A Day at the US Open

I was incredibly excited to attend the US Open when I was in New York last week.  After attending the French Open back in 2010, I thought I knew what to expect at a major tournament, but it was a constant sensory overload of tennis, in a really great way.  I talked some coworkers into going with me, and we took work off on Tuesday to watch a full day of action.  I arrived before the gates opened so that I could save front row seats on the grandstand court (the third largest court), because it promised some of the best early matchups.

First we saw former world #1 Ana Ivanovic take on Elina Svitolina.  Since this was the second day of the tournament and still the first round, most of the matchups featured seeded players against heavy underdogs.  Ivanovic played well and won in straight sets (6-3, 6-2), and later on in the tournament she’d make it to the quarterfinals before losing to Serena Williams (who I expect to win the tournament today).

Just like my experience the weekend prior in Cincinnati, it was so much fun sitting so close to the action from the baseline.  Fortunately some colleagues saved our seats so that in between matches I could walk around the grounds.  I was able to see lots of matches being played on every side court, including Tomas Berdych (ranked #7, and eventual semifinalist), Ivo Karlovic (used to be ranked in the top 20, but really interesting to watch because he’s almost 7-feet tall), and former world #1 Lleyton Hewitt practicing and cracking jokes.

We hustled back to the grandstand court to watch Frenchman Jo Wilfried Tsonga (ranked #6 in the world) take on Karol Beck.  Tsonga is an imposing figure, but also a crowd favorite due to his demeanor and sense of humor.  He won his match in straight sets and looked quite dominant.  It was disappointing that he’d be upset in the next round, but it was likely due to a knee injury that had been bothering him this summer (he pulled out of the Cincinnati tournament due to rest the injury before the US Open).

Next, we headed into Arthur Ashe Stadium, the largest tennis venue in the world, just to go in and see where are actual seats were located.  Ashe is such a huge stadium, that it’s really not a great place to watch tennis, because you’re just too far away from the action.  Fortunately, buying a ticket for the stadium gives you access to all the other stadiums and grounds, so early in the tournament, very few people are in Ashe, since it’s more fun to see the action closer on the other courts.

I was really happy we popped in though, because I got to watch Andy Roddick play for a bit.  Roddick announced the next day that he would be retiring from professional tennis after the US Open, so this was the last time to see him play.  Roddick eventually lost in the 4th round, and he’ll always be known for a career that was good, but not great, having never led US tennis like his predecessors, Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras.  Roddick was just never as good as his contemporary greats, like Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal.  Still, Roddick is a hall-0f-famer, and one of the coolest things about his career was his commitment to playing for his country in the Davis Cup, a yearly tournament that pits nation against nation.  Erik and I travelled down to Birmingham, Alabama to see the US play Switzerland in the Davis Cup in 2009, and we saw Roddick, James Blake, and the Bryan Brothers dominate. Also, Roddick and I are BFFs after we hung out at the GQ Super Bowl party, so I’m sad to see him go.

I made it a point to stop and watch a match on every single court throughout the day and here are some of the highlights from the day session:

