October 9, 2022
My day started very early this morning, my alarm was set for 330, but I woke up at 3am, so excited to go see my Packers in London! Lauren was not as excited about my early departure, but thankfully I think I was able to be quiet enough to keep her sleeping.
The night manager had arranged a taxi the night before for me, so it was outside waiting for me at 420 to head to the airport. She had said I only needed to be at the airport about an hour early – which as an American is crazy close to boarding – however, she wasn’t wrong. With no checked baggage, you go straight to security (which is AUTOMATED) and multiple people can send their items through security at the same time, instead of one at a time (we are very behind in the states). Anyway – I was at the gate by 510am waiting to board my EasyJet flight to London Stansted (my fourth London airport).
I was assigned an emergency exit seat, aisle (yuck). The best part of emergency rows in Europe is that you are not allowed to put anything under the seats in front of you, so it has to go above you, which means that you get legroom, guaranteed! There were many people on my flight going to the game. Not even in Packer or Giants jerseys, but in whatever football jersey they owned.
The flight was an uneventful 65-minute flight. I took the train into the city, deciding to go to Buckingham Palace since Westminster Abbey was closed (being Sunday and all). I transferred to the tube at Tottenham Hale (the game train station). It was super cool to see all the Packer fans all over the tubes. Everyone coming and going before the game.
I walked over to the Palace and it was empty in the roundabout in front, with barely any people! Maybe because it was 830am on a Sunday. What I did learn is that the barricades were for a half marathon, the Royal Half Marathon, that supports the parks! So I figured by 830, the race was almost over, but no! It hadn’t even started yet! Didn’t start til 9am!
I watched the lead runners head towards the palace and continued to walk around the area. I found a WWII airman memorial that still had flowers and notes to the Queen. I also found a large tree with flowers and notes to the Queen, it was pretty clear that she was a figure held high in people’s minds. It makes sense since she was around for so long, however, she also oversaw a lot of the UK’s colonization so she did have some controversy.
Around 930 I headed back to the tube to Tottenham for the game. I figured I’d walk around the neighborhood and find a bag drop. I got to the Tottenham station around 10am and started the 30-minute walk to the stadium. It’s in the middle of a neighborhood that pops up out of nowhere. The NFL had arranged for signs everywhere to give you directions and time to the stadium along the route so it was nice to have that and not have to use my phone for directions. The first official NFL item that was offered on the street was the program and a game scarf. I bought both and put them in my backpack so I wouldn’t take them into the game. I immediately found the bag drop and dropped off my backpack (which sadly included my water bottle). I asked them if the queue was long after the game, and they said yes and maybe it could take an hour. I figured that was fine and I wouldn’t have an issue with that wait.
I went to queue up for the official NFL store and it was so busy! I queued for about 30 minutes and once I got in, I headed to find the London-specific items. I had missed the cute throwback sweatshirt with a phone booth and the packer logo, but I got one with the British isle and the GB over it. I also got a scarf for my December game against the bears – I’ll need it for sure! I also grabbed an NFL clear bag so I could put my phone charger, jacket, and wallet in there instead of carrying them around in my pockets.
After the store, I headed to check out the rest of the neighborhood. They had a Packers doubledecker bus I took a selfie in front of and then found a food truck park that had some good food options in it. The NFL goes all out for these events, there was a DJ and games in the park. I managed to find macaroni and cheese!! Seemed perfect. I ate that and people watched and figured Id go get in the queue by the gate so I could be ready when the doors opened at 1230. Well, they decided to let people in at noon instead. I was on the upper level and learned the only way up is stairs – so up I went, and it was a lot, seven stories worth! I was able to take a great picture of a basically empty stadium before the game.
It was a beautiful day, perfect weather and I have a front-row seat – so I could sit the whole time if I wanted to! They provided wi-fi as the cellular service disappeared with all the people. Well, unfortunately, their wi-fi also wasn’t great or robust enough to keep up with the demand. I watched all the NFL things on the scoreboards and enjoyed the fact I could just relax after a very early morning.
A father and son (in his twenties or thirties) asked if I would switch seats with them so they could sit next to each other. I definitely won that trade, because I then had the end seat!
