Looking back, both of the NFL stadiums we visited on this trip were doomed, but at least this one was planned. The 49ers were upgrading and moving their stadium, and honestly, it was definitely time. Candlestick was dated, especially for the always changing San Francisco area, and the part of town it was in didn't exactly scream safety. But unlike Qualcomm, there was so much great history there. Jerry Rice had caught touchdowns there. Joe Montana and Steve Young had taken snaps there. The 49ers had so many wins within those bleachers, and while they had a span where winning seasons were only memories, Jim Harbaugh had lead a rebuild and they were finally good again. Candlestick deserved a proper send off, and it was an honor to be a part of it. It was a perfect last game at Candlestick, last Monday Night Football game of the season, and last game of our trip!
Endzone Seats get a lot of hate (or at least compared to their super pretty and talented older sister, 50 Yard Line Seats) but I sorta love them and I think it's because of this trip. They're usually more affordable, and what you miss on the other end of the field you make up for tenfold when the play is on your end of the field. I went with the usual Stubhub for buying the tickets. We were front row and got to see all the good stuff- Dwight Clark reenacting "The Catch" before the game, several touchdowns being scored on our end, post-game fireworks, and some streaker trying to get on the field and instead getting trucked by a security guard. It was great.
The whole game was awesome- Kaepernick and Matty Ice going at it, the great Alex Gonzales scoring his last touchdown, big defensive plays to win the game by the 49ers, Boyz 2 Men performing, Joe Montana strolling the sidelines with other 49er legends, the list could go on. Any time there is a big event like this, they really go all out, and the home team did their part and came away with a win. We got a bunch of free collectibles, and as you can see in the pictures, we bought some of our own too. I'm so glad we did, because... (drumroll please)... we made it on ESPN!!
So cool!! I had wanted to make it on the Kiss Cam at some point during the trip (I've since realized I have a face that looks like a child so I'm gonna have to age a bit before they risk that), but this was way better.
Like I've said before, I'd rather spend a day watching 9 innings, 5 sets, 4 quarters, 3 periods, or 2 halves than just about anything else; I've never had a bad time at a ballgame. But this game wasn't just like any other game. This type of game is special- two great teams going at it in from start to finish in front of an engaged and rowdy crowd with some nostalgia sprinkled in for good measure. This is the type of game that's addicting; it's the one that gets me planning our next trip.
Since it was a night game, we had plenty of time during the day to explore a bit and get some good food. This was the one eating part of this trip I had actually planned- Joel and I are big crab fans, so I wanted to go to the place with the best crab in the city. My research lead me down to Fisherman's Wharf where Franciscan Crab Restaurant is located. We got their via San Francisco's version of the subway system, the Bart, which was pretty easy to figure out.
It was pretty expensive and I learned I am more of an "East Coast Crab" type of girl, but the view was Gorgeous with a capital G (the picture below doesn't do it justice) and the food was pretty dang good. But messy. I felt a little bad about the state of our table after eating the crab. Whatever. No regrets.
We stayed at a friend's house in San Jose, and they suggested that we park at a parking garage downtown and take a shuttle bus to the game. We did, and it probably saved us a bunch of money in parking. The only downside was that I thought I had pinned the parking garage location in my phone, but when we got back after the game, it wasn't to be found, so we had to wander around a bit before we found it. Joel wasn't panicked (or at least he didn't act like it), but I was admittedly freaking out a bit. The bus was cramped but we were right by this couple who were Atlanta fans, so it was nice getting to visit with them.
If you're going to a game in December, it gets pretty chilly at night (or at least it did for us). Most of the day we wandered around in just jeans and a long sleeve t-shirt, but that definitely wouldn't have been sufficient for us at the game. And my final tip I learned this trip- always bring a portable charger. We had a day full of fun and pictures, and because my phone had the pin for the parking garage (that later disappeared), I tried to conserve battery and stopped taking pictures in the second half.
We flew home the next day- just in time for Christmas dinner with the fam! There can always be other sports trips, but there will never be another first- we will always have a pretty special one to remember!
Just a couple of sports fans touring the world, one stadium at a time.