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“Let’s Go Buffalo!” – Visiting NY for an NFL Game

Updated: Apr 13



My amazing friend Rach recently went to New York for her first NFL playoff game with her long distance boyfriend Sam, and she's here to tell you all about!


 

I recently took a short drive over the Canadian border to go to Buffalo, New York for an NFL Playoff game, and was pleasantly surprised with my experience there. There were a few small hiccups along the way, but as a whole it was a great weekend trip with my boyfriend Sam!


Initially, Sam and I had planned to go to a Wildcard game, which would have meant we would have been traveling to the United States on January 12 or 13 instead of when we actually went on January 20.


This seemed like a great plan; we were both excited to go to the game and to get to spend some time with each other again, especially since we hadn’t seen each other since November.



However, a problem came up for us though with the Wildcard game when Sam didn’t get his time off request approved by his boss. Sam’s office had big clients and big deals coming in during that time and he and his whole team needed to be in the office for that.


He was, however, approved for the following weekend so we went to a Playoff game instead, and this actually ended up working out way better for us. Hooray for the serendipitous things in life!


Once we knew that he had officially got the time off, we began planning the trip in more detail! He booked his incoming flight to Canada for Thursday, January 18 in the evening (well after I had finished teaching for the day) and his return flight was very early on Monday morning.


While this wasn’t going to be a long trip, we were both determined to make the most of it. After his flights were booked, we had to wait to see who would be in the Playoffs. As luck would have it, the Buffalo Bills made it into the Playoffs which meant we could drive across the border to a game! This allowed us to save both time and money for other things that we would have otherwise had to spend on flights.


The kickoff time for the Bills game was at 6:30 on Sunday which gave us Friday and Saturday to do other things together. We spent most of Friday at Square One in Mississauga doing some shopping, although most of it was just window shopping.



We also made sure to get food from all the places that Sam can’t get back home in Bermuda, which if we’re being honest, was just about everything.


Fun fact: Bermuda has no chain restaurants or fast food.


On Saturday we made sure to get an early start to the day because we knew we wanted to cross the border in the evening and spend the night in Buffalo before the game. In the morning we grabbed some breakfast from Tim Hortons, ran a few “errands” around town, and then we were off to the Niagara Outlet Mall.


The lovely thing about this mall, aside from how many stores they have and some of the deals you can find, is that it’s only about 20-25 minutes from the border. Once we had finished doing some shopping and we ate a late lunch, we headed off to the border. This is where I encountered the first real “hiccup” on the trip, the only part of the trip that truly had me feeling anxious.


Anytime that I have previously crossed the border into the United States I have either been with my parents and was sitting in the backseat, or I was with friends and was sitting in the passenger seat.


This trip introduced me to many “firsts” as it was my first time crossing the border being the person driving, the first time I ever got pulled over to be questioned further inside of the border control building (I’ll get to this in a moment), and the first time I had drove in the United States (side note: why can’t they use km/h like everywhere else).


As we pulled up to the border agent, I was already a little nervous since, as I mentioned, I’ve never been in the driver's seat during the process. The agent was nice enough, but Sam knew that we would be pulled inside for more questioning because of his passport.


You see, while my boyfriend lives in Bermuda and has for more than 15 years, he was born in Germany and still holds a German passport. Since he has a German passport, every time he crosses the border into the United States from Canada he gets pulled in for questioning.


I, however, have never had to do this since I’m a Canadian citizen so I was sweating buckets, metaphorically speaking, just knowing this would happen.


Sure enough, we got up to the agent, he asked the typical questions, looked at our passports and then directed us to “the building all the way on the right.” We drove over there, parked the car after being barked at by a different border guard, and went inside.


We were waiting for around 30 minutes before we got called up, but it felt like an eternity. They asked Sam a few more questions, he paid for a temporary VISA and we left. This brought me to my next hurdle though… driving in the US.


I like to think I am a decent driver, although Sam will probably try to tell you otherwise, but I’ve never driven in the US and therefore, I’ve never had to use MPH while driving. I managed to just follow the flow of traffic to the hotel we were staying at and didn’t get us killed thankfully.



