A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about superbowls around the world

Rome and Ruin: Superbowl XLVI in Rome, Italy

SPQR: Superbowl Party Quakes Rome!

snow -3 °C
View Roma for Superbowl 2012 on GregW's travel map.

"I don't think I have heard this much English since I arrived in Rome!"

I overheard that as two people squeezed passed me through the pre-game throng. The place was packed with Americans, mostly students. Despite the fact that it was getting close to midnight on a Sunday night, the crowd continued to grow and showed no signs of easing up.

The reason they were there, and that late on a Sunday, was for Superbowl XLVI, and the place they were gathering was the Scholar's Lounge on the Via del Plebiscito in Rome, Italy.


The Scholar's Lounge is a multi-room Irish pub with a fine selection of beers on tap and an international menu. It is as one imagines an Irish pub should be - wooden paneling, pictures of Irish poets, books lining book shelves and lots of whiskeys lined up behind the bar along mirrored shelves. It also, in the manner of many pubs nowadays, had multiple TVs to show all the latest sports, including American football.

Superbowl XLVI featured the New York Giants against the New England Patriots, playing in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Patriots were heavily favoured, however the New York Giants had beaten a heavily favoured and previously unbeaten Patriots squad in the Superbowl in 2008.


As we got closer to midnight, the cramped quarters became even more packed, and I had to fight to find a space just to stand. Soon every inch of floor space was filled with people watching the Superbowl.

Getting to the bar became a chore, having to try and push through the crowds. At half-time, I switched from pints to bottles of Peroni, and ordered three large bottles so I could try and make it through Madonna's half-time show and through the end of the game without having to try and fight my way back to the bar. Luckily I was able to find a small space, which even included a small shelf to put my extra bottles on and provided a decent view of on of the big screens.


Despite the crowds, the Scholar's Lounge was a great place to watch the game. It had an excellent atmosphere, lots of fans and a beautiful setting. A few less people might have made getting to the bar a bit easier, but one can't complain too much.


The game came towards the end with the Giants having the ball. Afraid that New York would run down the clock and kick a game-winning field goal, the Patriots allowed the Giants to score a touchdown run, giving the Patriots 57 seconds to try and win the game. However, the Patriots were unable to move down the field, and the Giants ended up winning the game 21 points to 17.


My own game plan worked out well as well. I was able to run through the entire second half without having to go back to the bar, and as the game ended still had half a bottle of Peroni left.

The crowd thinned out as the lights came on and I finished off the last of my beer. I walked out into the cold Roman night, wandered past the nearby Palazzo Venezia, up the street past the Trevi Fountain and back to my hotel. Another exotic location to watch the most American of events in an Irish pub.


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For more of my experience of watching Superbowl in international locations, check out my Superbowls Around the World Table of Contents.

Posted by GregW 12:30 Archived in Italy Tagged sports superbowl superbowls_around_the_world Comments (0)

Superbowl XLV - German Cowboys and Cheeseheads

Superbowl XLV at a party hosted by the German Football League's Munich Cowboys

sunny 13 °C
View Munich 2011 (Superbowl 45) on GregW's travel map.

Perhaps it is because of the number of American military bases that are in Germany thanks to the Red Menace (deceased), but American Football seems to have taken hold in Germany more than anywhere else outside North America. An American Football Bundesliga was formed all the way back in 1979, and Germany was one of the few countries to embrace the NFL Europe experiment. By the time NFL Europe closed in 2007, 5 of the 6 teams were based in Germany.

The American Football Bundesliga was renamed the German Football League (GFL) in 1999, and consists of 14 teams. One of those teams is the Munich Cowboys, whose love of American Football is not just about playing it, but also watching it on the satellite from America. As such, they hosted a Superbowl Party in Munich, open to all who wished to come (and could afford to pony up the €8 to get in). The party was hosted at Kultfabrik, a former noodle factory which has been turned into a warren of bars, clubs and gentlemen's establishments.


The party, befitting a team called the Cowboys, was wild west themed, with attractions like a calf roping game and mechanical bull.


