Check Out of the Arena

I check out of a hotel for the last time on this trip, having had a reasonable breakfast in the hotel. The Arena Hotel is not bad but my room was in need of an update. Its location however is not great if I was looking for some nightlife. It was only 10 minutes to the VTA station, so that was good, but there are no bars or restaurants visible nearby. Now I didn’t have the time or inclination last night to go to a bar as I was quite tired by the time I got back. But if my timings were different, say for instance it was an afternoon game and I would be back in the city early evening with time to kill, then I’d stay elsewhere if I come to another 49ers game. There is however a CVS Pharmacy next door to the hotel which was useful as unbelievably my deodorant ran out this morning so I needed to get some more to hopefully avoid causing offence to the fellow humans whose paths I might cross today. 🙂

My main criteria in booking the Arena was to be close to a VTA train station and the hotel did claim to be “walking distance to downtown San Jose” but I disagree. The train went up and down 1st and 2nd Streets and they appeared to be populated with bars but these streets are about 20-25 minutes walk from the hotel. I guess it depends on what you consider to be a reasonable “walking distance”. I think next time I’d find a hotel on one of those streets if it’s not too expensive.

Levi’s Stadium Tour and Museum

I arrive back at Levi’s Stadium around 10.30 am and check out where I need to go for the Tour but then have to move my car from an unmarked reserved area out front. No big deal though. I have time for a quick look inside the Team Store before the Levi’s Stadium Tour, but nothing immediately grabs my attention that’s worth buying.

The Tour is excellent, almost access all areas, and the guide gives a good commentary especially about the upcoming SuperBowl 50 and its relevance plus of course there’s loads of 49ers stuff to see as we walk. We tour all around the Stadium, right up to the roof, inside the press area, into a Club area (similar to the one I was in last night), into the visitors dressing room – the 49ers’ locker room is out of bounds though – and onto the pitch via the players tunnel. It’s a very good tour, well worth the time and money. Sadly though, for some reason I don’t know and can’t find out, the Stadium stopped offering the Tour a year or two after my visit. So I got to see something that folks can’t do anymore, which is a shame. Maybe they’ll bring it back someday.

I then head off into the 49ers Museum, which starts with a short film about the 49ers history. This might need a bit of editing now because it ends with a statement as to how the 49ers are now “rebuilding and restarting”. This is a reference to how Jim Harbaugh resurrected the franchise and took the Niners back to SuperBowl XLVII but of course he is now history himself and we have Jim Tomsula taking the team rapidly downhill again. Never mind, on with the museum.

NB. Since writing this I have learned that the introduction film has been altered to remove this “rebuild” reference – I’m not sure how exactly but someone on a 49ers fan website made a reference in early 2017 to the 49ers “re-writing” the history of the Harbaugh era in the Museum.

The Hall of Fame section at the start is good with life-size statues of the enrolees but a bunch of school kids turned up and they were very noisy and kept getting in the way as I wandered around. They finally move on into the next section of the Museum which gives me the opportunity to take some time over the exhibits. When I do I discover it’s all very well done, from the franchise’s early history through to the glory days of five SuperBowls and onto the recent stirrings of future promise. Everything is very well presented, and some are excellent such as the multimedia exhibits – of which there are many different types – and it all ends with the five Lombardi trophies on display. A truly excellent museum.

Back into the Store for a more in-depth look around but as before there’s nothing that takes my interest. I was looking for a new 49ers polo shirt – mine is at least 20 years old – but they’re all made of some nylon-type material that I don’t like the feel of. My relic will therefore continue to see service for a while yet…

Back To The Airport

Time to drive back to SFO airport. I ask a car valet at the Stadium where the nearest food outlets are and I eventually find a mall-type place in the near vicinity with an In-N-Out burger outlet. I go to the drive-in expecting it to be quick but it takes absolutely ages to get served. I learn later that these burger joints have an almost cult following in California and are very popular but I have to say I was very underwhelmed by what I was served. Anyway, nosh eaten and I’m onto Hwy 101 at 3.07 pm, a little later than I planned. It’s Friday afternoon and the rush hour in Silicon Valley starts around 3 pm daily and already the southbound side of the freeway is chock-a-block with slow moving traffic. This is soon replicated on my northern journey and I’m crawling along, sometimes even coming to a stop. Whilst stopped a check on Google Maps tells me there’s an accident ahead so hopefully we’ll start moving quickly again soon. I do, and there’s no sign of anything as I move ahead and I eventually pull off Hwy 101 at the airport at 4 pm.

My Dodge Dart

My Dodge Dart for the trip

I find a gas station to fill the car up but the asshole serving pisses me around with my credit card, wanting pre-authorisation for the first time this trip, which delays me slightly but annoys me more than anything. Gassed-up, I finally pull into the car rental return at 4.20 pm just in time for my arranged drop-off time, which if I’d gone over they’d have probably charged me another day. I get all my bags out of the car and say goodbye to it.

A total of 1400 miles in all, and the PCH part (well, SFO to Dana Point) was 640 of those. I board the Air Train at the Car Rental Return that will take me to the terminal. Despite the online check-in last night, they still want to check your passport at the desk, but all’s in order. The plane’s on time, through security reasonably quickly and soon it’s time to fly home.

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