We got to the hotel around 7:30 and by that time we were both hungry again, so we unpacked a bit, watched a bit of TV to relax and unwind, and then we bundled up and went to a pub for dinner.



We were staying almost directly in downtown Buffalo, so we walked to a pub called Colter Bay. We ordered a few rounds of drinks and some food, then sat there for a bit while we watched the Ravens play the Texans.



Eventually, we bundled up, walked home down the cold and snowy streets and relaxed the rest of the night. We both realized pretty quickly how tired we were, so we ended up just getting ready for bed and going to sleep early since we knew that tomorrow would be a long day.


This brings us to Sunday, GAME DAY! We woke up a bit later Sunday morning, trying to get as much sleep as possible since we knew we would be up extremely late that night. Once we finally dragged ourselves out of bed, we got ready and packed everything up since we wouldn’t be staying at this hotel again tonight.


We made our way downstairs, loaded all the bags into the car, and plugged in the coordinates to the Walden Galleria Mall since we had time to kill before going to the stadium. At the mall, we walked around, shopped a bit and made sure to eat lunch because it would be a while before we would be eating again.


While we were here, we even stopped to buy some Buffalo Bills hats to wear at the game. We left the mall around 3:30 to drive over to the stadium since we wanted to tailgate and it was around a 30-minute drive to get there, not including all the traffic there would be.


Finding parking near the stadium was a challenge to say the least! We got there around 4 and it was still insane. We paid to park up the street from the stadium and just walked about 5 minutes to get the rest of the way there.


We got there well before the game, participated in a little bit of tailgating, but when the gates opened at 4:30, we were one of the first people in line and were able to get in quickly to find our seats, grab drinks, and go to the bathroom.


Once the game started, the atmosphere became electric! When I tell you that Buffalo Bills fans are crazy, I mean it in the best way possible. The energy and love that they have for their team is contagious. Even if you aren’t a huge Bills fan, or a football fan in general, the enthusiasm rubs off on you.




I found myself cheering, screaming, booing and singing and I definitely didn’t think I would be doing any of that. Going to an NFL game, similar to other sports, is so much different than watching the game on TV. I would gladly go to another game.




The atmosphere is like nothing else, and even though I couldn’t feel my fingers or toes by the end of the night, it was so worth it. The Bills may not have won, but it didn’t even matter because I had the most fun at the game with Sam!


The final score was so close and it was a nail-bitter of a game all night long, but after the game was over Sam and I made the choice to wait for most people to file out of the stadium before we left.


Once the majority of fans had left the stadium we got up and made the trek over to the car to head home… all the way home. We drove straight from the stadium to a hotel in Toronto, since Sam had such an early flight the next day.


It felt like a very long drive because it was late and we were both cold and tired. In reality it was only about 2 and a half hours, and crossing into Canada was much smoother than when we crossed into the US the day before.


We finally got to the hotel in Toronto around 12:30am, we ordered Uber Eats and then passed out before having to say goodbye to each other the next morning at 4am. All in all, it was a great trip even if it wasn’t a long trip.


I was, initially, unsure if I would have very much fun, but I had a blast!


So, my advice to anyone who is thinking of going to an NFL game is simple:


  1. Get there early if you can, because parking will be a disaster and tailgating is worth it anyways

  2. Make sure you go to the bathroom before you drive to the stadium if you plan on going early or you’ll be using a porta-potty until the gates open

  3. Pack and dress appropriately for the city you are in; depending on where the game is you might need lots of layers like we did

  4. Be prepared for it to be loud and be prepared to have a long night (depending on what time the game is scheduled)


I wouldn’t change the experience I had even if I could do it again because I had the time of my life with Sam at the game, and I managed to overcome some of my fears and anxieties!


The Bills game was a blast, and I honestly hope that we end up back there again next year. If you’re considering going, just do it, you won’t regret it!


LET’S GO BUFFALO!


 

I totally get you Rach! I have never liked crossing land borders. I remember crossing the border in Sarnia to Michigan and it was also a really nerve-wracking experience.


Also, the soccer game I went to in Munich had the same infectious, crazy energy! Sports fans are something else, in the best way.

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