The Super Bowl Experience - Travel #69
Dear friends, let me take you on a trip to the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl is one of the biggest days of the year in sport. Millions of people all around the world tune in for the big game. Large companies pay millions of dollars for a few seconds of Super bowl commercial time and 32 gridiron football teams battle it out for the 2 coveted spots. Even though I grew up on the opposite side of the world from the United States, in South East Asia. American football, the NFL (National Football League) in particular, is widely popular. I started watching and following the NFL from a very early age. My older brother got me into it as he is a San Francisco 49ers fan. I started out liking the Indianapolis Colts and even themed my very first car on the team colours and named my car Napolis. As the years passed, I moved onto the Denver Broncos at the time Peyton Manning swapped teams. From Colt to Bronco, I grew up with the NFL. Super Bowl XLVIII was held in New York City, it was the Denver Broncos vs the Seattle Seahawks.
When the opportunity arose for me to be in New York at the time of the Super Bowl, I jumped at the chance. When I was in New York a few years earlier, I was there in the heat of Summer. This time I was there for the freezing blast of winter. The difference in temperature is absolutely astounding. When I was in New York for summer, I experienced days of 40 degrees Celsius/104 Fahrenheit and winter dropped to below -13 degrees Celsius/ 9 Fahrenheit. I remember sitting in the back of a New York City cab/taxi and watching the weather forecast on the cab's tv, the temperature was reported as "numbing". To this day, I still laugh to myself about that.
To find me, look for my Chihuahua's face
My journey begins on February 1st 2014, during one of the coldest winter's that the east coast of the United States has ever experienced. I mean Niagara Falls froze over. I stayed in a hotel just off of Times Square on Manhattan island. In my opinion, staying within close proximity of Times Square is the best for those wanting to see the sights. It makes it incredibly easy to access most of New York's main attractions. New York really is the city that never sleeps. I arrived into New York at midnight and by the time I had checked into my hotel room in Manhattan, it was 2am. Of course I went straight out and explored wearing my bedazzled Broncos jersey. I went straight to the Super Bowl exhibition. It would of been pretty hard to miss considering the Super Bowl exhibition was smack bang in the middle of Times square.
New York City Subway
The atmosphere that night was electric. The Super Bowl was the next day and everyone was in game mode. The streets were filled with both Seahawks and Broncos fans proudly wearing their jerseys. Manhattan and Times Square in particular, are always bustling with people. However, there was something a little special about Super Bowl eve. I have to say that with the sheer amount of people around, the temperature had to be at least a few degrees warmer. I absolutely loved it. I stocked up on some merchandise and souvenirs before they all sold out and enjoyed a lovely meal overlooking the Fox robot. I was already excited for the big game and just being around other excited people was amazing. I have to say that there was so much respect between fans unlike in some cultures where rival teams can be aggressive. There were no incidents of violence towards one another. I have never been a drinker and living for 15 years in a very heavy drinking culture in Australia made it difficult for me to be accepted at social events. This was fantastic for me as there wasn't any drinking pressure going on. In fact, almost everyone was drinking Gatorade. This was my kind of party. I was a young woman travelling on my own and I felt so safe. People could not have been nicer or more hospitable to me. I have travelled numerous times all over the globe on my own. It is so empowering, it forces you out of your comfort zone and allows you to discover yourself. I couldn't recommend it more.
Ice sculpted Lombardi Trophy
After spending all night, well, early hours of the morning basking in all the fun interactive exhibits in Times Square. I went back to my hotel room at about 7am for a few hours sleep. I woke up again at around 11am, had a shower, indulged in a famous New York bagel and headed to Macy's. I am not one for shopping when I travel. However, I like to pick up souvenirs and local crafts. I am definitely not interested in major retail department stores like Macy's. This time though it was different, Macy's had dedicated an entire floor to Super Bowl merchandise and I wasn't going to miss that. It was incredible. They decorated the entire floor. I was in merchandise heaven. My purse was definitely a lot lighter when I walked out. When I travel, I am constantly on the go, I wake up early and stay up pretty late. I want to see and experience all the sights. When I first started travelling on my own, I was embarrassed to ask strangers to take photographs for me. I have learned that you can meet some pretty awesome people when you travel on your own and most people are more than happy to take those photographs for you. Strangers are just friends you haven't met yet.