  • American Sam Querrey, playing on Louis Armstrong (the second largest court) lost the first set but eventually won.
  • Juan Monaco (#11 in the world) played an epic five-set match against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, which we watched until its conclusion.  After dropping the first two sets badly to Monaco, G. Garcia-Lopez (who we began calling G. Ga-Lo, say it aloud a few times to get it) fought back to win the next set and then took set four in a tiebreak.  The crowd was really into it, with lots of Spain vs. Argentina flair, and when the fifth set went to a tiebreak, we were on our feet.  Garcia-Lopez, the clear underdog, won, which made the match even more fun.  The US Open is the only grand slam tournament that lets the final set be decided by a tiebreaker.  The other tournaments make the players continue to play it out in normal format (which can lead to crazy long matches like this), but the US Open doesn’t do that to help (TV) scheduling.
  • Seeded American Christina McHale losing to Kiki Bertens in the last match of the night.
  • Alexandr Dolgopolov (seed #14) playing young American Jesse Levine in five sets.  Late in the evening I had yet to make it over to the brand new Court 17, a small circular stadium with a really fun vibe, so I literally sprinted over when I learned (via the awesome US Open phone app) that Levine had surprisingly won the first two sets and was up two breaks in the third set (4-1).  You can only enter the courts during changeovers, which occur after odd-numbered games have been played, so I barely got inside before the match had a chance to conclude.  Since it was the last scheduled match on Court 17 that night, I was relieved that I hadn’t missed my chance.  Little did I know that the match was hardly close to over.  Dolgopolov broke back and won the next five games to take the third set 6-4.  He then won the next two sets to pull out the victory, to a stunned crowd.  It got pretty intense with the fan interaction since it was late in the evening (and clearly people had been drinking), and there was a great deal of heckling both players, as there was a lot of people rooting for the American but many others rooting for the more accomplished Ukrainian.  I felt horrible for Levine after that loss, since he had a big upset in the palm of his hand and it disappeared mainly due to Dolgo stepping up his level of play significantly and playing with reckless abandon successfully.
  • Nicolas Mahut (of the marathon five-set Wimbledon match linked to above) took Philipp Petzschner to five sets but eventually lost.  Mahut sure must love that the US Open lets you play that fifth set tiebreak!
  • American Vania King fell in straight sets to Yaroslava Shvedova.  We were rooting hard for King, who is a college friend of one of our coworkers, but she couldn’t compete with her opponent’s power.  King excels more in doubles.
  • #14 seed Maria Kirilenko easily dispatched Chanelle Sheepers
  • Former world #1 Jelena Jankovic had no trouble beating Kateryna Bondarenko
  • We only got there in time for the last few games, but it was exciting to watch young Americans Jack Sock and Steve Johnson defeat the #1 doubles team of Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor.  After losing the first set badly, the US duo won the second set in a tiebreak and get a couple breaks to win the third set 6-2.  The small crowd that had found the match over on Court 4 were lively, cheering on the upstarts.  Mirnyi and Nestor are probably two of the best dozen men’s doubles players ever, but have been around the block at ages 35 and 40, respectively.  Sock and Johnson would unfortunately lose in their next match, but it was a huge win regardless.   Sock, playing in his first US Open as a 19-year-old wild card, won his first two singles matches, upsetting a seeded player in the process, before losing to another top seed in a hard-fought match.  Johnson, playing in his second US Open, also won two matches before losing to a seeded player in the third round.  Expect big things from Sock (and maybe Johnson) in the future.
  • In a battles of the Czechs, Andrea Hlavackova defeated Klara Zakopalova
  • I actually saw bits of all three matches on Court 7.  Ivo Karlovic (referenced above) lost to Jimmy Wang (who is a full foot shorter than him), Dominika Cibulkova (seeded #13) defeated Johanna Larsson (who I saw in Cincinnati), and Marcos Baghdatis topped Matthias Bachinger in five sets.
  • Stanislas Wawrinka (who I’ve now seen play three times (Davis Cup, Cincinnati, and now)) defeated Sergiy Stakhovsky

One nice thing about a day session ticket at the Open is that you can stay through the night session.  During the first week of the tournament, there are so many matches to be played that the evenings always have matches happening on the side courts.  Later in the fortnight, the night session only features a couple matches on Ashe, so I took advantage of the opportunity and stayed on the grounds until there were only employees left.

I hung out behind the ESPN broadcast booth, which was on the air until 11pm, and I got to meet Hannah Storm, Brad Gilbert (who signed my hat), and Pam Shriver (who used my DonorsChoose.org pen to sign some programs for the other 3 fans that were still there.  I made Hannah laugh and had a nice Purdue vs. Notre Dame exchange with her.  On that note, I took one more stroll around the grounds and headed back to the train.

It was such a great experience, fun to go with some of my great coworkers, and I hope to do it again next year if my work schedule allows.  Two grand slams down, two to go!

Jo Tsonga warming up.  I love the shirt.


Ana Ivanovic


Ivanovic serving



Ivo Karlovic, all 6’ 10” of him


Tsonga during his match




Lleyton Hewitt warming up


Looking at the grounds, you can see a few of the side courts and Court 17 in the distance


Halfway to our seats at Arthur Ashe.  Roddick looks so tiny down there!


American Sam Querrey


Jelena Jankovic (in pink)


My colleague Dave at the Court of Champions walkway


Vania King


Maria Kirilenko




Jack Sock (right) and Steve Johnson with the huge doubles upset!



Daniel Nestor (foreground) and Max Mirnyi


Jesse Levine


Alexandr Dolgopolov, who makes same crazy faces when he hits the ball (and always gets some air)



Good night, Billie Jean King National Tennis Center



King of New York

Due to my work schedule I found myself having to spend a week in New York, including a weekend.  It was definitely hard to be away from Lynne and the kids that long, but I tried to maximize my time in the city.  Given all I was able to do, including full days of meetings at work, I think that may be an understatement.  Here’s a brief* rundown of my days, including some photos (some with the DSLR, but unfortunately some with just my phone).