This being American Football, American food was on offer. Burgers, hot dogs, chicken wings and nachos were all being scoffed down by the crowds.


And crowds there were. A good selection of American expats and German fans. The two teams playing this year were Pittsburgh and Green Bay. About 75% of the crowd seemed to be Green Bay fans, with many supporting Green Bay merchandise, including the Cheese Head hat, worn as Wisconsin (where Green Bay is located) is famous for making cheese.


After some chatter from a host, including interviews with a few local football players, they turned over to the American coverage for the singing of American the Beautiful and the National Anthem, and then the game got underway. Superbowl XLV pitted the Steelers against the Packers.

Oh, say can you see

Oh, say can you see


The game was a good one, with the Steelers drawing it close at the end, but the Packers were too strong, and ended up winning the game 31 to 25 to win the Vince Lombardi trophy - a trophy named after a legendary coach from Green Bay's past. The crowd, largely Green Bay fans (at least by the end of the game, if they weren't at the start), was happy.


Me, I was happy, too.


It was one of the best Superbowl parties I have been to during my "Superbowls Around The World" wanderings. The crowd was excited, the food spread was excellent and there was a good selection of alternate activities - from bull riding to Xbox to Sky's 3D TV on trial - to keep you entertained during the long pre-game show. Plus, as the S-Bahn runs 24 hours a day, I was able to get back to my hotel without any fuss and bother.


So congratulations to Green Bay for winning, and also the city of Munich and the Munich Cowboys for putting on a good party.

I may not be a Worldwide Player, but I am a Worldwide Watcher at least.

I may not be a Worldwide Player, but I am a Worldwide Watcher at least.


For other experiences viewing "The Big Game", check out the rest of my Superbowls Around the World blog entries

Posted by GregW 00:51 Archived in Germany Tagged sports superbowls_around_the_world Comments (0)

Super Bowl XLIV: Partying Just Above Sea Level in Amsterdam

The continuing saga of watching the American football Super Bowl in places that aren't America.

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Ah, February rolls around and a young North American man’s mind turns to one thing. Cheerleaders... Oh, and chicken wings, and beer, and the hail Mary pass and nickle defences. Okay, a young man’s mind turns to more than one thing, but they are all wrapped up in the same event. Super Bowl!


Yes, it is time for that annual celebration of all things American and bombastic! Fireworks! The Who! Queen Latifah singing! Six hours of pre-game coverage!

This year I took myself to Amsterdam to watch the big game, a continuation of my silly “Super Bowls around the World” quest that has seen me watching American football in such non-American places like Costa Rica, Chile and Tanzania (though not so successfully there).

Amsterdam is in the Netherlands, and is known by North Americans mostly as a place to get sex and drugs. The city is famous for it’s raunchy nightlife, mostly centre around the red light district.

A red light above the door means you can look into the window and decide if you want to spend some time with the young lady working there. Sometimes, though, they are old ladies. And sometimes, they aren’t ladies at all, though they look like ladies.


If sex isn’t your vice, then there is always the dope. Coffee shops are quite popular in Amsterdam, where you can go and buy and smoke marijuana.


What Amsterdam is less well known for (at least in the circle of friends I ran with back in Canada) is the pretty town centre with it’s canals, narrow streets, even narrow housing and even windmills!


I, however, was there neither for the sex nor for the drugs nor even for the pretty sight seeing. I was there for the American football. This year featured the Indianapolis Colts against the New Orleans Saints. While the pundits put their money on the Colts winning the game, the Saints were emotional favourites for most people. The city of New Orleans obviously has been through a lot in the past five years, and I think most people felt like they deserved some good news.


I watched the game at the Satellite Sports Cafe on the Leidseplein, a square in the south-west part of the centre of town.


The bar was jam-packed, with folks even sitting on the stairs between the two levels to get views of the game. I made friends with a group of guys sitting at the bar, and when one of their friends left before the game started, they offered me his stool. So I had a nice front row seat for the game.


