carrying a connoisseur's dream selection of bottled beer, stacked perfectly in a cooler covering an entire wall, creating the illusion of a painting rather than a cooler.

A new aspect of Cleveland to embrace: sharp, engaging, and lively bars.

Now Cleveland has much to offer aside from alcohol-involved activities. But since the liberating 21st birthday, a completely new side of Cleveland was exposed to me, and I was able to legally and freely embrace it.

To clarify, not all Cleveland bars are worth the trip and your hard-earned cash. There are plenty of dive bars that are uniform city to city, as well as the typical college bars that plague Coventry, where you can chug your Bud Light and hear either boos or cheers every seven minutes. However, as mentioned earlier, Coventry does cater to those interested in creative and relaxing bars. Aside from La Cave, B-Side has affordable beers and a dance floor attracting crowds ranging from beauties to techies. Though always an interesting time in my experience, choose themed B-Side nights wisely for the optimal thrill.

La Cave and B-Side are fun, but the heart of Cleveland is not relegated to just one block that is two Greenie stops away from campus. The downtown Cleveland area, though lacking in a few skyscrapers and pedestrians, is home to bars conducive to good drinking and good company. Walking into Garage Bar on West 25th Street is initially intimidating. Reminiscent of a biker bar, the crowd is on the rowdier side, creating the perfect ambiance with punk music roaring. Who said punk's dead? Despite the tough crowd and fa├žade, the bar wasn't too crowded and had a decked-out, extensive outdoor area, providing plentiful play space for my friends and me.

And speaking of play space, a Cleveland native friend brought me to Now That's Class on Detroit Avenue a couple weeks ago, only to open my eyes even wider to a refreshing, raucous, unsentimental-spirited Cleveland community. The "punk rock bar" provides a hole-in-the-wall solace for punk embracers and rockers.

The trite image of Cleveland's once-burning Cuyahoga River and an admissible current lack of growth in infrastructure and economy belie Cleveland's quirks and charms. And once given the opportunity to explain and justify my reasoning and experiences with the city on the whole, I will prove to readers that my love is genuine.

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