*Yeh, this isn’t brief at all, sorry!

Thursday morning I took the train to New Jersey for a small staff retreat, my first time in the state in many years.  That night I headed to Coney Island in Brooklyn with some coworkers.  I had never been, and they had tickets to see the Class A Brooklyn Cyclones (Mets) minor league team play.  We enjoyed the game, where I also got see Purdue Boilermaker Kevin Plawecki play.  He was drafted in the first round by the Mets (quite a big deal for Purdue), but I didn’t remember until I saw his name and picture on the scoreboard.  After the game I ate a ton of food at the original Nathan’s Famous, rode the Cyclone rollercoaster, walked the boardwalk, and kicked some sand on the beach.  We then walked down a ways to Brighton Beach, the old Russian-populated area of Brooklyn, for some herring, oysters, caviar, potatoes, and vodka on waterfront.  It was a lot of fun and well worth the hour-plus on the subway

Nathan’s Famous

    Brooklyn Cyclones park


Purdue’s Kevin Plawecki


The Cyclone.  We were the last ride of the night at 10:30pm, which made it even more fun.


The Wonder Wheel


On Friday we had a special team lunch at Eataly’s beer garden Birreria. I’ve written about my great trips to Eataly before, but I had never been to the rooftop beer garden due to the long waits in the evening.  Fortunately there was no wait for an early lunch, and we had lots of time to enjoy some amazing small plates and beer.  Through a partnership with Dogfish Head and two Italian breweries, they brew three beers on site and serve them on cask.  Per the waiter’s recommendation, I had a pint of the Gina, a thyme pale ale that was perfectly balanced and delicious.  For our food, we enjoyed the following, all incredibly excellent:

  • A cheese plate featuring parmigiano, asiago, taleggio, gorgonzola, and robiola, served with their warm bread and honey to dip
  • Probusto pork and beef sausage served with potatoes and mustard greens
  • Maitake mushrooms in a cream sauce
  • An heirloom tomato salad with some of the best tomatoes I’ve had (outside my own garden of course!)
  • A chicken dish I can’t find on their menu right now (must have been a special), but it was juicy, slightly crispy, and perfect

That evening I had a mojito with some coworkers and then walked to the theater district to see a show.  When Lynne came with me to NYC in June, we had a list of shows we were interested in seeing.  One I really wanted to see, One Man Two Guvnors, she wasn’t as keen on, so I figured it would be good to see solo.  It also only had one week left in its Broadway run, so I was thrilled to have the chance to see it before it disappears, likely forever since it centers around one star British actor.  The play is hilarious and won numerous awards when it premiered in London before heading across the pond.  The lead actor, James Corden, even won the Tony this year for best actor in a play. The play is so unique, incorporating music, breaking the fourth wall, and planting humorous things in the audience. (Yes, I realize I quote a song from Newsies in my title, so some of you are wondering why I didn’t see that musical on Broadway. Honestly, I didn’t want to potentially taint my memories of that great film and all the childhood memories it generates, and it’s always more fun to see something you haven’t already watched 50 times before).


On Saturday, I knew it would be a little lonely, so I made sure to have plenty of new activities to do around the city.  I decided to spend some time in Brooklyn, since I usually only get there a couple times a year on weekday evenings.  Also, I decided it would be fun to walk across the Williamsburg Bridge from the East Village.  That was a lot of fun, but it took about 90 minutes, and after an entire day of walking, by Saturday night my feet were in bad shape.

Once I got into Brooklyn, I headed to Williamsburg for Smorgasburg, a fun mini-food fest gathering that happens every Saturday.  It’s right on the waterfront, and the eclectic food selection from many Brooklyn restaurants and food truck staples was a little overwhelming, especially at 11am.  I was met by one of m Brooklyn-ite coworkers who showed me around, and I enjoyed the best doughnut I’ve ever eaten from Dough, fried anchovies from Bon Chovie, and ramp vinaigrette from Right Tasty.

