Ever since Stephane and I began dating, there was an unspoken rule that he would have to adopt a firm love of American football. More specifically, he would have to adopt a love of American football with an emphasis on college football, with a further emphasis on the Cal Golden Bears and the Ohio State Buckeyes! I was raised an avid football fan so there was just no way around this. To further solidify this hopeful new love, I knew that when Stephane came to California I had to take him to Berkeley and give him a taste of that good, old American college experience, including a football game and tailgating. He’s seen American pie more times than he can count, so naturally he was very excited to go to a large university, see a football game, and drink out of a red cup in a frat house :-). It’s the little things! We decided to leave very early in the morning on Friday (right after Rosh Hashana), get into the bay area around 1 or 2 pm (keep in mind it is an 8 hour drive), and then explore all that my college town had to offer! Thankfully my grandparents are long standing members of the Marriott so we were able to use their points to get a very nice room in Emeryville for 2 nights overlooking the bay! Thanks Bubby and Zayde!
Once we were all settled in we decided to explore Emeryville for a few hours. Our hotel was situation right in the middle of a huge shopping district so we took some time to look in shops, walk outside in the gorgeous weather, and stretch our legs after a long drive. By the time 5 or 6 rolled around we were both completely pooped, and we decided to return to the hotel for a nap before meeting my very dear friend, Ryan, for dinner. Ryan was one of my first friends in Berkeley, and I was so excited to see him and to introduce him to Stephane. Ryan is also a sports writer who covers CAL athletics so he was able to get us tickets to the football game the next day! That was a very big treat for us, and I was grateful to be able to thank him in person. At around 7:30 Stephane and I headed out to my favorite restaurant, CPK, met with Ryan, and had such a lovely dinner. We all caught up, I heard about the exciting things going on in Ryan’s life, he was filled in on everything going on in Israel, and it was just like the good old days back in school. After dinner Stephane and I were absolutely exhausted, so we decided to call it an early night, head back to the hotel, and get a good night sleep so that we could be fresh and ready to explore Berkeley the next day.
GAME DAY ARRIVED!!!!! I could hardly contain my excitement. I haven’t seen a game in over 2 years, and for someone who never missed a home game, that has been a very hard part of living abroad. At around 10 am Stephane and I were on our way to campus to grab breakfast, and do some much needed shopping! Stephane was going to walk the walk, he had to talk the talk (and look the part). He definitely needed some appropriate game attire!
After shopping was complete we took a tour of the campus. We had a bit of time before the game, and we only wanted to stay a little while at tailgates, so I thought this would be a great time for a tour. I took him to the many halls and buildings I had classes in, showed him the big library, memorial glade, and all of the many famous areas of our campus, and after about 30 minutes, I could tell he really, really loved the area. That was the first time he really expressed loving California. As for me, it felt like I had never left. Things were so different but so similar in so many ways, and I felt truly happy when I was there with Stephane.
When our brief tour was complete it was time to hit up a few tailgates. Needless to say, Stephane was overwhelmed by frat row. He kept saying “It really is just like the movies”. Everyone was out on their lawns, bbq’s were raging, music was playing, and everyone was enjoying the time before the game began. We, of course, made our way straight for AEPi (the Jewish fraternity), were welcomed right in, drank out of our red cups, and then headed towards memorial stadium to make kick off.
After Stephane’s frat-tastic aspirations were met, we headed off to the stadium, since I DID NOT want to miss my first kick off in over 2 years! We had wonderful seats on the 10 yard line (thank you Ryan), and the atmosphere in the stadium was so spirited and amazing. This was my first time in the new stadium since it had been remodeled, and it looked stunning. It was so amazing to be back. This felt like home.
After a nail biter of a game, thankfully, we ended with a win! It is a great thing I decided to bring Stephane to this game because it may be the only game this season we actually win… New coach, young team… building year, so I was very happy we could see a game that ended on a good note for CAL. After the game was over we celebrated our victory at one of Berkeley’s most famous, hole in the wall burger joints: Bongo Burger! I haven’t eaten there in years, and it was just as tasty as I remembered. Poor Stephane was forced to eat yet another hamburger, but I think he handled it just fine 🙂 When we were done eating we walked around the town and looked around one of the more iconic streets in Berkeley: Telegraph street. I think Stephane’s mouth fell open when he saw his first smoke shop with bongs and pipes proudly displayed in the window, but I shook it off and merely said, “welcome to Berkeley”! At around 9 we went back to the hotel, spent a bit of time walking around Emeryville, and then headed off to bed.
The next day it was up bright an early so that we could head to my Uncle Scott’s farm for a day of fun and relaxation!
That is going to be quite a post 🙂
Stay tuned <3,