The Pacific Coast Highway would not be the fastest route, but it would be more scenic than the freeway. The road took us past gorgeous looking towns such as Huntington Beach, Newport, Laguna Beach, and Oceanside, all packed with holiday makers and buzzing. However, they, and many places between them, had more than their fair share of traffic lights and traffic jams. Progress was painfully slow. The 150 mile journey took us six hours in total.
We arrived at our hotel, one of many arranged on a large circular roadway within the Mission Valley, rapidly checked in, and then headed to the local metro station to catch a train up the valley to the Qualcomm Stadium, home to the San Diego Chargers American football team. It was only a short walk to the station, but during it we noticed a few apparently stricken fans flagging down taxis. The match started at 6pm, but we thought an hour and a quarter to reach the stadium and collect our tickets would be enough. Hmmm ....
On arriving at the metro station, we were greeted with chaos. There had been a fire further down the line and the trains were stopped. This was a major artery to the stadium, and understandably panic was setting in amongst the fans. A bus presently turned up, and a large section of the crowd calved off and headed to the bus, Dan and I amongst them. We managed to board the bus, ticketless, but we would face the consequences of that later, if indeed there were any at all. The bus was one of the long 'bendy' bus varieties, and there was a huge cheer from within it as we set off to the stadium, leaving hundreds of crestfallen falls standing waiting for hopefully another bus to take them to the stadium. The cheer lasted the whole of three seconds before we ground to a halt. The back part of the bus was about to collide into another static bus. After getting the other bus to edge forward a few feet, we proceeded again to huge cheers.
The journey to the stadium was probably only a mile and a half, and if we had known about it, it would have been quicker to walk. The mile and a half journey took over an hour; all approach roads to the stadium were clogged.
Outside Qualcomm Stadium
We collected our tickets, and also learned that the match did start at 6pm. We were seated about 5 minutes after the start of the game. I was about to witness one of the unsolved mysteries of the world, the game of American football.
The Game of American Football
But the behaviour of the fans intrigued me. There was just short of 56,000 fans at the game, and the stadium was certainly not full. One section of the stadium had been reserved for Chicago Bears fans. The away fans must have flown 2,500 miles down for the match. But, overall, the fans were totally chilled out, it seemed to be more of a social occasion than anything else. Fans were still picnicking outside when the game started, and fans seemed to drift in and out during the game. After the second quarter, there seemed to be a steady stream of fans leaving the game, and at the final whistle, the stadium wasn't even half full. Perhaps they knew about the mayhem and gridlocks they would experience after the game, and left well in advance.
As I said, the whole game was a mystery to me, but with all the razzmatazz, it was a unique experience. I am glad I visited at least one American football game in my life. For anyone wanting to visit a game, a word of warning, alcoholic drinks cannot be bought without ID, even if you are American.
We managed to get the metro back at the end of the game, and picked up a quick meal before ending the day.