The group included two Dutch and one American. Myself, the American and one of the Dutchmen were cheering for New Orleans - as was most of the bar. The other Dutch guy, though, was cheering for Indianapolis. I don’t think he had a decent reason to cheer for them other than being contrarian.

“They are the better team,” he said to me. “Peyton Manning is the best quarterback in the game. They have a very potent offence.”

“True,” I said. “The Colts do put points up on the board. However, they are too good. It’s boring - like cheering for a bunch of accountants. They are probably really good at their jobs, but it isn’t always exciting to watch.”

An American girl came around selling “squares.” Squares is a form of gambling, where you pay money to buy a square on a 10 by 10 grid, with each axis being one of the two teams. After all the squares have been purchased, the number from 0 to 9 are revealed along the axis in a random sequence. At the end of the half and the end of the game, the person who has the box that matches the last digits of the score wins some of the money.

I bought two squares for a euro each. When the numbers were revealed, I had Colts: 8, New Orleans: 2 and Colts: 0, New Orleans: 6. The first square wasn’t great, as there aren’t too many scores where it is easy to get a 2 as the last digit. American football scores in 7s and 3s, so you want to look at multiples of 7s and 3s and their combinations.

My other box was pretty decent, though. 0 and 6 are both easy numbers to get in football. Zero is were both teams start (obviously), so a team not scoring gets a 0. A touchdown and a field goal are worth 7 and 3, respectively, so scoring one of each gets 10 (which ends with 0, and thus in the “0” box). 6, similarly, is two field goals.

The half ended with Indianapolis up 10 points to 6 for the Saints. That was 0 and 6, one of my squares, so I got 50 euros paid out! Awesome - especially seeing as pints were going for 5 euros each.

The Super Bowl spectacle included a number of big musical names this year, as usual. Country singer Carrie Underwood sung the national anthem, and Queen Latifah sung America The Beautiful before the game. At half time, The Who came out to play - doing a medley of their hits and even breaking out the green lasers just like the video for Baba O’Riley. Pete Townshend even windmilled on his guitar - no doubt a reference to my watching the game in the spiritual home of the windmill - The Netherlands.

The game continued, and New Orleans took control in the fourth quarter, scoring a touch down on offence, and then picking off and scoring during an Indianapolis offence series. New Orleans ended up winning 31 to 17. No more squares money for me, but I was more than happy to see the team I had picked to root for win.


I wandered out into the Amsterdam night - actually early morning - and back along the canals to my hotel. I smiled, thinking about the party in New Orleans. I realized that I had watched the game and cheered for New Orleans in a city that shares a lot in common with it. Both are known as party capitals and both are places where the waters are only kept at bay by lots of pumps and dykes. They really could be sister cities.


I end, then, with congratulations to the city of New Orleans from her spiritual twin - Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Posted by GregW 04:15 Archived in Netherlands Tagged sports events superbowls_around_the_world Comments (3)

Superbowl XLIII at American Expat Event in London, England

Another installment of Superbowls Around the World!

snow -1 °C

“The smart thing to do is to stay home and watch the game on TV,” I said to myself on Saturday afternoon. Superbowl is well covered here in the UK, showing on both BBC and Sky Sports. It would be no problem to watch it on my couch. And as the game starts at 11:30 PM local time and I had an 8 o’clock train to catch up to Sheffield, staying in seemed like the smart move.

But this is the RELAUNCH of the Superbowls Around the World blog series. After making a big deal of it in a blog entry I posted, I couldn’t just wind up saying that I ended up sitting on the couch in my apartment watching TV. No, I need to do it right.

So I searched on line and found that a surprising number of places were staying open to show the game. The NFL is actually more widely covered here than I would have expected. In the regular season games are shown on Sky Sports, and the regular season tilt that has happened for the past two years at Wembley is always a big deal.

I choose to forgo the sports bars and their cover charges and head instead to a party put on by the American expat Meetup group. The party, with an expected attendance of 800 people, was to be hosted in Islington. Islington is far from my place in Isle of Dogs, but close to St. Pancras station, where I needed to get my train out the next morning. With the game ending sometime around 3 in the morning, heading back to Isle of Dogs for a couple hours of sleep and then heading back to almost where I just was didn’t make much sense.