Super Bowl merchandise at Macy's
I spent quite a few hours in Macy's, I have to admit that I really enjoyed their set up. I treated myself to some lunch in SOHO then went back to my hotel room to get ready for "The Catch" Party. I would absolutely love to be able to attend a Super Bowl live in the stadium and ideally with my brother. Unfortunately, the average price for a ticket is US$7,000 and I can't justify spending that amount of money. I was in the Super Bowl host city on the day of the game so I had to do something special. I treated myself to a ticket to an exclusive party at the Edison Ballroom. This ticket was a much more affordable price. The reason it was called "The Catch" party was because it was hosted by NFL hall of famers and legends, Joe Montana and Dwight Clarke. The Catch was the winning touchdown reception between Joe Montana and Dwight Clarke during the 1981 NFC Championship Game. It was played at Candlestick Park on January 10, 1982 between the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers. The party consisted of lots of delicious finger food, unlimited flow of drinks, live telecast of the game and of course Joe and Dwight reenacted that famous catch. I even got photographed and featured in Bergen Magazine. I certainly enjoyed my 15 minutes of fame. Sadly, my team lost horribly in probably the most embarrassing defeat in Super Bowl history. Nonetheless, it was fun being part of history in some small way.
Catch Party Ready
My Magazine appearance
The day after the Super Bowl, I decided to take a helicopter ride over Manhattan. Of all the cities in the world to take a helicopter ride over, Manhattan is the one to do it. My home of Singapore would be a close second. The view of New York city from a helicopter was just breath-taking. I love mother nature in all its glory, however, this was appreciating the incredible man-made concrete jungle. The helicopter rides are quite pricey if you look at how long you actually get up in the air but they are well worth it. Especially for such an incredibly built up city, you really get to grasp the reality of how enormous Manhattan actually is. Funnily enough, I became a flight attendant a few years later and got a birds eye view of different cities everyday. I will be doing several blogs on New York City so stay tuned for those. There is so much to do, see and experience. I loved New York, there really is nowhere else on earth like it. I got to enjoy the big freeze over the next week while I was in town. Strolling through central park while it's covered in snow and the lakes are frozen is just magical, some might even say numbing.
Helicopter ride over Manhattan
After a week in the frozen tundra, I traveled to Orlando, Florida. This is a very big statement for a travel writer but I am going to say it anyway, Orlando is my favourite city. I am a nerd and Orlando is home to Disney World, my favourite hotel- Animal Kingdom Lodge, Universal studios and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It wasn't on this trip that I visited Raymond James Stadium but a few months later. I had just finished my first of many contracts on-board a cruise ship based out of Florida. I worked as a comedy club manager and entertainer sailing the Caribbean, Mexico and the Bahamas. It is definitely a contender for the best job in the world.
On that contract I made a great friend, Terry. He shared a love of the NFL and he actually surprised me with a private tour of the Raymond James Stadium, home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We toured the stadium in late September 2014. It was in sweltering Florida heat but it was worth sticking it out to see the great stadium. I am so happy to say that history was made in 2021 right here. For the first time in NFL history, the hosting city actually got to have their team play in the Super Bowl. The Buccaneers didn't just play in their home stadium, they won Super Bowl 55. I really enjoyed sharing my Super Bowl experience with you. Football is a huge part of American culture and I am so grateful that I grew up appreciating it. Even though my Denver Broncos didn't win the 48th Super Bowl in New York, they went on to win Super Bowl 50.
Raymond James Stadium
Denver Broncos Super Bowl Win
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Super Bowl Win
I hope you have enjoyed my blog on The Super Bowl Experience, thank you for reading, I look forward to sharing more adventures with you, until next time, Vegoutt Everybody!