As you guys probably know, the good people of Hampton Inn allowed for me to take in the Stanford vs. Notre Dame game in Palo Alto this weekend. It was a complete trade as a member of Stanford's Rule of Tree, made the journey to Pittsburgh. It was an unbelievable opportunity to not only see a great game between two top 25 teams, but the whole trip gave myself and a friend a chance to visit the surrounding area. So yeah, hanging in California was certainly a nice bonus.
The trip was professional the whole way through, with a car driving us to the airport from Hampton Inn leaving us a hospitality bag in the room. The staff was great and accommodating, and they really made the whole trip much easier. Our hotel was actually in Mountain View and not Palo Alto. The two towns are close, but fortunately for us, Mountain View is a younger, hip town with plenty of restaurants, bars, and shops. Obviously, being so close to San Francisco, we made it a point to get up and check out that city. If you have never been to the area, San Francisco is a beautiful city with tons of things to see. It was a gorgeous day, and we took in a lot of the sights.
After checking out San Fran, we went back to Hampton Inn and wound down, and got ready for anticipation of the game the next day. The game was at 4:00 p.m. and we did not anticipate a big day of tailgating. We got to Palo Alto around noon, and that gave us plenty of time to take in the area. Upon the recommendation of a local, we went to lunch at a place called Oasis. The burgers were absolutely on point, I got the Old Timer, which came with Pastramiright on the burger.
The decor in the place was cool, and it was absolutely the right for us to have some drinks and burgers before the game. After eating we started walking through the tailgate lots, and I realized we were very far from home. Instead of dirty concrete everywhere, the people tailgate along Palm tree lined streets in open fields. We ran over to the track house store, and picked up a few souvenirs and started to take in the atmosphere of the tailgating scene.
Like any other Notre Dame game, they traveled very well. The crowds meshed well together, and you can tell Stanford has not been a football power for very long. It is a very relaxed feel at the games. It is a very festive atmosphere, and people welcome you into tailgates at times. Still, I am not so sure some people really understand that they are a top tier football team at the moment.
We entered the game right at game time, and the stadium layout is much different that what I am used to seeing. You walk in at the bottom and between the entrance and the stadium itself is a grassy area with trees inside the stadium. People walked in with brief cases and bags with no problem (hint hint Heinz Field.) You have to take stairs to the upper deck, or walk into the tunnel to enter the lower concourse. Like many games this weekend, it was not a packed house due to the holidays. The game lost its luster with Stanford falling to USC a few weeks back, and the atmosphere felt that way.
We were bunked up in a Notre Dame section (something that would drive me crazy at a Pitt game) and sat very close to the field, with a great view. The crowd was nice and we got to talking to both Stanford and Notre Dame fans. Again, maybe because my team was not involved, but the hype in this game and the hype in the Pitt-Notre Dame game was just a different feel. Also unlike a Heinz Field standard, they allow fans to exit and return, and the party rages on in the parking lots at halftime. It was a looser easy going feel than what I am used to, and I enjoyed that.
It was a great game, and the stadium got loud in the fourth quarter. It was an exciting finish, and personally, it is always nice to see Notre Dame lose. The gameday experience was certainly worth it, and if you are a big football fan like myself, Stanford is a unique and great place to take in a game. After the game we went to the Mountain View shops for the night, and "eventually" made it to sleep. After checking out, we had one more stop before the airport, and that was to see the ocean.
We got to see a terrific game and a different part of the country, and I cannot thank the people of Hampton Inn and SB Nation for making that a possibility. Hampton is very accommodating and helpful, and if you are going on a trip to the Bowl game or somewhere for a sports related trip, be sure to book with them.