Therefore, I decided to splash out and get a hotel near St. Pancras. I headed out to the hotel around 4 pm, and decided to take an afternoon nap, as I knew sleep wouldn’t be something I got much of later in the evening.

I woke a few hours later and looked out my window. I opened the drapes, and wondered if the hotel had somehow moved across the ocean to Canada while I slept. There was snow on the ground. Lots of it.


London and the south-east of England was in the middle of a winter storm, which by its end would dump more snow on the capital than it had seen in 18 years.

The snow, however, didn’t stop those wanting to see the game from heading out. The Superbowl party hosted by the American expat group had over 1,000 people in attendance, watching the game on a projected screen in what appears to be a dance club in its other life.


There were fans of all stripes there, with Arizona and Pittsburgh being represented equally (by the sound of the cheering). A few folks even were actually from those cities represented…



Oddly, there were a lot of people wearing jerseys from other teams, even across other sports, including a guy in a KC Royals jacket. I guess wearing something American sports related was in the spirit of the night.

The expat group had managed to stream the video of the NBC from America, so we had all the American commercials, the American commentators and all the half-time show, including Bruce Springsteen.


In the end, Pittsburgh won what ended up being a very close game. I had been cheering for the Arizona Cardinals as I had just spent 2 months there, so I was slightly disappointed by the outcome, but happy to have actually bothered to go out, rather than staying at home.

Leaving the venue around 3 AM I was hoping to catch a night bus back to my hotel, but never saw one come along, and ended up walking the 25 minutes back to my hotel. I found out the reason for this the next morning as I woke up. The snow had hit London hard. All the airports were closed, none of the buses were running, most of the tube lines were shut or suffering serious delays and many of the trains were running delayed schedules.

The next morning, having stayed in a hotel right by St. Pancras station, I was able to walk to the station and catch my train up to Sheffield. East Midlands, the company that runs the London – Sheffield train, was one of the only companies in London that wasn’t delaying their schedule, and the train left right on time, though mostly empty, as very few people could make it to the station with few tube lines or buses running.

So, had I done the smart thing and watched the game at home (or even the really smart thing and went to bed early), I wouldn’t have made it to work on time this morning (if I could have made it at all). Only through choosing to go out did I ensure that I could make it up to Sheffield. I arrived in Sheffield, in “Northern” England, to find less snow, though they are expected to get it tonight. Luckily my hotel is only a 3 minute walk to the office.

So, I end with a few pictures from last night and this morning of the snowy scenes in London. I hope no one accuses me of bringing the snow here from Canada. I promise you all, when I moved here I really had hoped to leave the snow behind.






For other experiences viewing "The Big Game", check out the rest of my Superbowls Around the World blog entries

Posted by GregW 11:33 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged sports events superbowls_around_the_world Comments (3)

Superbowls Around the World: A Table of Contents

A history of the Superbowls Around the World concept, and a listing of all the places that I have watched America's biggest and best export.

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I was sitting in a bar in San Jose, Costa Rica in 2004, getting ready to watch the Superbowl, when I suddenly realized that in the past 4 years I had watched the Superbowl in 4 different countries. Because I am a bit of an idiot, I decided to make this a bit of a mission of mine. I planned to try and watch the Superbowl in a new country every year. In 2005 I actually planned to be in Tanzania in January just so I could keep up the streak.

From 2006, though, the entire concept fell apart as it became had to get enough time off to actually get to another country for the Superbowl weekend, and in 2008 I declared the entire undertaking dead.

However, with my move to the United Kingdom in 2008, it means that Assignment Superbowls Around the World is back on again!


Here is the list of all entries associated with my Superbowl Mission.

Table of contents can be found here.

From the San Jose paper - they spelt my name incorrectly, but that's me cheering along.

I shall keep this entry update with the latest, as my mission progresses.

Posted by GregW 09:16 Tagged sports superbowls_around_the_world Comments (0)

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