After that, I headed to a special saison tasting at a local bar, a tour of Brooklyn Brewery, and then I hopped the subway to Prospect Park.  This large park in Brooklyn had a completely different feel than Central Park, with more families of all ethnicities grilling out and playing.  I was able to find a quiet spot on the lake to read, and then another local coworker met me for a walk around the park (yep, lots of walking).  We then met up with another colleague for dinner at Brooklyn Fish Camp, where I enjoyed some fried green tomatoes, mussels, and hush puppies.

Even with a fun day in Brooklyn, I had more plans and took a very long subway ride up to south Harlem (Morningside Heights) where a coworker was having an apartment warming party.  I had fun there, but maybe most importantly learned about a fun event I needed to check out the following day.

The view of Manhattan from Smorgasburg


Brooklyn Brewery was packed, but they had some great beer you can’t get in Indiana


Beautiful Prospect Park


A quiet spot near the ducks


On Sunday I wanted to start the day by heading downtown to Battery Park and taking the ferry to Governors Island, basically a large park set up where the army used to be stationed to protect the waterways of New York.  There are still old buildings and barracks there, along with a fort and battery.  Part of the fun in visiting is getting out on the water and getting a good spot to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.  After walking around the island (and taking lots of photos), I headed up to Central Park to see my friends Erik and Amanda, who were in town for a wedding.  Yes, Erik and I had just spent some quality time together at a tennis tournament in Cincinnati, but I swear we don’t always plan our travel together.  Erik and Amanda were also celebrating their one-year anniversary, which was apropos because he originally proposed in NYC.  We chatted while they had a caricature drawn, and then we had a late lunch before they headed back to Cleveland.  It was nice to add a trip to Central Park to my itinerary, since I hadn’t planned for that.  Thank goodness for the speedy subway.

Originally I didn’t have any plans for Sunday night, although I knew of a few options for free plays and such.  On Saturday night, thanks to a coworker, I learned about a free music festival in downtown Brooklyn I should attend.  I had never been to that part of Brooklyn, so to make my “all over Brooklyn” weekend complete, I decided to go.  The music festival was called Afro Punk Fest, and it was a blast.  It featured a BMX/skateboarding park where guys were doing stunts, lots of food trucks, and two stages with popular urban artists. I got to see Janelle Monae, who I’m now a big an of, and a band I already liked a lot, TV on the Radio, perform.  Both put on fantastic live shows, and I was glad I made the trip.

A view from the ferry


Downtown Manhattan


Ellis Island


Statue of Liberty


I ran into a couple goats on Governors Island.  Not expecting to see that in NYC.


People enjoying a picnic on the island


The battery


Fort Jay


The Brooklyn Bridge in front and Manhattan Bridge behind


The skate park at Afro Punk


The Empire State Building, as seen from downtown Brooklyn (DUMBO – Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass)



On Monday night, I was lucky enough to win an online lottery for tickets to Shakespeare in the Park, a summer ritual of putting on world-class plays in an outdoor theater in Central Park.  The only way to get tickets is to wait in line for seven hours or enter the daily online lottery.  I tried every day I was in the city, and it was so exciting to win on Monday.  It was even better, because it was the final week of the show, Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods, which featured Amy Adams.  I went with a work colleague who was also a musical theater buff, so I learned a lot including some unique things they did in this production.  The cast was phenomenal, and the show was superb.  The Broadway veteran playing the witch sounded quite familiar, and I realized afterwards that she voiced Mother Gothel in the Disney Rapunzel film Tangled.  These are the things you notice when you have a three-year-old.  We enjoyed an evening on the Upper West Side with a fantastic dinner at Vai (some of the best ravioli of my life, and fried artichokes are always a good thing) and drinks at a few local pubs.

Tuesday was my day at the US Open, but I’ll post about that separately.  It was amazing, and I spent the entire day and evening there watching tennis and crossing Grand Slam number two off the list.  If I had to be away from the family for so long, at least I was able to do a lot of fun things to maximize my time away, but I couldn’t wait to get home. The work meetings also went really well, for what it’s worth.

Tennis Weekend in Cincinnati

Two weeks ago I headed to Cincinnati for a weekend with my friend Erik.  We’re both big tennis fans, and so many months ago we decided to meet in Cincy (he’s from Cleveland) to attend the Western Southern Open.  The tournament is the largest in the Midwest and features both a men’s and women’s tournament featuring the top players from each tour.  I know, how could I have not gone to this event sooner?

