the wonderful world of veena.

18 November 2014

45 of 52 / 35before35: my first packers game.

Last weekend Christina and I got to fulfill a huge wish and also cross off the number 1 item on my 35before35 list:
  1. Go to a Packers game at Lambeau Field.
That's right, I finally made it to an NFL game. And not just any NFL game, but a Packers game at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

At the beginning of this season the idea of going to a game kept cropping up in my conversations with Christina. Every time we got together to watch a game, we would revisit the idea, until one night we finally went for it. We booked game tickets, flight tickets, a rental car, and an airbnb stay in Green Bay. And then it began sinking in: We were going to a game in Green Bay!

As the trip creeped closer, we kept an eye on the forecast, brainstormed things to do in Green Bay and with our extra day in Chicago, and planned out all the layers we would need to carry with us.

Our flight on Friday was delayed by about an hour, so it was 6.30pm by the time we landed in Midway, collected our bags, and picked up our rental car and hit the road. We stopped on the way out of Chicago for food - overlooking the interstate, no less - and again in Wisconsin for fuel, landing up in Green Bay around 10.30pm. We were heading for the house we were staying in, but then we caught a glimpse of the stadium on the other side of the river, so we made a detour to head over there first. We were shocked to see we could pull into the parking lot outside the atrium and wander around the stadium's exterior to our heart's content. Since we had been in the car we weren't dressed adequately for the cold, so we didn't last too long, but we got a few pictures before we went and got checked in.

[eating dinner while overlooking an interstate. because that's how we roll]
[hanging with coach lombardi] 
[the atrium and pro shop]
[my new happy place]
[a lambeau field selfie. because why not]
We slept in on Saturday and then set off for the stadium. First things first, we booked ourselves onto the 7pm Champions Tour of the stadium [definitely got the last 2 tickets on the last tour of the day] and then went to Curly's Pub for Bloody Mary's and some pub fare -- cheese curds, bratchos [nachos with bratwurst], and a Flambeau Burger. All the food was good, and we stuffed ourselves silly before spending way too much on goodies at the Packers Pro Shop.

[you know you're in green bay when...]
[just looking at this picture makes me feel like i need to run a few miles]
[want a 3ft tall bobblehead? only costs you $750]
Following a drive through town - where we spotted the Zippin Pippin at its new home! - and a nap, we returned to Lambeau to take our tour of the stadium. We got to visit one of the suites, go up to the top of the stadium, test out the acoustics with some 'Go Pack Go' cheers, learn about the history of the Packers and Lambeau Field, say hi to Coach McCarthy, and walk out the players' tunnel and onto the field level. It was, to put it simply, amazing. There is so much history in that stadium, and it was pretty surreal to walk the same path as every Packer great in the history of the franchise.

[yep, that's the field behind me. with the snow falling. beautiful]
[13 of them. pretty awesome]
[the men who made the green bay legacy what it is]
[love all the artifacts and all the history] 
[this place]
[the world's greatest slip-and-slide]
[we're on the field!]
[standing on lambeau field while snow is falling all around you? pretty awesome]
To wrap up our night we ended up at Legend Larry's for drinks and some wings and to watch the second half of the Arkansas-LSU game. Arkansas won, which was awesome, and I even got one lady at the bar to chant 'Woo Pig' -- pretty great considering Bielema left Wisconsin to take the Arkansas job.

On Sunday we got up early to grab a free parking spot near the Brett Favre Steakhouse and then went to The Bar on Holmgren Way for "breakfast", which was an appetizer platter full of a lot of fried stuff. We went back to the Steakhouse to watch some of the noon games and then go to the tailgate outside: for $25 you get unlimited food and drinks - including mimosas and Bloody Mary's - and get to carouse with other Packer fans. It was alright, but it was so cold outside that we were kind of miserable by the end of it.

