Hi Everyone! I'm Andy, 'the one who takes the (amazing?) photos of Anthea', and I will be writing a guest blog about a few activities (don't worry there will be food, not just NBA!) from our recent trip to San Francisco.
We drove to San Fran from LA to spend the last few days of 2016 and we absolutely loved the city! The highlight of our time in San Fran was watching the Golden State Warriors host the Toronto Raptors at Oracle Arena.
7000 Coliseum Way,
Oakland, CA 94621
We originally planned to drive to Oracle, but traffic approaching and on the Oakland Bay Bridge was horrible, so we ended up parking at Embarcadero Station and taking the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) to Coliseum Station. We arrived at the arena in less than 30 minutes and it turned out that most people attending the game were also taking the BART or other local train lines.
We bought our tickets to the game on StubHub (https://www.stubhub.com/) a couple of months beforehand, but it's usually fine to purchase at any time leading up to tip-off, as there are always tickets on resale. However, I would recommend checking NBATickets (http://nbatickets.nba.com/) first before proceeding to StubHub. Ticket prices to NBA games can vary dramatically, some major factors are the teams playing (better teams will be pricier), the arena (the ones in big cities are more expensive), the seat location (seats closer to the court are obviously more desirable and hence dearer) and the time of the season (playoff games are generally more costly than regular season games). As a guide, 'cheap' tickets (average game, seats very far from the court) can range between US$15-80, better seats to good games will generally cost US$100-250, and if you want to sit courtside for the best games (think Conference Finals or NBA Finals) then you may need to fork out 5-figure amounts!
Enough logistics, let's talk about the game we watched. So, by way of background, the Warriors won the 2014-15 NBA Championship (see the championship banner above) and followed that up with a historic 73-9 regular season only to have an epic collapse losing from 3-1 up in the NBA Finals to the mighty Cleveland Cavaliers (yes, I'm a Cavs fan and I love Lebron James!). Nevertheless, I must acknowledge that the Warriors are probably the most entertaining team to watch in the NBA and with their recent acquisition of Kevin Durant (a top two player in the NBA) the excitement around this team has gone to a new level. Their opponent, the Raptors, also have two quality All-Star players in Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan and made it to the Eastern Conference Finals last season. With 6 All Stars and 2 MVPs on the court, this was certainly a marquee match-up!
Here are my top three highlights from the game:
1. How LOUD the arena was! I've heard commentators on TV often refer to Oracle as 'Roarcle' and I can definitely understand why now. It was by far the loudest NBA arena I have been to, and I particularly loved how passionate all the fans were. The majority of the crowd was wearing Warriors apparel (jerseys, jumpers, caps, etc.) and it was very common for chants of 'Defense' or 'Let's Go Warriors' to break out throughout the game. We also happened to go on White Night so everyone in attendance were given a white Warriors T-shirt to put on for the game. See Anthea above in her cap and T-shirt.
2. The Warriors dynamic offense. They play fast, share the ball and have all-time great shooters. The crowd was going absolutely crazy in the 1st quarter as they put up a season high 1st quarter point total outscoring the Raptors 42-17. During that stretch, Thompson, Curry, Durant and Draymond all made three-pointers and they made the game look so easy! The crowd goes especially crazy whenever the Warriors attempt a three-pointer. I was glad that the Raptors eventually came back to make it competitive and it wasn't a complete blowout. The final score was 121-111 with the Warriors shooting 14 of 23 from 3-point land.
3. The Defense. It's hard to get a sense of how hard the players play on defense when watching on TV, so it was eye-opening to see great defenders like Klay and Draymond go to work (unfortunately we didn't catch Draymond trying to kick anyone in the nuts!). Klay had the defensive assignment of guarding DeRozan who's been playing really well, and despite DeRozan scoring 29 points, Klay certainly limited his effectiveness and opportunities. Anthea found it hilarious when Kyle Lowry (6'0" or 1.83m) was switched onto KD (6'11" or 2.11m) for a few defensive possessions. Lowry would attempt to body KD by wedging himself under KD's armpit, and KD would look down and be like "Man, what are you doing?" and proceed to shoot right over him!
This was the first time Anthea watched an NBA game live and she loved it! She was heavily debating extending our stay in San Fran to catch the next Warriors home game against the Mavericks, but we eventually decided to watch another NBA game in New York. Her love for the Warriors (affectionately known as DubNation) and Klay Thompson has grown dramatically since watching them live and she recently purchased Klay's jersey.
Since this is predominately a food blog, I also wanted to mention two cool places we tried in San Fran. The first place is Mitchell's Ice Cream.
Mitchell's Ice Cream
688 San Jose Avenue,
San Francisco, CA 94110
Mitchell's was established in 1953 and has been serving delicious daily hand-made ice cream from the same location since then. One fun fact was that they were the first store to introduce Mango ice cream to the Bay Area and this is their most popular flavour. They have a lot of interesting flavours such as Egg Nog and Ube, and their staff are super friendly and helpful. We know this because the family ahead of us tried over 10 flavours (!!) and the server was very patient.
I tried the Grasshopper Pie (peppermint ice cream with chocolate chips, Oreo cookies and fudge swirls) and the Mango and they were both delicious. However, we ended up going with some more unique options that Anthea tried - Halo Halo (based on a traditional Filipino dessert, it includes buko, langka, ube, pineapple, mongo beans, sweet beans and kaong) and Tropical Four (combination of mango, guava, banana and pineapple fruit).
These two ice creams were really delicious and proved to be great choices. I really enjoyed the complexity of the Halo Halo (the upper scoop in the photo), the smooth texture of both flavours and the fact that neither was too sweet. While waiting in line (you get a ticket when you arrive and the typical wait can be 20-30 minutes), we talked to a few locals who were buying 1/2 gallon tubs to take home and they were raving about how this is the place to be for ice cream in San Francisco. We were both left craving for more and will certainly go back!
Finally, on our last day in San Fran, we went to this little gem that Anthea found called Sidewalk Juice.
3287 21st St,
San Francisco, CA 94110
Sidewalk is known for the their healthy and tasty smoothies and juices. They have a wide selection on offer, so it was very helpful that they had a top 10 list! I ordered the Mango Berry Smoothie (apple juice, strawberries, blueberries, mangoes, mango tangerine sorbet and ice) and Anthea ordered the Berries Valencia Smoothie (blueberries, strawberries, banana, orange juice, marionberry sorbet and ice).
Both of the smoothies we had were really nice and fresh. A refreshing drink was exactly what we needed at the time. The place is very small, so there are no seats to sit down, but like most juice places people would grab one on the go. We tried a couple of other juice places in the States, but Sidewalk was by far our favourite!
That's all Folks!