We decided to get tickets for the Friday and Saturday day sessions, since that gave us the most time to see matches on multiple courts, and we thought both a day and night session might be a little tennis (and sitting on your butt) overload.  We were pretty confident we could find plenty of other things to do in Cincinnati to occupy are time, and we were hoping to spend some time planning our new Purdue blog, GoBoilers.net.  However, we had so much fun that we didn’t talk about our blog plans nearly enough.

We arrive at the tennis center, about 35 minutes northeast of Cincinnati well before matches started, as a heavy rain had just passed over the city.  While the staff were drying off the courts, we got to see the warm ups for players like Na Li (the eventual winner), Caroline Wozniacki, and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.  At this quarterfinal stage of the tournament, matches were being played on their main court, grandstand court, and one side court with some bleachers.  Everyone had tickets for a seat on the main court, and ours were quite far away, so we decided to camp out on the grandstand court to get close seats (most are general admission there), and watch those matches.  The main court was featuring the men’s quarterfinals, featuring Novak Djokovic and Juan Marin del Potro playing lesser competition, so both were expected to win, and we had tickets to watch the men’s semifinal matches the following day.

On the grandstand court we found front row seats right behind the baseline.  I was quite excited.  My first tennis tournament and I was going to be sitting within arms reach of the players, with an amazing view.  The slate featured some great matches:

  • Caroline Wozniacki vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, finishing up their previous round match that was rained out the night before.  Wozniacki’s boyfriend, golf star Rory McIlroy, was in attendance, and think Erik was more excited to see him than the tennis starlet.  Wozniacki, the former #1-ranked player, lost the match (and didn’t too well at the US Open last week).  She has the skill set to be a top tier player again, but not the consistency.
  • Next was Venus Williams vs. Sam Stosur.  Williams made the tournament as an unseeded wildcard, after missing much of the year with health problems.  This was a fantastic three-set match that really showed both women on the top of their games.  Stosur won the 2011 US Open and has developed into quite the power player.  It was so much fun rooting for both women, and in the end Williams prevailed.
  • The next match on the grandstand court was not as compelling to us, so we planned to venture into the main arena to see Serena Williams play Angelique Kerber, the 6th-ranked German. Our seats were quite far away from the action, but we made friends with a local couple we get season tickets every year.  They were planning to stay in the front row of the grandstand court, so they let us use their seats on center court.  We really appreciated their generosity, because the view was fantastic.  Unfortunately the level of play wasn’t.  Serena had a horrible match, losing in straight sets and throwing multiple tamper tantrums on the court.  She yelled at her racket, the court, the sky, smashed a racket into the court, and nearly cried multiple times.  I’m not sure the issue, but Kerber played great and with lots of class.  I’m definitely a fan now and rooting for her at the US Open.
  • Since that match didn’t last as long, we were able to hurry back to the grandstand court to watch the final set of Canadian Milos Raonic vs. Stanislas Wawrinka.  Erik and I had seen Wawrinka play at our trip to Alabama for the US vs. Switzerland Davis cup match a few years earlier, and he’s continued to improve. Both men were unseeded in Cincinnati but have played well enough to earn seeds at the US Open.  Wawrinka won in three sets, which meant he’d play countryman Roger Federer in the semifinals on Saturday.  On the grandstand court, I was able to sit in the area reserved for special guests, including the family and coaches of the players.  That was pretty cool, but awkward as I clearly wasn’t supposed to be there.
  • Almost all of the day matches had concluded, but we ran over to the third court to catch the thrilling end to the Bryan brothers three-set doubles victory. I’m a huge fan of the Bryans (twins Mike and Bob who have been one of the best doubles teams in the world for the last 10 years), and after the won, they showed off their recent trophy – a gold medal from the London Olympics.

This is how great our seats were!


This is how bad our center court seats were (actually, they were worse)


A view of the third court with bleachers


I was actually really impressed with the food offerings at the tournament.  They featured local restaurants with a high variety of food.  I had a delicious lunch of fried chicken and waffles from Taste of Belgium, with a maple syrup and chipotle sauce.


Erik checking out the ESPN set


Wozniacki and Pavlyuchenkova warming up.  Unusual to do so on the same court so long before their match, let alone on the same side (blame the rain).


Na Li (the eventual champion) practicing before her match


Wozniacki during her match


Golfer Rory McIlroy (left) watching his girlfriend lose.  Their box wasn’t too happy.


Wozniacki serving


Pavlyuchenkova hit with some great power


She needed to get more first serves in


Sam Stosur, who had a lot of fans in the crowd, despite playing against an American. Check out the guns.


