Dublin’s beautiful Aviva stadium, home to Irish Rugby and the Ireland National Football Team, holds the Aer Lingus Classic each August. For the Classic, Aviva hosts 2 American college football teams in their “week zero” game. This year was Nebraska versus Northwestern. As much as we love Dublin, plus adding in friends + football, we definitely wanted to be there.
Waiting in Frankfurt to board our plane for Dublin, we met a talkative Irish woman who had been enjoying the Wine Bar near our gate, and her husband. She told us lots of stories of growing up in Ireland, some of which may have been true. It was a great start to kick off our trip.
We arrived mid-week so that we could enjoy touring around Dublin for a few days before Game Day on Saturday. Ireland does a fabulous job of hosting this special American football game for all of us. Everyone around town knows about the game, they are happy to talk to us and see which side we’re rooting for. The Dubliners are friendly, happy, and genuinely wanting all the fans to have a wonderful time.
With a friend on the inside at Nebraska Athletics, we were treated to a visit to Aviva Stadium on the day before the game to watch the Nebraska walk through. Being behind the scenes made Rob a little homesick for when he worked in sports.
We were also able to visit the team hotel in Enniskerry, about 30 minutes outside of Dublin: Powerscourt Hotel, a magnificent estate with gardens that were fit for royalty. We spent about an hour wandering through the gardens and catching up before our friend had to get back to work.
Game Day Saturday was a beautiful day, 60’s F and partly sunny with a light breeze. The stadium is an easy walk from Dublin city center. With kick-off at 17.30, we had time to stop in a few pubs along the way. We started with lunch at Lincoln’s Inn, with brilliant beef pies and some pints. We visited another favorite pub of ours, The Merry Cobbler, to enjoy a pint and the nice weather. The fans packed the pubs all along the way, with a good show of team colors, a lot in purple for Northwestern and even more in red for Nebraska.
We joined the massive crowds for easy entry into the stadium. Our seats were great, and the game was a lot of fun. Great plays, up until a point at least for our Nebraska friends. Northwestern came away with the win.
Side note, during the game, the credit card machines went down and instead of closing the food and drink stands, everything was free. Wow, what generosity and goodwill. Thanks Aer Lingus!
Watching American football surrounded by Americans was a special treat for these two expats who sometimes feel a bit homesick. After the game, we had time for one last pint in Dublin, until next time.
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