Cocky in South Carolina

We traveled to Columbia, South Carolina this past weekend to watch our Gator women’s basketball team take on the Gamecocks. Traveling to away games is so much fun! Just wish some of the venues were nearer to us.

We stayed at the Springhill Suites on Lady Street. This hotel had been recently renovated and we really liked the room. Usually, our favorite hotel is Embassy Suites because of the wonderful breakfast they provide.

We left Gainesville at around 10am – it’s a relatively short drive (6 hours) and saw no reason to awake god-awful early. After arriving and checking in, we searched for a place for dinner. The last time we were in Columbia we dined at California Dreaming. While we enjoyed our experience there we wanted to try new places, so we chose Blue Marlin – just a ten minute walk from the hotel. It was great! The ambience, food and wait staff were great! And, the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever had.

Blue Marlin was at the end of this lighted walkway.

After dinner we walked around downtown Columbia. It was really nice.

Lots of renovation going on. Loved this sign.
We will come back to the Cafe Strudel! Great atmosphere and food! The Sunrise Burrito was excellent!

Whenever we’re in a new city, we’re learning to use our phone apps to find great places to eat. I used Yelp and Foursquare to find ones we thought we’d like. Since, I know some Yelp reviews can be untrustworthy, I cross-referenced to pinpoint that perfect place. And, Cafe Strudel was that perfect place! We got up Sunday morning and walk about a mile to the Cafe. It’s clearly a local favorite – there were already a number of people there waiting for it to open. They had a signup sheet outside. The service was pretty fast considering every table was occupied. The coffee was self-serve which freed up the wait staff to provide excellent service. This is a winner. We will go there again the next time we’re in Columbia.

Mir on the Bridge Over the River Congaree.

Walking back to the hotel we stopped to take a few pictures of the river. It looks pretty cold but it was actually in the mid to high 40s and very pleasant for walking.

Another view of the river.

Our team warming up before the game.

The Colonial Life Arena is a great basketball venue. Just loved it. Sure do hope the renovation of the O’Connell Center results in as good a venue. I tell you, it’s embarrassing walking into some of these SEC arenas and then walking into the O’Dome.

Coach Butler intense during a timeout.

Kathy Cafazzo, our Gator information director, took this quick video of us at the game. Go Gators!

In case you’re wondering, we lost the game. Our team played really hard and we’re very proud of their effort. If you were to look at the rosters of both teams, you’d wonder how we were even in the game. We’re getting there – our team is oh so close to competing for an SEC championship.

Really disappointing with the officiating. 

The officiating this year is really inconsistent. They’ve done a good job of controlling the hand check but everything else has seemed to fall to the wayside. Not sure what is going on with them – they’re frequently out of position and seem to anticipate fouls instead of watching the entire development of the play. It is this writer’s humble opinion that officiating has produced more blatant bad calls this year than normal. There’s always going to be missed calls – but, please, not so many (and yes, missed calls on my team, too)! Since I live with a former basketball referee, I get the inside scoop on positioning and what each official should be watching. Sometimes, too many eyes are on the ball and not watching what is happening in front of them – or, they’re not positioned properly to see the play. Okay, that’s my rant.

The trip back was uneventful – did get into some rain but not too bad. Did I say I love smartphones? We listened to the Rutgers women’s basketball game on the way home as well as several different podcasts. It was great!!

This was also the first time our pet sitter has stayed with both girls. It seemed to go well and so, we’re set for the SEC Tournament!

That’s all for now! Ciao.

PS. The title of this blog “Cocky in South Carolina” refers to “Cocky” the Gamecocks mascot. I guess I should have take a picture of him – the mascot uniform is a bit embarrassing. I wonder how Gamecock fans really feel about him.

Pour Me A Little Bubbly, Please…

TNT hosted a “Bubbly Tasting” party last night. As you can see from the pics, Terry put together a beautiful snack table.

And this delicious cheese cake! 

Now, this was a serious tasting. We each brought a bottle of bubbly. Terry organized and numbered each bottle. We spent the next hour blind tasting each and writing down our impressions. The goal was to pick the one you liked the best. We also wanted to compare taste to price as the costs ranged from $12.99 up to $140.00.

What I learned is that my palate cannot tell the difference between any traditional champagne. They all tasted exactly the same to me. This is good news – I’ll never have to buy expensive bubbly because I would never be able to taste the difference.

The bubbly I gave my high mark to was this one below. A rose from New York. It was very lovely.

It was, as it always is at TNT’s, a very wonderful evening!