Have you ever put a lot of time into planning the perfect get-away, only to have it turn out to be far less than you’d hoped for? Recently my very significant other and I were celebrating 16 years since the day we met, and we decided to mark the occasion by taking a dinner/dance cruise on the beautiful Cuyahoga River in Cleveland.

I began my internet search for a hotel that was near the place where we would board the ship, and I found that they were all in the heart of downtown Cleveland. I spent hours trying to decide which hotel might be easiest to find, knowing that driving in the city could be tricky. They were all rather expensive and even charged an extra fee for parking, but since it was a special occasion, I found one and booked it.

When we got to the city and finally managed to find the hotel, there were no parking places out front, and we began trying to circle the block. We encountered so many one way streets and construction blockades that my GPS lady got badly confused and she just kept saying recalculating, recalculating, until I finally turned her off! Circling the block was no easy matter!

Suddenly Gary spotted the hotel and there WAS a parking place. As soon as I stopped, a young man approached me and wanted my keys to move the car. I knew he was the valet, but I’m suspicious of strangers, especially in a city. I refused to hand over the keys and I pulled the car forward myself, mumbling the whole time about how I won’t give my car keys to just anybody…

We made our way to the registration desk, confirmation sheet in hand, only to have the attendant tell us that they couldn’t find our reservation! On top of the lovely time we’d just had being lost and dealing with the valet, this was too much! After looking more closely at the paper, he pointed out to us that our reservation was for the Residence Inn, and this, in fact, was the RENAISSANCE Inn.

Good grief! We were so stressed that we had misread the sign! Not only that, but now we had to start searching all over again, even though the attendant assured us that the hotel we wanted was “just around the corner.” NOT! After circling so many times that we lost count, we finally passed it. I had to make a spectacular U-Turn in front of a police car to get to it, but I had already broken a few traffic laws anyway, so in desperation, I gunned it.

By then I’d had more than enough of city driving. When the valet approached me at this hotel, I gladly handed him my keys and didn’t care if I ever drove again! We grabbed our suitcases, found the lobby and registered. We knew we still had to find our way to board the ship that was “just a few miles away,” but Gary asked the desk attendant to call us a cab instead. Good plan!

We rode the elevator to our floor, and I really needed to use the bathroom FAST. I walked a few steps until I saw where the room was, then turned around to get the room key from Gary, but he was GONE! I mean, nowhere to be seen. I started calling for him and looking down the hallways. He had just disappeared! I pressed the elevator call button and stood there jiggling my legs, wondering what else could go wrong. After several minutes the elevator doors opened and there he was. We started laughing uncontrollably, which was not a good plan considering the condition I was in, as he told me he had just bent over to pick up the suitcases to follow me, when the elevator doors closed and the elevator took off!

We got to the room and found that we had some sort of round thing that was supposed to be the key, but it wasn’t a key card and we couldn’t figure out how to get it to work. After waving it around like a magic wand a dozen times, we finally got the door open. I made a mad dash for what I thought was the bathroom, but it was a closet! We had a 2 room suite and I scurried around until I found it. Whew!

Things began to improve as we rode in the cab for the 15 minute trip to the boarding docks. I couldn’t imagine how long we would have been lost trying to drive there! God bless city cab drivers.

We had some time to spare so we walked around until boarding time. At least we didn’t have to stand in the line to buy tickets, as we had our e tickets that I had printed at home. After waiting in a long line, it was finally our turn to have our souvenir picture taken and board the boat, right? WRONG! We were told we had to go back and stand in line at the ticket booth and get REAL tickets instead of e tickets.

In spite of the comedy of errors that happened that day, we met three other nice couples at our table, had a delicious buffet meal and cruised around the harbor enjoying the view. When the DJ started playing music, we found that it was mostly rap and every song sounded the same to us. They did take requests, though, and I wanted to hear “Old Time Rock and Roll” before we left. I figured that was always a great one to get everyone out on the floor, right? WRONG AGAIN! The geezers had the dance floor to themselves, but they were really groovin’ as Cleveland’s lights twinkled in the harbor.

Happy Anniversary, Dear. Were you as glad as I was to get back to Small Town, USA?

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