[these are all the clothes i wore for the game, not including the north face fleece and shell that i added later]
[the winter wonderland we awoke to on sunday morning] 
[tailgating and pre-partying with a few thousand of our newest friends]
We left early anyway so that we could layer up some more before going to the stadium. We wanted to get there early enough to find and settle into our seats before the players ran out, and we also managed to snag a few of the seats so we had cushions and backrests - both crucial to combat cold bleachers and sore backs. Our seats were in the corner of the north end zone, and we had a great view of the entire field. Our neighbours were super friendly and rather hilarious, and we had a great time chatting with them and cheering and sharing high-fives each time the Packers made a good play.

[the view from our seats. we were pretty happy]
The game itself was so much fun. The atmosphere in the stadium was great, and the team played so well on all sides. Aaron had some great throws; Randall and Jordy both had great catches; Eddie Lacy had a great touchdown reception; Micah Hyde returned a punt for a touchdown; and Julius Peppers had a pick-six. The team was firing on all cyclinders, and Christina and I kept remarking that we couldn't have picked a better game to be at. It was pretty spectacular.

The icing on the cake was that I got to have a little roomie reunion with Inge, my Baylor roommate. She is currently doing her residency in Madison, and she just happened to be at the game with a friend whose family has season tickets. It was so great to see her, and we spent about 10 minutes chatting before going back to our seats.

[the 'haha room' reunited]
Even though we left a little early to beat the traffic - we were driving back to Chicago that night - it was still a supremely surreal experience. I can't believe that after 31 years, I finally made it to an NFL game. Getting to see my favourite team in their stadium made it even better.

other highlights included: took a tour of St Jude with Christina and Abby; Baylor alumni event at Hog & Hominy; finally got to spend some time with Pooja and meet her husband; St Jude Heroes Happy Hour [that included a free pint glass!]; super awesome seats for the super awesome Grizz-Kings game; binge-listened to the Serial podcast; Arkansas won an SEC game!; fun day exploring Chicago.

[flags at st jude representing the nationalities of patients, doctors, researchers, staff, etc. pretty cool to see]
[baylor alum event at hog & hominy. loved getting to see these two]
[can't beat this view at a grizzlies game]
[we even had seat service! #legit]
[chicago by night, as seen from our hotel room]
[and by day]
[navy pier on a blustery monday morning]
[lighthouse shining out in the distance] 
[it was such a beautiful morning, and the water was so clear]
[looking back at the city]
[the obvious picture we have to take to document our visit to the bean] 
[such a weird and cool thing]
[sipping on cocktails on the 96th floor. pretty dope. and yes, that IS bacon in my drink. and it was delicious]
[oddly enough, the best view from the signature lounge is from the ladies' room]
[deep dish stuffed pizza from giardano's. serious stuff]
the list:

  1. Go to a Packers game at Lambeau Field.
  2. Finish reading The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan [I'm currently on book 4 of 19; this might end up being for my 40 before 40 list...].
  3. Visit 3 new countries.
  4. Be vegetarian for one month.
  5. Complete a full marathon [yep, definitely lost my mind].
  6. Learn a second language.
  7. Learn to scuba dive.
  8. Read one book by Ayn Rand [either The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged].
  9. See a show on Broadway.
  10. Treat myself to a proper spa day.
  11. Take a spontaneous road trip.
  12. Try at least 2 new foods.
  13. Learn to [properly] drive a stick shift.
  14. Go parasailing.
  15. Visit any / all of the following: Ladakh, Manali, Darjeeling, Amritsar.
  16. Read Gone With the Wind.
  17. Drive along the Scottish and Welsh coastlines.
  18. Take a cross-country train journey.
  19. Spend an entire weekend watching the Star WarsIndiana Jones, and The Godfather trilogies.
  20. Go unplugged and off the grid for one week.
  21. Take a cooking class.
  22. Go on a blind date.
  23. Pay for a stranger's meal.
  24. Take a spin or barre class.
  25. Go to Las Vegas.
  26. Read the books on this list that I've not already completed / read so long ago that I don't remember them.
One down, lots more to go!

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