Stosur with a big serve, Venus returning



Venus with the backhand


And stretching out for a forehand


Venus with an even bigger serve


Serena, during one of the few moments she wasn’t complaining


Kerber with the lefty serve


Serena hit some huge shots but was just really inconsistent



Bob Ryan’s gold medal!


Raonic serving


Wawrinka serving to Raonic


Raonic had a huge serve, as most of the top men’s players do.  I’d be lucky to get a racket on any of them.


After a hot day in the sun, and tons of great tennis action, we hurried back to our hotel to clean up, enjoy our complimentary beers at the hotel bar, and head into Cincinnati for some dinner and drinks. Erik did some great research and learned that the up-and-coming Over the Rhine area was a good spot. We enjoyed dinner at Senate (seriously the best poutine and gourmet hot dogs of my life), and drinks at a slew of unique bars with interesting back stories:

  • Japp’s – this great old bar from the 1800’s that hadn’t changed a bit
  • Neons – a huge bar and outdoor area, with lots of young college-aged people.  We made some friends from Chicago (did I mention the Cubs were in town?!) and played some bocce (we won, of course).
  • MOTR Pub – live music, kind of a dark dive, but really fun
  • Lackman = a mellow spot to end the night (the bars close kind of early in Cincinnati, so we stayed as long as we could)

The next morning we had breakfast at this great little German place, Oleg’s Tavern, before heading to the tournament.  Seriously, the food was fantastic and I’d definitely hunt the place down again if I was within 20 minutes.  We had some tasty goetta and spaetzle with our breakfast, where you are waited on by chef Oleg (a Ukrainian dude).  He’s a bit terse, but very happy when you like his food (even if your presence interrupts the soccer match he is watching).

At the tournament we had to sit in our upperdeck seats, but at least we got to watch two riveting men’s semifinal matches.  The first featured Novak Djokovic (the #2 ranked man in the world) against Juan Martin del Potro (#8 in the world and the 2009 US Open winner).  Djokovic won in straight sets and played incredibly well.  The second semifinal match pitted world #1 (and greatest tennis player of all time) Roger Federer against Wawrinka.  Federer also won convincingly in straight sets (although the first set did go to a tiebreaker) against his former doubles partner (they won gold at the 2008 Olympics), setting up what looked like an epic final match on Sunday.  We didn’t stick around to watch on Sunday (or pay the huge ticket price), but Federer destroyed Djokovic to win the tournament.

After Federer won, I sprinted (literally) over to the grandstand court to get a front row seat for the men’s doubles semifinal pitting the Bryan brothers against Robert Lindstedt and Horia Tecau, the Wimbledon runner-ups the last three years.  The crowd was really into this match, making it far more fun than the top-billed matches on center court.  After coming from behind to win a second-set tiebreaker, the Bryans eventually lost in three sets, but the match featured some huge points.  The crowd was disappointed by the result, but not the level of play.  The victors serving was so tremendous it was nearly impossible to get a point against their aces.

Djokovic vs. del Potro


Federer’s smooth one-handed backhand



Bob Bryan serving


Doubles action!


We were tired from another sunny day of non-stop tennis, but we didn’t let that slow us down and headed straight downtown to see the Cubs play the Reds.  We were able to get tickets on the street for $5 since the game was already in the second inning, and then we enjoyed some barbeque and free peanuts while watching the game from tabletops down the right field line.  We didn’t catch a home run, but we did cheer the Cubs to a high-scoring victory despite the enemy territory.  There were a lot of Cubs fans who made the trip, despite the fact that the team is horrible and playing many youngsters from the minor leagues.

We celebrated by walking across the river into Newport, Kentucky.  I’d never heard of this town, but it had the first Hofbrauhaus in the U.S., so I was in.  I thoroughly enjoyed the one in Munich (although I didn’t really care for the one in New York). On our way to the beer garden, we stopped into the Thompson House, and old mansion on a hill converted into a bar and concert venue.  There weren’t any shows on their three stages that night, but we did enjoy the ambiance of the place (although it had a dark, dingy, dirty frat house feel).

At the Hofbrauhaus we enjoyed some dunkel and Bavarian-style pretzels, as well as a laugh riot as we made many new interesting friends.  Unfortunately it would take another ten paragraphs to explain that in more detail.  Overall the trip was a great time with Erik, and I think we maximized the fun to be had in Cincinnati that weekend.  I can’t wait to do it next year, as long as our wives let us.