Right as the game was getting ready to start a man named Keith sat next to me. Both of us are Packer fans and he was originally from Kenosha! We chatted and watched the Star Spangled Banner and God Save the King and the game started.
Keith is a pilot for American Airlines! So he flew over that morning from Charlotte to get to the game! I told him I was Platinum Pro and he was impressed. He will not be the pilot for my flight back on Wednesday though, I did ask!
The Packers took the lead in the game and it was pretty fantastic, the stadium just erupted every time something good happened for the Packers. However, after halftime, the game took a turn. With a minute left the Packers were done, game over basically. I immediately grabbed my things and took off down the stairs – once I got to the bottom I couldn’t figure out why everyone wasn’t running out with me. I looked up at the screen and realized that we were being given a chance, one, MAYBE two attempts to score. Sadly, it didn’t come back in our favor and we LOST!!
The moment that happened I ran out of the stadium to the bag check, I was in the fourth row in the queue. Once I exited the bag check, I realized the line was much longer – over 12 rows and 3 blocks worth of people! I was thankful that I got out so quickly.
I joined the masses to walk back to the train station. It was crazy, with lots of traffic and tons of people (61k attended the game, a new record for an NFL game in London was set). Once I got to the train station there was a large mass of people trying to get into the station and they send you through cattle gates to get in. I was starting to get nervous that I’d miss my flight. I had only 90 minutes until my flight took off and I hadn’t even gotten to the station yet!!
Once I was in, the train was another 20 minutes away (I had missed the one before it – which is the one I was hoping to make!).
Once on the train, I got a notification that the plane was actually 20 minutes delayed, so I stopped panicking and relaxed. I knew security was fast and that I would have time to get to my gate since the airport is smaller.
I walked through the doors of the airport and saw a rope line, I immediately realized that the Packer’s head coach was standing there talking to a player! How exciting! I snapped a picture, thanked him for the game, and kept walking through security in hopes to see some of the players on the other side.
Once through security, I was able to walk with a player down the hall. I thanked him for the bucket list opportunity, regardless of the loss, I would never forget it. He was very kind and humble. We came upon another rope line and he went behind it with the Virgin Atlantic flight attendant guiding players. I decided to stop at the rope line and move to the end to see if I could catch a glimpse of Aaron Jones or Aaron Rodgers.
A younger guy also joined the line next to me, so excited to see the players. A police officer standing there was SO KIND to us! He asked about the game, the players, and where we had come from. The guy had come from Milan and was a long-time Packer fan. The police officer was impressed with our dedication.
Soon the team and their support staff were coming around the corner. I saw the entire team and yelled out to Mason Crosby and thanked him as well! He just waved and kept on walking (seems reasonable, they lost and all).
After another 20 minutes or so the guy saw Aaron Jones in the store immediately across from us (we found out they had closed it and it was only open to them). He then came out and OFFERED autographs and pictures! He was so kind and so gracious! He signed one of my travel notebooks and took a selfie.
Next up was Coach LaFleur. He also stopped and took selfies. This is the “cutest coach” in the NFL. All my female friends were excited I got so close haha.
Finally, the police officer was like “who are you waiting for,” the guy and I were explaining that Aaron Rodgers was the QB and we were excited to see him. Police Officer said he thought he already went through. We showed a picture and he said “oh wait, maybe not, I’ve seen his passport, but I haven’t seen him.” So we had hope.
And about 5 minutes before I needed to leave for the gate, here comes Aaron Rodgers! He also was kind and signed autographs and took selfies. As a person, I don’t care for him at all, but as a player, he is exciting to watch and a leader (though not always kind).
After he signed my travel book, I grabbed my bag and turned around, and headed to my gate. I’d never been so thankful for a 20-minute delay, a queue at the train station, and them losing so I could get my bag before the rest of the stadium dumped out.
I got on my plane, in a window seat this time. This plane was much older and had less room. However, it was comfortable for the hour flight back to Edinburgh. I took an Uber back to the hotel and Lauren was still awake when I got back. I sadly, very, very sadly had to do HOMEWORK before I could sleep. Because of all the people, the cellular service and internet was just non-existent all day.
It was a surreal day and I’m grateful that I had this opportunity to go see my team in London and cheer them on, even though they lost. It has been on my bucket list since the NFL started doing games in London. It was something that I will never forget!